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Torture

    October 22, 2012

    Two former leaders of the Bahrain Teachers’ Association (BTA) received prison sentences on Sunday when an appeal court upheld a guilty verdict in what Amnesty International called another injustice.

    Family members called the ruling a “nightmare”. Mahdi 'Issa Mahdi Abu Dheeb was sentenced to five years in prison while Jalila al-Salman – who was not present in the courtroom – was handed a six-month sentence. The new ruling reduces their sentences from 10 years’ and three years’ imprisonment, respectively.

    Following his arrest after calling for a teachers’ strike early in 2011, Abu Dheeb has already spent some 18 months in prison, while al-Salman spent five and a half months in prison before being released on bail. Amnesty International considers Abu Dheeb to be a prisoner of conscience and will grant the same status to al-Salman if she is returned to jail.

    October 22, 2012

    A shop worker convicted of a drugs-related charge was among 10 men put to death in Iran on Monday morning, despite calls on the country’s authorities by Amnesty International, UN human rights experts and others to halt their executions.

    Saeed Sedeghi was permitted a “final meeting” with his mother at Evin Prison on Sunday, when judicial officials announced that his death sentence would be carried out early on Monday.

    “Saeed Sedeghi and the nine other men executed today are the latest in Iran’s state killing spree, which has seen more than 360 individuals executed this year – the majority of them convicted drugs offenders. Such executions inflict needless suffering on Iranian families and are misguided, ineffectual and an affront to human rights,” said Ann Harrison, Deputy Middle East and North Africa Programme Director at Amnesty International.

    Sedeghi’s family has informed Amnesty International that his body was swiftly returned to them after the execution. 

    October 22, 2012

    Progress on human rights in Tunisia that followed the ousting of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali is being rolled back by the current Tunisian Government, casting doubt on their commitment to reforms, Amnesty International warned as the country marked the first anniversary of National Constituent Assembly (NCA) elections.

    In a new briefing, One step forward, two steps back?,  the organization examines the challenges facing human rights in Tunisia since the October 2011 elections and identifies worrying trends, making a series of detailed recommendations.

    In the months following the ousting of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, the caretaker government made important progress on the road to reform including the ratification of key international human rights treaties.

    The authorities also ordered the release of political prisoners and prisoners of conscience held before the uprising, enacted new laws on the freedom of the press and lifted restrictions on the creation of associations.  

    However, the new government has failed to maintain these initiatives and a number of setbacks now cast a shadow on Tunisia’s genuine commitment to human rights.

    October 22, 2012

    You may be forgiven for not having heard of the Copenhagen ‘Principles’.

    They have after all been reached in quasi-secrecy during a five-year process behind closed doors.

    Yet they refer to something of international importance – the handling of detainees in international military operations.

    On 20 October 2012, the Denmark’s Foreign Ministry of Denmark announced that a group of two dozen states meeting in private in Copenhagen had adopted the “principles and guidelines”.

    They come after Denmark deliberately convened discussions outside of any established international organisation in order to retain the ability to exclude certain states and civil society including organisations such as Amnesty International.

    The content of discussions was only revealed when Amnesty International and a handful of other civil society organisations were invited to a brief meeting with Danish authorities on the morning of 16 October, less than 48 hours before the final (and once again confidential) meeting of states was to begin.

    October 19, 2012

    Convictions and sentences against two former leaders of the Bahrain Teachers’ Association must be quashed, Amnesty International urged ahead of the final verdict in their trial this weekend.

    Teachers Jalila al-Salman and Mahdi 'Issa Mahdi Abu Dheeb face three and 10 years in prison, respectively, if the court upholds their convictions and sentences on 21 October. Abu Dheeb is already serving his sentence while al-Salman was previously released on bail.

    After calling for a teachers’ strike in early 2011 to support Bahraini protesters’ calls for reform, the two were arrested and initially tried before a military court. They were later held in solitary confinement, where Abu Dheeb and al-Salman were subjected to torture and other ill-treatment and they said they were forced to sign “confessions” that they did not even read.

    Amnesty International has campaigned extensively on their cases and has adopted Abu Dheeb as a prisoner of conscience. The organization would consider al-Salman to be a prisoner of conscience if she too ends up behind bars.

    October 18, 2012

    A year on from the capture and killing of Colonel Mu’ammar al-Gaddafi, Amnesty International is calling on the Libyan authorities to hand over immediately the former ruler’s military intelligence chief to the International Criminal Court (ICC) to face charges of crimes against humanity.

    Despite an ICC arrest warrant for Abdullah al-Senussi being active since June 2011, he was extradited back to Libya on 5 September after being arrested in Mauritania in March of this year.

    Amnesty International is concerned that since his incarceration in Libya, it appears no independent organizations, relatives or his lawyers have had access to him.

    Al-Senussi’s case is symptomatic of a wider situation in Libya of a justice system in disarray.

    “A year after the end of hostilities, victims of serious human rights abuses – by the former government as well as its opponents – have yet to see justice. What we witness today in Libya is revenge and not justice,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Deputy Middle East and North Africa Programme Director at Amnesty International.

    October 16, 2012

     Amnesty International has urged Ukrainian parliamentarians ahead of parliamentary elections on 28 October to commit publicly to addressing police abuse in the country.

    One year since Amnesty International launched its report “No Evidence of a Crime: Paying the Price for Police Impunity in Ukraine”, a review of the manifestos of all major parties contesting the elections shows that none of the parties have put forward a concrete proposal for investigating and punishing endemic police criminality in Ukraine.

    In a number of recent surveys, between 63.9 and 84 percent of Ukrainians have said that they don’t trust their police force. Amnesty International is therefore concerned by politicians’ failure to put concrete proposals on how to address police abuse to the electorate.

    October 15, 2012

    The United Kingdom government’s plans for a substantial extension of the use of secret evidence in the justice system have been heavily criticized in a new Amnesty International report published today.

    The proposals would allow the government to rely on secret evidence in civil cases, including cases of alleged government responsibility for human rights violations such as torture and enforced disappearance.

    The measures, contained in the Justice and Security Bill due to be debated in the House of Lords in the coming weeks, would allow the government to use so-called “closed material procedures” to prevent individuals and their lawyers from seeing documents even when they show the involvement of UK officials in wrongdoing, no matter how grave. If such disclosures are deemed to harm “national security”, then the material can be withheld, potentially indefinitely, even if there is an overwhelming public interest in disclosure.

    October 11, 2012

    The Mexican authorities must take decisive action to tackle the systemic and widespread use of torture and ill treatment documented across the country, which dramatically increased under the government of Felipe Calderón, Amnesty International said in a new report today.

    The report Abusers known, victims ignored: Torture and ill treatment in Mexico explores the increase of cases of torture and ill-treatment by police and security forces during the Calderón administration, the lack of effective investigations and the denial of justice for the victims.

    “The Calderón administration has effectively turned a blind eye to the ‘torture epidemic’ we’ve been witnessing in Mexico,” said Rupert Knox, Mexico researcher at Amnesty International.

    “The protection of human rights has been ignored or sidelined in favour of the government’s strategy of militarized combat of organized crime and drug cartels.”

    “Across Mexico criminal suspects often face detention and trial on the basis of evidence obtained under torture and ill-treatment while prosecutors and courts fail to question seriously information or evidence obtained in this manner.”

    October 11, 2012

    Iran must release Majid Sedeghi, who was arrested this morning shortly before his brother Saeed Sedeghi had been expected to be executed in Tehran’s Evin Prison, unless he is to be charged with an internationally recognizable offence, Amnesty International said.

    Majid Sedeghi was arrested at his home by two plain-clothed security officers in the early hours of Thursday, a day after giving interviews to BBC Persian – the BBC's Persian language news service - and Voice of America about his brother Saeed Sedeghi, a shop worker who was sentenced to death for drug-trafficking in June after an unfair trial.

    He has so far not been able to contact his family, who were not told the reasons for his arrest, nor where he was taken.

    “If Majid Sedeghi is being held solely for peacefully advocating on behalf of his brother – as he is entitled to do under international law - by giving interviews about Saeed Sedeghi's case, then he should be released immediately and unconditionally,” said Ann Harrison, Deputy Middle East and North Africa Program Director at Amnesty International.

    October 09, 2012

    The Congolese government must take urgent steps to stop the violence in the east of the country and hold to account all who have committed human rights abuses, Amnesty International said, as the DRC prepares to host a major gathering of Francophone leaders.
     
    The Francophonie Summit – a biennial gathering of French speaking nations - will be hosted from the 12 -14 October in Kinshasa, as violence in the east is escalating, resulting in widespread violations of international human rights and humanitarian law.

    “Human rights abuses continue unabated and with total impunity,” says Audrey Gaughran, Amnesty International’s Africa Director.

    An Amnesty International delegation has recently returned from eastern DRC, where delegates documented cases of rape, summary killings, forced recruitment of civilians including children, looting and illegal taxation by different armed groups.

    October 08, 2012

    Rwanda’s military intelligence department known as J2 has illegally held scores of civilians in military detention without charge or trial amid credible claims of torture, Amnesty International states today in a new report.   
     
    Rwanda: Shrouded in Secrecy: Illegal Detention and Torture by Military Intelligence reveals unlawful detention, enforced disappearances, as well as allegations of torture by J2. 
     
    The report details credible accounts of individuals being subjected to serious beatings, electric shocks and sensory deprivation to force confessions during interrogations. 
     
    “The Rwandan military’s human rights record abroad is increasingly scrutinized, but their unlawful detention and torture of civilians in Rwanda is shrouded in secrecy,” said Sarah Jackson, Amnesty International’s Acting Deputy Africa Director. 
     
    Hidden from view by J2, scores of men languished in incommunicado detention for months and some alleged they were tortured. 
     

    October 05, 2012

     As a large contingent of armed forces and armed militias surround Bani Walid in preparation for a possible assault, Amnesty International has called on the Libyan authorities to avoid unnecessary and excessive use of force in the city and to ensure that medical and other essential supplies are allowed into the city.

    On 25 September, Libya’s parliament, the General National Congress authorized the Ministries of Interior and Defence to use force if necessary to arrest suspects including those responsible for the alleged torture and killing of Omran Shaaban, credited with capturing Colonel Mu’ammar al-Gaddafi on 20 October 2011.

    It also called for the release of other detainees held in Bani Walid and set a deadline for implementation of 10 days.

    Following the decision, members of the Libyan army, Libya Shield forces and armed militias from various parts of the country, including Misratah, surrounded Bani Walid, about 140 kilometres south-east of Tripoli.

    October 03, 2012

    South Sudan should take immediate action to end human rights violations including torture, shootings and sexual violence by security forces carrying out a civilian disarmament campaign in Jonglei State, Amnesty International said in a new report today.

    The abuses by the South Sudan Army (known as the SPLA) and the South Sudan Police Service Auxiliary Force (SSPS) have taken place during Operation Restore Peace, instigated by the government in March 2012.

    “Far from bringing security to the region, the SPLA and the police auxiliary forces have committed shocking human rights violations and the authorities are doing very little to stop the abuse,” says Audrey Gaughran, Amnesty International’s Africa Director.

    “Authorities have accepted that individuals are guilty of these violations and claim that it is not illustrative of the behaviour of the SPLA as a whole, but this cannot be used to justify these violations or the failure to deal with them properly.”

    October 03, 2012

    The extra-judicial execution by firing squad of a man in Mali was a horrific and illegal act and those responsible must be held to account, Amnesty International said.

    The call came after the man, who had been accused of murdering his neighbour, was shot on Tuesday evening by members of Islamist armed group seeking to impose their strict interpretation of Sharia law.

    “Irrespective of the offences committed, extra-judicial executions are prohibited under international humanitarian and human rights law and all parties involved in the conflict in Mali must ensure civilians are protected,” said Gaëtan Mootoo, Amnesty International's researcher on West Africa.

    A witness to the execution told Amnesty International: "They brought him between 5 and 6pm in a square between [two] hotels … and said that this man had killed a person and should therefore be killed.

    “They made him pray first, then they tied his hands and feet and forced him to kneel. And many of them shot at him.

    “When they fired, the crowd left the place because we didn't want to see this."

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