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Torture

    August 25, 2011

    Both sides to the ongoing conflict in Libya must ensure that detainees in their custody are not tortured or otherwise ill-treated, Amnesty International said today.

    The call followed reports from Amnesty International's delegation in Libya on Tuesday, which has gathered powerful testimonies from survivors of abuse at the hands of both pro-Gaddafi soldiers and rebel forces, in and around the town of Az-Zawiya.

    TESTIMONIES OF ABUSE COMMITTED BY REBEL FORCES:

    August 24, 2011

    The Bangladesh authorities must honour their pledge to stop extrajudicial executions by a special police force accused of involvement in hundreds of killings, Amnesty International said today in a new report.

    Crimes unseen: Extrajudicial executions in Bangladesh also documents how the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) justify these killings as accidental or as a result of officers acting in self-defence, although in reality many victims are killed following their arrest.

    “Hardly a week goes by in Bangladesh without someone being shot by RAB with the authorities saying they were killed or injured in ‘crossfire’ or a ‘gun-fight’. However the authorities choose to describe such incidents, the fact remains that they are suspected unlawful killings,” said Abbas Faiz, Amnesty International’s Bangladesh Researcher.

    August 24, 2011

    Journalists and activists in Syria who pass on information about the country's unrest to the media face torture and other ill-treatment, Amnesty International said today, as one journalist started his second week in incommunicado detention.

    'Adel Walid Kharsa was arrested by security forces in his hometown of Hama on 17 August, seemingly in connection with his news reports on the protests.

    Amnesty International has information indicating that other detainees have been tortured to find out whether they have given news about events in Syria to regional and international media.

    "‘Adel Walid Kharsa appears to have been arrested for his work reporting on the popular protests and the government’s brutal security crackdown in Hama,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

    “If this is the case then he is a prisoner of conscience and should be released immediately and unconditionally.

    August 17, 2011

    For more than nine years, two Indigenous women in Mexico have taken on the military and the authorities to demand justice after they were raped by soldiers in the southern state of Guerrero in 2002.

    Despite a lengthy investigation and Inter-American Court rulings in favour of Inés Fernández Ortega and Valentina Rosendo Cantú last August, their attackers have remained at large, seemingly shielded by Mexico’s military justice system. Meanwhile the women and their families have faced threats as the legal battle continued.

    But on 12 August, Fernández and Rosendo were given some hope that the soldiers who raped them might finally be brought to justice.

    The investigations into their cases have now been moved to civilian courts, after Mexico’s Military Prosecutor’s office recognized it lacks the jurisdiction to prosecute cases where members of the armed forces are accused of committing human rights violations.

    August 17, 2011

    Amnesty International welcomes the historic decision of the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women in the complaint regarding Alyne da Silva Pimentel v. Brazil (Communication No. 17/2008).

    Alyne da Silva Pimentel, a 28-year-old woman of African descent and resident of one of Rio de Janeiro’s poorest districts, was six months pregnant with her second child, when she died of complications resulting from pregnancy after her local health center misdiagnosed her symptoms and delayed providing her with emergency care.

    The case was brought by Alyne’s mother who was represented by the Center for Reproductive Rights and the Brazilian NGO Advocacia Cidadã pelos Direitos Humanos. Amnesty International and others provided amicus curiae briefs to the Committee.

    August 16, 2011

    Amnesty International today urged Guatemalan presidential candidates to prioritise tackling human rights violations affecting hundreds of thousands in the country.

    In an open letter sent to all presidential candidates, Amnesty International said the new government should improve investigations into past human rights abuses, tackle the alarming rates of violent crime and killings of women, provide long term solutions to land conflicts and protect the work of human rights activists.

    “Human rights abuses are a common problem in Guatemala today. Those particularly affected tend to be the most vulnerable, the ones who are most discriminated against: women, indigenous peoples and those living in poverty,” said Sebastian Elgueta, Guatemala researcher at Amnesty International.

    “The political will of the future President will be crucial in ensuring human rights are protected in Guatemala. This is why it is so crucial that candidates commit to addressing the human rights challenges ahead.”

    August 15, 2011

    At least three young human rights activists who helped to organize peaceful protests in and near Damascus are being held incommunicado in unknown locations after their recent arrest, while fears are growing for a fourth who has gone missing.

    The news of the activists’ plight comes amid reports that some 25 people have been killed since yesterday in the port city of Latakia, where Syrian tanks and ships reportedly continue to shell residential areas in an attempt to quell protests.

    Across Syria, more than 1,700 people have been killed since mass protests began in mid-March, according to a list of names compiled by Amnesty International.  

    “The Syrian authorities must immediately reveal the whereabouts of any activists arrested in connection with the ongoing pro-reform protests and give them access to their families and lawyers,” said Philip Luther, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Program.

    August 12, 2011

    Four staff members of a forensic anthropology team in Guatemala have received death threats after testifying at a recent high-profile trial over a 1982 army massacre that left 250 villagers dead.

    Freddy Peccerelli, the founder of the Guatemalan Forensic Anthropology Foundation, received a hand-written death threat in Guatemala City on 8 August. The note also mentioned his colleagues José Samuel Suasnavar, Leonel Estuardo Paiz and Omar Bertoni, all of whom gave testimony at the trial.

    The threat came after a judge in Guatemala City sentenced four former soldiers from an elite army unit to 6,060 years in prison on 2 August for their role in a 1982 massacre in Dos Erres village in Guatemala’s northern Petén region.

    “It is unacceptable for expert witnesses to be intimidated like this, and Guatemalan authorities must order an independent, thorough and impartial investigation into these threats and bring those responsible to justice,” said Sebastian Elgueta, Amnesty International’s Central America Researcher.

    August 11, 2011

    The Saudi Arabian authorities must release or charge with an internationally recognizable offence a Shi’a cleric reportedly held for "inciting public opinion", Amnesty International said today.

    Sheikh Tawfiq Jaber Ibrahim al-'Amr was arrested on 3 August, reportedly over statements he had made in sermons during Friday prayers although no formal charges are known to have been made.

    The cleric was previously arrested in February following a sermon he gave calling for reforms in Saudi Arabia including a constitutional monarchy, fair distribution of jobs, and an end to discrimination against religious minorities.

    "It would appear that this cleric has been arrested in connection to his continuing calls for reform," said Philip Luther, Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International.

    "If so, he would be a prisoner of conscience detained solely for peacefully exercising his right to freedom of expression and should be released immediately and unconditionally."

    Sheikh Tawfiq Jaber Ibrahim al-‘Amr was arrested on 3 August while on his way home from a mosque in the city of al-Hafouf, al-Ahsa governorate.

    August 08, 2011

    Two Bahraini MPs jailed during anti-government protests might still be facing criminal charges despite being released from prison this weekend, Amnesty International has warned.

    Matar Matar and Jawad Fairouz, who were reportedly tortured in detention, were among at least three opposition figures freed on 7 August.

    "The release of these government critics is welcome, if overdue, but the Bahraini authorities must ensure that all charges based on their legitimate exercise of freedom of expression or other human rights are also dropped, so that the threat of re-imprisonment is not left hanging over Matar Matar, Jawad Fairouz and others," said Malcolm Smart, Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Program.

    The third government critic confirmed released this weekend was human rights lawyer Mohammed al-Tajer, who told Amnesty International today that his peaceful activities remain stifled.

    "As far as I am concerned the charges against me have not been dropped. The items confiscated from my office have not been returned and my bank account is frozen," said Mohammed al-Tajer.

    August 05, 2011

    Amnesty International today called on the Jordanian authorities to ensure that the next phase of the investigation into the reported use of excessive force against demonstrators and journalists during a protest in Amman on 15 July 2011 is carried out by a body that is fully independent and impartial and will be perceived as such.

    In a letter sent today to Minister of Interior Mazen Al Saket, Amnesty International welcomed the recent publication of the preliminary findings of an investigation panel set up by the Public Security Directorate (PSD) and a number of its recommendations, including an extended time frame for the investigation, but also expressed concern about the impartiality of the panel, which appears to be seriously undermined by the fact that two of its three members appear directly responsible for some of the police forces under investigation.

    August 04, 2011

    Amnesty International has today described the government's plans for an inquiry into allegations of UK involvement in torture and other human rights violations as "secretive, unfair and deeply flawed".

    The statement came as Amnesty and nine other organisations wrote to inquiry officials to say that because the proposed inquiry “does not have the credibility or transparency” to ensure “the truth about allegations that UK authorities were involved in the mistreatment of detainees held abroad” is brought to light, the organisations have said they do not intend to submit any evidence or to attend any further meetings with the inquiry team.
     

    “This is a desperately-needed inquiry into extremely serious allegations but the arrangements for it are secretive, unfair and deeply flawed," said Nicola Duckworth, Amnesty International's Director for Europe.

    August 03, 2011

    A judge in Guatemala City yesterday sentenced four former soldiers from an elite army unit to more than 6,000 years in prison for their role in a 1982 massacre in Dos Erres village in the north of the country.

    “This landmark sentence sends a message that Guatemala might finally be moving closer to delivering justice to the hundreds of thousands of victims of grave human rights violations during the civil war,” said Sebastian Elgueta, Central America Researcher at Amnesty International.

    “The Dos Erres massacre in 1982 was a particularly brutal incident, but this is just the tip of the iceberg and numerous crimes against humanity and other grave violations have yet to be resolved in Guatemala, including some cases that have yet to be opened.”

    A Guatemalan elite army unit entered Dos Erres in the northern Petén region on 5 December 1982 and tortured and killed some 250 men, women and children over the course of three days before razing the village. Many of the women and girls were raped, and numerous villagers, including children, were thrown into the village well.

    August 03, 2011

    Two Bahraini women activists detained for their involvement in pro-reform protests have begun a hunger strike to demand their freedom.
     

    Roula al-Saffar, head of the Bahrain Nursing Society, and Jalila al-Salman, vice-president of the Bahrain Teacher’s Association (BTA), have been held for several months near the capital Manama. Both women allege they were tortured in detention.
     

    "Jalila al-Salman and Roula al-Saffar’s decision to go on hunger strike is a desperate attempt to protest against their imprisonment and the way they have been treated," said Philip Luther, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme.
     

    "Amnesty International is concerned that they are being held solely because they took part in protests, in which case they would both be prisoners of conscience who should be released immediately and unconditionally.”
     

    August 02, 2011

    The Honourable Vic Toews , Minister of Public Safety 

     The Honourable Jason Kenney,  Minister of Citizenship and and  Immigration                                                                 
                   

    August 2, 2011

    Dear Ministers,

    We are writing this open letter to express Amnesty International’s concern about the approach the government has adopted to dealing with the cases of thirty individuals who have been accused of having committed war crimes or crimes against humanity and who are believed to be residing in Canada.   Their cases, including their names and photos, have been widely publicized on a government web-site, “Wanted by the CBSA”.  Five of the thirty men have since been arrested.  Amnesty International is concerned that the initiative does not conform to Canada’s obligations with respect to human rights and international justice. 

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