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    October 22, 2018

    By Kumi Naidoo

    The enforced disappearance and killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, last seen entering the Saudi Arabia consulate in Turkey on Oct. 2, shows just how brazen the Saudi authorities have become in crushing dissent.

    When Jamal Khashoggi, a prominent Saudi Arabian journalist and political commentator, entered the Saudi Arabian Consulate in Istanbul to obtain personal documents earlier this month, he likely knew how dangerous it could be.

    Picking up documents from your consulate should not carry a risk to your life. However, given that Khashoggi was forced into self-exile following a wave of arrests targeting journalists, academics and activists last year, he likely knew that it would carry some risk. Saudi Arabia has now admitted that Khashoggi was killed at its Consulate.   

    This op-ed originally appeared on CNN and can be read in full here. 

    October 22, 2018

    By Alex Neve, Secretary-General of Amnesty International Canada

    Even as the truth about how Jamal Khashoggi was killed in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2 remains elusive, there is one vital lesson that Canada and the entire international community must already take to heart.

    The days of governments around the world enabling, ignoring, excusing or – at best – crying crocodile tears about Saudi Arabia’s abysmal human-rights record must at long last come to an end.

    Why is it that this particular case – the killing of one outspoken journalist, a critic of the Saudi regime, admittedly with a massive following in both social and traditional media – has been such a catalyzing moment that has gripped world attention for over two weeks now?

    October 22, 2018

    By Kumi Naidoo, Amnesty International’s Secretary General

    This month I was in Raqqa – my first time in Syria amid one of the world’s bloodiest conflicts in decades. I witnessed first-hand the destruction caused by the US-led coalition’s relentless bombardment during a four-month battle that ended a year ago this week. Today, residents are still digging corpses from the rubble and the stench of death hangs heavy in the air.

    Walking around, I saw how entire city blocks had been levelled by Coalition air and artillery strikes aimed at ousting the armed group calling itself Islamic State (IS). Supporting the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) on the ground, US, UK and French forces carried out thousands of air strikes. US military officials boasted about lobbing 30,000 artillery rounds into the city – the most fired by a US battalion anywhere since the Vietnam War.

    October 22, 2018

    As Canada's Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland meets with Mexican secretaries-designate today in Ottawa, Amnesty International Canada released the following statement from Secretary-General Alex Neve:

    “Mexico’s acute human rights crisis, with more than 37,000 reported disappearances and more every day, must be a top priority for the Canada-Mexico relationship. This horrendous situation can no longer take a back seat to other considerations. As thousands of desperate migrants from Honduras are now entering Mexico, it is imperative to resist pressure from President Trump to treat these people as a security threat and ignore international obligations. Instead, Mexican authorities must protect their human rights and ensure no one is deported back to situations of danger; and the Canadian government must reinforce those vital obligations in all exchanges with both Mexican and US counterparts.”

    For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact:

    Lucy Scholey, Amnesty International Canada (English):  +1 613-744-7667 ext. 236; lscholey@amnesty.ca

    October 22, 2018

    Mexican authorities must guarantee that no one at risk of danger in Honduras is deported and that caravan members are informed of their right to seek asylum, said Amnesty International today in response to news that several members of the caravan were transferred to a migration detention center rather than to a shelter.

    “Mexican authorities must at all times avoid detaining children and separating families; they should also attend to the urgent humanitarian needs, avoid using force at all costs and identify those people who are fleeing violence and are in need of international protection,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.

    Thousands of members of a caravan of people from Honduras and Central America began to cross the bridge that divides Guatemala and Mexico yesterday. Several people were wounded during the crossing and tear gas was briefly used by federal police. Thousands of people spent the night on the bridge without proper shelter, food or protection. Several caravan members were transported to a detention center in the city of Tapachula, which is commonly the place where deportation buses depart from.

    October 20, 2018

    Responding to the Saudi public prosecution’s investigation findings revealing that Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi died after a ‘fist-fight’ inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Samah Hadid, Amnesty International’s Middle East director of campaigns said:

    “We are shocked and saddened by the dreadful news confirming the death of Jamal Khashoggi inside the Saudi consulate. The investigation findings by the Saudi authorities claiming that Khashoggi died as a result of a “fist-fight” inside the consulate are not trustworthy and marks an abysmal new low to Saudi Arabia’s human rights record.

    “We call on the Saudi Arabian authorities to immediately produce Jamal Khashoggi’s body so an autopsy can be performed by independent forensic experts in accordance with international standards. They must similarly produce for independent investigation any other evidence they have on the killing of Khashoggi to establish the circumstances surrounding his death.

    October 19, 2018

    “Steve always wanted the government to admit that he had been poisoned by mercury. Now we take up his fight to honour him.”  - the family of Steve Fobister, Sr.

    Steve Fobister Sr. was a powerful and inspirational voice in the long struggle for justice for his community, the Grassy Narrows First Nation in northwestern Ontario. Mr. Fobister passed away on October 11 after many years of debilitating illness resulting from mercury poisoning.

    “Decades of government obstruction denied Steve Fobister the chance to see justice in his lifetime,” said Amnesty International Canada’s Secretary General Alex Neve. “We must, all of us, continue his struggle to ensure that all the members of his community receive full and fair compensation for the poisoning of their waters and access to the quality, specialized health care required by those suffering the devasting impacts of Minamata disease.”

    October 19, 2018

    Fears of escalating bloodshed are rising ahead of planned protests in Gaza later today after Israeli authorities announced a “zero tolerance” policy towards demonstrations along the Israel/Gaza fence, said Amnesty International.

    The organization is calling on the Israeli government to rein in its armed forces, which have routinely used unnecessary or excessive force during Gaza’s weekly “Great March of Return” demonstrations.

    “Given Israeli forces’ horrific track record of using deadly force against Palestinian demonstrators in Gaza, as well as journalists, medics and others, the announcement of a ‘zero tolerance’ policy is deeply alarming,” said Saleh Higazi, Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International.

    The exact details of what “zero tolerance” means have not been disclosed, but there are fears it will lead to more Palestinian deaths along the Gaza/Israel border. 

    October 18, 2018

    With the critical situation on Nauru deteriorating even further, Amnesty International is calling on the Australian government to show leadership, and urgently bring all refugees and asylum-seekers to Australia.

    Dr Graham Thom, Amnesty International Australia’s Refugee Coordinator, said:

    “The Australian chief medical officer has reportedly been deported, which will only compound the dire health situation for people on Nauru, including the more than 80 children who have suffered for over five years.

    "Continuity of care is crucial for such a large number of refugees, including children with such complex health needs, but that’s clearly impossible in such a volatile situation.

    “These children desperately need our help. Prime Minister Scott Morrison cannot stall any longer with his calls for so-called ‘back-door’ legislation, especially as the New Zealand government reiterated its concern only yesterday that such legislation would create ‘second-class citizens’.

    October 18, 2018

    The Ethiopian authorities must immediately and unconditionally release a human rights defender and his friend who were arrested and charged for advocating for a more autonomous capital - Addis Ababa, with self-governance similar to other regional states, and for “receiving training from the Palestine Consulate” in Ethiopia, said Amnesty International.

    Henok Aklilu - a lawyer renowned for representing people accused of terrorism-related offences - was arrested at his office in Addis Ababa together with a friend, Michael Melak, with whom he intends to form an association of Addis-born Ethiopians.

    “The arrest of Henok and Michael highlight the difficulties human rights defenders continue to face despite the Ethiopian government’s stated commitment to open up space for dissenting voices.

    “The two must be released immediately and unconditionally as they are being simply held for peacefully exercising their rights to freedom of expression and association.

    October 18, 2018

    Responding to the Constitutional Court’s decision to overturn Section 27 of the Public Order and Security Act (POSA), which prohibits demonstrations without prior authorization from the Zimbabwe Republic Police, Executive Director of Amnesty International Zimbabwe, Jessica Pwiti said:

    “This landmark decision by the Supreme Court is a welcome step which we hope opens a new chapter for human rights in the country. For far too long, this repressive piece of legislation has been used to systematically harass, arbitrarily detain and torture people seen as opposition supporters or those trying to expose human rights violations. The fact it is no longer on the statute books is cause for celebration.

    “But it’s now the responsibility of the authorities to ensure that the court’s decision is immediately implemented. This means facilitating an environment in which the right to peaceful assembly is ensured without undue restrictions - as guaranteed by both national and international law. Police must also ensure that they respect the law.”

    Background

    October 18, 2018

    The Mexican government must listen to the individual stories of those fleeing Honduras and inform them of their right to seek asylum, said Amnesty International today in response to news that the Mexican government deployed its federal police chief to its southern border to await the arrival of a caravan of over 1,600 people from Honduras, including dozens of families and children. 

    “Mexican authorities should not take a Trump approach treating people like a security threat. These families deserve dignity and respect to ensure that no one is illegally returned to situations where they could risk serious harm due to violence,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International. 

    October 18, 2018

    Saudi, Turkish Cooperation Essential to Credibility

    (New York, October 18, 2018) – Turkey should urgently ask UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to establish a United Nations investigation into the possible extrajudicial execution of the prominent Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the Committee to Protect Journalists, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and Reporters Without Borders said today.

    The investigation should determine the circumstances surrounding Saudi Arabia’s role in the enforced disappearance and possible killing of Khashoggi. It should aim to identify everyone responsible for ordering, planning, and executing any operations connected with the case.

    “Turkey should enlist the UN to initiate a timely, credible, and transparent investigation” said Robert Mahoney, deputy executive director of the Committee to Protect Journalists. “UN involvement is the best guarantee against a Saudi whitewash or attempts by other governments to sweep the issue under the carpet to preserve lucrative business ties with Riyadh.”

    October 18, 2018

    From the beginning of June, the government of President Daniel Ortega intensified its strategy for repression in a so-called “clean-up” operation, targeting protesters with arbitrary arrests, torture, and the widespread and indiscriminate use of lethal force by police and heavily armed pro-government groups, said Amnesty International today in a new report.

    Released six months after a state crackdown began in response to public protests over social security reforms, Instilling terror: From lethal force to persecution in Nicaragua documents possible grave human rights violations and crimes under international law that the Nicaraguan authorities committed between 30 May and 18 September.

    “Not only did President Ortega deploy police to arbitrarily arrest and torture demonstrators, he also used heavily armed pro-government groups to kill, wound and intimidate all those brave enough to stand up to his repressive strategy,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International.

    October 17, 2018

    Responding to this morning’s arbitrary detention by Russian police of Aleksandr Golovach, a lawyer for the Anti-Corruption Foundation, on spurious charges of breaking a repressive law on public gatherings months ago, the Director of Amnesty International’s Russia office Natalia Zviagina said:

    “The detention of Aleksandr Golovach is the latest example of the Russian authorities’ ongoing crackdown on human rights defenders and activists and illustrates how they will resort to any excuse to target those who dare to criticise them.

    “This case reveals that Russia’s repressive law on public assemblies is not only being used as a tool of wiping protests from the streets; it can also be a reason to arbitrarily arrest and detain anyone at any time.

    “The police have used the draconian law as a false pretext under which to detain Golovach.

    “For as long as Aleksandr Golovach is deprived of his rights to liberty, freedom of expression and peaceful assembly solely in connection with his anti-corruption activism, he is a prisoner of conscience. He must be freed immediately and unconditionally.”

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