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    October 23, 2020

    Law enforcement agencies across the USA are failing to facilitate people’s fundamental right to freedom of peaceful assembly, and to protect protests and counter-protests from violent disruption by armed groups among others, Amnesty International said today in a new report, Losing the Peace: US Police Failures to Protect Protesters from Violence. 

    Since the police killing of George Floyd in May 2020, there have been thousands of peaceful anti-racism and political protests and counter-protests across the USA. Yet in nearly 200 incidents where violence occurred between participants in conflicting protests, Amnesty International found that US police forces frequently failed to take preventive measures to avoid the disruption of peaceful assemblies and failed to protect protesters from violent attacks when they did occur.

    October 23, 2020

    With women’s empowerment topping the agenda at next week’s B20 Summit, hosted by Saudi Arabia, Amnesty International is reminding business leaders that many of the country’s bravest women’s rights activists are languishing in prison for daring to demand reforms. 

    Loujain al Hathloul, Nassima al-Sada, Samar Badawi, Maya’a al-Zahrani, and Nouf Abdulaziz spearheaded women’s rights campaigns, including calling for the right to drive and an end to the repressive male guardianship system. But while Saudi Arabia talks up recent reforms such as the relaxation of social restrictions and the loosening of the guardianship system to court approval from the rich and powerful around the B20, women’s rights activists remain in detention.

    “Since assuming the G20 Presidency Saudi Arabia has invested heavily in rebranding its image, throwing out slogans about women’s equality and insisting it is ready for change. But Saudi Arabia’s real changemakers are behind bars,” said Lynn Maalouf, Amnesty International's Deputy Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

    October 22, 2020

    Given the lack of publicity around this morning’s pre-trial hearing against David Castillo, the only person accused of masterminding the murder of the Lenca leader and environmental defender Berta Cáceres, Amnesty International reminds the Honduran authorities of their obligation to comply with due process.

    Prior to the beginning of the oral and public debate, a hearing was scheduled on 22 October to examine the proceedings against David Castillo, the former manager of the company Desarrollos Energéticos (DESA), who was in charge of the Agua Zarca hydroelectric project.

    According to the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH), the organization that Berta Cáceres was general coordinator of, the broadcast of the hearing could not be accessed remotely due to the absence of a technician, thus limiting publicity and the transparency of the judicial process.

    October 20, 2020

    On Friday 23 October 2020, the Federal Court of Appeal will hear arguments on the Canadian government’s request to stay the decision finding that Canada is violating the rights of refugee claimants it returns to the US under the Safe Third Country Agreement. The July Federal Court decision is otherwise due to take effect in January 2021.

    The Canadian Council for Refugees, Amnesty International and The Canadian Council of Churches, alongside the individual litigants, are arguing that the stay application must be rejected.

    “Every day that the rules remain in effect, more people risk being returned to imprisonment in the US and possible return to persecution,” said Dorota Blumczynska, CCR President. “After seeing overwhelming evidence, including the testimonies of the appalling experiences of people in the US immigration detention system, the Federal Court concluded that the conditions in US detention ‘shock the conscience’. We must stop sending people to face these intolerable abuses.”

    October 08, 2020

    The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed and exacerbated the longstanding neglect of mental health services for refugees and migrants, Amnesty International said today. The organization said the international community had broken the promise, enshrined in international law, to ensure the highest attainable standard of mental health for everyone.

    “A tiny fraction of the international health aid budget is devoted to mental health, and refugees and migrants are often cut off from even the scarce services available. It’s clear that the mental health of people seeking safety has never been a priority for the international community – this needs to change,” said Charlotte Phillips, Head of the Refugee and Migrant Rights Team at Amnesty International.

    “Asylum seekers, refugees and migrants, many of whom already face barriers to housing, employment and healthcare, have been hit particularly hard by the COVID-19 crisis. The longstanding failure of most governments to provide adequate mental health services for refugees and migrants means they are facing the uncertainty and isolation of the pandemic without support.”

    September 29, 2020

    The complete freezing of Amnesty International India’s bank accounts by the Government of India which it came to know on 10 September 2020, brings all the work being done by the organization to a grinding halt.  The organization has been compelled to let go of staff in India and pause all its ongoing campaign and research work. This is the latest in the incessant witch-hunt of human rights organizations by the Government of India over unfounded and motivated allegations, Amnesty International India said today.

    September 24, 2020

    World leaders must stop using COVID-19 as an excuse to delay urgent action to tackle the climate crisis or risk failing children and future generations further, Amnesty International said ahead of a global day of school strikes against climate change planned for 25 September by young people.

    Climate change was cited as one of the most important issues of our time in a survey of more than 10,000 young people published by Amnesty International just months before the pandemic turned the world upside down.

    “Amnesty International stands with all children and young people taking part in climate strikes. Children globally have faced unimaginable disruption to their lives, education and health as a result of COVID-19. That they must take more time out of school to demand that adults do the right thing is utterly shameful, but young people know only too well the unthinkable consequences of climate inaction to their lives and human rights.” said Ashfaq Khalfan, Amnesty International’s Law and Policy Director. 

    September 23, 2020

    Responding to the decision in the Breonna Taylor case today, Kristina Roth, the Senior Program Officer for Criminal Justice Programs at Amnesty International USA, said:

    “Breonna Taylor’s death is a tragedy. She was asleep in her bed when the police busted down her door and recklessly opened fire, taking her life. Black people in America have the same right to be safe as all people, though this is hard to conceive when we think of the abhorrent killings of Breonna, Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, Dijon Kizzee and too many more.  

    “Breonna Taylor's case reminds us of how Kentucky's police use of lethal force statute puts accountability out of reach for unlawful killings by police  — and how police, who are supposed to protect life, so frequently only see one side of that principle. This case must serve as a wake-up call to our elected officials that they must meet this moment with a bold agenda for police reform, one that brings about meaningful accountability, reimagines public safety and provides justice for all.

    September 21, 2020

    Twitter is still not doing enough to protect women from online violence and abuse, despite repeated promises to do so, new analysis by Amnesty International reveals.

    The Twitter Scorecard grades the social media company’s record on implementing a series of recommendations to tackle abuse against women on the platform, since Amnesty first highlighted the scale of the problem in its 2018 Toxic Twitter report.  Despite some welcome progress, Twitter needs to do much more to address the problem. The company has fully implemented just one of ten concrete recommendations, with limited progress in increasing transparency on how it handles reports of abuse.

    “Twitter is still not doing enough to tackle the deluge of abuse women face on the platform. Our analysis shows that despite some progress, Twitter is not doing enough to protect women users, leading many women to silence or censor themselves on the platform,” said Rasha Abdul Rahim, Co-Director of Amnesty Tech.

    September 21, 2020

    Lana Verran, Chair of the Board of Directors of Amnesty International Canada (English Branch) today announced the appointment of Burundian human rights defender and poet Ketty Nivyabandi as the branch’s next Secretary General.  Ketty has resided in Canada since 2015 and holds refugee status in the country.  She succeeds Alex Neve, who is stepping down after more than twenty years in the role.

    “At such a challenging time for human rights across Canada and around the world, but also tremendous openings for advancing real change, we are excited and honoured that Ketty Nivyabandi will be our next Secretary General,” said Lana Verran. “Her dynamism, conviction and experience offer precisely the inspiring leadership we need at this time.”

    September 21, 2020
    New Amnesty investigation highlights why EU export rules for surveillance technology fail.

    European tech companies risk fuelling widespread human rights abuses by selling digital surveillance technology to China’s public security agencies, a new Amnesty International investigation reveals. The findings are published ahead of a crucial meeting in Brussels on 22 September where the European Parliament and EU member states will decide whether to strengthen lax surveillance export rules.

    Amnesty International found that three companies based in France, Sweden and the Netherlands sold digital surveillance systems, such as facial recognition technology and network cameras, to key players of the Chinese mass surveillance apparatus. In some cases, the export was directly for use in China’s indiscriminate mass surveillance programmes, with the risk of being used against Uyghurs and other predominantly Muslim ethnic groups throughout the country.

    September 21, 2020

    Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in March, authorities in Venezuela, El Salvador and Paraguay have held tens of thousands of people in inadequate state-run quarantine centres without sufficient safeguards against human rights violations, in what could amount to ill-treatment and risk the detentions becoming arbitrary, Amnesty International said in a new report published today.

    When protection becomes repression: Mandatory quarantines under COVID-19 in the Americas documents how the authorities in three countries have disproportionately held migrants, refugees, people returning to their countries of origin, and low-income communities in state-run quarantines, often in unsanitary and sometimes inhumane conditions without adequate food, water and medical care, which may amount to ill-treatment. The appalling conditions stand to make them counterproductive spaces where people are at risk of contracting COVID-19.

    September 17, 2020

    Following the one-year anniversary of Canada’s accession to the UN Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), a coalition of civil society organizations are calling on Canada to end weapons exports to Saudi Arabia. This follows a recent report by the UN Group of Eminent International and Regional Experts on Yemen, which specifically names Canada as one of the countries “perpetuating the conflict” in Yemen through ongoing weapons sales to Saudi Arabia.

    “Canada has now been publicly shamed in front of the international community for its ongoing weapons transfers to Saudi Arabia, while the devastating war in Yemen rages on,” said Justin Mohammed, Human Rights Law and Policy Campaigner at Amnesty International Canada. “Legal obligations under the ATT have not deterred this government’s unrelenting support for weapons exports to Saudi Arabia. It has ignored the groundswell of civil society opposition to these exports. Hopefully, the UN’s report will provoke a different response.”

    September 16, 2020

    Responding to reports that there have been hysterectomies performed on immigrant women detained in the Irwin County Detention Center (ICDC) in Georgia, Denise Bell, Researcher on Refugee and Migrant Rights, said:

    “The reports of hysterectomies performed on women detained in Irwin County without their full consent are deeply alarming. According to the report, some women were reportedly unsure why the procedure was performed, or they were not fully informed of what procedures would be performed on them.

    September 14, 2020

    The highest-level authorities in Colombia must send a clear and strong message that the disproportionate use of force by the National Police is unacceptable, and immediately put a stop to the repression of protests over the death of lawyer Javier Ordoñez, Amnesty International said today, following the verification of at least four incidents of human rights violations committed by police officers, including torture and excessive use of force.

    “We’ve verified video evidence of how Colombia’s National Police tortured lawyer Javier Ordoñez with an electric Taser gun, using excessive and unnecessary force against him,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International.

    “We demand an immediate end to the excessive use of security forces against protestors seeking justice for the death of lawyer Javier Ordoñez. In addition, we urge the authorities to send a strong message of condemnation and carry out prompt, exhaustive, independent and impartial investigations into the human rights violations committed by the Colombian police.”

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