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Torture

    February 12, 2015
    Claudia Medina with Amnesty activists from Canada holding a banner with solidarity messages. (c) Amnesty International

    By Mariano Machain, Amnesty International’s campaigner on Mexico.

    I have seen Claudia Medina cry many times.

    She cried when she told me about the torture, including sexual abuse, she suffered at the hands of Mexican marines in 2012. She also cried when she explained what it is like to live with federal charges pending over her head, accused of being a member of a criminal gang, facing the risk of being arrested again at any time. Then once more when she told me about how her children were suffering.

    But today is the first time I have seen her cry out of joy and relief. A judge has just dropped the last remaining charge against her, arguing that the sole piece of evidence – a report filed by the marines – is a lie.

    The judge confirmed that after her arrest Claudia was tortured and sexually assaulted by marines in order to force her to incriminate herself and others in drug-related crimes. The offences took place on 7 August 2012 at a Navy barracks in Veracruz state, Eastern Mexico.

    February 11, 2015

    A heavy cloud has been lifted from a courageous survivor of torture.

    Mexican authorities have dropped all criminal charges against Claudia Medina Tamariz, a Mexican woman who was tortured and forced into a false confession.

    In 2012, marines broke into the home of Claudia Medina Tamariz, mother of three. They took her away to a local naval base. There, Claudia suffered terrible torture, including electric shocks and sexual assault.

    The torture was aimed at forcing Claudia to incriminate herself in drug-related crimes. To make the torture stop, Claudia signed a piece of paper put before her. She later discovered it was a “confession” to crimes she had not committed.

    Amnesty International members in Canada, and around the world, rallied to support Claudia and express concern to Mexican authorities about was done to her.

    Your efforts have made a difference!

    This is what Claudia had to say when she learned all the charges had been dropped:

    February 02, 2015

    By Jacqueline Hansen, Major Campaigns and Women’s Rights Campaigner, in conversation with Dr. Donald Payne, Health Network Coordinator

    January 29, 2015

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

    January 28, 2015

     

    Dear Prime Minister,

    We are writing this Open Letter with an urgent request that you intervene in the case of Raif Badawi, the Saudi Arabian blogger and human rights defender who has been sentenced to 1,000 lashes, 10 years in prison and other penalties and restrictions, simply for exercising his right to freedom of expression.  As you will know, there is a strong Canadian connection to the case because Canada has, very commendably, welcomed his wife Ensaf Haidar and their three young children to this country as refugees.

    January 27, 2015

    Human rights activists from Sherbrooke, Montreal and Ottawa will be holding a rally on Parliament Hill on Thursday 29 January 2015 at 2 p.m. calling on Prime Minister Stephen Harper to intervene directly with Saudi Arabian authorities to stop the flogging of Raif Badawi set to resume on Friday 30 January, and press for him to be unconditionally freed from prison.

    Raif Badawi who was sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes for setting up the Saudi Arabian Liberals website, will be flogged for a second time. Amnesty International believes Raif Badawi is a prisoner of conscience, detained solely for the peaceful exercise of his right to freedom of expression. His wife Ensaf Haider and their three children have found refuge in Canada living in Sherbrooke, Quebec.

    January 26, 2015

                                      New video spoofs “wheel of torture”

    One year ago this week, the revelation that Philippine police in Laguna had used a “wheel of torture” to decide how to torture detainees shocked the world. But despite the global headlines, one year later no one has been held to account – a sad indictment of the police’s casual attitude towards torture and the almost complete impunity that surrounds it.

    To mark the anniversary, Amnesty International has produced Torture: More fun in the Philippines, a short satirical film based on a popular TV game show. One contestant spins the “wheel of torture” to try to get a lawyer, but instead “wins” the prize of being punched for 30 seconds straight. The film’s title is used ironically – “More fun in the Philippines” is also the slogan of the country’s Tourism Board.

    January 23, 2015

     By Sevag Kechichian, Researcher on Saudi Arabia at Amnesty International.

    The death of Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz has, once again, focused international attention to the oil-rich Middle Eastern country’s human rights record.

    “What will be King Abdullah’s legacy?” everybody seems to be asking.

    The answer is not simple.  

    Since taking the throne in 2005, King Abdullah initiated some positive reforms.

    Women, for example, have slowly been included in the Shura Council, a powerless consultative body to advise the King, and incorporated into the workforce – with some being allowed to work in courts as lawyers.

    The late King is credited for opening a dozen new universities and providing thousands of Saudi Arabian citizens with generous scholarships to study abroad. He also initiated seemingly ambitious judicial reforms that have not really gone anywhere.  

    He even decreed the founding of a formal National Human Rights Commission and allowed the establishment of a supposedly independent human rights organization.

    But that’s where the good news ends.

    January 22, 2015

    The planned flogging of Raif Badawi is likely to be suspended this Friday after a medical committee assessed that he should not undergo a second round of lashes on health grounds. The committee, comprised of around eight doctors, carried out a series of tests on Raif Badawi at the King Fahd Hospital in Jeddah yesterday and recommended that the flogging should not be carried out.

    "Instead of continuing to torment Raif Badawi by dragging out his ordeal with repeated assessments the authorities should publicly announce an end to his flogging and release him immediately and unconditionally," said Said Boumedouha, Deputy Director of Amnesty International's Middle East and North Africa Programme.

    "Raif Badawi is still at risk, there is no way of knowing whether the Saudi Arabian authorities will disregard the medical advice and allow the flogging to go ahead."
     

    January 19, 2015

    Posted at 0001hrs GMT 20 January 2015

    European governments that cooperated with the CIA’s secret detention, interrogation, and torture operations as part of the USA’s global “war on terror” must act urgently to bring those responsible to justice following a US Senate report containing new details said Amnesty International in a new briefing paper today.

    “Breaking the conspiracy of silence: USA's European 'partners in crime’ must act after Senate torture report” links details in the Senate report to open source information regarding allegations that secret sites existed in Lithuania, Poland, and Romania. Other governments that are alleged in open sources to have facilitated these operations include Germany, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and the UK. In some cases, these governments colluded with the CIA in exchange for millions of US dollars.

    This briefing also highlights the inadequate responses of the respective governments to carry out full and effective investigations.

    January 17, 2015

    Béatrice Vaugrante, Director General of Amnistie Internationale Canada francophone, gives a snapshot of some of the widespread global campaigning for Raif Badawi. Raif has been sentenced to ten years and 1,000 lashes after starting a website for public debate in Saudi Arabia.

    When the vigil in Montreal ended, we were all frozen to the bone. It was a gorgeous day, but to motivate activists and supporters to stay outdoors for over an hour in -20 degree temperatures, you have to be creative.

    Motivating them to come in the first place wasn’t that hard – I could see the energy and the anger in their faces. They were outraged at what was happening to Raif Badawi, and they wanted to act. Another reason to attend: standing beside me, upright, silent and proud, small in stature but great in spirit, was Badawi’s wife, Ensaf Haidar, who has taken refuge in Quebec along with their three children. Together, we our determined to reunite this family.

    January 16, 2015

    Amnesty International has received information indicating that the flogging of Raif Badawi has not been carried out today on medical grounds.

    January 15, 2015

    The Honourable John Baird
    Minister of Foreign Affairs
    125 Sussex Drive
    Ottawa, Ontario
    K1A 0G2

    January 15, 2015

    Dear Minister Baird,

    Tomorrow, in front of the al-Jafali Mosque in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, Raif Badawi will be lashed publicly fifty times for the second time in a week.  In Sherbrooke, Quebec his wife Ensah Haidar and their three children, who have been welcomed to Canada as refugees, await in fear and agony at the prospect of the torture their husband and father faces yet again.  And across Canada and around the world a growing chorus of hundreds of thousands of voices call on the Saudi government to end this terrible injustice and free Raif Badawi from prison rather than continue with his cruel and inhuman sentence of 1,000 lashes.

    January 14, 2015

    By Sister Maria Vida Cordero, Chair of the Board of Trustees, Amnesty International Philippines

    This week, people across the Philippines are incredibly excited about the visit of His Holiness Pope Francis.

    Not only is this the first papal visit to our country in two decades, but Pope Francis has already inspired millions of people across the globe – Catholics and non-Catholics alike – with his message of hope, mercy and compassion for the world’s poorest people.

    One of the issues that Pope Francis has spoken out about strongly and clearly continues to blight the Philippines – torture. Last year he condemned torture as a “very grave sin”.

    His Holiness has repeatedly urged governments around the world to stamp out this abhorrent practice and “invite[s] Christians to commit themselves to work together for its abolition and to support victims and their families.”

    January 14, 2015

    Human rights activists in Ottawa will be holding a demonstration outside the Saudi Arabian Embassy, 201 Sussex Drive at 4 p.m. Thursday 15 January in advance of the flogging of Raif Badawi set to resume on Friday 16 January.

    The Saudi Arabian authorities have an opportunity to improve their appalling human rights record by heeding the international outcry about the public flogging of Raif Badawi and halting it immediately, said Amnesty International.

    January 12, 2015

    An inquiry into police torture in the Philippine Senate this week is a welcome opportunity to put a stop to torture by members of the national police and to end the pervasive culture of impunity that reinforces it, Amnesty International said.

    The joint hearing between the Committee on Justice and Human Rights and the Committee on Public Order, which will take place on Wednesday 14 January, was announced as a direct result of Amnesty International’s report on police torture in the Philippines, Above the law, launched in December 2014.

    “This hearing could be a first step towards tackling the endemic torture that we are seeing in the Philippines. Practically no one in police detention is safe from this abhorrent practice, and officers continue to get away with it without consequences,” said Richard Bennett, Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific Director, who will be testifying at the hearing.

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