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Torture

    October 22, 2013

    Sedition charges must be dropped against three political opponents in The Gambia to make way for their immediate release, Amnesty International said, pointing to allegations the three men were tortured to “confess” on national TV.

    “In The Gambia, criticizing the government often carries an enormous cost. Forcing political opponents to ‘confess’ to crimes on national TV seems to be the latest callous strategy by the authorities to prevent anyone from criticizing them,” said Lisa Sherman Nikolaus, Amnesty International’s The Gambia researcher.

    The three men were arrested after one of them attempted to flee the country and claim asylum abroad last month. The men are held incommunicado, have no access to lawyers or their relatives and are believed to have been tortured.

    Malang Fatty was arrested at Amdallai Border Post by The Gambia’s National Intelligence Agency (NIA) as he tried to leave the country on 19 September 2013. He was in possession of a document provided by the other men in support of his asylum claim.

    October 08, 2013

    After years of uncertainty, the full facts in the iconic case of Faysal Baraket, a Tunisian student who died in police custody in 1991, are coming to light, bringing an end to years of denial and deception by the Tunisian authorities, said Amnesty International.

    A report published on the 22nd anniversary of his death details the ordeal faced by his family in their quest for truth and justice and the organization’s lengthy campaign to challenge the authorities’ claim that the 25 year-old died in a car accident rather than being tortured to death.  

    “Faysal Baraket’s case underscores how the security forces for years tortured dissenting voices then denied it and covered it up, as well as the urgent need to reform the security apparatus and judiciary which played a central role in how the case was handled,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

    September 30, 2013

    Allegations the Bahraini authorities used electric shocks and other torture methods to extract confessions from members of a group of 50 Shi’a activists are just one factor making their trial and convictions unfair, Amnesty International said today.

    A Bahraini court sentenced the 49 men and one woman, many in their absence, to up to 15 years’ imprisonment on Sunday, on charges related to their involvement in the opposition youth movement known as the 14 February Coalition. The predominantly Sunni Bahraini authorities have accused the Shi’a group of terrorism.

    “It’s appalling what passes for ‘justice’ today in Bahrain. The authorities simply slap the label ‘terrorist’ on defendants, and then subject them to all manner of violations to end up with a ‘confession’,” said Philip Luther, Middle East and North Africa Program Director at Amnesty International.

    The torture allegations have not been investigated and were not considered by the court.

    September 16, 2013

    The Yemeni authorities must immediately commute a sentence of amputation imposed on a man convicted of theft and assault, said Amnesty International.

    The defendant received the “cross-amputation” sentence at Sana’a’s Specialized Criminal Court on Sunday 15 September. The sentence, which he can appeal, requires his right hand and left foot to be amputated.

    “Amputation is a cruel punishment that amounts to torture and accordingly is a crime under international law,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Director.

    “The Yemeni authorities must immediately take steps to abolish this brutal punishment.”

    Sunday’s sentence is the first reported cross-amputation sentence passed in Yemen in more than 10 years.

    The man was convicted of ambushing and assaulting a man as he transported cash in his car. Six other men also received prison sentences ranging from one to four years for banditry, theft and forming a criminal gang.

    August 07, 2013

    Amnesty International absolutely refutes a statement by Nabil Fahmy, the Egyptian Foreign Minister, alleging that the organization has evidence that “heavy weapons” are present inside a sit-in by supporters of deposed President Mohamed Morsi near Rabaa al-Adawiya Mosque in Cairo.

    During an interview on BBC HARDTalk broadcast on Tuesday 6 August 2013, Nabil Fahmy said that Amnesty International had issued a statement saying there were “heavy weapons inside Rabaa”. Amnesty International has not issued such a statement.

    Last Friday Amnesty International announced that the organization had gathered evidence indicating that a number of Morsi supporters had tortured individuals from a rival political camp since the outbreak of the political crisis in June. Some of these incidents occurred in areas near where pro-Morsi sit-ins were being held.  

    At no stage did Amnesty International refer to the use of “heavy weapons” inside the sit-in.

     

    August 02, 2013

    Evidence, including testimonies from survivors, indicates that supporters of deposed President Mohamed Morsi tortured individuals from a rival political camp, said Amnesty International.

    Anti-Morsi protesters told Amnesty International how they were captured, beaten, subjected to electric shocks or stabbed by individuals loyal to the former President. Since mass rival rallies began in late June, as of 28 July, eight bodies have arrived at the morgue in Cairo bearing signs of torture. At least five of these were found near areas where pro-Morsi sit-ins were being held.

    “Allegations that torture is being carried out by individuals are extremely serious and must be investigated as a matter of urgency,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International.  

    July 30, 2013

    Amnesty International has confirmed that Aaron Yoon, who was released from prison in Mauritania on 23 July, returned to Canada on Friday 26 July, 2013.

    Aaron Yoon has gone into seclusion with his family for a few days at an undisclosed location.

    A Mauritanian appeal court ruled on Sunday 14 July that Aaron Yoon, a Canadian from London, Ontario should be released from prison.

    Mauritanian officials had launched the appeal seeking to have Aaron Yoon’s 2-year sentence increased to ten years. The court instead reportedly reduced his sentence to 18 months, noting that he had, by that time, served that amount of time and should be released from prison.

    An Amnesty International delegation, including AI Canada Secretary General Alex Neve, interviewed Aaron Yoon extensively in prison in June 2013. 

    Amnesty International has highlighted serious concerns that he was subject to torture when he was first taken into police custody and that trial and appeal proceedings in Mauritania did not meet minimum international fair trial standards.
     

    July 23, 2013

    Amnesty International has confirmed that Aaron Yoon was released from prison in Mauritania on July 23, 2013 and remains in that country at this time. 

    While it is expected that he will return to Canada in the near future, Amnesty International has no further details as to when or how that will occur.

    A Mauritanian appeal court ruled on Sunday 14 July that Aaron Yoon, a Canadian from London, Ontario should be released from prison.

    Mauritanian officials had launched the appeal seeking to have Aaron Yoon’s 2-year sentence increased to ten years. The court instead reportedly reduced his sentence to 18 months, noting that he has now served that amount of time and should be released from prison.

     

    For further information contact John Tackaberry, Media Relations               

    (613)744-7667 #236 jtackaberry@amnesty.ca

     

     

     

    July 15, 2013

    Amnesty International has confirmed that a Mauritanian appeal court ruled on Sunday 14 July that Aaron Yoon, a Canadian from London, Ontario should now be released from prison. 

    Mauritanian officials had launched the appeal seeking to have Aaron Yoon’s 2-year sentence increased to ten years. The court instead reportedly reduced his sentence to 18 months, noting that he has now served that amount of time and should be released from prison. 

    It is not yet clear when Aaron Yoon will actually be released from prison and allowed to leave the country. 

    Amnesty International calls on Mauritanian officials to comply promptly with the appeal ruling, including allowing Aaron Yoon to return to Canada if that is his wish.

    For further information contact John Tackaberry, Media Relations                (613)744-7667 #236 jtackaberry@amnesty.ca

    July 11, 2013

    Amnesty International accused the President of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbaev, of pulling the wool over the eyes of the international community in his government’s promise to eradicate torture and fully investigate the lethal force by police.

    In a report published today, Amnesty International exposes how the security forces act with impunity and how torture in detention centres is rife.

    The report, Old habits: The routine use of torture and other ill-treatment in Kazakhstan, details how at least 15 people were killed and more than 100 seriously injured when security forces used excessive and lethal force to disperse the crowds in protests in Zhanaozen in December 2011. Scores of people were rounded up by security forces and tortured in overcrowded underground police cells.

    Amnesty International is calling on the President to authorize and facilitate an independent international investigation into the use of lethal force by security forces in Zhanaozen in December 2011, as recommended by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay.

    July 09, 2013

    The Lebanese authorities must conduct a full investigation into the death in custody of Nader al-Bayoumi, a 35-year-old man detained following armed clashes between the Lebanese army and fighters supporting the Sunni Muslim cleric Sheikh Ahmed al-Asseer in Sidon, south Lebanon, last month, said Amnesty International. In a new briefing published today the organization also detailed allegations of torture and mistreatment of others arrested - including a child.

    Amnesty International has seen images of Nader al-Bayoumi’s body, which bore signs of horrific abuse. A forensic pathologist who reviewed the images concluded that the bruising on the body was consistent with assault and suggested internal haemorrhage was a possible cause of death.

    “The obscurity surrounding al-Bayoumi’s death, whose body was handed over three days after his arrest, is unacceptable. An immediate, independent and transparent investigation into his case is crucial,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme Director.

    July 02, 2013

    Posted at 0001 GMT 3 July 2013

    The security services of Russia, Ukraine and the Central Asian republics are colluding in the abduction, disappearance, unlawful transfer and torture of wanted individuals with a regularity that amounts to a region wide renditions program, Amnesty International said in a report published today.

    Return to torture: Extradition, forcible returns and removals to Central Asia exposes the ease with which Central Asian States are able to secure the return of individuals from other Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) states. It is unusual for extradition requests to be rejected as good relations and the perceived mutual interest in combating terrorism are overwhelmingly privileged over the human rights of individuals wanted for extradition.

    When the handover of wanted individuals is obstructed, for example by the intervention of the European Court of Human Rights, cynical subversions of international law are employed to secure the transfer.  

    June 25, 2013
    Amnesty International delegation speaks with Mauritania’s Director of Penitentiary and Penal Affairs inside the entrance to the Prison Centrale in Nouakchott.

    Alex Neve,
    Secretary General, Amnesty International Canada
    Nouakchott, Mauritania
    June 24, 2013

     

    "I came to study Arabic and the Koran.  I have learned about torture and injustice."

    -  Canadian national Aaron Yoon, 24 years of age, interviewed in the Prison Civil, Nouakchott, Mauritania, June 2013.

    Over the past ten days, as part of an Amnesty International mission in Mauritania I have spent many days interviewing prisoners in three prisons in the capital, Nouakchott.  For years now, Amnesty International has documented serious and widespread torture in Mauritania and the research mission followed up on those and other human rights concerns.  

    Among many prisoners I interviewed in Nouakchott’s Prison Centrale, I heard much about torture from a young Canadian man, Aaron Yoon, who has been held here for the past 18 months.  Aaron’s tale is a complicated and unusual one; which he realizes.  He knows that many Canadians will have questions about the chain of events that brought him to this point.  But he wants all to realize that he has been tortured and has been convicted on the basis of a blatantly unfair trial that gave him no opportunity to defend himself.  As he said to me: "I hope people will not rush to judge me unless they give me a fair chance to respond to what is being said about me.  It is terrible to be tortured.  It makes you say what they want you to say."

     

    << UPDATE: A Mauritanian appeal court ruled on Sunday 14 July that Aaron Yoon, a Canadian from London, Ontario should now be released from prison. Learn more

    The concerns about torture in Mauritania are widespread and longstanding, including in the cases of a growing number of prisoners held on charges related to terrorism or national security, but also with respect to minors, women and men detained on ordinary criminal charges.  In fact, virtually no one is safe from torture when in the hands of the Mauritanian police.

    June 25, 2013

    Posted at 0001 hrs GMT  26 June 2013

    Police in Mauritania are using torture to coerce men, women and children to confess to crimes while in custody, Amnesty International said after a 10-day research mission.

    The delegation in Mauritania interviewed around 60 detainees, including women and children, held in three prisons in the capital, Nouakchott.

    “Prisoners, including men held on ordinary and terrorism-related charges, spoke to us about the torture they had faced while in police custody. Many had been tried in grossly unfair procedures and some were subjected to enforced disappearance,” said Alex Neve, Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada English Branch, who was part of the delegation.

    Eleven children told Amnesty International’s delegates they had been tortured in police stations, including at the Brigade des Jeunes, a police post in Mauritania’s capital with a specific mandate to deal with juvenile offenders.

    May 21, 2013

    A prominent Syrian human rights lawyer who went missing this weekend after an apparent abduction is at grave risk of abuse, Amnesty International has said. 

    Abdullah al-Khalil, who became head of the local council for al-Raqqa Governorate after armed opposition groups took control in March 2013,  was reportedly taken away by unidentified armed individuals as he left his office in the north-eastern city of al-Raqqa late on Saturday night. 

    Sources close to Abdullah al-Khalil say he and another man were taken away in two cars. Their whereabouts since is unknown. Local armed opposition groups have reportedly denied responsibility for the abduction.

    "Whether the Syrian authorities or local armed groups are behind the incident, the two men are at grave risk of abuse,” said Ann Harrison, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Program.

    “Whoever has information on their fate and whereabouts must inform the men's families."

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