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International Justice

    June 22, 2012

    The Sudanese authorities must end its ruthless crackdown on protests and stop the harassment of journalists covering demonstrations, Amnesty International said after riot police in Khartoum used tear gas and batons to break up demonstrations over austerity cuts.

    Scores of activists have been arrested since the demonstrations started on Sunday. The police also temporarily detained bloggers and journalists in an attempt to stifle reporting on the protest movement.

    “The Sudanese government is showing zero tolerance for demonstrations and continues to deny the Sudanese people its right to peaceful assembly”, said Paule Rigaud, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Africa.

    The protest movement, which is dominated by student activists, has up till now been centred around universities in Khartoum and its neighbouring cities Omdurman and Khartoum North, but demonstrations were also reported in provincial universities, notably Blue Nile University in Damazin, as well as in residential areas of the capital.

    The country has faced rising food prices and a weakening currency in recent years.

    June 21, 2012

    The Russian authorities must strengthen the accountability of law enforcement agencies which in their crude response to the activities of armed groups in the North Caucasus contribute to insecurity in the region, Amnesty International warned in a new report.

    The circle of injustice: Security operations and human rights violations in Ingushetia examines human rights violations, including unlawful killings, disappearances and torture, and the policies and practices behind them focusing on one particular republic but Amnesty International’s findings and recommendations apply to the whole region.  

    “The situation in the North Caucasus has dropped off the national and international radar in recent years, but serious human rights abuses are still going unchecked and unpunished across the region. A real effort must be made now to impose the rule of law and crack down on human rights abuses by law enforcement officials operating outside control. The long-term security of the region depends on it,” said John Dalhuisen, Director of Amnesty International’s Europe and Central Asia Program.

    June 21, 2012

    A short drive north-east of bustling Guatemala City, a battle line is drawn in the mountains surrounding the gold mine in El Tambor.

    Since March, activists and members of the local community have held an ongoing protest against the mine’s development by Radius Gold, a company based in Vancouver, Canada, and its wholly owned Guatemalan subsidiary, Exploración Mineras de Guatemala (EXMIGUA).

    Some community members claim that they were not consulted about the opening of the mine and fear it will pollute their water supply and damage land in San José del Golfo and San Pedro Ayampuc municipalities.

    On the evening of 13 June events took a decidedly sinister turn.

    Outspoken anti-mining activist Yolanda Oquelí was driving home from taking part in this ongoing protest when two gunmen on a motorbike cut across in front of her car and fired four shots. Yolanda was hit and a bullet lodged close to her liver: she is currently recovering from the attacks and is in a stable condition despite the seriousness of her injuries. 

    June 20, 2012

    The new Senegalese government must demonstrate its commitment to safeguarding human rights by addressing the rampant impunity which undermines the judicial system and the rule of law, Amnesty International said today.

    In a report entitled Senegal: An agenda for human rights, Amnesty International highlights key challenges the new government must overcome to ensure human rights are enforced, respected and protected.

    “After years of impunity, the population has great expectations regarding justice,” said Gaëtan Mootoo, Amnesty International’s West Africa researcher.

    At least six people were killed in January and February 2012 by security forces when they violently repressed demonstrations opposing the candidacy of the outgoing President. The unrest fuelled other serious human rights violations such as protesters being arrested and tortured.

    “During the pre-election period the security forces used methods such as arbitrary detention, beatings, simulated drowning and electric shocks to repress protesters,” said Mootoo.

    June 19, 2012

    Egypt's ruling military council’s decision to grant itself unrestrained powers, ahead of the results of the presidential elections, sets the country on the path to further human rights violations, Amnesty International said.

    Unless these powers are curtailed, the organization has warned, the military will be able to continue to trample on human rights with impunity.

    Egypt’s Constitutional Declaration, issued in March last year, gave the army the power to rule until Egyptians elect a president and a parliament. However, on Sunday the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), amended the Declaration to give themselves control over all matters relating to the armed forces. The amendments effectively remove the army from civilian oversight.

    A key amendment permits Egypt’s President to call on the army to combat “internal unrest”. If this came to pass, Egyptian law would have to specify the army’s jurisdiction, its powers of arrest and detention, and conditions where it is entitled to use force.

    June 19, 2012

    As the situation in northern Rakhine State remains very tense, Myanmar authorities should ensure full and unfettered humanitarian access to displaced people, and conduct an independent and impartial investigation into recent communal violence, Amnesty International said in a statement today.

    The Myanmar government should also aim to replace the state of emergency in Rakhine State at the earliest opportunity, facilitate international monitors, and address decades of systemic discrimination against ethnic minority Rohingyas.

    The widespread violence in at least eight areas that began on 8 June has reduced considerably, but human rights abuses continue to take place among the Buddhist Rakhine, Muslim Rakhine, and Muslim Rohingya communities, as well as by state security forces.  This is especially the case in Maungdaw and Rathidaung.  

    According to the government, at least 50 people have been killed, and over 30,000 displaced by the violence.  Several thousand homes have been destroyed.

    June 19, 2012

    Hundreds of the men and women who flee each year to Cyprus in search of refuge and asylum from war, persecution and poverty are locked away by the island’s authorities in breach of their international obligations, Amnesty International said in a new report.

    Punishment without a crime: Detention of migrants and asylum-seekers in Cyprus examines the deficiencies in Cypriot law and practice that result in the violation of the rights of irregular migrants and asylum-seekers. It calls on the Cypriot authorities to bring the country’s legislation in line with international standards.

    ‘’Detention should not be a tool for regulating migration. Cypriot authorities are willfully violating International and European Union law when they detain irregular migrants without examining alternative measures and demonstrating that their detention is indeed necessary,” said Jezerca Tigani, Europe and Central Asia Deputy Program Director at Amnesty International.

    June 18, 2012

    Please note that on 4 July 2014, the Federal Court of Canada ruled that the cuts constituted “cruel and unusual treatment” and violated the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Health coverage will be restored to refugees at midnight, Tuesday 4 November.   The case is not over.  The Government has appealed the decision in the Federal Court of Appeal.

    Amnesty International is deeply concerned that changes to the Federal Interim Health Program are discriminatory and will result in violations of the right to health of refugees in Canada, in contravention of Canada’s international human rights obligations.  Amnesty International is calling on the federal government to withdraw the changes and to ensure that any changes to the program are consistent with international human rights standards with respect to access to health care, non-discrimination and refugee protection.

    June 18, 2012

    A prominent Saudi Arabian human rights defender was brought before a Riyadh court on Monday on 11 activism-related charges in the latest example of what Amnesty International called a “troubling string of court cases” aimed at silencing human rights campaigners.

    The charges against 46-year-old Mohammad Fahad al-Qahtani relate to his human rights activism. They include setting up an unlicensed organization, understood to be the Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association (ACPRA) of which he is a founding member, “breaking allegiance to the ruler”, accusing the judiciary of allowing torture and accepting confessions made under duress, describing the Saudi Arabian authorities as a police state, inciting public opinion by accusing authorities of human rights violations, and turning international organizations against the Kingdom.

    His appearance in Riyadh’s Criminal Court is part of a series of recent trials aimed at silencing human rights activists in the Kingdom.

    June 18, 2012

    Amnesty International welcomes plans to re-affirm the rights to water and sanitation at the United Nations (UN) Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20). However, the organization is deeply concerned that the current formulation in the draft Outcome would undermine the legal recognition of the rights to water and sanitation, rights that are essential for life, for dignity and for sustainable development.

    June 18, 2012

    (Dublin, Ireland) -- Amnesty International's Electric Burma concert this evening to honor Aung San Suu Kyi is the culmination of a dream many thought could not be realized. For over two decades, millions of people across the world have followed the story of Aung San Suu Kyi, the iconic figure of the global campaign to secure freedom and human rights for the people of Burma. For many long, hard years the dream of freedom seemed distant and unachievable. Tonight, on stage in Dublin, that dream was realized for the world to see.

    The high point of an exhilarating evening was the presentation by Bono to Aung San Suu Kyi of the Amnesty International Ambassador of Conscience Award.

    June 15, 2012

     A year after scores of women began risking arrest and punishment by taking to Saudi Arabian roads in defiance of a long-standing ban on them driving, people around the world continue to spur them on in their struggle.

    Ahead of a fresh wave of driving protests expected for this 17 June, Amnesty International has written to King Abdullah, urging him to overturn the ban.

    Meanwhile, over the past year more than 20,000 of the organization’s supporters worldwide have taken action in solidarity with Saudi Arabian women calling for the overturn of the ban. Since 17 June 2011, women holding international driver’s licences have been called on to drive on the Kingdom’s roads – those who have dared to do so have faced arrest and threats of harsh punishment.

    June 15, 2012

    The inauguration of Fatou Bensouda as the second ever International Criminal Court (ICC) Prosecutor signals a new era in international justice and the potential for a more robust approach to their prosecution strategy, Amnesty International said as she began her nine-year term.

    Gambian Bensouda takes over from Luis Moreno Ocampo after serving as the ICC’s Deputy Prosecutor on Prosecutions since 2004.

    “Prosecutor Ocampo has achieved a great deal in establishing the Office of the Prosecutor over the last nine years and hands over a large workload of seven investigations and a number on-going cases,” said Marek Marczyñski, Amnesty International's Head of International Justice.

    Ahead of taking office, Fatou Bensouda set out a number of priorities that she will pursue during her term, including reviewing the quality and efficiency of investigations and prosecutions, developing a strong gender policy and clarifying the process through which the office selects where it will conduct investigations.

    “These are very welcome commitments,” Marczyñski said.

    June 15, 2012

    A string of arrests of activists, writers, lawyers, and bloggers mainly in the Omani capital Muscat constitutes an attack on freedom of expression and assembly that must be halted, Amnesty International said.

    On 11 June alone, the authorities arrested at least 22 people protesting peacefully outside the police headquarters in Muscat, bringing to at least 33 the number of protest-related arrests in recent weeks.

    Just a week prior to this on 4 June, Oman’s Public Prosecution issued a statement saying legal action would be taken against anyone who publishes “offensive writing” in the media or online that is deemed to be “inciting” others to action “under the “the pretext of freedom of expression”.

    “This constitutes a blatant attempt to stamp out freedom of expression, by effectively criminalizing dissenting opinions in Oman,” said Philip Luther, Middle East and North Africa Director at Amnesty International.

    “Anyone detained solely for peacefully exercising their right to freedom of expression and assembly would be a prisoner of conscience and must be released immediately and unconditionally.”

    June 14, 2012

    A decision by Egypt's Justice Ministry to extend the military's power to arrest and investigate civilians for a wide range of offences would pave the way for fresh human rights violations and must be urgently revoked, Amnesty International said.

    According to the decision, announced on Wednesday by Minister of Justice Adel Abdel Hamid Abdallah, military police and intelligence officers are now granted the same powers as judicial police when dealing with civilians suspected of offences related to national security and public order.

    In the unrest since early 2011, peaceful protesters have routinely been punished under such offences, which include resisting public authorities and disobeying their orders, assaulting by insults and other acts, damaging public property, blocking traffic, strikes in key public places and “thuggery”.


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