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    December 13, 2019

    As negotiations come to a close at the UN Climate Summit in Madrid (COP 25 – the meeting of States that are party to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change), Chiara Liguori, Amnesty International Policy Adviser on Climate Crisis said:

    “From Mozambique to Philippines, people have lost their lives, their homes and their livelihoods to disasters caused or exacerbated by the climate crisis, despite their countries’ minimal contributions to it. Meanwhile, wealthy industrialized countries that have benefitted economically for over a century from growing emissions - while suffering far less from its ill-effects - are content to be global freeloaders, with the costs being borne by developing countries.

    “It is not too late for industrialised countries to do the decent thing and contribute their fair share to upholding the rights to life, to food and other human rights of people most affected by climate impacts.  They must agree to the establishment of an effective and fair international finance mechanism to provide new and additional funding to affected people in developing countries.

    December 12, 2019

    Responding to news that the regional Economic Community of West African States’ (ECOWAS) Community Court of Justice has today rejected a ban imposed by Sierra Leone’s government preventing pregnant girls from sitting exams and attending mainstream school, Marta Colomer, Amnesty International West and Central Africa Acting Deputy Director Campaigns said:

    “Today’s ruling is a landmark moment for the thousands of girls who have been excluded from school, and whose right to access education without discrimination has been violated for the past four years because of this inherently discriminatory ban. 

    “It is also a glimmer of hope for all those girls who if pregnant in the future will not be punished by being forced to leave school and not being able to sit exams.

    “This also delivers a clear message to other African governments who have similar bans, such as Tanzania and Equatorial Guinea, or may be contemplating them, that they should follow this ground-breaking ruling and take steps to allow pregnant girls access to education in line with their own human rights obligations.

    December 11, 2019

    TORONTO – There is not much to laugh at in the world these days, but Comics Without Borders is partnering with Amnesty International to shine a light in the darkness many of us are feeling.

    Eight talented comedians will provide a night of levity on Saturday, Dec. 14 at the Isabel Bader Theatre, 93 Charles St. West, starting at 7:30 p.m.

    Alex Neve, Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada, will also be attending the event to give a short talk at the VIP reception and the onset of the show.

    These comedians are available for interviews in advance (either in-studio or by phone):

    Nour Hadidi, a Jordanian-born, Toronto-based comedian who has been featured on CBC, FLARE Magazine, and Just for Laughs. The Toronto Star named her one of the four comedians to watch in 2016.

    Frank Spadone, a Toronto-based comedian who has frequented the top comedy clubs in the city and across Canada.

    Leonard Chan, who won the Absolute Comedy Prove You're a Comic contest in 2016 and the Comedy Brawl in 2018, beating over 400 comics.

    December 11, 2019

    Amnesty International is launching an updated version of its Citizen Evidence Lab website, bringing together cutting-edge open-source and other digital investigation tools which have revolutionized how evidence of serious human rights violations and other crimes are gathered and preserved.

    Investigations facilitated by the pioneering Citizen Evidence Lab website have already helped expose human rights violations Cameroon, war crimes in Syria and chemical weapons attacks in Sudan.

    The upgraded site provides a space for human rights researchers, investigators, students and journalists to explore and share investigative techniques in human rights. It enables them to take better advantage of the digital data-streams critical for modern fact-finding, while also leading the fight against mis- and disinformation campaigns.

    December 11, 2019

    Ottawa, Ontario: Canadian Citizen Yasser Ahmed Albaz has been arbitrarily detained by Egyptian authorities for 10 months without charge in very difficult prison conditions. Today Yasser’s family was joined by the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group (ICLMG), Amnesty International and the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) to call for Minister François-Philippe Champagne to secure Yasser’s release and reunite him with his family during his trip and bring Yasser home with him.

    Minister Champagne will be in Egypt to attend the inaugural Aswan Forum for Sustainable Peace and Development in Africa on December 11 and 12, 2019.

    December 11, 2019

    Responding to the statement made by Aung San Suu Kyi at the International Court of Justice in The Hague today, Nicholas Bequelin, Amnesty International’s Regional Director, said:

    “Aung San Suu Kyi tried to downplay the severity of the crimes committed against the Rohingya population. In fact, she wouldn’t even refer to them by name or acknowledge the scale of the abuses. Such denials are deliberate,  deceitful and dangerous.

    “The exodus of more than three quarters of a million people from their homes and country was nothing but the result of an orchestrated campaign of murder, rape and terror. To suggest that the military ‘did not distinguish clearly enough between fighters and civilians’ defies belief. Likewise, the suggestion that Myanmar authorities can currently and independently investigate and prosecute those suspected of crimes under international law is nothing but a fantasy, in particular in the case of senior military perpetrators who have enjoyed decades of total impunity.

    December 10, 2019
    ‘Rohingya Right of Reply’ public event on 11 December 2019

    Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar’s State Counsellor and de facto head of state, is leading Myanmar’s delegation to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague, Netherlands, to respond to a case alleging that Myanmar has breached its obligations under the UN Genocide Convention. The case was filed by The Gambia on 11 November 2019.

    On Wednesday, 11 December 2019, Myanmar will respond to The Gambia's allegations in court for the first time.

    The first public hearings will take place between 10-12 December. The Gambia has asked the ICJ to order Myanmar to take ‘provisional measures’ ‘to protect the rights of the Rohingya group’ and prevent all acts that amount to or contribute to the crime of genocide against the community, pending formal hearings on the case.

    Nicholas Bequelin, Amnesty International’s Regional Director, said:

    December 09, 2019
    Climate change was the most commonly cited among most important issues facing the world, in a survey of more than 10,000 young people, including Canadians Young people living inside a “failed system”, warns Amnesty International Leaders will face a “growing legitimacy crisis” unless they protect rights of young people

    Climate change is one of the most important issues facing the world, according to a major new survey of young people from around the world, including Canada, published by Amnesty International today to mark Human Rights Day.

    With the findings published as governments meet in Spain for the UN Climate Change Conference, the organization warns that world leaders’ failure to address the climate change crisis has left them out of step with young people.

    December 09, 2019

    Amnesty International will appear as an intervening party before the Supreme Court of Canada in Saskatchewan and Ontario’s historic legal challenges of the federal carbon pricing plan. The two cases will be heard jointly on March 24-25, 2020.  The human rights organization was granted leave to intervene on December 4.

    This case marks the first time that governmental climate action is challenged before the Supreme Court, as the legitimacy of Canada’s carbon pricing regime is called into question by several provincial governments challenging the federal government’s constitutional authority to regulate Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions in such a manner.

    December 09, 2019

    Responding to the announcement by the Philippines’ Commission on Human Rights that 47 major fossil fuel and carbon-polluting companies could be held accountable for violating the rights of its citizens for the damage caused by climate change, Ashfaq Khalfan, Amnesty International’s Director of Law and Policy said:

    “The Philippines Human Rights Commission has today created a beacon of hope for the victims of the climate crisis.  This is the first time ever that a human rights body has said that fossil fuel corporations can be been found legally responsible for human rights harms linked to climate change. 

    “While the Commission’s decision has no immediate penalties for the companies in question, their landmark announcement creates a major legal precedent. It opens the door for further litigation, and even criminal investigations, that could see fossil fuel companies and other major polluters either forced to pay damages, or their officials sent to jail for harms linked to climate change. The decision also affirms that fossil fuel companies have to respect human rights and invest in clean energy.

    December 09, 2019

    Responding to a claim by a Chinese government official that all people held at so-called “vocational education centres” in Xinjiang have “graduated” and achieved “stable employment” and “happy lives”, Nicholas Bequelin, Regional Director at Amnesty International, said:

    “While this may sound like progress, it’s more likely just the Chinese propaganda machine’s latest attempt to shift the narrative on its horrendous human rights violations in Xinjiang in the face of growing international condemnation.

    “If Uyghurs and other predominantly Muslim minorities are really being released from these repressive detention camps, then the onus is on the Chinese government to prove it.

    “Otherwise the claim that former ‘trainees’ are now in ‘stable employment’ leaves them at an extremely high risk of being subjected to forced labour.

    December 09, 2019

    Rhonda L. Lenton, PhD
    President & Vice-Chancellor
    York University
    1050 Kaneff Tower, 4700 Keele Street
    Toronto, Ontario   M3J 1P3

    By email:  president@yorku.ca

    December 8, 2019

    Dear Dr. Lenton,

    Amnesty International is writing this Open Letter to request that you convene an independent review into all concerns associated with the “Reservists on Duty: Hear from former Israeli Defence Force soldiers” event, organized by the Herut Zionism Club at York University on November 20, 2019.

    December 06, 2019

    President Nayib Bukele’s government must follow the recommendations of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) and make major changes to improve the human rights situation in El Salvador, Amnesty International said today after closely monitoring the organization’s first in loco visit to the country in 32 years.

    “After the visit of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, President Bukele’s government has an opportunity to accept its recommendations and carry out major changes to guarantee human rights for all El Salvador’s people. The new government must show its commitment to human rights by turning words into deeds and formulating and implementing public policies”, said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.

    December 06, 2019

    Amnesty International has received credible reports that Saudi Arabian prison authorities arbitrarily placed human rights defender and prisoner of conscience Waleed Abu al-Khair in solitary confinement and under tightened security. Waleed was placed in solitary confinement in Dhahban Prison near Jeddah on 26 November and for the past week, has been held incommunicado, putting him at heightened risk of torture and other ill-treatment. He has been on hunger strike since 29 November in protest against his ill-treatment. Lynn Maalouf, Amnesty International’s Middle East Research Director, said:

    “The fact that Waleed Abu al-Khair is in prison to begin with, let alone serving a 15-year prison sentence, is outrageous. He was imprisoned under bogus terrorism-related charges simply for exercising his rights to freedom of expression and defending human rights. He is one amongst scores of Saudi women and men being punished for standing up for their fellow citizens’ rights.

    December 05, 2019

    It is with regret that Amnesty International can confirm that following medical advice, Kumi Naidoo, the organization’s Secretary General, has made the decision to step down from his position due to health-related reasons. His resignation has been accepted by the International Board and he will hand over his responsibilities on today, 5th December.

    “I have long considered Amnesty International as one of humanity's most important global assets, and it is with a heavy heart that I have taken the decision to step down from my position. Now more than ever, the organization needs a Secretary General who is fighting fit and can see through its mandate with vitality that this role, this institution, and the mission of universal human rights deserve,” said Kumi Naidoo, Amnesty International’s Secretary General.

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