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Human Rights

    September 23, 2020

    Responding to the decision in the Breonna Taylor case today, Kristina Roth, the Senior Program Officer for Criminal Justice Programs at Amnesty International USA, said:

    “Breonna Taylor’s death is a tragedy. She was asleep in her bed when the police busted down her door and recklessly opened fire, taking her life. Black people in America have the same right to be safe as all people, though this is hard to conceive when we think of the abhorrent killings of Breonna, Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, Dijon Kizzee and too many more.  

    “Breonna Taylor's case reminds us of how Kentucky's police use of lethal force statute puts accountability out of reach for unlawful killings by police  — and how police, who are supposed to protect life, so frequently only see one side of that principle. This case must serve as a wake-up call to our elected officials that they must meet this moment with a bold agenda for police reform, one that brings about meaningful accountability, reimagines public safety and provides justice for all.

    September 21, 2020

    Twitter is still not doing enough to protect women from online violence and abuse, despite repeated promises to do so, new analysis by Amnesty International reveals.

    The Twitter Scorecard grades the social media company’s record on implementing a series of recommendations to tackle abuse against women on the platform, since Amnesty first highlighted the scale of the problem in its 2018 Toxic Twitter report.  Despite some welcome progress, Twitter needs to do much more to address the problem. The company has fully implemented just one of ten concrete recommendations, with limited progress in increasing transparency on how it handles reports of abuse.

    “Twitter is still not doing enough to tackle the deluge of abuse women face on the platform. Our analysis shows that despite some progress, Twitter is not doing enough to protect women users, leading many women to silence or censor themselves on the platform,” said Rasha Abdul Rahim, Co-Director of Amnesty Tech.

    September 21, 2020

    Lana Verran, Chair of the Board of Directors of Amnesty International Canada (English Branch) today announced the appointment of Burundian human rights defender and poet Ketty Nivyabandi as the branch’s next Secretary General.  Ketty has resided in Canada since 2015 and holds refugee status in the country.  She succeeds Alex Neve, who is stepping down after more than twenty years in the role.

    “At such a challenging time for human rights across Canada and around the world, but also tremendous openings for advancing real change, we are excited and honoured that Ketty Nivyabandi will be our next Secretary General,” said Lana Verran. “Her dynamism, conviction and experience offer precisely the inspiring leadership we need at this time.”

    September 21, 2020
    New Amnesty investigation highlights why EU export rules for surveillance technology fail.

    European tech companies risk fuelling widespread human rights abuses by selling digital surveillance technology to China’s public security agencies, a new Amnesty International investigation reveals. The findings are published ahead of a crucial meeting in Brussels on 22 September where the European Parliament and EU member states will decide whether to strengthen lax surveillance export rules.

    Amnesty International found that three companies based in France, Sweden and the Netherlands sold digital surveillance systems, such as facial recognition technology and network cameras, to key players of the Chinese mass surveillance apparatus. In some cases, the export was directly for use in China’s indiscriminate mass surveillance programmes, with the risk of being used against Uyghurs and other predominantly Muslim ethnic groups throughout the country.

    September 17, 2020

    Following the one-year anniversary of Canada’s accession to the UN Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), a coalition of civil society organizations are calling on Canada to end weapons exports to Saudi Arabia. This follows a recent report by the UN Group of Eminent International and Regional Experts on Yemen, which specifically names Canada as one of the countries “perpetuating the conflict” in Yemen through ongoing weapons sales to Saudi Arabia.

    “Canada has now been publicly shamed in front of the international community for its ongoing weapons transfers to Saudi Arabia, while the devastating war in Yemen rages on,” said Justin Mohammed, Human Rights Law and Policy Campaigner at Amnesty International Canada. “Legal obligations under the ATT have not deterred this government’s unrelenting support for weapons exports to Saudi Arabia. It has ignored the groundswell of civil society opposition to these exports. Hopefully, the UN’s report will provoke a different response.”

    September 16, 2020

    The Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Venezuela, created by the UN Human Rights Council in September 2019, presented its conclusions in its first report to the Council today during its 45th session. Responding to the findings, Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International, said: 

    “Amnesty International condemned the probable commission of crimes against humanity in Venezuela in May 2019. In a milestone for the victims of human rights violations, the much anticipated and hard-hitting report of the Fact-Finding Mission on Venezuela endorses this serious denouncement and supports the thousands of victims in their pursuit of justice that has been denied to them in their country. We share the UN’s call to the international justice system, including the International Criminal Court, to guarantee the rights of truth, justice, reparation and non-repetition.”

    September 15, 2020

    Spokespersons available to take media interviews

    Following last night’s arrest of Amnesty International Kenya’s Chairperson and advocate, Renee Ngamau, and today’s no show by the police in court, Amnesty International Kenya’s Executive Director Irungu Houghton said:

    “Amnesty International condemns the arbitrary arrest of our Kenya Chairperson Renee Ngamau. We believe she was targeted simply for as acting as human rights defender to protect public land. The Kenyan Police Service must end harassment, intimidation and attack on Renee Ngamau, human rights activists and public land defenders.”

    “Authorities should protect those defending other people’s rights, and not use the criminal justice against them.”

    “Our Chairperson Renee Ngamau has been through an enormously stressful ordeal. She was arrested for the leadership she provides in her community as the Chairperson of the Jamhuri Phase 1 Residents Association. The Association has been peacefully protesting diversion of public land allocated for a children’s playground.

    September 14, 2020

    The highest-level authorities in Colombia must send a clear and strong message that the disproportionate use of force by the National Police is unacceptable, and immediately put a stop to the repression of protests over the death of lawyer Javier Ordoñez, Amnesty International said today, following the verification of at least four incidents of human rights violations committed by police officers, including torture and excessive use of force.

    “We’ve verified video evidence of how Colombia’s National Police tortured lawyer Javier Ordoñez with an electric Taser gun, using excessive and unnecessary force against him,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International.

    “We demand an immediate end to the excessive use of security forces against protestors seeking justice for the death of lawyer Javier Ordoñez. In addition, we urge the authorities to send a strong message of condemnation and carry out prompt, exhaustive, independent and impartial investigations into the human rights violations committed by the Colombian police.”

    September 14, 2020

    The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau

    Prime Minister of Canada

    80 Wellington Street

    Ottawa, Ontario

    September 10, 2020

    Dear Prime Minister,

    We write this Open Letter, on behalf of 400,000 supporters of Amnesty International across the country, in times of considerable uncertainty, turmoil, injustice and fear; but also of mobilization, courage, determination, and possibility.

    Against that backdrop, you have indicated that your government’s upcoming Throne Speech will lay out a “plan to rebuild a stronger, more resilient Canada” and offer a “roadmap out of the pandemic towards a society that is fairer and more welcoming.” Central to those goals is the imperative to implement a genuinely transformative human rights agenda. This Throne Speech must acknowledge that respect for human rights will be central to all aspect of adopting laws, developing policy, making budgetary choices and taking action. Towards that vision, we urge you to take up the following seven recommendations:

    September 09, 2020
    More than 300 organizations call for international mechanism

    The United Nations should urgently create an independent international mechanism to address the Chinese government’s human rights violations, a global coalition of 321 civil society groups including Amnesty International said today in an open letter. The groups hailed from more than 60 countries around the world – from Azerbaijan to Zambia, from Morocco to Malaysia, from Vietnam to Venezuela.

    The signatories stressed the need to address rampant human rights violations across China, including in Hong Kong, Tibet, and Xinjiang. They also highlighted the impact of China’s rights violations worldwide, including the targeting of human rights defenders; global censorship and surveillance; and rights-free development that has caused environmental degradation. 

    September 08, 2020

    OTTAWA – The recent murder of a Liberian national who had settled in Ontario has made one thing clear: Canada is failing to bring those suspected of crimes against humanity and war crimes to justice.

    In late June, Bill Horace was shot dead in London, Ontario. He had been widely accused of committing mass murder, rape and torture in Liberia during the 1990s. Despite a mountain of evidence against him, Canadian officials never charged Horace, allowing him to live freely in this country since he first arrived in 2002.

    On the heels of Horace’s murder, Amnesty International is releasing a new report in the No Safe Haven series, which documents how judicial systems around the world – including those in Bulgaria, Germany and Spain – are failing to effectively prosecute those suspected of crimes under international law, including war crimes and crimes against humanity. This latest report details how Canada’s Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Program is grossly underfunded and underused.

    September 07, 2020

    US authorities must drop all charges against Julian Assange relating to his publishing activities, and UK authorities must reject the related US extradition request, said Amnesty International today. Julian Assange’s extradition hearing resumes today and is expected to last several weeks.

    The hearing will decide on the Trump administration’s request for Julian Assange’s extradition to the US, where he faces a sentence of up to 175 years for publishing materials that document possible war crimes committed by the US military.

    “This hearing is the latest worrying salvo in a full-scale assault on the right to freedom of expression. If Julian Assange is prosecuted it could have a chilling effect on media freedom, leading publishers and journalists to self-censor in fear of retaliation,” said Amnesty International’s Europe Director, Nils Muižnieks.

    “If Julian Assange is extradited it will have far reaching human rights implications, setting a chilling precedent for the protection of those who publish classified information in the public interest.”

    September 04, 2020

    In the new report, Dying before a judge: the arbitrary detention, enforced disappearance, torture and death of Rafael Acosta Arévalo, Amnesty International publishes new findings on the case that cast doubt on the official version of events and demonstrate Nicolás Maduro’s government’s deadly policy of repression to silence dissent.

    Rafael Acosta Arévalo, a retired captain in the Venezuelan Navy, disappeared in the town of Guatire in the state of Miranda on 21 June 2019. Amnesty International obtained 550 pages of the criminal case file from the investigation into two officials of the Bolivarian National Guard (GNB) attached to the Directorate General of Military Counterintelligence (DGCIM), who are accused of involvement in his death.

    September 02, 2020

    New analysis by Amnesty International has found that at least 7,000 health workers have died around the world after contracting COVID-19. At least 1,320 health workers are confirmed to have died in Mexico alone, the highest known figure for any country.

    Amnesty International also recorded high numbers of health worker deaths in the USA (1,077) and Brazil (634), where infection and death rates have been high throughout the pandemic, as well as alarming figures in South Africa (240) and India (573), where infection rates have soared in recent months.

    “For over seven thousand people to die while trying to save others is a crisis on a staggering scale. Every health worker has the right to be safe at work, and it is a scandal that so many are paying the ultimate price,” said Steve Cockburn, Head of Economic and Social Justice at Amnesty International.

    “Many months into the pandemic, health workers are still dying at horrific rates in countries such as Mexico, Brazil and the USA, while the rapid spread of infections in South Africa and India show the need for all states to take action.

    September 02, 2020

    Following the public announcement of a decree issued by President Nicolás Maduro - not yet published - to pardon 110 people with ongoing criminal proceedings or convictions against them, Amnesty International celebrates the release of those who should never have been deprived of their freedom and urges the Venezuelan authorities to immediately and unconditionally implement this measure.

    "The policy of repression of the government of Nicolás Maduro has led to hundreds of arbitrary detentions of those who dare to question it. These releases should not be seen as an act of benevolence, but a first step towards reparation for the injustices and arbitrary actions committed in a society submerged in a deep human rights crisis," said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International.

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