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    November 22, 2011

    Egypt's military rulers have completely failed to live up to their promises to Egyptians to improve human rights and have instead been responsible for a catalogue of abuses which in some cases exceeds the record of Hosni Mubarak, Amnesty International said today in a new report.

    In Broken Promises: Egypt's Military Rulers Erode Human Rights, the organization documents a woeful performance on human rights by the Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF) which assumed power after the fall of former President Hosni Mubarak in February.

    The report's release follows a bloody few days in Egypt that left many dead and hundreds injured as army and security forces violently attempted to disperse anti-SCAF protesters from Cairo’s Tahrir square.

    "By using military courts to try thousands of civilians, cracking down on peaceful protest and expanding the remit of Mubarak's Emergency Law, the SCAF has continued the tradition of repressive rule which the January 25 demonstrators fought so hard to get rid of," said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Acting Director.

    November 17, 2011

    The Iraqi authorities must commute all death sentences and ensure verdicts are not based on forced confessions involving torture, Amnesty International said today after 11 people, convicted of terrorism-related offences were hanged in Baghdad on Wednesday.

    Among the executed men was a Tunisian national who was sentenced to death for his alleged involvement in an attack against the al-‘Askari Shi’a Muslim Shrine in Samarra in February 2006 which sparked an eruption of sectarian violence. A further 10 people are reportedly due to be executed in Iraq today.

    “While the Iraqi government has the right to bring to justice those responsible for serious crimes, the death penalty violates the right to life and should not be used in any case" said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Acting Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

    “Given the appalling state of Iraq’s justice system, it is questionable whether these 11 people received a fair trial.

    November 07, 2011

    Sri Lanka is not credibly investigating torture, Amnesty International said on the eve of a review by the UN Committee Against Torture into the country.

    In its briefing to the UN committee, Amnesty International, working closely with Sri Lankan human rights defenders, documented a persistent pattern of torture of detainees and a culture of impunity in Sri Lanka. 

    “There is no longer an independently functioning unit investigating torture allegations levelled against the security forces, which calls into question Sri Lanka’s commitment to ending this abhorrent practice,” said Yolanda Foster, Amnesty International’s Sri Lanka expert.

    “It’s not enough to have legislation if you have no effective means of implementing it. Although Sri Lanka has a law against torture, in effect it is treated as little more than a piece of paper, as Sri Lankan colleagues have pointed out,” she said.

    During the first 14 years of the anti-torture legislation, only three prosecutions were reportedly made under the Special Investigation Unit of the police, which has since been sidelined.

    November 01, 2011

    The Finnish authorities must further investigate newly released data to determine if USA rendition flights landed in the country, Amnesty International said today.

    The Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs published information last week revealing some 150 landings in Finland by aircraft connected to the CIA’s rendition and secret detention programs but said they were only seeking clarification from the USA on one flight despite questions over a number of flights.

    The ministry also claimed that all but one of the flights in the data set were “civilian” in nature and therefore not connected to unlawful activity by the USA or any other state.

    “While it is welcome that Finland has published the data, this is only a first step,” said Julia Hall, Amnesty International’s expert on counter-terrorism and human rights.

    “The material raises more questions than it answers and provides ample reason for further investigation. Finland has a legal obligation to do so since we know that many of those subjected to rendition were tortured and otherwise ill-treated.”

    November 01, 2011

    The Afghan government must work with neighbouring countries to protect human rights while facing an increasingly bloody insurgency, Amnesty International said today as a conference in Istanbul brought together officials from across the region.

    Heads of state from Afghanistan and Pakistan joined other regional officials and key partners – including the USA and NATO – at the conference to discuss a road map for Afghanistan’s security handover, planned for 2014.

    “The security of Afghan people is inextricably intertwined with that of the wider region, and any road map must ensure improved protection and promotion of human rights across the region,” said Sam Zarifi, Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific Programme Director.

    “Particularly, the stability and prosperity of the region depends on authorities on both sides of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border taking action to prioritize human rights – especially women’s rights – in the run-up to and after the NATO handover.”

    October 31, 2011

    Egyptian political parties must deliver 10 key human rights reforms to deliver the new Egypt promised by the “25 January Revolution”, Amnesty International said today.

    A month ahead of parliamentary elections, the organization is asking all candidates in Egypt’s elections to sign a “manifesto” to signal that they are serious about meaningful human rights reform.

    “The political parties competing in next month’s elections have a big responsibility – the Egyptian people have a right to expect that they will finally see the changes which, almost a year since 25 January, still seem so far away,” said Amnesty International.

    “Justice and the end of repression were among the key demands of Egypt's demonstrators. Political parties now need to set out their programmes to address a legacy of abuse and make concrete human rights pledges”.

    “Under the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, Egyptians fear that one repressive rule is being replaced with another. They are now looking to political leaders to take decisive action to end the injustice and abuses which have marred Egypt for the last 30 years.”

    October 27, 2011

    The Uruguayan Congress adopted a law early today that marks an important step toward justice for the many victims of gross human rights violations during the country’s military rule, Amnesty International said today.

    The new law eliminates the effects of the 1986 Amnesty Law (also known as Expiry Law), which protected police and military personnel from being prosecuted for human rights violations, and repeals a statute of limitations that would have prevented victims from filing criminal complaints as of 1 November.

    “With the approval of this new law, Uruguay’s Congress has taken an historical step forward in the fight against impunity for past crimes,” said Guadalupe Marengo, Deputy Director of Americas Programme at Amnesty International.

    Amnesty International had repeatedly called on the Uruguayan authorities to repeal the Amnesty Law, which prevented prosecutions of those accused of torture, killings, enforced disappearances and other serious human rights violations between 1973 and 1985, before the country’s return to democratic rule.

    October 27, 2011

    A Buenos Aires court’s conviction of 16 former military officials for crimes against humanity committed decades ago is a powerful victory for justice in the fight against impunity, Amnesty International said today.

    Former Navy captain Alfredo Astiz and 15 others were yesterday given prison sentences for their role in crimes against humanity committed during military rule between 1976 and 1983. These included the arbitrary detention, torture and unlawful killing of dozens of people at a secret detention centre set up in a military school in Buenos Aires. 

    Among those killed were French nuns Léonie Duquet and Alice Domon, human rights activists Azucena Villaflor, María Bianco and Esther Careaga, co-founders of the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo, and writer and journalist Rodolfo Walsh.

    “This verdict is the latest to bring former military officials to account for egregious human rights violations committed during Argentina’s ‘Dirty War’ in the 70s and 80s,” said Guadalupe Marengo, Deputy Americas Programme Director at Amnesty International.

    October 27, 2011

    Lithuania’s failure to investigate its role in the US-led rendition program has forced an alleged victim of secret detention to take his case to the European Court of Human Rights, Amnesty International said today.

    The case - filed today – centres on Abu Zubaydah’s allegations that he was transferred to Lithuania in 2005, where he was tortured at a secret detention facility.

    A Lithuanian parliamentary inquiry conducted in 2009 concluded that two secret CIA detention facilities had been prepared between 2002 and 2004 to receive detainees. However, a national investigation into those facilities, started in January 2010, was closed a year later on highly dubious grounds.

     “The Lithuanian authorities have an obligation to investigate and they have the capacity to do so. But apparently they also have a fear of what the truth may reveal about Lithuania’s role in these appalling abuses” said Julia Hall, Amnesty International’s expert on counter-terrorism and human rights.

    October 26, 2011

    The Honourable Diane Ablonczy
    Minister of State for Foreign Affairs (Americas and Consular Affairs)
    House of Commons
    Ottawa, Ontario

    October 26, 2011

    Dear Minister of State Ablonczy,

    URGENT: Naser Bader Al-Raas Sentenced in Bahrain

    I am writing this open letter to you further to our letters of October 3 and 25, 2011 regarding the case of Canadian citizen Naser Bader Al-Raas, who faces a five year prison term in Bahrain.Amnesty International has now had an opportunity to review his case fully, including the verdict delivered yesterday. Our concerns have only mounted.

    October 25, 2011

    Authorities in the Dominican Republic must urgently reform their police force to tackle alarming levels of killings and torture, Amnesty International said in a new report today.

    ‘Shut up if you don’t want to be killed’: Human Rights violations by the police in the Dominican Republic, documents scores of cases of killings, torture and ill-treatment at the hands of police, gathered during three research missions in the country and the lack of effective investigations

    “Authorities must ensure those responsible for the killings and torture face justice and that steps are taken to change the policies and practices that allow these abuses to take place,” said Javier Zúñiga, Head of Amnesty International’s delegation in the Dominican Republic.

    “The official view continues to be that human rights violations are committed by a few corrupt or unprofessional officers who are swiftly dealt with and held accountable but the reality paints a very different picture.”

    October 24, 2011

    The Syrian government has turned hospitals into instruments of repression in its efforts to crush opposition, Amnesty International said today in a new report.

    The 39-page report Health Crisis: Syrian Government Targets the Wounded and Health Workers documents how wounded patients in at least four government-run hospitals have been subjected to torture and other ill-treatment, including by medical workers.

    Hospital workers suspected of treating protesters and others injured in unrest-related incidents have themselves faced arrest and torture.

    "It is deeply alarming that the Syrian authorities seem to have given the security forces a free rein in hospitals, and that in many cases hospital staff appear to have taken part in torture and ill treatment of the very people they are supposed to care for," said Cilina Nasser, Amnesty International Middle East and North Africa researcher.

    "Given the scale and seriousness of the injuries being sustained by people across the country, it is disturbing to find that many consider it safer to risk not having major wounds treated rather than going to proper medical facilities."

    October 20, 2011

    The reported death of Colonel Mu'ammar al-Gaddafi would bring to a close a chapter of Libya's history marked by repression and abuse but does not end the story, Amnesty International said today.

    “The legacy of repression and abuse from Colonel Mu'ammar al-Gaddafi's rule will not end until there is a full accounting for the past and human rights are embedded in Libya's new institutions,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Deputy Director for North Africa and the Middle East at Amnesty International.

    "Colonel al-Gaddafi’s death must not stop his victims in Libya from seeing justice being done. The many Libyan officials suspected of serious human rights violations committed during and before this year's uprising, including the infamous Abu Salim prison massacre in 1996, must answer for their crimes."

    "The new authorities must make a complete break from the culture of abuse that Colonel al-Gaddafi’s regime perpetuated and initiate the human rights reforms that are urgently needed in the country."

    October 19, 2011

    Local and foreign armed groups in the CAR are still killing, abducting, torturing and raping civilians, as well as burning houses and looting property, Amnesty International said in a report released today.

    The report Central African Republic - Action needed to end decades of abuse describes how CAR’s population has been terrorized for decades by armed groups who have been able to operate with virtual impunity.

    Despite peace agreements and a fledgling Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration process, armed conflict continues to ravage the country resulting in civilian deaths and mass internal displacement.

    “The CAR covers an enormous territory and most of it is a black hole in terms of human rights. At least 14 armed groups are currently operating in the country yet the government has consistently shown itself to be incapable or unwilling to take action to protect its citizens,” said Godfrey Byaruhanga, Amnesty International’s Central Africa researcher.

    October 17, 2011

    The Iranian authorities will make a farce of a UN Committee hearing into Iran’s human rights record unless they acknowledge current and past abuses, Amnesty International warned today.

    The UN Human Rights Committee, which monitors how states comply with their obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, begins meeting today to consider Iran. The Iranian authorities’ report to the Committee, the first submitted since 1993; is more than a decade late.

    “The Iranian authorities have already shown contempt for the Committee by submitting this report so late” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

    “They must now provide truthful answers to its questions and commit to providing a remedy to the many Iranians and their families who have suffered human rights violations”.

    The Committee’s task is to consider how far Iran has upheld key rights enshrined in the Convention, including the right to life; freedom of expression, non- discrimination, and the prohibition of torture and arbitrary detention.


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