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Torture

    April 26, 2011

    A United Nations report on war crimes committed during the final stages of Sri Lanka’s civil war underscores the need for international accountability for those responsible, Amnesty International said today.
     

    The report, which was made public today, concluded that tens of thousands of civilians were killed in northern Sri Lanka from January to May 2009 and that the Sri Lankan Government knowingly shelled areas where it had encouraged civilians to gather.
     

    The report gives credibility to allegations that both the government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) committed serious violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law.
     

    “Almost two years after the end of the conflict, this UN report finally exposes the Sri Lankan government’s whitewash in its efforts to deny justice to the war’s victims,” said Sam Zarifi, Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific Director.
     

    April 26, 2011

    Amnesty International today renewed its call on US authorities to release or give fair trials to remaining Guantánamo Bay detainees, after leaked files revealed fresh details about those held at the detention centre.

    "The files confirm what we have been saying all along about Guantanamo Bay - that many were detained for spurious reasons and held for years without access to the US legal system,” said Susan Lee,  Americas director at Amnesty International.

    "The authorities must either try those that remain there - in US civilian courts rather than military commissions - or set them free."

    A dossier of classified files, containing case information of men held at the camp, was published in the media over the weekend.

    The vast majority of the nearly 800 men who have been held at Guantánamo have been released without charge. To date only five have been convicted by the military commission system and one has been tried by civilian court.

    None of those released without charge are known to have been provided with compensation or any other form of remedy by the US authorities.

    April 20, 2011

    Members of the security forces that have for decades brutally repressed Egyptians must be held to account, Amnesty International said today as it released a damning report into the use of emergency powers under former President Hosni Mubarak.

    In Time for Justice: Egypt's Corrosive System of Detention, Amnesty International calls for the immediate establishment of an independent inquiry into human rights abuses committed by the much-feared State Security Investigations Service (SSI).

    "Under the cover of the state of emergency, President Mubarak’s state security forces were for years allowed to commit gross violations without fear of scrutiny or punishment," said Amnesty International.

    “This is a moment for fundamental change,” said Amnesty International. “It demands immediate concrete steps from the authorities so that those responsible for serious human rights violations are held to account.”

    “Egyptians must see justice done for the human rights abuses of the past.”

    The organization said it was prepared to make its archive of human rights reports available to the Egyptian authorities to assist with an investigation.

    April 14, 2011

    Syrian President Bashar al-Assad must rein in his security forces and prevent further unlawful killings, Amnesty International said today, as the coastal city of Banias remained under virtual lockdown and the army was reported to have detained all males over 15 in the nearby village of al-Baydah.

    “The human rights crisis in Syria is growing by the day, almost by the hour,” said Malcolm Smart, Amnesty International’s director for the Middle East and North Africa.

    “The government appears intent on trying to crush all dissent using the most repressive means – shooting peaceful protesters, carrying out mass arrests and locking down areas where people have dared to call for reform. This has to stop. Syria’s President must make it stop.”

    Amnesty International has received lists naming at least 200 people who have been killed since protests began in Syria on 18 March, but the true number may be much higher. Most of the dead were shot by the security forces or men in plain clothes acting alongside them using live ammunition, though the government claims that opposition “armed gangs” are the chief culprits.

    April 12, 2011

    A UN report on accountability for war crimes committed in the Sri Lankan armed conflict must be made public, Amnesty International said today as a panel of experts submits their findings to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

    “Sri Lankans must be allowed to see the panel’s findings. The report concerns a critical period in their recent history and they deserve to read it in full,” said Sam Zarifi, Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific Director. 

    “Ban Ki-moon said that ‘accountability is an essential foundation for durable peace and reconciliation in Sri Lanka’. He must stick to his word - accounting for violations committed in the recent conflict is the first step to future reconciliation”.

    The UN Panel of Experts was appointed in June 2010 to advise the Secretary General on accountability issues relating to violations of international human rights and humanitarian law alleged in the final stages of the armed conflict in Sri Lanka, which ended in May 2009.

    April 11, 2011

    Amnesty International has today revealed fresh evidence of extrajudicial executions apparently committed by Colonel Mu'ammar al-Gaddafi's forces near the town of Ajdabiya in recent days.
     
    Amnesty International researchers in eastern Libya yesterday saw the bodies of two opposition fighters who had been shot in the back of the head after their hands had been bound behind their backs.
     
    Today they saw a body of another man who had been shot dead while his hands and feet were bound.
     
    “Based on what our delegates have seen in eastern Libya over the last six weeks, the circumstances of these killings strongly suggest that they were carried out by the forces loyal to Colonel al-Gaddafi," said Malcolm Smart, Amnesty International’s director for the Middle East and North Africa.
     
    “The deliberate killing of captured fighters is a war crime. All those responsible for such crimes - those who ordered or sanctioned them as well as those who carried them out - must be left in no doubt that they will be held fully accountable,” said Malcolm Smart.
     

    April 11, 2011

    Authorities in Swaziland must ensure the safety of four key activists who were detained last night in an apparent bid to disrupt planned protests marches, Amnesty International said today.

    The arrests of the activists, which took place at a roadblock near Mbabane last night according to eyewitnesses, follow the Swaziland government’s recent announcement that all protests from 12 to 14 April are illegal.

    “We are deeply concerned for the safety of these activists, who are held incommunicado and at risk of torture," said Amnesty International’s deputy Africa Program Director, Michelle Kagari.

    "The authorities must ensure that the detainees are given immediate access to legal counsel and that their families are told where they are.”

    “The fact that several of the arrested men have been previously unlawfully detained, ill-treated and had police raids on their homes increases the concerns about their well-being.”

    March 31, 2011

    The Egyptian authorities should scrap a draft law aimed at criminalizing strikes and protests, Amnesty International said ahead of demonstrations against the law set for Friday.

    “Any move to curb freedom of assembly and the right to strike in Egypt would be an alarming step backwards and an insult to those who risked - and lost - their lives calling for change over the past two months," said Amnesty International.

    "It is vital in this transitional period that the Egyptian authorities guarantee basic human rights such as the right to carry out peaceful protests and strikes."

    Activists are set to gather in Tahrir Square on Friday to demand that Egypt's interim military government scrap the proposed ban and push through human rights reforms.

    The Egyptian cabinet last week proposed the new law, which would make participating in protests and strikes that "hinder the work of public institutions or authorities during a state of emergency" illegal.

    Under the proposed law, protesters and anyone deemed to be inciting protest could face jail or a hefty fine.

    March 10, 2011

    Malaysia should immediately halt the judicial caning of refugees and migrants, Amnesty International said after the government disclosed that almost 30,000 foreigners had been caned in five years.

    In a response to a parliamentary question on 9 March, Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein disclosed that Malaysia had caned 29,759 foreigners between 2005 and 2010 for immigration offences alone.

    “The government’s figures confirm that Malaysia is subjecting thousands of people to torture and other ill-treatment each year,” said Sam Zarifi, Asia Pacific director at Amnesty International. “This is a practice which is absolutely prohibited under international law, no matter what the circumstances.”

    “As a first step, the Malaysian government has to immediately declare a moratorium on this brutal practice.”

    Amnesty International also called for a complete abolition of all forms or corporal punishment, which constitutes torture or other ill-treatment.

    March 10, 2011

    A group of anti-government protesters missing since they were arrested this week in Baghdad are feared to be at risk of torture, after other recently released protestors told Amnesty International they were tortured in detention.
     
    At least 10 people were detained on Monday while returning home from a Baghdad protest against unemployment, government corruption and poor social services.
     
    The arrests came as other protesters who were detained last month told Amnesty International that they were tortured in detention.
     
    "We fear there is a real risk of torture for those arrested on Monday, especially as their whereabouts in detention is yet to be disclosed. This seems to be following a pattern of protesters being detained and tortured as the Iraqi government tries to crackdown on demonstrations," said Malcolm Smart, Amnesty International's director for the Middle East and North Africa.
     
    "The authorities must immediately reveal where these latest detainees are held and release them if they have been detained solely for exercising their legitimate right to protest."
     

    March 02, 2011

    Amnesty International has called on the Egyptian authorities to release a man sentenced by a military court to five years in prison on Tuesday, apparently for exercising his right to peaceful protest.

    Amr Abdallah Al Beheiry was convicted by the Supreme Military Court of assaulting a public official on duty and for breaking curfew.

    He, his cousin and other protesters were reportedly beaten with sticks and then arrested as military police and the army used excessive force to disperse a protest outside the Parliament of Egypt in Cairo early in the morning of Saturday 26 February. Some protesters were also reportedly beaten with electric shock batons.

    Amr Abdallah Al Beheiry was initially released by the military police but was rearrested shortly after, apparently because other protesters had filmed his injuries.

    While in detention, Amr Abdallah Al Beheiry and his cousin were allegedly beaten and tortured by electric shocks.

    His cousin and the other protesters were released later Saturday morning.

    March 01, 2011

    Amnesty International has today called for immediate independent investigations as it released a report detailing unlawful killings and acts of brutality by Tunisian security forces during the protests in December and January that led to the departure of former President Ben Ali.

    The 46-page report Tunisia in Revolt: State Violence during Anti Government Protests reveals that security forces shot bystanders and fleeing protesters and fired live ammunition at protesters who did not pose a threat to their lives, nor that of others.

    “The security forces acted with reckless disregard for human life in all too many cases,” said Malcolm Smart, Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa program.  

    “The new government must ensure that killings and serious allegations of abuse by the security forces are fully and independently investigated without delay, and that those responsible are held to account.”

    “This is an essential first step in turning the page on the long years of abuses under the former president,” said Malcolm Smart.

    February 24, 2011

    Amnesty International has welcomed the release of 23 opposition activists in Bahrain, but again called for an independent investigation into claims that some of them were tortured while in custody.

    The 23 men were among at least 250 detainees released early on Wednesday by order of Bahrain's head of state, King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa, apparently in response to demands made by protesters seeking political reform in the country.

    The 23 were facing trial on an array of security-related charges, which they denied but which could have resulted in their being sentenced to death.

    "While we welcome the release of these opposition activists, we continue to urge the Bahraini authorities to conduct a thorough, independent investigation into allegations that some of them were tortured in pre-trial detention, and to bring to justice anyone found responsible for torture," said Malcolm Smart, Amnesty International's director for the Middle East and North Africa.

    The 23 opposition activists were arrested in August and September last year during a clampdown in the run up to parliamentary elections held in October 2010.

    February 22, 2011

    Amnesty International has urged the Bahraini authorities to ensure the safety of people participating in peaceful protests and of all detainees after one demonstrator described how police tortured him and his friend repeatedly late last week.

    'Abdallah Salman Mohammad Hassan told Amnesty International that he and a friend endured torture and other ill-treatment during hours of detention and interrogation after police arrested them in Manama, Bahrain's capital, on Friday.

    The pair were punched and beaten with sticks by police who questioned them about their role in the protests before releasing them without charge on Saturday evening.

    "The Bahrain authorities must respect the rights of people to participate in peaceful protests  and to exercise their right to freedom of expression without fear of retaliation, arbitrary arrest, detention or torture," said Malcolm Smart, Amnesty International’s director for the Middle East and North Africa.

    "They must also investigate the alleged torture and other ill-treatment of 'Abdallah Salman Mohammad Hassan and his friend and hold those found responsible to account.”

    February 22, 2011

    The Right Honourable Stephen Harper
    Prime Minister of Canada
    80 Wellington Street
    Ottawa, ON K1A 0A2

    February 22, 2011

    Dear Prime Minister Harper,

    I am writing to you about the case of Canadian citizen Hamid Ghassemi-Shall, who has been imprisoned in Iran for close to three years.  Recent developments, in particular credible reports that a death sentence against him has now been confirmed, mean that his situation has become one of urgent concern.  Amnesty International is calling on you to become personally involved in efforts to ensure that he is not executed and that other human rights violations in his case are addressed.

    Hamid Ghassemi-Shall has reportedly been charged with espionage-related offences.  He has flatly denied the accusations against him and was not provided a fair opportunity to defend himself in proceedings that meet international fair trial standards.  We are gravely concerned that he has been subject to torture and ill-treatment which Amnesty International has documented to be widespread in Iranian prisons.

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