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Surveillance, Security and Human Rights

    October 22, 2013

    In October 2012, 8-year-old Nabeela ventured out with her 68-year-old grandmother Mamana Bibi to do daily chores in their family's large, open field. Moments later, Mamana was blasted into pieces by a US drone strike that appears to have been aimed directly at her. Amnesty International did not find any evidence she was endangering anyone, let alone posing an imminent threat to the US. Yet a year has passed and the US government has not acknowledged Mamana Bibi's death, let alone provided justice or compensation for it.

    "Will I be next?," a new report from Amnesty International, finds that this killing, and several other so-called targeted killings from US drone strikes in Pakistan, may constitute extrajudicial executions or war crimes. Based on interviews with 60 survivors and eyewitnesses to these strikes, "Will I be next?" documents potentially unlawful killings and abuses, and makes recommendations to the US government for how to uphold the right to life and ensure accountability for any unlawful killings.

     

    October 02, 2013

    The “piracy” charge levelled against activists from the global environmental group Greenpeace today in Russia is absurd and damaging to the rule of law and must be dropped immediately, Amnesty International said.

    “These absurd piracy charges are completely unfounded against activists who appear to have been engaged in peaceful protest. They make a mockery of the Russian justice system and should be dropped immediately,” said John Dalhuisen, Europe and Central Asia Programme Director at Amnesty International.

    “The Russian authorities have clearly decided to make an example of the Greenpeace activists in order to discourage future protests of this kind. Sadly this is consistent with the Russian authorities’ attitude to protest more broadly.

    September 27, 2013

    Today’s UN Security Council vote on a new Syria resolution must not be another wasted opportunity that lets down the victims of war crimes and crimes against humanity, Amnesty International urged.

    The draft resolution focuses on the international response to the use of chemical weapons in Syria on 21 August. But the organization said Security Council members must take effective measures towards ending the mass violations being committed in Syria, ensure accountability and justice for victims, and improve access to humanitarian assistance.

    “This resolution must not be another missed opportunity. More than two years into the Syrian conflict, the victims of war crimes and crimes against humanity have yet to see serious engagement from international players to ensure justice and accountability,” said José Luis Díaz, head of Amnesty International’s UN office in New York.

    July 19, 2013

    Amnesty International is calling for the return of CIA agent, Robert Seldon Lady, to Italy to face justice for his part in the US-led rendition programme.

    “By his own admission, he participated in a kidnapping operation that resulted in a man being tortured. Seldon Lady evaded justice by leaving Italy before his trial. This time he should have to answer the charges against him in Italy in person,” said John Dalhuisen, Europe and Central Asia Programme Director at Amnesty International

    Robert Seldon Lady, the former CIA station chief in Milan, was reportedly arrested in Panama earlier this week and is being held as a consequence of an arrest warrant issued by Italy. Italy is reportedly requesting Seldon Lady's extradition. He was tried in absentia together with 22 other CIA agents and was sentenced to nine years in jail for his involvement in the kidnapping of Egyptian cleric Abu Omar.

    In February 2003 Abu Omar was abducted in Milan by Italian and US operatives. The cleric was transferred via Germany to Cairo, where he reported that he was tortured in Egyptian custody.

    July 12, 2013

    The U.S. government should immediately drop the most serious charges against Pvt. Bradley Manning, Amnesty International said today after the conclusion of all testimony in the case.

    “We’ve now seen the evidence presented by both sides, and it’s abundantly clear that the charge of ‘aiding the enemy’ has no basis.  The government should withdraw that charge,” said Widney Brown senior director for international law and policy at Amnesty International.

    Manning’s lawyers asked the judge to dismiss these and other charges in a motion filed over the weekend.  

    “The prosecution should also take a long, hard look at its entire case and move to drop all other charges that aren’t supported by the evidence presented,” said Widney Brown.

    Last week, prosecutors withdrew a charge that Manning had leaked intelligence to a “classified enemy”.

    June 26, 2013

    By John Argue, Amnesty International Canada's Coordinator for Sri Lanka

    In November 2013, the next Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) is set to take place in Colombo, Sri Lanka.  Commonwealth countries share a commitment to basic values such as democracy, freedom, respect of human rights, and rule of law.

    Today, June 26, is recognized in and also beyond the Commonwealth as the international day for survivors of torture.  Yet in Sri Lanka, survivors of torture are still vulnerable to human rights violations, and to traumatic feelings of sheer injustice because authorities who committed torture have not even being charged with committing a crime or a human rights violation.

    Thevan (not his real name) is one person who has flashbacks of the impossible days he spent being tortured in a police cell in Sri Lanka’s capital, Colombo.  Thevan and a friend were both abducted 5 years ago in November, 2008, by men who drove a white van, and taken to a detention centre where they were beaten and tortured for three days.  Far worse, Thevan was ill-treated continually until he was finally released in 2011.

    June 16, 2013

    Police in Turkey are refusing to acknowledge that they have people in custody following mass detentions carried out during the night in Istanbul, Amnesty International said today.   

    More than a hundred are believed to have been detained during Saturday night’s demonstrations in the areas of Taksim, the main focus of the protests, and the nearby districts of Harbiye and Mecidiyekoy.  The actual number is not known but is likely to be significantly higher.

    The Istanbul Bar Association told Amnesty International that they knew of  around 70 named individuals whowere seen being detained by police but whose whereabouts still cannot be verified.  

    "Following a night of shocking police violence, the authorities are now denying due process to those they have detained. The police must released them immediately or disclose their location and allow access to family members and lawyers," said Andrew Gardner, Amnesty International's researcher on Turkey, who is currently in Istanbul.   

    June 07, 2013

    New revelations about the alleged reach of the US National Security Agency (NSA)’s surveillance efforts raise serious questions about the US authorities’ respect for the right to privacy, Amnesty International said today.

    On Thursday The Washington Post in the USA and The Guardian in the UK reported on the NSA’s alleged ongoing efforts to monitor activities of millions of people both inside the USA and overseas.

    This includes accessing information on social media and other internet sites, as well as collecting data from mobile phone call records.

    “The sweeping nature of the records allegedly sought by the government and the systems it has reportedly accessed raises red flags about privacy,” said Frank Jannuzi, Deputy Executive Director of Amnesty International USA.

    “The onus is always on the government to demonstrate that infringements of the right to privacy are lawful, that they pursue a legitimate goal and are necessary and proportionate.”

    May 23, 2013

    President Obama was right to reaffirm the need to close Guantanamo, address the need for greater transparency, and acknowledge the troubling issues surrounding his killer drone program. Now it's time for him to take immediate and further action and get the job done.

    Transfers can and must resume today, and all detainees must either be fairly tried in federal court or released. President Obama was right not to endorse the concept of indefinite detention, but his proposal to restart unfair military commissions in the mainland U.S. should be rejected as both unlawful and unnecessary.

    What's needed on drones is not a "kill court," but critically, much more transparency regarding the legal basis for the drones program, including the release of the newly approved presidential guidance as well as independent investigations of alleged extrajudicial executions and remedy for victims.

    May 16, 2013

    Amnesty International welcomed the June 2012 Concluding Observations of the Committee against Torture (“the Committee”) following its examination of Canada’s sixth periodic report.1
    We submit this follow-up briefing to assist the Committee in identifying ongoing areas of concern related to the priorities for follow-up.

    Amnesty International is deeply concerned about Canada’s lack of progress in implementing the 2012 recommendations of the Committee. With the exception of Omar Khadr’s return from
    the US Naval base in Guantánamo Bay in September 2012, following the Canadian authorities’ long-delayed approval of his transfer, the recommendations presented in Paragraphs 12, 13, 16 and 17 of the Committee’s Concluding Observations remain unimplemented. We have also commented on the recommendation in Paragraph 25 with respect to ratification of the Optional Protocol to the Convention.

    May 07, 2013

    “Given the uncertainty and anxieties surrounding their prolonged and apparently indefinite detention in Guantánamo, it is scarcely surprising that people’s frustrations boil over and they resort to such desperate measures.”  High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay on the latest Guantánamo hunger strikes

    March 22, 2013

    The Honourable Vic Toews
    Minister of Public Safety
    House of Commons
    Ottawa, ON, K1A 0A6

    March 21, 2013

    Dear Minister,

    We are writing to you regarding decisions made by the Ministry of Public Safety with respect to the recent Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) raids at construction sites in Vancouver. According to federal access to information documents, on June 7, 2011 your signature and approval were given to Force Four Entertainment’s proposal to produce a reality television series focused on the work of the CBSA. On March 13, 2013, the arrest of several undocumented workers in Vancouver was filmed and broadcast.

    February 12, 2013

    lan Appeals Court has ruled that two former top Italian intelligence officials and three agents were involved in the kidnapping of a Egyptian national Abu Omar and his subsequent rendition.

    The two top officials were sentenced to 10 and nine years of imprisonment, while the three other agents received six years each. They were all condemned collectively to pay damages worth Euros 1 million to Abu Omar and Euros 500,000 to his wife.

    Abu Omar, was residing in Italy when he was grabbed off the street in Milan in February 2003 and subsequently unlawfully transferred by the CIA from Italy to Egypt, where he was held in secret and allegedly tortured. His kidnapping in Italy was the beginning of an enforced disappearance.

    "State secrets should never be invoked to shield governments, including their intelligence officials, from accountability for such serious human rights violations," said Julia Hall, Amnesty International's expert on counter-terrorism and human rights.

    February 07, 2013

    The Malaysian authorities must immediately release or formally charge two Malaysian men now detained under a repressive new security law, Amnesty International said.

    Early on Thursday afternoon, police arrested Yazid Sufaat and his co-worker Mohd Hilmi Hasim at a cafeteria in Kuala Lumpur, for allegedly promoting terrorist activities.

    It was the first known arrest under the new Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (SOSMA), which was introduced last April.

    “Sufaat and Hasim are being detained arbitrarily under a deeply flawed law that is not in line with international human rights standards,” Amnesty International’s Deputy Asia-Pacific Director Isabelle Arradon said.

    SOSMA, which replaced Malaysia’s previous Internal Security Act (ISA), fails to meet international human rights standards in several key ways – including by allowing police to detain suspects incommunicado for 48 hours, increasing the risk of torture, and by allowing detention without charge or access to courts for up to 28 days.

    February 01, 2013

    Amnesty International condemns the bomb attack on the Embassy of the United States in Ankara. According to reports, the explosion occurred at around 1.10pm inside one of the entrances to the embassy. According to a statement made by the Turkish authorities, the bombing was carried out by a suicide bomber and resulted in the deaths of two persons, one of them an embassy security guard.  A member of the public was also injured and is receiving treatment in hospital.

    Any attacks of this kind which recklessly cause casualties among the general population or put them at risk demonstrate contempt for the fundamental principles of humanity.

    As yet, no individual or group has claimed responsibility for the bombing. However, the authorities accused the Revolutionary People's Liberation Front (DHKP-C) an armed leftist group of carrying out the attack.

    Amnesty International calls on the authorities to conduct a thorough and impartial investigation and bring those responsible to justice in fair proceedings in line with international human rights standards.

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