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Media advisories

    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.

    July 08, 2015

    Released 9 July 2015 00:01 BST

    A dramatic fall in the number of migrants and refugees who have lost their lives trying to cross the Mediterranean underscores the importance of the desperately needed boost to search-and-rescue operations initiated by European leaders at the end of April, Amnesty International said today.

    One in 16 people attempting the crossing died in the first four months of 2015 prior to the emergency measures. This figure has fallen to as few as one in 427 in the last two months alone as the increased search and rescue operations have come into effect.  

    The large decrease in fatalities has occurred despite more men, women and children attempting to reach southern Europe from Africa’s coastline since the end of April. Nearly 28,000 people attempted the crossing between 1 January and 26 April 2015, while more than 42,000 made the attempt between 25 April and 29 June.

    June 02, 2015

    The Chinese authorities must drop a fundamentally flawed draft NGO law that would put a hold on civil society and have severe consequences for freedom of expression and association in the country, Amnesty International said.  

    In a submission to China’s National People’s Congress Standing Committee’s Legislative Affairs Commission, Amnesty International highlights major shortcomings in the draft Foreign Non-Governmental Organizations Management Law that would stifle civil society and breach China’s international human rights obligations.

    “This chilling draft NGO law is a very real threat to the valuable and legitimate work of independent civil society groups. The authorities would have unchecked power to target organizations, restrict their activities, and ultimately choke civil society,” said William Nee, China Researcher at Amnesty International. 

    The law is the latest in a series of repressive measures by the government to consolidate control. New regulations announced on 30 May, go so far as to require all domestic civil society organizations to have a Communist Party group.

    June 01, 2015

    Thousands in need of aid following the Nepal earthquake risk being left to fend for themselves amidst worrying signs that gender, caste and ethnic discrimination are  inhibiting the aid effort, Amnesty International said in a briefing today. The organization urges authorities and the international community to put human rights at the core of the earthquake response.

    “The devastating earthquake that hit Nepal has killed thousands and left hundreds of thousands in dire need of aid. Nepali and international actors – including civil society - have responded to this humanitarian crisis heroically, but there are some serious issues brewing that need to be addressed urgently,” said Richard Bennett, Amnesty International’s Asia Pacific Director.

    “A human rights compliant approach to the disaster response will be critical to ensuring that the quest for equality, justice and accountability in Nepal does not lose ground as the country struggles to recover from the devastation.”

    May 28, 2015

    From a raped 10-year-old girl denied an abortion in Paraguay, to women imprisoned in El Salvador after having a miscarriage, millions of women and girls all over Latin America are suffering because of outdated and discriminatory abortion laws and policies, said Amnesty International.

    “Today, on the International Day of Action for Women’s Health, from the Caribbean to South America countless women and girls are suffering terribly from cruel and draconian laws and policies that violate their human right to make choices about their own bodies, health and lives,” said Erika Guevara Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.

    “Sadly there is still a long way to go.  Earlier this week, Peru’s Justice Commission in Congress let rape victims down by passing up the chance to ensure women and girls that are victims of rape have the option to access safe and legal abortion services.

    “In Paraguay the future of a 10-year-old girl still hangs in the balance.

    April 28, 2015

    (Ottawa, April 28, 2015) The mother of one of 46 students from a teacher-training college in the Mexican community of Ayotzinapa who were killed or forcibly disappeared during a September 2014 attack by Mexican police and gunmen will testify before Parliament’s Subcommittee on International Human Rights this afternoon, along with a surviving student and a lawyer for the families of the victims.

    Their goal is to make visible a disturbing pattern of grave abuses perpetrated by state security forces, and call for attention to serious failures on the part of government authorities to protect human rights in Mexico, a country that Canada has designated a so-called “safe country”.

    The members of the Mexican delegation who will testify to Canadian MPs are:

    • Hilda Legideño Vargas, whose son Jorge Antonio was forcibly disappeared in the September 2014 attack;

    • Jorge Luis Clemente Balbuena, a student leader at the Ayotzinapa teachers’ college;

    April 08, 2015

    On 14 April, the anniversary of the abduction of the schoolgirls from Chibok, Amnesty International will be releasing a report on Boko Haram.

    The report, ‘Our job is to shoot, slaughter and kill’: Boko Haram’s reign of terror in north-east Nigeria, documents war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by the armed group. It provides evidence of the scale and depravity of Boko Haram’s human rights abuses, as well as detailed new information about the abduction of women and girls and the conditions faced by those abducted.

    The report catalogues serious human rights abuses which amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity and explores the way in which Boko Haram is structured, operates, recruits, organizes and sustains itself offering chilling insights into life in Boko Haram territories and camps.

    It also includes new satellite images offering evidence of the destruction left by Boko Haram as they retreated from the advancing Nigerian military in March 2015.

    March 27, 2015

    Amnesty International to launch report on mounting threats and attacks on women human rights defenders in Afghanistan

    On 7 April 2015, a new Amnesty International report will document how women human rights defenders in Afghanistan are facing growing attacks and violence from all sides – Taliban, local commanders, government officials and family members.

    Institutional indifference by the Afghan authorities mean most women defenders lack adequate protection and perpetrators are almost never held to account.

    The report will be launched with a press conference in Kabul on 7 April, which will be attended by Amnesty International’s Secretary General Salil Shetty as well as Afghan women rights activists. Spokespeople are available in Kabul and London.

    On 8-9 April, Amnesty International will also co-organize a human rights conference in Kabul together with the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission.

    For further information, please contact Elizabeth Berton-Hunter, Media Relations 416-363-9933 ext 332 bberton-hunter@amnesty.ca

     

     

    March 26, 2015

    Mass surveillance, particularly indiscriminate US and UK collection of online data, requires the prompt attention of the United Nation’s new privacy watchdog, Amnesty International said today.

    Amnesty International and other NGOs had called for the creation of a ‘Special Rapporteur’ on the right to privacy, a new expert role set up today by the UN Human Rights Council, in response to efforts to expand surveillance powers and bulk collection of personal data, most recently in France and Canada. Governments are prohibited from arbitrary interference with peoples’ right to privacy by international law.

    “UN action is essential to analyze the impact of surveillance on privacy and free speech. Security agencies show a misguided and ever-growing appetite for data collection; someone has to watch the watchers,” said Peter Splinter, Amnesty International Representative to the United Nations in Geneva. 

    March 26, 2015

    Mexican authorities have made shamefully little progress in their investigation into the enforced disappearance of 43 student teachers from Guerrero State, said Amnesty International today, six months on from the tragedy.

    “The past six months have been a period of heartbreak and torment for the family and friends of those who were forcibly disappeared last September. Despite worldwide attention on the issue, the Mexican authorities have failed to properly pursue all lines of investigation, especially the worrying allegations of complicity by armed forces. The Mexican authorities cannot wait even one day more, but must act now to bring those responsible to justice,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director Amnesty International.

    “Six hours after the students went missing we were worried for their safety. Six weeks on we were frustrated and saddened by the lack of progress in the search for their whereabouts. But now, six months later, we are absolutely horrified by the abject failure of the Mexican government to get to the full truth of what happened to these young men and bring those responsible to justice.”

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