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Torture

    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.

    January 09, 2015

    We will never stop speaking out for the human rights of all individuals at home and abroad. It is part of who we are as a people and what we stand for as a Nation
    President Barack Obama, 9 December 2014.

    Thirteen months of detentions at Guantánamo was already far too long. By then, February 2003, the Secretary of Defense had authorized interrogation techniques that violated the international ban on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.

    Thirteen years is a human rights outrage. Detainees held for year after year without charge or trial. Torture and other ill-treatment, enforced disappearance, arbitrary detention, excessive force, force feeding, a handful of prosecutions under a  military commission system that does not meet international fair trial standards.

    There were 245 detainees still held at the base at the end of President President Barack Obama committed his administration to closing the Guantánamo detention facility “promptly” and at the latest by 22 January 2010.

    January 08, 2015

    Amnesty International has learned that the imprisoned Saudi Arabian activist Raif Badawi will be flogged in public after Friday prayers tomorrow in front of al-Jafali mosque in Jeddah.

    Raif Badawi was sentenced to 10 years in prison, 1,000 lashes and a fine of 1 million Saudi Arabian riyals (about US$266,600) last year for creating an online forum for public debate and accusations that he insulted Islam. According to information obtained by Amnesty International, Raif Badawi will receive up to 50 lashes tomorrow, while the rest of the full sentence of 1,000 lashes will be carried out over a period of 20 weeks.

    December 23, 2014

    The guilty verdicts and harsh sentences against 57 defendants accused of participating in an armed attack in the North Caucasus republic of Kabardino-Balkaria in 2005 are a huge miscarriage of justice, said Amnesty International today. The defendants were detained for nine years in deplorable conditions with testimonies extracted under torture and admitted as evidence.

    Five of the defendants received life sentences and the others received sentences of between four and 23 years in prison.

    “This is a textbook case of criminal injustice, where the authorities manifestly refused to investigate allegations of torture, despite overwhelming evidence, and the defendants languished for nine years in pre-trial detention, all in violation of international law,” said Sergei Nikitin, Amnesty International’s Moscow Office Director. “This trial should never have been allowed to continue until the allegations of torture were fully and effectively investigated.”

    December 22, 2014

    Posted at 0001hrs GMT  23 December 2014

    Torture, including rape and other forms of sexual violence, suffered by women and girls from Iraq’s Yezidi minority who were abducted by the armed group calling itself the Islamic State (IS), highlights the savagery of IS rule, said Amnesty International in a new briefing today.

    December 10, 2014

    Today on International Human Rights Day civil society groups have joined together in an open letter calling on Prime Minister Stephen Harper to put Canada back in the global effort to end torture and ill-treatment around the world.

    On the day that marks the 30th anniversary of the adoption of the UN Convention against Torture Canada should take the final step and ratify the instrument that establishes national and international systems for inspecting detention centres. In 2006 and 2009 Canada told the UN Human Rights Council that it would consider ratifying this Optional Protocol that was adopted by the UN in 2002.

    The organizations that signed the open letter are united in calling for Canada to take this step without delay. Under the systems established by the Optional Protocol, inspections can identify and expose conditions that permit and encourage torture to take place. It seeks to pierce the shroud of secrecy that allows torture to continue in the 141 countries where it has been documented by Amnesty International in the last five years.

    December 09, 2014

    Alfreda Disbarro has shown enormous courage. She was tortured repeatedly by police in the Philippines following her arrest in October 2013. Alfreda was punched in her stomach and face, hit with a club, had fingers poked in her eyes, slapped, was forced to eat a mop and had her head banged against the wall. She was in such pain in the days that followed the beatings that she couldn’t eat, had difficulty breathing and kept vomiting.

    But Alfreda made the courageous decision to speak up, and her story has helped to lead to change.  Alfreda Disbarro has been the focus of massive campaigning by Amnesty International to stop torture.  She and her family have expressed their thanks for what Amnesty has done by highlighting her case.

    December 09, 2014

    A Senate committee report summary detailing torture methods used as part of a secret US detention and interrogation program is a stark reminder of the ongoing impunity for the many appalling human rights violations perpetrated in the name of “national security”, said Amnesty International today.

    The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI)’s summary, released today,  provides more details of how the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) resorted to “waterboarding”, mock execution, sexual threats and other forms of torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment against detainees who had been forcibly disappeared. The acts were carried out during the rendition and secret detention programs that followed the crime against humanity committed on 11 September 2001 (9/11).

    The summary report also provides some information of the effects of the interrogation techniques and detention conditions on the detainees themselves, including “hallucinations, paranoia, insomnia, and attempts at self-harm and self-mutilation”. 

    December 04, 2014

    The Philippine Senate’s decision to open an inquiry today into widespread police torture in the country is a promising development in the battle against impunity, Amnesty International said.

    “This inquiry is a welcome first step towards tackling entrenched impunity within the Philippine police force,” said Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s Secretary General, speaking from Manila.

    “The government’s next step should be two truly independent systems, one for monitoring places of detention and one unified and effective institution to investigate and prosecute police abuse.”

    The Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights passed the resolution opening the inquiry in response to evidence contained in an Amnesty International report, Above the Law: Police Torture in the Philippines, which launched in Manila earlier today. The report found that police have tortured hundreds of detainees with total impunity.

    The police force itself tried to play down its failures, citing an incorrect figure to understate the number of torture complaints made to the Philippine Commission for Human Rights in 2013.

    December 03, 2014

    Posted at 0400hrs GMT 4 December 2014

    A pervasive culture of impunity is allowing torture by police to go unchecked in the Philippines, Amnesty International’s latest report, Above the Law: Police Torture in the Philippines, revealed today as it launched a major new campaign to stop torture in the country.

    Despite the country’s ratification of the two key international anti-torture treaties, methods such as electrocution, mock executions, waterboarding, asphyxiating with plastic bags, beatings and rape continue to be employed by officers who torture for extortion and to extract confessions.

    “Too many police officers in the Philippines are all gun and no badge - abusing their power while making a mockery of their duty to protect and serve the people,” said Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s Secretary General, in Manila for the launch of the campaign.

    “The government has the legislation in place, now it needs to enforce it or risk the police placing themselves above the law.”

    December 03, 2014

    Magdy el-Baghdady, a 30-year-old man from London, had a grand plan.

    In early 2011 he travelled to Sudan to open a small restaurant to help support his ailing father. He knew a few well-connected people in Khartoum with whom he had gone to school in north London. It all made sense at the time.

    But then, it went horribly wrong.

    Two weeks after his plane landed, he was languishing in a prison cell, bearing the marks and scars of torture.

    Despite his ordeal Magdy is lucky. He is now safely back in the UK, fighting a legal battle against the Sudanese state.

    He is arguing that Sudan violated the prohibition of torture under the African Charter and is using the Convention against Torture – adopted three decades ago this year – to do it.

    Madgy’s story illustrates why the Convention against Torture is crucial in the fight for justice for thousands like him. The document provides a clear definition of what torture is and sets out the obligations that state parties have to end it.

    December 02, 2014

    The Irish Government’s request to reopen the landmark 1978 European Court of Human Rights judgment in Ireland v UK is a triumph of justice, after more than 40 years of waiting, said Amnesty International today. It follows revelations in a television program, The Torture Files, broadcast on an Irish national channel in June that the UK withheld vital information from the European Court at the time.

    In 1978 the European Court ruled that the treatment of 14 so-called ‘hooded men’, who were interned in Northern Ireland in 1971, constituted inhuman and degrading treatment but not torture.  Amnesty International – and clearly Ireland – now considers that the withheld evidence could possibly have led to a finding that the men were tortured.

    Today the Irish High Court was to have heard the men’s application seeking to compel the Irish Government to decide on requesting the European Court to reopen the 1978 judgement. However, Counsel for the state told the Court the Government had already decided to seek a reopening of Ireland v UK.  

    November 26, 2014

    “I’ve been working for the drug cartels and helped place a car bomb that killed two police officers,” said Rogelio Amaya, looking straight at the camera lens. He appeared shaken, his body bruised.

    Within hours, a version of the video featuring Rogelio and four of his friends confessing to the crime plastered the TV screens of Ciudad Juárez, in northern Mexico along the border with the USA.

    The town is one of the most violent in the country, infamous for brutal clashes among competing drug cartels and law-enforcement officers.

    The local authorities congratulated themselves for having captured who they said were members of “La Línea”, a local drug cartel who had been terrorizing people in the area for years. They were also blamed for the recent explosion of a car bomb in downtown Juárez.

    Drug dealers behind bars. Problem solved.

    But a few years into the men’s prison term, the real story of how the video was made came to light – and exposed the shocking use of torture that pervades across Mexico.

    November 25, 2014

    The UAE authorities have again shown their intolerance for dissent by handing down a three-year prison sentence and hefty fine today to a 25-year-old man whose only “offence” was taking to social media to call for the release of his imprisoned father, Amnesty International said.

    “With this vindictive conviction following a charade of a trial, the UAE authorities have again made crystal clear that when they don’t like the message, their first line of defence is to smear and silence the messenger,” said Said Boumedouha, Deputy Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Amnesty International.

    In what national media has called a “terror trial” before the State Security Chamber of the Federal Supreme Court, Osama al-Najjar was convicted of charges including “instigating hatred against” the state, “designing and running a website [with] satirical and defaming ideas and information” deemed harmful to UAE institutions, and “contacting foreign organizations and presenting inaccurate information”. The conviction cannot be appealed.

    November 24, 2014

    ‘A request to the European Court must be lodged within the next two weeks. The clock is ticking’ - Colm O’Gorman

    Allegations that the UK government sanctioned the use of torture and ill-treatment in Northern Ireland in the 1970s should be re-examined by the European Court of Human Rights and subject to a new independent investigation. 

    That is the call from Amnesty International, which is urging the Irish government to request a re-opening of the landmark 1978 Ireland v UK judgment involving the torture and ill-treatment of the 14 so-called ‘hooded men’, who were interned in Northern Ireland in 1971.

    The call was supported by the ‘hooded men’ at an Amnesty International press conference in Dublin this morning.

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