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    February 17, 2011

    Amnesty International has urged the Libyan authorities to cease using excessive force to suppress anti-government protests after at least another person was shot and killed today by police.
     
    Nacer Miftah Gout'ani was shot dead when government security forces opened fire on demonstrators taking part in a social network-led "Day of Rage" in the city of Al Bayda, 100 km east of Benghazi. Dozens more were injured in the protests.
     
    At least two people were killed in clashes yesterday and more than 30 were reported to have been injured, 11 critically, while many more were arrested in the crackdown.
     
    "The Libyan authorities tried to smother this protest before it even got off the ground but that, clearly, did not work. Now they are resorting to brutal means to punish and deter the protestors,” said Malcolm Smart, Amnesty International's director for the Middle East and North Africa.
     
    "The police in Libya, as elsewhere, have a responsibility to ensure public safety but this does not extend to using lethal or excessive force against peaceful protesters.
     

    February 16, 2011

    Amnesty International has urged members of Trinidad and Tobago’s parliament to vote against a constitutional amendment Bill which would allow executions to be resumed in the country.

    Under the proposed Bill, scheduled to be debated on 18 February, courts across the country would be able to circumvent judicial rulings that enhanced human rights protection and resulted in a halt to executions in 1999.

    Authorities in the Caribbean nation claim carrying out executions is a way to tackle rising numbers of murders and deter others from committing violent crime.

    “Trinidad and Tobago has a real problem with murder and violent crimes, but experience has shown that facilitating executions is not the solution,” said Chiara Liguori, researcher on Trinidad and Tobago at Amnesty International.

    "Hurrying executions or ignoring appeals already in progress violates defendants' rights by denying them due process guaranteed under international law.”

    “The proposed Bill would allow people to be executed even if they were appealing against their sentence, which is their right.”

    February 16, 2011

    Amnesty International is calling on the Libyan government to end its clampdown on peaceful political activists after violence erupted at demonstrations in the city of Benghazi following the arrest of activists ahead of a protest planned for Thursday.

    Hundreds of people took part in demonstrations on Wednesday following the arrests of Fathi Terbel and Fraj Esharani, both members of the Abu Salim families’ organising committee set up by relatives of victims of a prison massacre in 1996, and three other activists.

    They were leading calls for a major demonstration on 17 February in support of calls for far-reaching political reforms, inspired by similar protests in Tunisia and Egypt.

    “The Libyan authorities must allow peaceful protests, not try to stifle them with heavy-handed repression,” said Malcolm Smart, Amnesty International’s director for the Middle East and North Africa.

    “Libyans have the same rights as Egyptians and Tunisians to express discontent and call for reform in their own country, and it is high time the Libyan government recognized that and respected it.”

    February 16, 2011

    Amnesty International has urged the Italian authorities to deal with the humanitarian needs of thousands of migrants and asylum seekers leaving Tunisia following recent unrest.

    More than 5,000 migrants have landed on the Italian island of Lampedusa, according to authorities, who have described the events as a "humanitarian emergency".

    However, the country's foreign ministry has suggested that Italy and other EU countries should "stop the Tunisian wave", and recently deployed more boats to patrol the country's coasts.

    Amid increasing tension over the issue, on Monday night Italian border police reportedly shot at a boat carrying Egyptian migrants and asylum seekers, wounding the vessel's pilot.

    "A 'humanitarian emergency' demands a humanitarian response, not a law and order one," said Nicola Duckworth, Amnesty International's Europe director.

    "This means that boats carrying migrants and asylum seekers from Tunisia, Egypt or other North African countries must not be pushed back. Everyone arriving is entitled to be treated with dignity, to be granted assistance and access to a fair asylum procedure."

    February 15, 2011

    Amnesty International has condemned the heavy-handed tactics used by Bahrain’s riot police earlier today after the second death in two days of protests calling for political reform in the tiny Gulf state.

    Fadhel ‘Ali Matrook was among a crowd of people mourning the death yesterday of ‘Ali ‘Abdulhadi Mushaima’, killed in clashes between protesters and police, when he was shot dead by police earlier today in Bahrain’s capital, Manama. Riot police are said to have opened fire on the crowd without warning during the funeral.

    “This second killing within two days is both tragic and a very worrying development,” said Malcolm Smart, Amnesty International’s Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

     “The Bahrain authorities must thoroughly investigate what occurred, stand down the police involved in these shootings and make clear to the police that the use of excessive force will not be tolerated.”

    “An independent investigation is also urgently required to establish the facts, particularly whether the level of force used by the police, both yesterday and today, can possibly be justified.”

    February 15, 2011

    Indonesian domestic workers, the vast majority of them women and girls, will remain vulnerable to exploitation and abuse unless the country’s parliament enacts a Domestic Workers’ Law, Amnesty International said today.
     
    Currently, domestic workers do not benefit from many of the legal protections granted to other workers under Indonesian law.

    “As Indonesians commemorate National Domestic Workers Day on 15 February, some 2.6 million domestic workers remain outside the law’s protection,” said Sam Zarifi, Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific Director. “Currently the 2003 Manpower Act, which safeguards workers’ rights, discriminates against domestic workers. The Act does not provide the same protection it affords other workers, such as reasonable limitation on working hours and provisions for rest and holidays.”

    February 14, 2011

    Amnesty International has condemned the Iranian authorities for breaking up an apparently peaceful march held in Tehran in support of Egyptian and Tunisian protests. Protests were also reportedly held in other cities across Iran, such as Esfahan, Shiraz and Kermanshah.

    Opposition leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi were placed under house arrest by the authorities ahead of the protests on Monday.  

    “Iranians have a right to gather to peacefully express their support for the people of Egypt and Tunisia.  While the authorities have a responsibility to maintain public order, this should be no excuse to ban and disperse protests by those who choose to exercise that right,” said Hassiba Hadj-Sahraoui, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Deputy Director.

    “This crackdown is the latest in a series of moves by the authorities aimed at blocking the work of activists and stifling dissent.”

    The march comes amid a wave of pre-emptive arrests of political and other activists over the past several days.

    John Tackaberry,
    Media Relations,
    Amnesty International Canada
    613-744-7667, ext 236

    February 14, 2011

    Amnesty International is urging the authorities of Italy and the European Union to protect the human rights of thousands of migrants from Tunisia arriving on the Italian mainland and island of Lampedusa.

    More than 4,000 people have arrived in Italy in recent days following political unrest in their country. There have previously been many reports of asylum-seekers’ rights being abused in Italy following their arrival from countries around the Mediterranean Sea.

    “While we recognize the challenges of dealing with very large and mixed migration flows, the relevant authorities must ensure that previous instances of asylum-seekers' rights being abused are not repeated," said Nicola Duckworth, Europe and Central Asia Program Director.

    “The relevant authorities must ensure that all those seeking asylum should be able to access territory and fair, satisfactory asylum procedures and be informed of their rights.

    February 14, 2011

    Amnesty International today condemned the actions of Yemen’s security forces after they beat protesters with sticks and reportedly shocked them with electric batons amid ongoing demonstrations inspired by protest movements in Tunisia and Egypt.

    Security forces in uniform and plain clothes attacked a crowd of some 2,000 people protesting peacefully in Sana’a yesterday and also appear to have beaten protesters in both Sana’a and Ta’izz today.

    “We are appalled by these reports of vicious attacks on peaceful protesters by security forces. Yemen needs to rein in its security forces immediately and stop excessive use of force,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

    Human rights activist and lawyer Khaled al-Ansi told Amnesty International security forces attacked him with electric shock batons during yesterday’s demonstration in Sana’a and he heard other protesters screaming “Electricity!” as they were beaten.

    “Security forces in Yemen cannot be trusted with electric shock batons, given the persistence of torture in the country. They can be too easily misused,” said Philip Luther.

    February 12, 2011

    Thousands of people rallied in cities across the world today to demand respect for human rights in the Middle East and North Africa as part of a global day of action organized by Amnesty International.


    February 11, 2011

    Amnesty International is urging the Algerian authorities not to crack down on planned nationwide anti-government protests tomorrow, amid reports demonstrations in the capital, Algiers, have been banned. 

    Protests calling for "democratic change", the lifting of a 19-year state of emergency and greater freedom for civil society and the media, have been planned by the newly-formed Coordination for Change and Democracy, an umbrella group of opposition parties, trade unions and human rights organizations.

    "Algerians must be allowed to express themselves freely and hold peaceful protests in Algiers and elsewhere. The Algerian authorities cannot hide behind a 19-year state of emergency to stifle dissent," said Amnesty International. 

    “We urge the Algerian authorities not to respond to these demands by using excessive force”.

    February 11, 2011

    Amnesty International today published a report looking at the recent deterioration of the human rights situation in Bahrain.

    The report Crackdown in Bahrain: Human Rights at the Crossroads focuses on the arrest, detention and trial of 23 political opposition activists, as well as allegations that they were tortured in custody. The government has failed to open independent investigations into any of the reports of torture and has actively prevented reporting of the alleged abuses.

    More broadly, the reports highlights restrictions on the rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly in Bahrain, including constraints imposed on independent human rights organizations.  

    Amnesty International’s findings are being published ahead of the 10th anniversary of the endorsement of the National Action Charter, which paved the way for major political and legal reforms in Bahrain, resulting in turn in human rights improvements in the country.

    “Bahrain is at a crossroads when it comes to human rights,” said Philip Luther, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Program.

    February 11, 2011

    Amnesty International has accused Egyptian political leaders of acting irresponsibly after they failed to initiate any human rights reforms during key speeches by President Hosni Mubarak and Vice President Omar Suleiman on Thursday.

    "The President and Vice President utterly failed to respond to the demands of the protesters. It is irresponsible that neither of the two statements gave a commitment whatsoever to immediate human rights reform,” said Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s Secretary General.

    "One human rights measure announced by the President was the cancellation of Article 179 of the constitution, a measure we have long called for, as it entrenches violations relating to arrests, detentions and trials. But he failed to give any timeline for when that would happen.

    "The language used by Vice President Suleiman to try to discourage protesters from making their voices heard is also unacceptable.  It is ironic that a government which has fired on and allowed thugs to attack peaceful protesters is attempting to persuade protesters to go home by warning of "chaos" and "destruction".

    February 11, 2011

    Amnesty International today published a report looking at the recent deterioration of the human rights situation in Bahrain.

    The report Crackdown in Bahrain: Human Rights at the Crossroads focuses on the arrest, detention and trial of 23 political opposition activists, as well as allegations that they were tortured in custody. The government has failed to open independent investigations into any of the reports of torture and has actively prevented reporting of the alleged abuses.

    More broadly, the reports highlights restrictions on the rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly in Bahrain, including constraints imposed on independent human rights organizations.  

    Amnesty International’s findings are being published ahead of the 10th anniversary of the endorsement of the National Action Charter, which paved the way for major political and legal reforms in Bahrain, resulting in turn in human rights improvements in the country.

    “Bahrain is at a crossroads when it comes to human rights,” said Philip Luther, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme.

    February 11, 2011

     In response to dramatic developments in Egypt, Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s Secretary General, said:

    "I congratulate the protesters for their extraordinary courage and commitment to achieve fundamental change."

    "Persistent attempts to put down peaceful protests have not only failed but redoubled the determination of those demanding change."

    "The way Egyptians have taken to the streets in unprecedented numbers to demand dignity, human rights and social justice has been an inspiration to oppressed peoples everywhere."

    "The departure of one man is not the end. The repressive system that Egyptians have suffered under for three decades has not gone away and the State of Emergency remains in place."

    "Those in power must grasp this opportunity to consign the systematic abuses of the past to history. Human rights reform must begin now."

    John Tackaberry,
    Media Relations,
    Amnesty International Canada
    613-744-7667, ext 236

    cell: 613-853-2142

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