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Media advisories

    June 11, 2012

    Canadian citizen Bashir Makhtal has been trapped in a nightmare of human rights violations in an Ethiopian jail for more than five years.  He has been sentenced to a life prison term after a deeply unfair trial.  He has been held in grueling prison conditions, in Ethiopia, and has almost certainly experienced torture and other mistreatment.  His brother, imprisoned at the same time, became ill from what he suffered in prison and died as soon as he was released.  His sister and other family members have had to flee to a harsh refugee camp in Kenya. 

    The Canadian government says it believes in Bashir Makhtal and is working to protect his rights.  But after more than five years, there is very little to show for it.  The Ethiopian government refuses to listen to Canada’s pleas.

    May 28, 2012

    Amnesty International’s report Saudi Arabia: Dissident voices stifled in the Eastern Province, highlights a range of measures amounting to human rights violations taken against protesters and others suspected of exercising their right to freedom of expression in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia.  

    The report documents patterns of human rights violations in the Eastern Province against mainly Shi’a Muslims suspected of participating in protests or of engaging in activities that fall under their rights to freedom of expression but seen by the authorities as a challenge to the government or sympathetic to protesters in Bahrain.

    Amnesty International, while recognizing the responsibility of the Saudi Arabian authorities to preserve public order, is concerned that many of those arrested appear to have been detained arbitrarily.The organization is particularly concerned about reports that several of those held have been subjected to torture or ill-treatment.

    May 04, 2012

    Amnesty International Brief on Bill C-31 presented to Parliamentary Committee

    DATE:   Monday 7 May 2012

    TIME:   9:50-10:50 AM

    Alex Neve, Secretary General, Amnesty International Canada (English branch)
    Beatrice Vaugrante, Directrice Générale, Amnistie internationale Canada francophone

    House of Commons Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration
    Meeting Room C-110, 1 Wellington Street

    Amnesty International will present its concerns with respect to Bill C-31, proposed amendments to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.  The Bill contravenes a number of Canada’s international human rights obligations. Amnesty International is calling for Bill C-31 to be withdrawn.  Any further law reform dealing with human smuggling and refugee protection must only proceed in a manner that conforms fully to Canada’s international human rights obligations.


    Beth Berton-Hunter,
    Media Relations,
    Amnesty International Canada
    416-363-9933, ext. 332

    April 13, 2012

    Human rights in Bahrain - Media Briefing

    The human rights crisis in Bahrain is not over. Despite the authorities’ claims to the contrary, state violence against those who oppose the Al Khalifa family rule continues, and in practice, not much has changed in the country since the brutal crackdown on anti-government protesters in February and March 2011

    The Bahraini authorities have been vociferous about their intention to introduce reforms and learn lessons from events in February and March 2011. In November 2011, the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI), set up by King Hamad bin ‘Issa Al Khalifa, submitted a report of its investigation into human rights violations committed in connection with the anti-government protests. The report concluded that the authorities had committed gross human rights violations with impunity, including excessive use of force against protesters, widespread torture and other ill-treatment of protesters, unfair trials and unlawful killings.

    April 12, 2012

    On 17 April, days before the scheduled date of the Bahrain Formula 1 Grand Prix (20-22 April), Amnesty International is releasing a new report Flawed Reforms: Bahrain fails to achieve justice for protesters.

    The report, which is about 50 pages long, highlights patterns of human rights violations which continue to be committed by Bahraini security forces and provides testimonies of victims of human rights violations who are still awaiting justice. The government is refusing to release scores of prisoners incarcerated because they wanted meaningful political reforms and in recent months has become more concerned with investing in public relations efforts than actually introducing real human rights and political reforms in their country.

    April 10, 2012

    Authorities across the Americas must take urgent action to protect the rights of the most vulnerable people in the region, said Amnesty International in a new paper released ahead of the VI Summit of the Americas.

    The paper Connecting the Americas: Prosperity with Respect for Human Rights explores some of the main human rights challenges in the region, including the abuses against Indigenous Peoples, widespread violence against women and girls, attacks against human rights defenders and the criticism by several governments of the Inter-American human rights system.

    “The Summit is an important opportunity for regional leaders to commit to taking concrete steps to improve human rights across the Americas,” said Susan Lee, Americas Director at Amnesty International.

    “The global prosperity that regional leaders are aiming for can only be achieved if the human rights of all in the Americas are respected and protected.”

    The VI Americas Summit will take place between 14 and 15 April 2012 in Cartagena de Indias, Colombia.

    March 26, 2012

    Media Advisory Unfair Policy Fails Refugees and Canadians: Parliament Hill press conference and “jail cell” protest on Bill C-31

    TIME: 10:30 am (press conference)
     9 am – 1:30 pm (“jail cell” protest)

    PLACE: Charles Lynch Press Room, Room S-130, Centre Block, Parliament Hill, Ottawa (press conference);
       Parliament Hill (corner of Metcalfe and Wellington) (“jail cell” protest)

    Media are invited to hear arguments on why Bill C-31 should be withdrawn or defeated at second reading.  Human rights and refugee groups are calling for a fair, independent and affordable refugee system. They will speak to their serious concerns about this bill, which is unconstitutional, undermines Canada’s humanitarian traditions, and violates Canada’s international obligations. Bill C-31 is bad policy and creates a manifestly unfair system that will fail to protect refugees in Canada. 

    A concurrent street theatre “jail cell” protest will also be held on Parliament Hill to stand with the people seeking refuge who would be punished under Bill C-31, and to strongly oppose the passage of this bill.

    Press Conference Speakers:

    March 08, 2012

    On Tuesday 13 March, at a press briefing in Geneva, Amnesty International will launch a report exposing how hundreds of people languish in detention without trial in Sri Lanka despite the end of the country’s long conflict.
    Locked away: Sri Lanka’s security detainees reveals how the arbitrary and illegal detention that were a hallmark of Sri Lanka’s security regime during its long war has become routine. Detainees are vulnerable to torture, extrajudicial execution and are often held incommunicado.

    Sri Lankan authorities detain those deemed to be security threats, and, sometimes, their families and colleagues. Peaceful critics have also been arrested and detained. Authorities continue to justify these practices in the name of public security.

    Despite the end of the armed conflict with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, in Sri Lanka human rights abuses of all types go un-investigated and unpunished

    The UN Human Rights Council is currently meeting in Geneva, and Sri Lanka is on the agenda.

    March 07, 2012

    On 14 March, Amnesty International is releasing a new report on Syria ‘I wanted to die’: Syria’s torture survivors speak out.

    The report, which is being released a day before the one-year anniversary of the start of mass protests in Syria, documents 31 methods of torture or other ill-treatment described by witnesses or victims to Amnesty International.

    The organization finds that a year after protests began on 15 March 2011, the scale of torture and ill-treatment by security forces, army and the pro-government armed gangs known as shabiha has risen to a level not witnessed in Syria for years and which are reminiscent of the dark era of the 1970s and 1980s.

    Amnesty International has interviewed dozens of Syrians who fled the violence to Jordan, including 25 people who reported they had been tortured or otherwise ill-treated in detention before they fled across the border.

    March 06, 2012

    Amnesty International Canada and six prestigious universities (below) are working together to host a visit by four respected Mexican human rights defenders. Each has a compelling story to tell about courageous efforts to protect rights and dignity in Mexico amidst a terrifying increase in threats and violence.
    Vidulfo Rosales Sierra is a lawyer with the renowned Tlachinollan Human Rights Centre that does human rights monitoring and works with Indigenous communities in Guerrero State to defend their rights
    Dolores González Saravia is Director of SERAPAZ, an NGO founded by Bishop Ruiz with extensive experience in southern Mexico that works on conflict prevention and peace building
    Yolanda Moran Isais is a member of FUUNDEM, an organization formed by a growing number of families whose relatives have been forcibly disappeared
    Alberto Xicotencatl Carrasco is Director of the Casa del Migrante shelter in Saltillo, Coahuila, recipient of last year’s prestigious Letelier Moffitt Human Rights Award for work with vulnerable migrants

    March 05, 2012

    Amnesty International is calling on its supporters to mark International Women’s Day on 8 March by taking action in solidarity with women in the Middle East and North Africa. Thousands of individual actions are expected to be taken, with a focus on four countries – Iran, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Yemen.  

    Iran: The organization’s members will call on Iranian authorities to release Nasrin Sotoudeh, a prisoner of conscience and human rights lawyer who is serving a six-year jail sentence at Tehran’s Evin Prison.

    Saudi Arabia: The organization is calling on people around the world to share images and messages of solidarity with Saudi Arabian women activists and support them in their “drive to freedom” campaign to overturn the country’s ban on women driving:

     View Saudi Arabian women must drive their way to freedom, a short film produced by Amnesty International which can be embedded:


    February 29, 2012

    The victor in Russia’s presidential elections on 4 March must place human rights at the heart of their political agenda, Amnesty International said.

    During the past few weeks, all the presidential candidates have touched on issues preventing Russian society from fulfilling its rich potential.

    In A Human Rights Agenda for Russia, Amnesty International details how human rights-based solutions are essential for Russia to move forward.

    “As the first generation of post-soviet voters heads to the polls, the hopes and expectations of all Russians remain what they always were – the full enjoyment, for so long denied, of their most basic rights as individuals and as citizens,” said Sergei Nikitin, Director of Amnesty International Representative Office in the Russian Federation.

    “During elections, we often hear the right words from the various candidates. This time, the future president must lay out specific steps for change and demonstrate action – there can be no more excuses.

    February 22, 2012

    On 28 February Amnesty International will launch a new report “We are ordered to crush you”: Expanding Repression of Dissent in Iran.

    The report, over 70 pages, is being released just ahead of Parliamentary elections in Iran, which are due to be held on 2 March.

    It describes how, in the wake of pro-reform protests across the country in February 2011, the Iranian authorities have continued their crackdown on freedom of expression, with a wave of arrests in recent months targeting lawyers, students, journalists, political activists and their relatives, religious and ethnic minorities, filmmakers, and people with international connections, particularly to foreign media.

    The report argues that despite the Government's claims to support the aims of protesters across the Middle East and North Africa - calling the events of 2011 an "Islamic awakening" - the authorities have implemented this crackdown precisely to prevent Iranians voicing calls for greater accountability and respect for rights.

    February 16, 2012

    Amnesty International Canada /Amnistie Canada    Assembly of First Nations     Canadian Friends Service Committee (Quakers)   First Nations Summit    Grand Council of the Crees (Eeyou Istchee)    Indigenous World Association   International Indian Treaty Council (IITC)    KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives     Kanehsatake Cultural Center    National Association of Friendship Centres    Native Women's Association of Canada    Treaty Four First Nations    Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs

    On February 22 and 23, Canada’s record on combating discrimination will be examined by a high level body of the United Nations. The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) is the independent expert body that monitors compliance with the international treaty of the same name.

    As a signatory to the Convention, Canada is required to report regularly to the Committee on measures taken to comply with its provisions. Key issues concerning the rights of Indigenous peoples were glossed over or ignored in Canada’s report.

    January 31, 2012

    Prime Minister Harper will make his second official trip to China next week. His visit comes at a deeply worrying time for human rights protection in China.  A harsh crackdown on the country’s human rights community throughout 2011 led to hundreds of arrests.  Many human rights advocates are still detained without charge or trial. 2010 Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo remains imprisoned. In recent weeks the situation in Tibet has deteriorated dramatically, with growing protests met by excessive and often deadly force from Chinese security forces.

    At the same time, with considerable Chinese government interest in the Canadian natural resources sector, Canada may have more influence with China than ever before.

    Canadian human rights advocates will argue that this is a critical time for the Prime Minister to take a strong stand for human rights in China.



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