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    January 19, 2018

    New satellite imagery analysis by Amnesty International gives the first comprehensive view of how thousands of structures, including several schools, were demolished in sudden forced evictions that left more than 4,000 families homeless on the outskirts of Somalia’s capital Mogadishu in late December.

    No warning was given before armed men accompanied bulldozers to raze the sites on 29 and 30 December 2017, according to UNICEF and Save the Children. UN agencies have said the forced evictions left more than 24,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) homeless, including 3,000 children.

    January 19, 2018

    Responding to Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni’s threat to “hang” death row prisoners as a crime deterrent after more than a decade without an execution in the country, Amnesty International’s Death Penalty Adviser Oluwatosin Popola said:

    “President Museveni’s threat to resume executions to ‘prevent crime’ is misguided since there is no credible evidence that the death penalty is a deterrent to crime. Rather, it is the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment and a violation of the right to life.

    "While the backlog of criminal cases in Uganda is something that needs to be addressed and expedited, resorting to the death penalty as some kind of 'quick-fix' is not the answer.

    “Uganda’s refusal to carry out executions in recent years has been a credit to President Museveni, but resuming them now would destroy more than a decade of progress, not to mention buck the global trend towards abolition.

    “Rather than talking of hanging criminals, the President must instead lead Uganda to fully abolishing the death penalty, just as 19 other African countries have done.”

    Background

    January 18, 2018

    Amnesty International is outraged by reports that Iranian authorities have amputated the hand of a man convicted of theft. The amputation, which was conducted by guillotine, took place yesterday in the central prison in Mashhad city in north-eastern Razavi Khorasan province, according to the state-sponsored newspaper Khorasan News.

    According to Khorasan News, the 34-year-old man, referred to as A. Kh., was transferred to a medical centre immediately after the punishment was carried out. He was sentenced to hand amputation six years ago for stealing livestock and other valuables from several villages in the province. The sentence was then upheld by the Khorasan Criminal Court of Appeal.

    “Meting out such unspeakably cruel punishments is not justice and serves to highlight the Iranian authorities’ complete disregard for human dignity. There is no place for such brutality in a robust criminal justice system,” said Magdalena Mughrabi, Deputy Middle East and North Africa Director at Amnesty International.

    January 17, 2018

    Reacting to the police shooting dead at least eight protesters in Mrauk-U in Myanmar’s Rakhine State, James Gomez, Amnesty International’s Director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific, said:

    “These shocking killings are yet another example of Myanmar security forces’ contempt for human life. Even if protesters were throwing stones and bricks, nothing can justify police apparently firing into a crowd of thousands. This is a clear case of excessive use of force in violation of the right to life.

    “The lethal use of force must be independently investigated, and those responsible held to account. Far too often, police in Myanmar are allowed to escape unpunished after committing violations, allowing the cycle of impunity and abuse to continue.

    “The Myanmar authorities have a long and chequered history of using any means necessary to curb expressions of dissent. It is high time the Myanmar police better train and equip their staff in non-violent methods of crowd control. In particular, the authorities need to ensure that police have non-lethal means of force at their disposal to use where unavoidable.”

     

    January 16, 2018

    16 January 2018, Ottawa — Dr. Hassan Diab arrived in Canada and was reunited yesterday with his family in Ottawa. On January 12, two French investigative judges had dismissed the case against Diab and ordered his immediate and unconditional release, including the right to return to Canada. Hassan Diab, Don Bayne (Diab’s lawyer in Canada), Alex Neve (Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada), and the Hassan Diab support committee plan to hold a press conference on Wednesday, January 17.

    January 15, 2018

    Israeli authorities must release a 16-year-old Palestinian activist who could face up to 10 years in prison over an altercation with Israeli soldiers in the occupied West Bank last month, Amnesty International said as she appeared in court today.

    Ahed Tamimi will go before Ofer military court in the occupied West Bank accused of aggravated assault and 11 other charges after a video showing her shoving, slapping and kicking two Israeli soldiers in her home village of Nabi Saleh on 15 December went viral on Facebook.

    “Nothing that Ahed Tamimi has done can justify the continuing detention of a 16-year-old girl. The Israeli authorities must release her without delay. In capturing an unarmed teenage girl’s assault on two armed soldiers wearing protective gear, the footage of this incident shows that she posed no actual threat and that her punishment is blatantly disproportionate,” said Magdalena Mughrabi, Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International.

    January 15, 2018

    Reacting to the news that the Philippines authorities have ordered the closure of the independent media outlet Rappler, James Gomez, Amnesty International’s Director of Southeast Asia and the Pacific, said:

    “The moves by the Philippines authorities to shut down Rappler is an alarming attempt to silence independent journalism. The government must immediately reverse this decision and end all efforts to stifle free press in the country.

    “This is a politically motivated decision, pure and simple, and just the latest attempt to go after anyone who dares to criticise the government. Rappler has been fearless in holding those in power to account, including by consistently criticising the government’s murderous ‘war on drugs’. It has faced persistent harassment by government supporters and even the President himself.

    “The Philippines government should focus on ending and investigating violations, mostly against poor communities, in the ‘war on drugs’, not trying to silence the messenger.”

    Background

    January 12, 2018

    Ten leaders of the independence movement in the Anglophone regions of Cameroon could be at risk of torture and unfair trials if extradited from Nigeria, where they have been arrested and detained in secret for one week, Amnesty International said today.

    On 5 January, armed men in plain clothes stormed a hotel in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja where the activists, all members of the pro-independence Southern Cameroon National Council (SCNC), were meeting, and arrested them without presenting a warrant or providing an explanation. They are being held incommunicado, without any access to a lawyer, in contravention of Nigerian law which demands they must be seen by a judge within 48 hours. Human rights lawyers in Nigeria have said that an extradition request has been made by the Cameroonian government, but no details have been made public.

    “By holding these activists in secret, without charge, the Nigerian authorities are failing to respect both national and international law. If they are extradited to Cameroon, they risk an unfair trial before a military court and the deeply disturbing possibility of torture,” said Osai Ojigho, Director of Amnesty International Nigeria.

    January 12, 2018

    Amnesty International welcomes today’s long-overdue order for the release of Canadian-Lebanese dual citizen Hassan Diab from pre-trial detention in France, following a court ruling dismissing all allegations against him. In contravention of international human rights standards, Mr. Diab spent more than three years in pre-trial detention without being officially charged or brought to trial. He remained imprisoned despite eight consecutive orders from four separate French investigative judges that he be released on bail, all of which were summarily overturned on appeals perfunctorily lodged by French prosecutors.

    January 11, 2018

    Responding to Microsoft’s announcement that it is rolling out a preview of end-to-end encryption for some Skype users, Joshua Franco, Head of Technology and Human Rights at Amnesty International, said:

    “Today Microsoft has taken an important first step towards upholding its human rights responsibilities. Encryption is a vital tool for protecting internet users’ rights to privacy and freedom of expression, but Amnesty’s research has shown that an alarming number of companies are leaving users exposed.

    “It is about time that Microsoft takes its users’ privacy seriously, and we are now calling on the company to roll out default end-to-end encryption for all Skype communications.

    “Companies who don’t install full encryption are effectively handing the keys to cyber criminals and intrusive state surveillance agents. As more and more communications move online, it is up to companies to demonstrate they are on the side of human rights – the future of freedom of expression is partly in their hands.”

    Background

    January 11, 2018

    On the 16th anniversary of the opening of the notorious detention facility at the US naval base at Guantánamo Bay, Amnesty International is again calling for the fair trial or immediate release of those detained there and closure of the facility.

    “Over the years Guantánamo has come to symbolize torture, rendition and indefinite detention without charge or trial – in complete violation of internationally agreed standards of justice and human rights. Its closure is both essential and long overdue,” said Erika Guevara Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.

    Forty-one individuals remain held at Guantanamo, all of whom have been in US custody for more than a decade. Most are held without charge and haven’t been brought for trial, while others are facing unfair trial by military commissions, with some facing the possibility of the death penalty.

    January 10, 2018

    The attacks on Taha Siddiqui and other Pakistani journalists must be immediately and effectively investigated by the authorities, Amnesty International said today, calling for an end to impunity for such attacks.

    Taha Siddiqui was driving to Islamabad airport at 8:20am today when the car he was traveling in was besieged by at least 10 armed men, who beat him, threatened to kill him, and tried to abduct him. The journalist escaped the assailants, but they took his possessions, including his passport, laptop and mobile phone.

    “The beating and attempted abduction of Taha Siddiqui is the latest in a deeply worrying pattern of attacks on journalists in Pakistan. This is the third case in recent months when a journalist has been targeted by violent attackers while traveling by car. There has thus far been a failure by the authorities to identify the perpetrators, let alone bring them to justice,” said Omar Waraich, Deputy South Asia Director at Amnesty International.

    January 10, 2018

    Responding to news today that Iran will implement amended drugs laws and remove capital punishment for some drug trafficking offenses, Magdalena Mughrabi, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Deputy Director, said:

    “Iran’s deadly anti-drugs campaign has had an enormous human toll over the years, resulting in gross human rights violations in the name of ill-conceived crime prevention policies.”

    “The Iranian authorities have executed thousands of people for drugs offences in Iran, in blatant violation of international law which restricts the use of the death penalty to the most serious crimes involving intentional killing.”

    “If implemented properly this long-overdue reform will spare hundreds from the gallows, but that should be just the start. The Iranian authorities must stop using the death penalty for drug-related offences with a view to eventually abolishing it for all crimes.”

    ++++++++++++++++++

    For media inquiries, contact: Jacob Kuehn, Media Relations at (613) 744-7667 ext 236 or jkuehn@amnesty.ca 

    January 09, 2018

    The Iranian authorities must immediately investigate reports that at least five people have died in custody following a crackdown on anti-establishment protests, and take all necessary steps to protect detainees from torture and prevent any further deaths, Amnesty International said today.

    “The shroud of secrecy and lack of transparency over what happened to these detainees is alarming. Instead of rushing to the judgment that they committed suicide, the authorities must immediately launch an independent, impartial, and transparent investigation, including independent autopsies,” said Magdalena Mughrabi, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

    “We have long documented the nightmarish conditions in detention facilities in Iran, including the use of torture. Those suspected of having any responsibility for these deaths should be suspended from their positions and prosecuted in proceedings that respect international fair trial standards and without recourse to the death penalty.”

    January 09, 2018

    Amnesty International launches a campaign today to mark the three year anniversary of the public flogging of Saudi Arabian blogger Raif Badawi. He received the first 50 out of 1000 lashes on 9 January 2015 for setting up a website focused on social and political debate.

    In the wake of his flogging, which provoked an international outcry, Amnesty International supporters around the world rose up, driving global condemnation of the authorities and demanding the unconditional release of Raif Badawi and all other prisoners of conscience. He has not been flogged again, but is still in prison serving a 10 year sentence.

    “If the Saudi Arabian authorities are truly intent on pushing through reforms and positive changes, they should immediately release Raif Badawi and all prisoners of conscience being held simply for airing their opinions freely,” said Samah Hadid, Amnesty International’s Middle East Director of Campaigns.

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