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International Justice

    July 24, 2012

    A photographer and journalism student faces up to seven years in prison after posting pictures of a stunt involving teddy bears to draw attention to violations of freedom of expression in Belarus, prompting Amnesty International to call for his immediate release.

    Photographer Anton Suryapin, 20, was detained on 13 July under suspicion of having assisted an organized group illegally to cross the border of Belarus. According to Belarusian law he should have been charged or released before 23 July. He was not released on Monday and Amnesty International assumes therefore that he was charged. 

    “The charges against Anton Suryapin represent a further nail in the coffin of freedom of expression and association in Belarus, where spurious charges are frequently used in an attempt to silence those working to defend human rights,” said John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Director for Europe and Central Asia.

    “He should be released immediately and the charges against him dropped.”

    July 23, 2012

    Bahrain must release all prisoners of conscience immediately and without conditions, Amnesty International said today, ahead of appeals in the cases of a prominent human rights activist and a group of medical workers.

    On 24 July, a court will consider the appeal of human rights activist Nabeel Rajab against his three-month prison sentence on libel charges related to a post he made on Twitter. His appeal hearing was postponed on 18 July.
    In another case a group of nine health professionals, whose convictions were upheld on appeal in June for their role in anti-government protests last year, have been summoned to appear before the Court of Cassation in the capital Manama on 30 July.

    Amnesty International has previously adopted Nabeel Rajab as a prisoner of conscience and said that if any of the nine health professionals currently released on bail were jailed they would be prisoners of conscience, held solely for peacefully exercising their right to freedom of expression.

    July 23, 2012

    An activist serving life imprisonment with hard labour for printing and distributing T-shirts calling for an end to the dictatorship in The Gambia must be freed, Amnesty International said marking its annual Day of Action calling for improved human rights in the country.

    Dr Amadou Scattred Janneh, the country's former Minister for Information and Communication, was arrested in June 2011 after printing and distributing T-shirts made by the NGO ‘Coalition for Change – The Gambia’ (CCG) which featured the slogan "End to Dictatorship Now". He was found guilty of treason in January 2012.

    Every year in The Gambia journalists, human rights activists and political opponents are unlawfully arrested, tortured, harassed and threatened making it impossible for them to do their work. The prospect of a fair trial for most people is bleak.

    “Dr Janneh is a prisoner of conscience and is emblematic of the horrific human rights situation that prevails in the Gambia today,” said Ayodele Ameen, Amnesty International’s Gambia campaigner.

    July 22, 2012

    Nepal’s government should investigate, not promote an Army colonel implicated in dozens of cases of enforced disappearance and torture, the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ), Human Rights Watch, and Amnesty International said today. The Nepal army should adopt a policy of not promoting anyone accused of human rights abuses until the allegations are investigated in an independent and transparent manner.

    The Nepal Army has reportedly recommended Colonel Raju Basnet for promotion to the rank of Brigadier General. Colonel Basnet commanded the Bhairabnath Battalion in 2003, when systematic enforced disappearances and torture are alleged to have been committed by forces under his command at the battalion’s Kathmandu barracks, according to investigations by the UN and the National Human Rights Commission of Nepal (NHRC). In June 2007, Nepal ’s Supreme Court ordered an independent investigation and prosecution of these crimes. That order includes allegations that Colonel Basnet himself committed acts of torture.  

    July 20, 2012

    Senegal must abide by today’s decision by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and prosecute the former president of Chad Hissène Habré on charges relating to large-scale human rights abuses during his time in power, Amnesty International said.

    “This is a victory for victims that’s long overdue, and now it’s high time the courts in Senegal delivered justice. They must immediately comply with this ruling,” said Michael Bochenek Amnesty International’s Law and Policy Programme Director.

    “The latest judgment of the International Court of Justice brings hope to the many who have been waiting more than a decade for Senegal to take action.”

    Habré was overthrown on 1 December 1990 after a brutal rule that spanned more than eight years from June 1982.

    He has been living in Dakar since being granted political asylum by Senegal soon after his ouster.

    On 3 February 2000, the Dakar Regional Court indicted the former Chadian leader for "crimes against humanity, acts of torture and barbarity," but a Court of Appeal later ruled that they did not have jurisdiction to try acts of torture committed by a foreigner outside of its territory.

    July 18, 2012

    The UAE authorities must immediately and unconditionally release two prominent human rights lawyers arrested in recent days, Amnesty International said.

    Dr Mohamed ‘Abdullah al-Roken, a long-time Amnesty International member and a well-known human rights defender and lawyer, was arrested at 1:30 am on Tuesday as he drove to a Dubai police station to report the disappearance five hours earlier of his son Rashid Mohamed al-Roken and son-in-law ‘Abdullah al-Hajeri.

    He was one of the defence lawyers in last year’s prominent case of five political activists – known as the ‘UAE 5’ – who were arrested, tried and imprisoned for defaming top UAE government officials.

    He is among 13 men – including fellow human rights defender, the lawyer and former head of the UAE Jurists' Association Dr Mohamed al-Mansoori – who have been arrested since 16 July by state security officers (Amn al-Dawla).

    July 18, 2012

    Guantanamo detainee Majid Khan faces up to 19 more years in prison after pleading guilty to terror charges – yet any justice and accountability for the abuses he suffered at the hands of US authorities remain a remote prospect

    In March 2003, Pakistani forces seized 23-year-old Majid Khan from his brother’s house in Karachi, Pakistan. He was turned over to the USA’s Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), which detained him in undisclosed locations.

    In addition to enforced disappearance – a crime under international law – Majid Khan was subjected in secret detention to conditions or interrogation techniques that violated the ban on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.

    After three and a half years, his detention by the USA was finally acknowledged when the then US President, George W. Bush, confirmed for the first time that the USA had been operating a secret detention program.

    In a speech on 6 September 2006, President Bush announced that 14 detainees had just been moved from this CIA program to US military custody in Guant

    July 18, 2012

    It’s crucial that the Court looks at the full scope of alleged crimes across the country, including those carried out by Malian security forces

    The International Criminal Court (ICC) should investigate killings, rapes and torture and other possible crimes recently carried out in Mali, Amnesty International said as the country’s government formally asked the Court to step in.

    Mali’s Minister of Justice Malick Coulibaly delivered a letter to ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda on Wednesday, referring the situation in Mali since January 2012 on the basis that national authorities are unable to investigate and prosecute the crimes.

    “This is the fifth time an African state has either referred crimes committed on its own territory to the ICC or accepted the ICC’s jurisdiction, indicating that governments across the continent are now acknowledging the importance of the ICC in providing justice to victims,” said Erwin van der Borght, Amnesty International’s Africa Programme Director.

    July 18, 2012

    As London prepares to host the Olympic Games, Amnesty International examines its connection to one of the biggest industrial disasters in history.

    Deep in the heart of east London, surrounded by an incongruous mixture of gleaming glass towers, and industrial units, lies the Olympic stadium.

    It’s a pristine white circle, so large it stands out like a sore thumb on Google Earth.

    Surrounding the 80,000 seat arena, regarded as the jewel in the crown of London’s Olympic village, is a controversial �7m fabric wrap provided by one of the world’s largest chemical manufacturers,� Dow Chemicals.

    The wrap came after Dow signed a lucrative deal in 2010 to become one of the 11 Worldwide Olympic Partners.

    While the wrap itself, a series of triangular white panels, looks plain and inoffensive, the chemical giant has a somewhat darker legacy.

    Almost 30 years ago, in December 1984, the Indian city of Bhopal was the scene of one of the biggest industrial disasters in history, when a toxic gas leak at the Union Carbide pesticide plant.

    July 17, 2012

    Amnesty International today called on President Obama to demonstrate true leadership during crucial negotiations on the arms trade by rejecting proposals that will severely undermine human rights.

    Governments are currently in talks at the UN in New York to agree a potentially historic Arms Trade Treaty [ATT] that could help end the devastation caused by the irresponsible and poorly regulated arms trade.

    President Obama’s officials have indicated they want the treaty to include� an escape clause that would allow national security considerations to override any serious human rights concerns when deciding to supply arms.

    Amnesty International today called on President Obama to demonstrate true leadership during crucial negotiations on the arms trade by rejecting proposals that will severely undermine human rights.

    Governments are currently in talks at the UN in New York to agree a potentially historic Arms Trade Treaty [ATT] that could help end the devastation caused by the irresponsible and poorly regulated arms trade.

    July 17, 2012

    The Omani authorities must drop the charges against a number of activists facing prison sentences merely for peacefully exercising their right to freedom of expression, Amnesty International said today.

    In the latest case on Monday, a court in the capital Muscat sentenced five activists to jail terms of between one year and 18 months on charges including publicly insulting the Sultan as well as using the internet to publish defamatory and insulting materials, and publishing materials harming public order. They have been released on bail pending appeals.

    Around 20 other Omani activists face similar prison terms after being charged with a number of offences connected to the exercise of their freedom of expression and assembly including protesting, inciting protests, insulting the Sultan, and obstructing the traffic.

    Most are currently out on bail while their trials are ongoing.

    “These sentences are the latest phase in the Omani government’s orchestrated crackdown on freedom of expression and assembly, which has been under way since last year,” said Philip Luther, Middle East and North Africa Program Director at Amnesty International.

    July 16, 2012

    Forcing a stateless man born in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to choose between indefinite detention there or exile in Thailand heralds a further decline in the UAE’s human rights situation, Amnesty International said today after a new wave of arrests under state security provisions.

    Ahmed Abdul Khaleq, a 35-year-old blogger and activist from the UAE’s stateless Bidun minority, had been detained twice since last year when it was alleged he had links to the Reform and Social Guidance Association (al-Islah), a non-violent political group which has been engaged in peaceful political debate and discussion in the UAE for many years. Amnesty International previously named him a prisoner of conscience.

    His forced departure on Monday comes a day after Abu Dhabi’s Public Prosecutor announced an investigation into a group of people who allegedly plotted “crimes against state security”.

    Since that announcement, at least seven members of al-Islah have been arrested in the UAE.� Amnesty International believes they may be prisoners of conscience, held solely for their peaceful exercise of their right to freedom of expression and association.

    July 14, 2012

    Russia must show political will and end impunity for the murder of human rights activists and journalists in the North Caucasus, Amnesty International said today, three years after the brutal killing of activist Natalia Estemirova.

    Those responsible for Estemirova's abduction and murder in Grozny, Chechnya on 15 July 2009 have still not been brought to justice.
    Since then more civil society activists, independent lawyers and journalists have been intimidated, attacked and killed with impunity.

    "The failure to bring to justice the murderers of Natalia Estemirova and of other human rights activists in the North Caucasus can only be explained by a complete lack of political will to end impunity for such crimes," said John Dalhuisen, Director of Europe and Central Asia for Amnesty International.

    In spite of the Russian Investigation Committee’s repeated statements that all leads, including those with possible involvement of government officials in Natalia's Estemirova's murder, would be investigated, there appears to be no progress and no meaningful steps have been taken in that direction.

    July 13, 2012

    The Iranian authorities must immediately end the harassment of the family of prominent human rights lawyer and prisoner of conscience Nasrin Sotoudeh, Amnesty International said as a travel ban was imposed on Nasrin Sotoudeh’s husband, Reza Khandan and their 12-year old daughter, Mehraveh Khandan.

    Nasrin Sotoudeh is currently serving a six-year prison sentence in Tehran’s Evin Prison on the vaguely worded charges of “spreading propaganda against the system” and “acting against national security” through membership of the Centre for Human Rights Defenders. She denies the charges.

    “Imposing a travel ban on Nasrin Sotoudeh’s young daughter and her husband is a gesture, clearly intended to force her family to stop campaigning for her release,” said Ann Harrison, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

    “The Iranian authorities must not only lift the travel ban and stop harassing Nasrin Sotoudeh’s family but also release Nasrin Sotoudeh immediately and unconditionally, as she is a prisoner of conscience, imprisoned solely for the peaceful expression of her beliefs and for her legitimate human rights work.”

    July 13, 2012

    The assassination of a prominent female official is a major setback to the fragile advances in human rights in Afghanistan, Amnesty International said as it urged the government to bring those responsible to justice.

    Hanifa Safi, Director of the Ministry of Women Affairs in Laghman province, eastern Afghanistan was targeted


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