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    August 18, 2018

    Responding to this morning’s announcement of the passing of Kofi Annan, the former UN secretary-general who won the Nobel Peace Prize for his humanitarian work, Kumi Naidoo, Amnesty International’s Secretary General said:

    “The world has lost a great leader. Kofi’s dedication and drive for a more peaceful and just world, his lifelong championing of human rights, and the dignity and grace with which he led will be sorely missed in a world which needs these characteristics more than ever.

    “I had the enormous privilege to work with Kofi on tackling climate change, poverty, and gender equality. I saw first-hand his deep commitment to partnerships with civil society in all the global challenges which the UN addressed.

    “My heart goes out to his family today. They will be joined by many others across the world in a profound sense of loss. We can seek comfort in knowing that Kofi’s legacy will inspire countless others to continue to fight for a more just world.”

     

    August 17, 2018

    In response to reports indicating that some 3,600 Indigenous people from 14 communities find themselves trapped in the middle of clashes between armed groups in the department of Chocó, in northwestern Colombia, which could lead to mass displacement, Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International, said:

    “This is not the first mass forced displacement in Colombia this year which has specifically affected Indigenous Peoples and Afro-descendant communities in Chocó. This is a crime under international law and one of the most serious human rights violations in the context of the armed conflict still taking place in the region”.

    “Food shortages, lack of access to basic services and the escalation of the violence leave the affected communities in a state of vulnerability with an unacceptable lack of protection. The national, departmental and municipal authorities must take immediate and comprehensive action to guarantee their human rights in the face of this situation”.

    August 17, 2018

    The Bangladeshi authorities must end the crackdown on protests that has swept up nearly 100 people, Amnesty International said today.

    Two weeks after thousands of school students came out on to the streets of Dhaka, demanding safer roads after two students were killed by a speeding bus, a pall of fear has descended on civil society with protestors being subject to intense surveillance online and arbitrary arrests.

    “The Bangladeshi authorities must end this crackdown and release all protestors who were peacefully exercising their human rights. The students were overwhelmingly peaceful, and only a tiny minority of people were involved in violence. Their actions must not become a pretext for an attack on civil society where dissent is punished and people live in fear that they will be arrested next,” said Omar Waraich, Amnesty International’s Deputy South Asia Director.

    August 17, 2018

    The new Secretary General of the world’s biggest human rights organization, Kumi Naidoo, met with human rights activists from across Southern Africa in Johannesburg today, to hear first-hand about their struggles. He pledged to strengthen Amnesty International’s work with them to tackle the most pressing issues facing the continent.

    “Today I met brave and courageous human rights defenders from across Southern Africa who are risking their lives every day by demanding justice, accountability and equality,” said Kumi Naidoo.

    “We need to see much more intra-African solidarity for the cause of justice. That is why I chose to start in my role as Secretary General here in Africa, and to speak with activists from across the region to show that we at Amnesty International are serious about working side by side with them to address the key human rights challenges affecting all Africans.”

    “My experience with them today reminds me that if anyone in Africa believes we are going to win the struggle for human rights alone, we are deluding ourselves. But together, we are strong.”

    August 17, 2018

    Indonesian police have shot dead more than 70 people in an escalating crackdown on what they have called ‘petty criminals’ in the lead-up to the country’s hosting of the 2018 Asian Games, which open tomorrow in Jakarta, said Amnesty International Indonesia.

    Between January and August this year, at least 77 people have been gunned down across the country, including 31 in the Games host cities of greater Jakarta and South Sumatra. Many of these killings occurred during police operations explicitly devised to prepare the cities for hosting the multi-sport event, which takes place from 18 August to 2 September.

    “In the months leading up to the Asian Games, the authorities promised to improve security for all. Instead, we have seen the police shooting and killing dozens of people across the country with almost zero accountability for the deaths,” said Amnesty International Indonesia’s Executive Director, Usman Hamid.

    August 16, 2018

    Two opposition MPs arrested and detained in Uganda must be promptly charged and tried in ordinary civilian courts if sufficient evidence of a recognizable criminal offence is found or else be released, Amnesty International said today.

    Musician-turned opposition leader Robert Kyagulanyi, also known as Bobi Wine, and Francis Zaake, were arrested on 14 August. Robert Kyagulanyi was today charged with unlawful possession of firearms and ammunition at a general court martial in Gulu and remanded in military custody until 23 August. However, Francis Zaake’s whereabouts are still unknown.

    “If there is sufficient evidence that Robert Kyagulanyi and Francis Zaake have committed a recognisable offence within the law, they must be promptly charged and tried in an ordinary civilian court that meets international standards of fair trial,” said Joan Nyanyuki, Amnesty International’s Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.

    August 14, 2018

    Amnesty International and ESCR-Net welcome a ground-breaking decision of the UN Human Rights Committee, which, in upholding a complaint against Canada for breaching the right to life and non-discrimination, ruled that protecting the right to life requires states to ensure that people who lack a regular immigration status – also known as irregular migrants – have access to essential health care services.

    “This is the first time a human rights body has affirmed that irregular migrants’ rights to life and equality include access to essential health care,” said Alex Neve, Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada’s English Branch. “In recognizing our common humanity this case sends a strong signal that the right to life can never be compromised by one’s immigration status and that essential health care must be available to everyone who lives in a country – regardless of immigration status.”

    Life-saving treatment wrongly denied  

    August 14, 2018

    Responding to news that the authorities in Italy and Malta have closed their ports to Aquarius MV, a rescue ship run by SOS Mediterranee, with 141 people aboard, including 73 children, xxx Amnesty International’s xxx, said: 

    “European governments must stop playing with human lives. Italy and Malta’s disgraceful refusal to allow refugees and migrants to disembark in their ports is pure cruelty. These individuals have braved dangerous journeys and inhumane conditions in Libya only to be stranded at sea as governments shamelessly abdicate their responsibility to protect.

    “What’s equally alarming is that the Gibraltar, under whose flag Aqurius has been sailing, has threatened to terminate the registration of the ship in a bureaucratic manoeuvre designed to frustrate life-saving search and rescue operations at sea. The relentless efforts of NGOs to rescue lives at sea should be celebrated, not hindered or punished.

    August 09, 2018

    Today’s referral to trial of Amal Fathy, an Egyptian activist arrested for posting a video online sharing her experiences of sexual harassment, is a shocking case of injustice, Amnesty International said.

    “Amal Fathy was brave in speaking up about her experience of sexual harassment in Egypt and should be applauded for her courage – not put on trial,” said Najia Bounaim, Amnesty International’s North Africa Campaigns Director.

    “Instead of prosecuting perpetrators of violence against women, the Egyptian authorities are persecuting Amal Fathy for speaking out against sexual harassment. It is a shocking case of injustice. She is a human rights defender who told her truth to the world and wanted to highlight the vital issue of women’s safety in Egypt. She is not a criminal.

    August 09, 2018

    In a letter to Prime Minister Trudeau (attached), organizations from across Canada have laid out concerns and questions regarding the appointment of a new and unprecedented Minister of Border Security and Organized Crime Reduction.

    The key concerns outlined in the letter include:

    August 08, 2018

    The number of people drowning in the Central Mediterranean or being taken back to squalid detention centres in Libya has surged as a result of European policies aimed at closing the central Mediterranean route, Amnesty International said in a new briefing published today.

    The briefing, 'Between the devil and the deep blue sea. Europe fails refugees and migrants in the Central Mediterranean', reveals the devastating impact of policies which have resulted in more than 721 deaths at sea over June and July 2018 alone. It highlights new Italian policies which have left people stranded at sea for days and analyzes how European Union (EU) countries are conspiring to contain refugees and migrants in Libya, where they are exposed to torture and abuse.

    August 07, 2018

    Should Not Include War Crimes, Crimes Against Humanity

    There should be no amnesty for war crimes, crimes against humanity and other serious human rights violations committed in Côte d’Ivoire’s 2010-11 post-election crisis, 11 national and international human rights groups said today.

    Contrary to all commitments for justice since 2011, President Alassane Ouattara announced on August 6, 2018 that he would grant an amnesty to 800 people accused of or convicted of crimes related to the 2010-11 crisis or subsequent acts of anti-state violence, which could include people implicated in serious human rights crimes.

    Ouattara said that the amnesty would not apply to 60 military members and members of armed groups who committed “blood crimes” during the post-election violence. Ivorian judges, however, have indicted far more than 60 people for crimes against humanity and war crimes related to the 2010-11 crisis, including high-level military and political leaders from both sides of the conflict. It is now unclear who among these indictees will ultimately face justice. 

    August 07, 2018

    After Amnesty International research prompted the US-led military Coalition to admit to killing dozens of civilians in its Raqqa offensive, the Coalition must urgently launch thorough, independent investigations to uncover the full scale of civilian deaths and compensate the victims and survivors.

    On 26 July the Coalition acknowledged that its aerial bombardments between June and October 2017 killed 77 civilians, including 24 children and 25 women – specific cases documented by Amnesty International’s field investigations in Raqqa. The Coalition had previously brushed off these cases as “non-credible” and senior officials had derided Amnesty International’s research as “naïve” and “reckless” in the media and other public forums. 

    August 06, 2018

    Responding to Saudi Arabia’s announcement, on August 5th, of diplomatic and trade measures against Canada, in retaliation for recent Canadian government calls for prisoners of conscience to be freed in the country, Amnesty International Canada said the aggressive action points to an urgent need for greater international pressure for genuine and lasting human rights reform in Saudi Arabia.

    Measures announced include the recall of Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador from Canada, a demand that Canada’s Ambassador leave Saudi Arabia within 24 hours and a suspension of new trade and investment.  Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Ministry accused Canada of “overt and blatant interference in the internal affairs” of the country.  The move came following a tweet three days earlier from Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, indicating that Canada was, “Very alarmed to learn that Samar Badawi, Raif Badawi’s sister, has been imprisoned in Saudi Arabia. Canada stands together with the Badawi family in this difficult time, and we continue to strongly call for the release of both Raif and Samar Badawi.”

    August 03, 2018

    In response to prominent Chinese activist Sun Wenguang, 84, being taken away by police as he gave a live TV interview at his home, Patrick Poon, China Researcher at Amnesty International said:

    “It's shocking and outrageous to see Sun Wenguang taken away in this way. If he is being detained solely for exercising his right to freedom of expression, he must be immediately and unconditionally released. 

    "This disgraceful police action against a prominent intellectual is a vivid example of the Chinese authorities’ ruthless clampdown on freedom of expression. It is disturbing that police can harass dissidents anytime and anywhere they like in this way.”

    Background

    Professor Sun Wenguang was in the middle of an interview with US broadcaster Voice of America when police broke into his home in Ji’nan and forced him off air on Wednesday. The 84-year-old has been openly critical of the Chinese government in the past. He was last heard to say "I have my freedom of speech”, before being stopped from speaking further.

     

     

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