By Moses Akatugba, Nigeria (30 June 2015).
By Moses Akatugba, Nigeria (30 June 2015).
Moroccan human rights and political activists Wafae Charaf and Oussama Housne were sentenced to three-year and two-year prison terms respectively in 2014 for “falsely reporting” torture. They were also convicted of slandering Morocco’s police force and ordered to pay compensation, even though neither of them had accused the police. They are prisoners of conscience.
Wafae Charaf said she was abducted after she went to a workers’ protest in Tangiers on 27 April 2014, by men who beat her for several hours and threatened her with further violence if she did not stop her activism.
Yecenia Armenta Graciano has spent almost three years in prison, while the men who brutally tortured her remain free.
Her nightmare began in 2012, while she was driving relatives to the Culiacán airport in the northern Mexican state of Sinaloa. Plain-clothed state policemen pulled her car over, forced her out, blindfolded her and drove her away. They subjected her to near asphyxiation with a plastic bag over her head, poured water over a cloth covering her mouth to simulate drowning, hung her upside down naked, and raped her. “I wanted them to just give me a bullet to the head so that it would all stop”, she says.
After almost 15 hours of torture, the police officers threatened to bring in Yecenia’s children to rape and kill them. It was at that moment that Yecenia succumbed to their demands to sign a confession to involvement in the murder of her husband, all while still blindfolded.
Angel Amílcar Colón Quevedo was tortured and unjustly detained in Mexico. He is seeking justice and reparations in order to protect others from what he suffered.
Angel Amílcar Colón Quevedo is a defender of the rights of his people, the Garifuna Indigenous people of Honduras. He was travelling through Mexico in search of work that would enable him to pay for cancer treatment for his son when he was detained by police in the northern city of Tijuana in March 9, 2009. What followed was a nightmare of torture and injustice.
Angel was tortured by the police then handed over to soldiers at a military base who beat him, subjected him to water-boarding, and put a plastic bag over his head then jumped on his chest to cause near asphyxiation, amongst other forms of physical and psychological torture. He was forced to sign a confession to crimes he had not committed.
We have shone a light on torture taking place in Mexico, Morocco, Nigeria, the Philippines, and Uzbekistan. In each of these countries we have campaigned alongside families of torture survivors and NGO partners, and we have seen results. Here are a few of the highlights.Mexico
October 15, 2014 – Mexico releases Honduran torture victim and prisoner of conscience, Ángel Amilcar Colón without charge after more than five years of pre-trial detention. 20,000 people signed petitions as part of an Amnesty International campaign calling for his release.
February 10, 2015 – The last remaining charge was dropped against torture survivor Claudia Medina Tamariz. Over 300,000 people signed petitions as part of an Amnesty Internatioanl campaign calling for charges against her to be dropped.
By Louisa Anderson and Justine Ijeomah
After 10 years in jail, and over 800,000 messages from activists around the world, Moses’ life has been spared. Here, we speak to Justine Ijeomah, Director of the Human Rights, Social Development and Environmental Foundation (HURSDEF) in Nigeria and long-time ally in the campaign for Moses’ freedom. He describes Moses’ journey from schoolboy to death row inmate, and how the 26-year-old torture survivor reacted when he found out his life had been spared.
In 2012, Dave Enriquez, a young bakery worker in the Philippines, was arrested and accused of stealing two roosters. In the police station, Dave, who suffers from intellectual disabilities, wasn’t allowed to contact his lawyer or family. Instead, four policemen beat Dave with a wooden paddle, pounded his fingers with a stapler and banged his head against the metal gate of his cell.
Dave has been since been released, however, a complaint filed against the police, with support from the Philippine Commission on Human Rights, was dismissed by the prosecutor’s office. No one has been held responsible.
In recent years reports of torture have risen dramatically in the Philippines, but to date not one torture survivor has obtained justice. The few victims who do manage to initiate proceedings against their torturers find themselves confronted with a dauntingly complex criminal and administrative complaints system.
By Sevag Kechichian, Saudi Arabia Researcher at Amnesty International
Today, like many people around the world, I waited to find out if Raif Badawi would again be hauled out of his prison cell and mercilessly lashed another 50 times in a public square in Jeddah.
The same suspense has gripped people for 23 weeks since the first time this act of cruelty was inflicted on the imprisoned blogger on 9 January this year. That day, a crowd of onlookers gathered in the square immediately after Friday prayers to witness this hateful spectacle.
While flogging and other cruel, inhuman and degrading punishments are commonplace in Saudi Arabia, they are not necessarily carried out on Fridays and in public. There is often an air of secrecy even around the many beheadings and other executions in the country – which have seen a macabre spike since the beginning of this year.
Amnesty International has campaigned for Raif’s release since his arrest in 2012. Since he was flogged, it joined more than a million activists, journalists and political leaders in calling for an end to the horror and for his immediate release.
About 50 people arrested by the authorities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) in a security clampdown after armed gunmen attacked Goma airport and other parts of the city two weeks ago must urgently be granted full access to lawyers, be allowed family visits and presented before court to assess the legality of their detention, Amnesty International urged today.
“The Congolese Constitution is very clear on the rights of people arrested and detained,” said Sarah Jackson, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.
“Detention without access to family members and lawyers increases the risk of torture and other ill-treatment. They are also at risk of enforced disappearance”.
Four people including two members of the Presidential Guard in charge of airport security were killed in the attack on 2 June.
Each of the remaining 950 lashes the Saudi Arabian authorities plan to inflict upon dissident blogger Raif Badawi will bludgeon freedom of expression and make a mockery of the country’s international human rights obligations, Amnesty International warned amid fears his public flogging could resume as soon as tomorrow.
These fears have been heightened after Saudi Arabia’s Supreme Court announced in the media on 6 June it had upheld a sentence of 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes for Raif Badawi, with no room to appeal the ruling.
Last week’s sexual assault of human rights defender only latest travesty of justice
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon must confront Uzbekistan’s leadership on the country’s appalling human rights record during his visit this Friday, said Amnesty International.
The Uzbekistani authorities, who have long ignored the UN’s overtures on human rights, must also pledge immediate and urgent reforms to end torture and the myriad of other abuses condoned by the government.
The rights group urges Ban Ki-moon, who is in Central Asia from 9-12 June, to firmly reassert the UN’s prior calls for Uzbekistan to honour its international obligations and to demand that UN human rights experts be allowed to enter the country.
The imminent release of Albert Woodfox, who has spent around 40 years in isolation after a flawed murder trial in Louisiana, is a long-awaited legal triumph, said Amnesty International today.
“In granting Albert Woodfox’s release the federal court has taken a significant step towards addressing the injustice and cruelty he has suffered for decades," said Tessa Murphy, USA Campaigner at Amnesty International.
In a surprise turn, a judge yesterday issued an unconditional writ ordering Albert's immediate release and barring a retrial.
"This 68-year-old man has suffered intolerably cruel treatment in prison while fighting to overturn a conviction for a crime for which he has always maintained he was innocent. After two flawed trials and a legal process spanning decades, which has seen his conviction overturned in both federal and state courts, finally Albert is getting the freedom he deserves.”
• Ángel Amílcar Colón moves MPs with his testimony about torture at the hands of Mexican police and military
• Amnesty International and Centro Prodh denounce widespread use of torture, forced disappearances and extrajudicial executions in Mexico
Ottawa – June 3, 2015 Members of the House of Commons Subcommittee on International Human Rights, currently undertaking a study of the human rights situation in Mexico, expressed deep concern in response to testimony yesterday from Ángel Amílcar Colón Quevedo about the torture to which he was subjected by Mexican state security forces while detained in military installations of the Secretary of National Defense (Sedena). The goal of the torture, Mr Colon Quevedo said, was to extract a forced confession to crimes he had not committed.
A Nigerian torture victim wrongfully sentenced to death for a crime committed when he was 16 years old has been pardoned following intensive campaigning from Amnesty International supporters across the world.
Moses Akatugba, who was on death row following his conviction for stealing three mobile phones 10 years ago and was repeatedly tortured into signing a confession, said he felt “overwhelmed” after the outgoing Governor of Nigeria’s Delta State announced last night he had granted him a full pardon.
“The pardon of Moses Akatugba, who should not have been sentenced to death in the first place because he was a minor at the time of the offence, is a victory for justice and a reminder that people power and human rights campaigning really can make a difference,” said Netsanet Belay, Amnesty International’s Africa Director.
“Without the thousands of letters sent in support of Moses by his supporters across the globe, he may never have been granted his freedom.”
Moses Akatugba, who was sentenced to death by hanging for stealing mobile phones, has been granted a total pardon by Emmanuel Uduaghan, the Governor of Delta State!
UPDATE - JUNE 2, 2015: THE RELEASE ORDER ARRIVED AT WARRI PRISON THIS AFTERNOON AND MOSES IS NOW FREE!
Thank you to the thousands of you who took action for Moses and urged the Governor to show mercy.
The news of his release comes days after thousands of Amnesty supporters sent Facebook and Twitter messages to Governor Uduaghan asking him to make sparing Moses part of his legacy before he steps down on 29 May.
Tens of thousands of Amnesty supporters also signed petitions as part of Amnesty's global campaign to Stop Torture and wrote letters as part of Amnesty's global event Write for Rights. Together our voices really can make a difference – thank you.
16-year-old Moses Akatugba was awaiting the results of his secondary school exams when his life changed forever.