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Media advisories

    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.”

    March 24, 2015

    Utah’s decision to turn to the firing squad if it is unable to secure drugs for lethal injection is the latest attempt by a US state to keep alive a punishment that should have long ago been consigned to the history books, said Amnesty International today.

    “Whether by shooting, lethal injection, hanging, asphyxiation or electrocution, the death penalty is a cruel, brutalizing and outdated punishment that is a symptom of violence, not a solution to it. The Utah legislature should be expending its energies on abolishing the death penalty, not trying to fix the unfixable,” said Rob Freer, USA researcher Amnesty International.

    On Monday 23 March, Utah Governor Gary Herbert signed a law allowing the use of firing squads when the drugs needed to administer the lethal injection was not available.

    This move clearly goes against the global and national trend towards abolition of the death penalty. Since 2007 six US states have abolished the death penalty for all crimes and the governors of Oregon, Washington and, in 2015, Pennsylvania have established moratoriums on executions in their states.

    March 23, 2015

    On the passing on Singapore’s former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, Rupert Abbott, Amnesty International’s Research Director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific, said:

    “Our thoughts and sympathies go out to the family of Lee Kuan Yew and others who mourn his passing.”

    “Lee Kuan Yew more than anyone else built modern Singapore, and his legacy will be unrivalled economic progress and development. There is, however, a dark side to what he leaves behind – too often, basic freedoms and human rights were sacrificed to ensure economic growth. Restrictions on freedom of expression and the silencing of criticism is still part of the daily reality for Singaporeans.”

    “Lee Kuan Yew’s passing, just a few months short of Singapore’s 50th anniversary of independence, happens just as the country enters a new era. We urge the next generation of leaders to ensure that this is marked by genuine respect for human rights.”

    March 18, 2015

    El Salvador’s government must take the opportunity to reform its draconian abortion law, said Amnesty International today as the country responds to a series of recommendations, mostly relating to abortion and gender discrimination, during its Universal Periodic Review (UPR), at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva.

    "El Salvador has one of the most draconian abortion laws in the world, criminalizing abortion on all grounds, even when a woman or girl’s life or health is in danger and even in cases of rape and incest. This restrictive law has put women and girls at the brink of death,” said Amnesty International Americas Director Erika Guevara Rosas.

    “El Salvador is expected to accept its duty to provide access to sexual health services and contraception, as recommended by states at the UN. We would welcome that step forward. But picking and choosing which recommendations to follow may leave in place a total ban on abortion. Dozens of women are in jail for pregnancy-related complications, some of them facing up to 40 years behind bars.”

    February 19, 2015

    Iranian officials’ refusal to provide the family of Saman Naseem, a death row juvenile offender who was due to be executed this morning, with information about his fate and whereabouts has sparked fears that he is at risk of being tortured or secretly executed, said Amnesty International.

    Saman Naseem was transferred from Oroumieh Central Prison to an unknown location on 18 February 2015. Prison officials told the family to collect his belongings on Saturday.

    “The lack of news about Saman Naseem’s fate or whereabouts with prison officers denying his family any information is cruel and inhuman,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

    February 18, 2015

    The Indonesian government must halt the imminent execution of 11 people and scrap plans to put even more people to death this year, Amnesty International said in an open letter to President Joko Widodo today.

    Indonesia’s Attorney General has confirmed that 11 executions of death row prisoners convicted for drug trafficking and murder will be carried out imminently. The prisoners include both foreigners and Indonesian nationals.

    February 16, 2015

    The decision by the UN Human Rights Council to delay, until September, the release of a key report into widespread human rights violations during the conflict in Sri Lanka must not allow the perpetrators of horrific crimes during the country’s armed conflict to escape punishment, said Amnesty International.

    “Sri Lankan victims of human rights violations deserve truth and justice. Survivors of torture, including sexual abuse, people whose family members were killed or forcibly disappeared have waited a long time for this report,” said Richard Bennett, Amnesty International's Asia-Pacific Director.

    “A delay is only justifiable if more time will lead to a stronger document and to a concrete commitment by the new Sri Lankan authorities to actively pursue accountability. This includes by co-operating with the UN to investigate conflict-era abuses and bring perpetrators to justice.”

    The Human Rights Council must also be vigilant and ensure that all those coming forward to give testimony are protected from any potential threats from those who do not want justice to prevail.

    February 13, 2015

    The Mexican government must take serious steps to tackle the disappearance of thousands of people, said Amnesty International as the United Nation’s Committee on Enforced Disappearances prepares to publish recommendations to the country today.

    “More than 22,600 people have disappeared or gone missing in Mexico in the past eight years. Meanwhile thousands more people wait in anguish and turmoil unsure of what has happened to their loved ones. The recommendations to the Mexican government cannot just be baseless words, but instead must herald a tangible and urgent change in policy and legislation to address this chronic situation. It is time for the authorities to wake up to this tragedy,” said Erika Guevara Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.

    Last week the UN Committee reviewed the situation in Mexico and heard from victims and human rights organisations, including Amnesty International, in Geneva. The UN body will publish its recommendations to the Mexican government today.

    February 12, 2015

    Amnesty International is reiterating its calls for the release of the Al Jazeera journalists Baher Mohamed and Mohamed Fahmy as their retrial began in Cairo today.

    “The notion that Baher Mohamed and Mohamed Fahmy now have to start this farcical process from scratch beggars belief,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahroui, Amnesty International’s Depuy Middle East and North Africa Director.
    "The message today's trial sends is that there is no justice for Egyptians."

    The men have been in prison for more than a year. Their earlier convictions were overturned after a deeply flawed trial.

    “It is crucial that Baher Mohamed and Mohamed Fahmy's continuing ordeal is not forgotten, particularly now that their Australian colleague Peter Greste is a free man. Like him, they are guilty of nothing more than carrying out their jobs as journalists. There is no reason that they should remain behind bars. The authorities should put an immediate end to their torment by dropping the charges and releasing them immediately and unconditionally,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui.

    February 09, 2015

    The Mexican government must urgently address serious flaws in its investigation into the enforced disappearance of 43 students after forensic experts cast major doubts on the Attorney General’s inquiry, said Amnesty International today.

    The recent report from the  Argentine Forensic Anthropology Team (Equipo Argentino de Antropología Forense, EAAF), - network of professional forensic experts, reveals that the announcement by the Attorney General of Mexico, Jesús Murillo Karam, that he was prepared to close the case after human remains were found in Cocula dump were based on assumptions and completely premature. The EEAF stated that there is no scientific evidence to suggest that the human remains found in Cocula are those of the missing students.

    January 31, 2015

    Posted at 0001hrs GMT 1 February 2015

    Evidence gathered by Amnesty International published today indicates that the Egyptian authorities are attempting to cover up the deaths of more than two dozen people who were killed in protests marking the 2011 uprising last weekend.  

    Prosecutors have threatened eyewitnesses with arrest and at least 500 demonstrators, including two disabled people and children, and bystanders are being held in unofficial detention centres across the country. Two journalists were also detained while covering the protests.

    “The authorities have not only used unnecessary or excessive force but they also appear to have orchestrated a ‘cover up’ of the disastrous events of last weekend to hide the brutal reality that Egyptian security forces have once again resorted to arbitrary and abusive force to crush protesters,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Amnesty International’s Deputy Middle East and North Africa Director.

    January 29, 2015

    The protection of civilians must be central to today’s discussions at the African Union summit on how to tackle the growing threat of Boko Haram, said Amnesty International.

    The situation in north-east Nigeria, including the possibility of the deployment of a regional force against Boko Haram, is expected to be part of the AU’s Peace and Security Council talks this evening, and Amnesty International is calling for African leaders to ensure that the protection of civilian in north east Nigeria is at the top of the agenda.
    “In the face of Boko Haram’s bloody onslaught the protection of civilians is the key priority. Ultimately it is the responsibility of Nigeria’s authorities to take all feasible measures to protect the civilian population including by assisting with an evacuation of those who wish to flee and transporting them to safer areas,” said Netsanet Belay, Amnesty International’s Africa director.  

    January 28, 2015

    The announcement by the Mexican Attorney General that all the missing Ayotzinapa students are dead is premature and risks curtailing a full and thorough investigation into this tragedy, said Amnesty International today.

    Yesterday Attorney General Jesus Murillo Karam announced that he could prove the students were dead, basing his findings mainly on confessions from arrested suspects. He was unable, however, to show strong evidence of it.

    “If the Attorney General hopes that this announcement will draw a line under this tragedy then he is wrong. There are still many, many questions left unanswered, including the possible complicity, by action or omission, of the army and other authorities in the attack against these young student teachers,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.

    “I have met with the families and those left behind, I have seen their pain and it is not something that can be swept under the carpet. Mexico’s troubled past when it comes to police investigations is all the more reason for this investigation to continue until there is solid proof of what happened to these young men.”

    January 27, 2015

    Human rights activists from Sherbrooke, Montreal and Ottawa will be holding a rally on Parliament Hill on Thursday 29 January 2015 at 2 p.m. calling on Prime Minister Stephen Harper to intervene directly with Saudi Arabian authorities to stop the flogging of Raif Badawi set to resume on Friday 30 January, and press for him to be unconditionally freed from prison.

    Raif Badawi who was sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes for setting up the Saudi Arabian Liberals website, will be flogged for a second time. Amnesty International believes Raif Badawi is a prisoner of conscience, detained solely for the peaceful exercise of his right to freedom of expression. His wife Ensaf Haider and their three children have found refuge in Canada living in Sherbrooke, Quebec.

    January 26, 2015

                                      New video spoofs “wheel of torture”

    One year ago this week, the revelation that Philippine police in Laguna had used a “wheel of torture” to decide how to torture detainees shocked the world. But despite the global headlines, one year later no one has been held to account – a sad indictment of the police’s casual attitude towards torture and the almost complete impunity that surrounds it.

    To mark the anniversary, Amnesty International has produced Torture: More fun in the Philippines, a short satirical film based on a popular TV game show. One contestant spins the “wheel of torture” to try to get a lawyer, but instead “wins” the prize of being punched for 30 seconds straight. The film’s title is used ironically – “More fun in the Philippines” is also the slogan of the country’s Tourism Board.

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