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    October 21, 2015

    The Algerian government must cease its relentless campaign of censorship of private broadcasters if it is going to live up to its pledge to uphold and strengthen media freedoms in the country, said Amnesty International as the country marks National Press Day on 22 October.

    Only last week police raided and shut down El Watan TV, confiscating equipment and escorting staff out of the station’s office in the capital Algiers after it broadcast an interview with a controversial government critic.

    In 2014 the government introduced restrictive licensing laws which have left many broadcasters in legal limbo operating under the constant threat of censorship.

    “The government’s repeated shutdowns of private TV stations that dare to criticize it, such as El Watan TV, is a clear and present danger to the survival of a free media in Algeria,” said Said Boumedouha, Amnesty International’s Director of North Africa and the Middle East.

    October 19, 2015

    Croatian and Slovenian authorities must urgently come up with effective solutions as hundreds of refugees and asylum seekers who were stranded overnight between the two countries’ border checkpoints are soon to be joined by thousands more, Amnesty International urged today.

    An Amnesty International research team on the scene interviewed multiple refugees who described how Croatian police had ushered around 1,800 people on a 12km trudge from Čakovec train station to the border crossing at Trnovec at around 2:30am, after Slovenian authorities had blocked the train from entering Slovenia.

    Hundreds of children including babies as young as a month old were among the group, who walked or were carried in the rain. They reached the border crossing around two hours later, only to find it blocked by a fence and Slovenian police. Croatian police promptly erected a temporary fence behind the group, effectively trapping them between the two countries with no shelter or humanitarian assistance.

    October 16, 2015

    Venezuela must halt its escalating campaign of attacks and harassment against human rights activists and instead publicly support their crucial and legitimate work, said Amnesty International as the country faces a hearing at the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights on Monday 19 October.  

    “Defending human rights in Venezuela has become an increasingly dangerous occupation with activists harassed and attacked for criticizing the authorities,” said Marcos Gómez, Director at Amnesty International Venezuela, who will represent the organization at the hearing.

     In recent weeks, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro has publicly criticized the work of human rights organizations and activists. In a televised speech on 21 August he discredited Marino Alvarado, a member of local human rights group Provea, stating his organization was right-wing and questioning its work.

    October 13, 2015

     An upsurge of violence in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) and in Israel since 1 October has seen at least 27 Palestinians and seven Israelis killed in recent days. Palestinians have carried out a number of attacks on Israelis in Israel and the OPT, killing six civilians and one off-duty soldier and injuring others. Israeli forces have used excessive, sometimes lethal, force against Palestinian demonstrators, injuring hundreds with live ammunition and rubber-coated metal bullets, and have failed to protect Palestinian civilians from a wave of settler attacks.

    A delegation of Amnesty International researchers is on the ground in the West Bank and available for interviews about the ongoing violence.

    October 02, 2015

    The trial of satirical cartoonist Atena Farghadani and her lawyer on a charge of “illegitimate sexual relations falling short of adultery” after they shook hands is not only absurd and extreme but clearly politically motivated, said Amnesty International ahead of the General Criminal Court session starting tomorrow in Tehran.

    Both Atena Farghadani, whom Amnesty International regards as a prisoner of conscience, and her lawyer Mohammad Moghimi may face up to 99 lashes if found guilty. The organization believes the cartoonist and activist has been detained solely for exercising her right to freedom of expression.

    “It is clearly both absurd and a violation of the right to privacy to consider a man and a woman shaking hands as a criminal offence,” said Raha Bahreini, Amnesty International’s researcher.

    September 29, 2015

    A Cuban graffiti artist who has been unfairly held in prison for nearly a year after he painted “Raúl” and “Fidel” on the backs of two pigs has been named as a prisoner of conscience, said Amnesty International today as it called for his immediate release.

    Danilo Maldonado Machado, known as ‘El Sexto’, was accused of “disrespecting the leaders of the Revolution” and sent to prison after officers opened the taxi’s boot and found the two pigs. Danilo intended to release them in an art show on Christmas Day.

    “To jail an artist for painting a name on a pig is ludicrous. Cuban authorities are using any cowardly excuse to silence Danilo and send a message to others that any criticism of the government and its officials will not be tolerated,” said Carolina Jiménez, Americas Deputy Director for Research at Amnesty International.

    September 23, 2015

    Released 23 September 2015 at 00:01 Mexico time (05:00 GMT)

    Omar García – Second-year student at the Escuela Normal Rural Raúl Isidro Burgos “Ayotzinapa”, in Iguala, Guerrero, Mexico.

    On the night of Friday 26 September 2014, 24-year-old Omar García was writing a paper when he received a desperate call from one of his friends who was in a bus in the nearby town of Iguala.  

    His friend told him police officers were indiscriminately shooting at a group of students who were crossing the town on their way to a demonstration in Mexico City to mark the anniversary of the 2 October 1968 Tlatelolco massacre of unarmed students.

    “I was shocked and alarmed. I ran out of my room calling my friends. ‘Our friends are being shot at in Iguala, we have to go!’ I shouted. Everybody was upset,” he said.

    “Around 30 of us went to Iguala. When we arrived we started visiting hospitals, the courts, the prison. We asked people everywhere if they had seen our friends. But everybody said they had not seen them.

    September 17, 2015

    Cuba is at a human rights crossroads, with important advances such as the recent release of political prisoners and a number of positive reforms to its migration laws overshadowed by the government’s determination to deploy new methods to stifle dissent, said Amnesty International ahead of a state visit by Pope Francis.

    “Over the past few months, we have seen unprecedented openness when it comes to Cuba’s international relations. However, the country still needs to make progress when it comes to allowing people to peacefully express their views without fear of being harassed, detained or attacked,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.

    Over the past few years, authorities in Cuba have switched from a strategy of incarcerating people viewed as political dissidents for long periods of time to consecutive short term arrests and public smear campaigns.

    September 06, 2015

    Hungary should urgently provide refugees and migrants crossing the border from Serbia more humane reception conditions, transport and clarity about where they are being sent, Amnesty International said. With more people bound to arrive, the situation could escalate further.

    “While Europe rejoiced in happy images from Austria and Germany yesterday, refugees crossing into Hungary right now see a very different picture: riot police and a cold hard ground to sleep on,” said Amnesty International researcher Barbora Cernusakova.

    “While Europe has failed abysmally to respond, Hungary has a duty to ensure decent conditions for people who arrive. Its hostile approach doesn’t keep people out, it simply prolongs and adds to their ordeal.”

    August 31, 2015

    A press conference will be held to discuss a major development in the case of Maher Arar.

    Speakers:  Monia Mazigh, Wife of Maher Arar
                       Paul Champ, Counsel to Maher Arar
                       Alex Neve, Secretary General, Amnesty International Canada
                      (English branch)

    Date:        Tuesday, September 1st
    Time:        11:30 a.m.

    Place:      Charles Lynch Room
                    130-S, Centre Block
                    Parliament Hill, Ottawa

     

     

    For further information, please contact:

    Elizabeth Berton-Hunter,
    Amnesty International Canada
    (416) 363-9933 ext 332
    Mobile (416) 904-7158

    August 20, 2015

    The harsh sentence upheld this evening against a prominent anti-slavery activist is a clear indication that Mauritania has no intention of letting up on its crackdown on human rights defenders, Amnesty International said today.

    An appeal court in the south-western town of Aleg has confirmed the two year sentence after convicting former presidential candidate Biram Ould Dah Ould Abeid, Brahim Bilal and Djiby Sow of membership in an unrecognized organization, taking part in an unauthorized assembly, failing to comply with police orders and resisting arrest.  

    “It is revolting that this unjust and harsh sentence has been upheld. All three of them have been detained solely for the peaceful exercise of their rights and are therefore prisoners of conscience who must be released immediately and unconditionally,” said Alioune Tine, Amnesty International Regional Director for West and Central Africa.

    August 13, 2015

    Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi is expected to sign a deeply worrying new counterterrorism bill into law today which contravenes the Egyptian Constitution and international human rights law, Amnesty International said.

    According to Egypt’s Minister of Justice Ahmed El Zend, the President has the law on his desk for final approval today ahead of 14 August, the second anniversary of a police operation to disperse protesters camped in Cairo’s Rabaa al-Adaweya and Nahda squares, which resulted in the killing of more than 600 protesters and mass arbitrary arrests, among other human rights violations.

    “This new law will become yet another tool for the authorities to crush all forms of dissent and steamroll over basic human rights. It is an abomination that will only pave the way for more horrific incidents like Rabaa in the future. The Egyptian authorities must drop the draft law or fundamentally revise it,” said Said Boumedouha, Deputy Middle East and North Africa Program Director at Amnesty International.

    July 29, 2015

    A juvenile offender in Iran is at imminent risk of execution amid a horrifying rise in the number of executions in the country, Amnesty International said today.
    Salar Shadizadi, who is now 24, is due to be hanged on Saturday 1 August, after he was convicted of murdering a friend in 2007. He was 15 years old at the time of the offence.

    “To execute Salar Shadizadi, who was a child at the time of his arrest, flies in the face of international law. The Iranian authorities must immediately halt any plans to carry out the execution and ensure that Salar Shadizadi’s death sentence is commuted without delay,” said Said Boumedouha, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme.

    “The Iranian authorities’ pledges to respect children’s rights ring disturbingly hollow when they plan the execution of a juvenile offender just months before Iran’s review session at the UN Committee on the Rights of the Chid.”

    July 24, 2015

    US President Barack Obama should use his visit to Kenya and Ethiopia, which began today, to call for dramatic improvements in the human rights situation in both countries, said Amnesty International, alongside 13 signatories to a letter sent to the President.

    “Both countries face real security threats but we are concerned by the way in which each government has responded, often with abusive security measures and increased efforts to stifle civil society and independent media,” the letter states.Whilst in Kenya, the President should “address both new and longstanding challenges with which the country continues to grapple – from security force impunity and the need for criminal justice reforms, to an increasingly restrictive environment for media and civil society, and growing pressure on Kenya’s Somali refugee population and its Muslim communities.”

    Whilst in Ethiopia President Obama should “send the message that the United States is giving short shrift to the profoundly repressive policies pursued by the government.”

    July 10, 2015

    The Bolivian authorities must take decisive action to tackle discrimination and other barriers women and girls face when trying to exercise their sexual and reproductive rights, said Amnesty International as the country is up for scrutiny by the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women on 14 July.

    A new Amnesty International briefing to the UN Committee evaluates the situation and gives a series of recommendations to the Bolivian authorities.

    “Bolivia has made great progress on protecting women’s rights in the past 10 years, including passing new laws to guarantee gender equality and to protect women from violence. But there’s still a very long way to go to live up to these commitments, and the lack of effective action and financial investment means that women and girls, particularly indigenous women and those living in poverty, are still suffering abuse,” said Fernanda Doz Costa, Americas Researcher at Amnesty International who will be in Geneva for the session, and has been conducting research on the issue.

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