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Torture

    May 16, 2013

    The Moroccan authorities must immediately launch a full, independent and impartial investigation into allegations that six Sahrawi activists – including a child – were tortured in police custody in Western Sahara, Amnesty International said.

    On 15 May, 17-year old El Hussein Bah was jailed in Laayoune, Western Sahara, in spite of a previous decision to release him on bail. He and five other Sahrawis had been arrested on 9 May after protesting for the self-determination of Western Sahara.

    All six have been charged with “violence against public officials”, “participating in an armed gathering”, “placing objects on a road obstructing traffic” and “damaging public property”, punishable with up to 10 years in prison.

    They are currently in pre-trial detention in Laayoune Civil Prison, and there are fears they face unfair trials after reportedly being tortured into making “confessions”.

    April 29, 2013

    The Syrian authorities must immediately reveal the whereabouts of a 16-year-old boy who has been missing since November, Amnesty International has urged.

    Ahmed Ismael al-‘Akkad’s family have not been told anything about his fate or whereabouts since his arrest on 20 November 2012.

    His family received a smuggled note from the teenager 40 days later, in which he said his health was deteriorating due to cramped and humid prison conditions and a lack of medication for his asthma.

    "The Syrian authorities must reveal Ahmed Ismael al-Akkad’s whereabouts and fate.  He must be granted immediate access to his family and lawyer, and receive any medication he needs to control his asthma,” said Ann Harrison, Amnesty International’s Deputy Middle East and North Africa Program Director.

    “They must also ensure he is protected from the systematic torture or other ill-treatment we know occurs in Syrian prisons.  More than 1,000 detainees are reported to have died in custody since March 2011, most apparently from the effects of torture or other ill-treatment. This tidal wave of death must be stopped."

    April 24, 2013

    Bahrain is clearly "not serious" about implementing human rights reforms, Amnesty International said today after the Gulf kingdom cancelled a planned visit by the United Nations' torture expert for a second time.

    The UN Special Rapporteur on torture, Juan Mendez, said he was "deeply disappointed" after Bahrain postponed next month's visit, citing delays in "ongoing national dialogue".

    The Bahraini authorities also cancelled a visit by Juan Mendez in February 2012, claiming they were “still undergoing major reforms".

    "This latest cancellation shows that Bahrain is clearly not serious about implementing human rights reforms. The authorities have used the buzzword of 'reform' as a smoke screen, when in reality they are not reforming," said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui Amnesty International's Middle East and North Africa Deputy Director.

    "There are no reforms in Bahrain, but rather human rights abuses continuing unabated."

    April 11, 2013

    The Ukrainian authorities must seize the current political opportunity to stop the high level of torture and other ill treatment being carried out by its police force by creating a genuinely independent, impartial and effective institution to investigate complaints against the police, Amnesty International said in a report published today.

    “Beatings and torture continue unabated in the Ukraine in spite of the new Criminal Procedure Code adopted by the government late last year. No concrete steps have been taken to set up an independent police accountability mechanism, allowing the police to get away with shocking levels of mistreatment of detainees,” said David Diaz-Jogeix, Europe and Central Asia Deputy Program Director.

    In a new report, Ukraine: Don’t stop halfway: Government must use new Criminal Procedure Code to end torture, Amnesty International examines new cases of torture and other ill-treatment and calls on the government to seize the opportunity created by the new Criminal Procedure Code to establish a State Investigation Bureau as an effective deterrent to would-be torturers among the police.

    April 02, 2013

    A ruling reportedly issued by a court in Saudi Arabia sentencing a man to paralysis as retribution for a crime he allegedly committed 10 years ago, is outrageous and should on no account be carried out, Amnesty International said today.

    Recent reports in Saudi Arabian media have brought to light the case of 24-year-old Ali al-Khawahir, who was reportedly sentenced to qisas (retribution) in the town of Al-Ahsa and could be paralysed from the waist down unless he pays one million Saudi riyals --US$ 270,000 -- in compensation to the victim.

    Ali al-Khawahir had allegedly stabbed his friend in the back, rendering him paralysed from the waist down in or around 2003. Ali al-Khawahir was 14 years’ old at the time.  

    “Paralysing someone as punishment for a crime would be torture,” said Ann Harrison, Middle East and North Africa Deputy Director at Amnesty International.

    “That such a punishment might be implemented is utterly shocking, even in a context where flogging is frequently imposed as a punishment for some offences, as happens in Saudi Arabia.”

    March 21, 2013

    Lawyers are often the last line of defence for those facing torture and unfair trial in the North Caucasus and elsewhere in Russia, yet they themselves often come under attack in connection with their work, Amnesty International said in a report published today.

    Confronting the circle of injustice: Threats and pressure faced by lawyers in the North Caucasus, examines the harassment faced by criminal defence lawyers in the North Caucasus, a region of the Russian Federation where the violence of armed groups is countered by the heavy-handed response of the authorities, often with scant respect for basic human rights.

    “Russian lawyers have a duty to protect the rights of their clients in the face of criminal justice system geared to delivering convictions. Fulfilling their duties towards their clients often brings considerable risks to themselves,” said John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Europe and Central Asia Programme Director.

    March 12, 2013

    A threat by Sudan's Deputy Chief Justice to train judges to carry out amputations if doctors refuse has prompted Amnesty International to call for an immediate halt to any further such punishments, which are in serious breach of international law.

    Deputy Chief Justice Abdul Rahman Sharfi has also threatened to prosecute doctors who refuse to carry out amputation sentences.

    On 14 February 2013 doctors removed the hand and leg of a man who had been convicted for robbery, in what represented the first case that human rights organisations were able to document since 2002. But Sharfi indicated that 16 amputation sentences had actually been carried out in Sudan since 2001, in a statement suggesting that the punishment might be more pervasive than was previously believed.

    “This cruel and inhuman treatment, which is banned under international law, needs to be abolished immediately,” said Netsanet Belay, Amnesty International’s Africa Program Director. “The Government of Sudan needs to amend its national legislation to stop this torture and bring its Penal Code into line with international standards."

     

    March 05, 2013

    Video footage apparently showing the torture of  two men in Fiji is “shocking”, Amnesty International said on Tuesday, as it called for an independent investigation into the events.

    The nine minute video posted online appears to show two men being repeatedly beaten with poles, as they lie huddled on the ground handcuffed and screaming in agony as batons are used repeatedly against them.

    The authenticity of the footage is still to be verified and the perpetrators are not in uniform, however, it appears consistent with earlier reports of brutality against  prisoners.

    “This appalling incident appears to be the latest example of abuse. The Fijian authorities must treat this shocking footage with the utmost seriousness and immediately initiate an independent investigation,” said Roseann Rife of Amnesty International. “While the video is still to be verified what is clear is that torture is unacceptable under any circumstances and those responsible must be brought to justice.”

    February 28, 2013

     

    Media reports and cell phone footage apparently showing South African police tying a Mozambican man to the back of a police vehicle and dragging him down the road are “shocking”, Amnesty International said today.

    The man is reported to have died later in a police cell from head injuries.

    “This appalling incident involving excessive force is the latest in an increasingly disturbing pattern of brutal police conduct in South Africa,” said Noel Kututwa, Amnesty International’s southern Africa director.

    “The Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) must be fully supported in conducting its investigation to ensure those responsible are brought to justice.”

    “Amnesty International urges the South African government to make a public commitment to ensure that the police stop the use of excessive force and deliberate targeted killings.”

    The Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) received 720 new cases for investigation of suspicious deaths in custody or in other policing contexts from April 2011 to March 2012.
     

    February 18, 2013

    The Moroccan authorities must use civilian courts to give fair retrials to 25 Sahrawis and fully investigate their allegations of torture, Amnesty International said today after a military court handed them long prison sentences. 

    On Sunday, the Military Court of Rabat handed down nine life sentences and sentenced 14 other defendants to between 20-30 years imprisonment each. Two other defendants were released having served their two-year sentences in pre-trial detention.

    The convictions relate to violence during and after the Moroccan security forces’ dismantling of the Gdim Izik protest camp in November 2010, during which 11 members of the security forces and two Sahrawis were killed.

    “The Moroccan authorities have ignored calls to try the defendants in an independent, impartial civilian court. Instead they have opted for a military court where civilians can never receive a fair trial.” said Ann Harrison, Deputy Middle East and North Africa Programme Director at Amnesty International.

    January 24, 2013

    A former Saudi Arabian diplomat who was due to be deported from Qatar to his native country was able to travel to Morocco after receiving support from Qatar’s National Human Rights Committee, Amnesty International said.

    Mishal bin Zaar Hamad al-Mutiry, aged 50, and his family are now in Morocco after leaving the Gulf country on 18 January.

    The Qatari authorities halted his deportation to Saudi Arabia after pressure, including from Amnesty International, and efforts by Qatar’s National Human Rights Committee (NHRC), which intervened to help pay the al-Mutiry family’s travel expenses to Morocco.

    “The spotlight shone on this case resulted in the Qatari authorities curtailing their plans to deport Mishal al-Mutiry long enough for him and his family to leave of their own accord, and the assistance of the NHRC was crucial to ensuring they could travel,” said Philip Luther, Middle East and North Africa Program Director at Amnesty International.

    “Given that Mishal al-Mutiry faced a real risk of torture in Saudi Arabia, it is a huge relief that the authorities did not end up forcing him to return there.”

    January 04, 2013

    The arrest in the UK of a Nepali man on allegations of torture is a welcome indication of the UK’s readiness to comply with its international obligations in combating torture. It could also be an important step for victims failed by the Nepali justice system Amnesty International said.

    UK police on 3 January 2012 arrested a 46-year man, reportedly a high-ranking army official,   on suspicion of torture of detainees in 2005, during Nepal’s civil war.

    “This arrest may prove to be a welcome step towards accountability, but it also really highlights the Nepal government’s failure to provide justice for the thousands of victims of torture, enforced disappearance, unlawful killings and other human rights abuses in the country,” said Polly Truscott, Deputy Asia-Pacific Director.

    Despite repeated promises by the government of Nepal, there has yet to be any meaningful investigations into the multitude of abuses committed by both government forces and Maoist combatants during Nepal’s civil war.

    October 25, 2012

    A climate of fear has fallen over Guinea Bissau since Tuesday when two government critics were badly beaten and soldiers conducted searches for people they suspect were involved in an attack on a military barracks early Sunday.

    The government claims the attack on the barracks of an elite army unit based on the outskirts of the capital, Bissau, was an attempted coup by supporters of the previous Prime Minister Carlos Gomez Júnior, who was himself ousted by a coup in April this year.

    “It is wholly unacceptable that civilians are being terrorised because they happen to live in an area where the army suspects that supporters of the former government are hiding,” said Noel Kututwa, Amnesty International’s southern Africa director.

    “It is imperative that the authorities uphold the rule of law and conduct investigations into this alleged attack rather than hunting opposition politicians down on the streets.”

    On Tuesday 23 October two outspoken critics of the transitional government were badly beaten by soldiers, some of whom were dressed in civilian clothes.

    October 24, 2012

    Claims that a Russian opposition MP’s assistant was abducted in Ukraine and forced to return to Russia where he has alleged he was tortured or otherwise ill-treated must be investigated, Amnesty International said in a letter to the Russian Federation Prosecutor General.

    Leonid Razvozzhayev, was reportedly interrogated by the Investigations Committee of the Russian Federation on 22 October 2012, three days after his abduction from Ukraine, which followed his approach to the United Nations’ High Commissioner for Refugees Office in Kyiv to seek asylum.

    His abduction took place on the same day he was put on a “wanted list” in the Russian Federation in connection to a criminal case against him and two others, including the leftist front activist, Sergey Udaltsov and his assistant, Konstantin Lebedev, on charges of plotting mass disturbances.

    October 23, 2012

    Parliamentarians in the Dominican Republic must take advantage of an ongoing debate around the current Penal Code and decriminalize abortion, Amnesty International said ahead of a vote on Wednesday.

    Article 90 of the Penal Code envisages criminal penalties for women who seek an abortion and for those who provide it or help provide it – regardless of the circumstances, including if the pregnancy was the result of rape or incest or if the life of the women is endangered by carrying on with the pregnancy.

    ”The proposed penal code flies on the face of women's and girls’ human rights and maintains a situation in which health professionals are prevented from providing the best care for their patients,” said Javier Zúñiga, Special Advisor at Amnesty International.

    “The criminalization of abortion in all circumstances, as maintained in the new legislation, violates women’s rights to life, health and not to suffer torture or ill treatment and discrimination and it goes against international human rights commitments made by the Dominican Republic.”

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