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    August 23, 2019

     

    Alex Neve is the Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada

    The conflict between the people Hong Kong and their government has become increasingly alarming to watch. While no one wants to imagine an ongoing human rights crisis, there is already cause for grave concern. Amnesty International has repeatedly documented police abuses against protesters, including unlawful use of tear gas and rubber bullets. As hundreds of thousands of protesters continue to flood the streets, the world watches and wonders if various frightening and violent scenarios are forthcoming. Might Hong Kong conduct mass arrests? Might China intervene and take repressive action? Will refugees begin to flee from Hong Kong?

    If so, will Canada be ready to step up and offer safety? We very much need to prepare.

    August 13, 2019

    By Teng Biao – Legal scholar and friend of Gao Zhisheng

    Gao Zhisheng is a prominent human rights lawyer in China. Over the years, he has been persecuted, kidnapped and sentenced to prison. In August 2017, he went missing again and has not been seen since.

    In 2004, I noticed an open letter to the National People’s Congress calling attention to the issue of Falun Gong, a religious group in China. By then, practitioners of Falun Gong had been subjected to large-scale persecutions for five years, but nobody dared to speak up for them. It was very courageous for a lawyer to openly speak about the issue, so I took note of his name: Gao Zhisheng.

    May 15, 2019

    Danna Ingleton is Deputy Director of Amnesty Tech 

    In June last year, one of my colleagues at Amnesty International received a WhatsApp message from an unknown number. It contained details about a protest supposedly taking place at the Saudi embassy in Washington DC, and my colleague was instantly suspicious. The message came at a time when Amnesty International was campaigning for the release of six jailed activists in Saudi Arabia, and something didn’t feel right.

    An analysis of the links in the message proved these suspicions to be well-founded. Amnesty’s Tech team found that clicking the link would have secretly installed potent spyware on the phone, obtaining total access to calls, messages, photos and GPS location. A closer look enabled us to trace the attack back to a secretive Israeli company: NSO Group.

    May 13, 2019

    This article was originally published by First Nations Drum 

    By Grand Chief Dr. Abel Bosum and Alex Neve

    In 2010, former prime minister Stephen Harper publicly reversed his government’s opposition to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. In a formal “statement of support,” the Harper government said that it had listened to Indigenous leaders in Canada and “learned from the experience of other countries” and was now “confident” that Canada could move ahead with implementation of the Declaration “in a manner that is consistent with our Constitution and legal framework.”

    So why wouldn’t Conservative Members of Parliament and Senators support legislation intended to finally move ahead with the work of implementing the Declaration in Canada?

    May 02, 2019

    Spokespeople available for interview

    To commemorate World Press Freedom Day on May 3, Amnesty International will be launching a campaign with Dawn.com, showcasing the consequences on the news if press freedom is curtailed in the country.

    The campaign will be launched at 0900 (Pakistan Standard Time) on 3 May, 2019.

    The Dawn News website will temporarily blur out the homepage when logged onto for the duration of 15 hours to indicate that without press freedom, the truth can often disappear.

    “Over the past year, there has been a noticeable increase in attacks on the right to freedom of expression in Pakistan. We have seen this in the form of regular columnists being refused publication, increased self-censorship and the heightened scrutiny of the editorial policies of many media outlets,” said Rimmel Mohydin, South Asia Campaigner at Amnesty International.

    April 23, 2019

    By Grand Chief Edward John and Sheryl Lightfoot

    The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UN Declaration) was developed through more than two decades of intensive engagement between states and Indigenous peoples from around the world. Every provision was elaborated on a foundation of international law standards that already existed at the time, whether in the provisions of human rights treaties or in the body of interpretation that emerged around them. Extensive balancing provisions were added to ensure that the UN Declaration would be interpreted consistent with such core principles as justice, democracy, equality, and respect for human rights.

    Canada played an active, and at times crucial, role in that process. We recall key times in the negotiations when Canadian officials raised Canadian law and policies as examples to support provisions of the UN Declaration. To date, the UN Declaration has been reaffirmed ten times by the UN General Assembly by consensus. No country in the world formally opposes the Declaration.

    April 12, 2019

    By Rachel LaFortune

    Many Canadians have heard of the Site C dam: a hydro-electric megaproject in northeast British Columbia that has been backed by successive federal and provincial governments despite its unlawful impact on Indigenous rights. What fewer people may know is that three years ago, in a hearing that received scant media attention, Department of Justice lawyers successfully argued that the federal Cabinet’s decision to sign off on Site C—one of the largest, most expensive, and most destructive energy projects in Canadian history—should be shielded from judicial scrutiny. It’s a story worth revisiting in light of recent revelations and allegations about how other high-stakes decisions balancing the law and corporate interests have reportedly been handled in the Trudeau Cabinet.

    February 06, 2019

    By Alex Neve, Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada

    The heartbreaking absurdity of the fact that Canada continues to maintain that the United States is a ‘safe’ country for refugees was apparent with every interview, observation or meeting I had as our six-country Amnesty International delegation moved along the US/Mexico border this past week.

    Far from being safe, it is beyond question that the frightening reality for refugees and migrants in the United States is one of unrelenting human rights violations.  Rather than pretending otherwise, it is time for Canada to suspend the Safe Third Country Agreement that shuts down access to official border posts for refugee claimants crossing into the country from the United States.  Instead, Canada should be exerting all possible pressure on the Trump Administration to end the deepening and dehumanizing assault on the safety and dignity of refugees and migrants.

    February 06, 2019

    By Rachel LaFortune, a legal fellow with Amnesty International Canada

    A shorter version of this article originally appeared on The Georgia Straight.

    When governments rely on court-granted injunctions to define the “rule of law” in respect to Indigenous land occupations, they risk breaching their Constitutional and international human rights obligations and undermining the profound public interest in meaningful reconciliation.

    Case in point: the injunction currently being enforced against Wet’suwet’en land and water defenders in British Columbia.

    When the BC Supreme Court granted Coastal Gaslink a temporary injunction against named and unnamed individuals “occupying, obstructing, blocking, physically impeding or delaying access” to a bridge and service road on Wet’suwet’en territory, the court set in motion events that led to the high-profile, forcible arrest and removal of land defenders on Jan. 7.

    July 25, 2017
      The phone rang at four in the afternoon, exactly as scheduled. The ringing heightened the tension in the small living room of the 1950s house in Mexico City.    “Will you accept a call from the West Federal Prison?” said the voice at the end of the line.   “Yes, of course. Yes, I will,” Blanca responded, visibly nervous, as if she hadn’t done this before.   But Blanca Aviña Guerrero has done this many times before. She has been doing it every Friday since her youngest son, Enrique, was arbitrarily detained by federal police in May 2013 and eventually thrown into a maximum security prison in the state of Jalisco, around 540 km west of Mexico City.    Authorities claim Enrique, 28, was involved in kidnapping the nephews of a well-known local businessman.   But a closer look at his case reveals a more sinister story.   False suspicions  
    May 06, 2016

    By Josefina Salomon, News Writer at Amnesty International

    The armed men who burst into the house of Honduran Indigenous leader Berta Cáceres on 3 March had a simple plan: find her, kill her, and leave. 

    What they didn’t expect, however, is for Gustavo Castro, a human rights activist working with Friends of the Earth Mexico and a close friend of Berta’s, to be in the next room.

    “I was working on a presentation when I heard a loud bang,” said Gustavo, who is now in Mexico. “I thought something had fallen, but when Berta screamed, ‘Who’s there?’, I knew it was bad, that it was the end.”

    When they heard him, one of the armed men rushed to Gustavo’s room. He pointed a gun at his face, shot him and ran.

    “Everything happened so quickly, I didn’t have time to think,” said Gustavo. “When the hitman arrived, I covered my face. He was three metres away. I moved as he fired, and the bullet passed my ear. He thought he’d killed me. It’s a miracle I survived.”

    September 25, 2014

    “It’s been hard, because it’s not easy to bear being spat at in the face, being pushed and shoved, the tear gas, the tussles with the police, and we women having to throw ourselves on the ground. That is tough. It’s tough and it’s not easy to bear it, but we do it because we believe in our struggle and in asserting our rights.” 

    Yolanda Oqueli, a leader from San Jose del Golfo in Guatemala, shared those words with me last year, describing her community’s ongoing struggle to compel the Guatemalan government to respect their rights in the context of a Canadian-initiated mining project.

    Canada has a large stake in Guatemala’s mining sector, accounting for 88 per cent of all current mining operations. The country’s mining production was valued at over US $600 million in 2012.

    How could anything be wrong with Canada playing such a huge role in the country’s growing mining sector, one could wonder?  It is all about human rights.

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