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    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 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

    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 10, 2011

    
Boys as young as 13-years-old are being used as soldiers by officers of the Chadian national army and armed groups, a report by Amnesty International said today. 



    More than 40 former and current child soldiers from Chad and Darfur describe how they were compelled to join the groups in testimonies presented in the report A compromised future: The plight of children recruited by armed forces and groups in eastern Chad. 



    “It is tragic that thousands of children are denied their childhood and are manipulated by adults into fighting their wars,” said Erwin van der Borght, Amnesty International’s Africa program director. “This scandalous child abuse must not be allowed to continue.”

    

“The Chadian government – and the Chadian and Sudanese armed groups operating in eastern Chad – must immediately stop the recruitment and use of children under 18 and release all children from their ranks.”

    

Up to half a million people live in refugee or displacement camps in eastern Chad after being forced to flee from their homes following the violence. 



    February 10, 2011

    The Canadian Council for Refugees, Amnesty International Canada, the Canadian Tamil Congress and the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group expressed their dismay today at the government’s aggressive efforts to keep the passengers of the MV Sun Sea in detention.  As a result, men, women and children seeking Canada’s protection have spent months deprived of their freedom, at significant cost to the taxpayer.

    “Liberty is a fundamental right,” said Gloria Nafziger of Amnesty International. “It can be restricted only when absolutely necessary and for as short a period of time as possible.  Any such restrictions should be in keeping with clear legal standards.  And everything possible should be done to avoid locking up children.  The government's approach to the detention of the Sun Sea passengers runs counter to these fundamental human rights principles.”

    February 10, 2011

    Amnesty International has today urged Egypt's authorities to end 30 years of repressive emergency rule and allow ordinary Egyptians to fully participate in shaping the country's future.

    The organization called for a curb on the sweeping powers of security forces, the release of prisoners of conscience, and for safeguards against torture to be introduced in a new human rights action plan addressed to the country's authorities.

    "Egyptians have suffered under a state of emergency for three decades; the decisions made in this momentous period will be critical for Egypt and the region," said Claudio Cordone, Senior Director at Amnesty International.

    "Those now in power should view the activism on the streets of Cairo and other cities not as a threat, but as an opportunity to consign the systematic abuses of the past to history. Political transition must involve the people and foster respect for human rights."

    The call came as unrest and political uncertainty continued to grip Egypt, with protesters gathered in Cairo's Tahrir square demanding human rights and calling for political reform.

    February 10, 2011

    On the eve of the one year anniversary of the disappearance of Sri Lanka human rights defender Pattani Razeek, Amnesty International renews its call for the Sri Lankan government to ensure those responsible for his abduction are brought to justice.

    Yolanda Foster, Amnesty International’s Sri Lanka expert, said:

    "We understand the person who has been identified as a suspect has a close association with a government official. The government must show it will not tolerate abuses of power and ensure those responsible for Pattani Razeek’s enforced disappearance, irrespective of rank and status, are brought to justice.”

    Amnesty International is calling on the Sri Lankan government to:

    February 09, 2011

    The Thai authorities should drop all charges against human rights defender and web forum moderator Chiranuch Premchaiporn, whose trial continues this week, Amnesty International said today.

    Chiranuch, the Executive Director of the online newspaper and web forum Prachatai (“Thai People”), has been accused of not removing quickly enough from the web forum a user’s comments deemed offensive to Thailand’s monarchy—a criminal offense under Thai law.  

    “Chiranuch should not be in the dock,” said Benjamin Zawacki, Amnesty International’s Thailand specialist. “The comments for which she is being held responsible should not be prohibited in the first place—much less when they are posted by someone else.”

    She has been charged under Articles 14 and 15 of the Computer-related Crimes Act of 2007, which covers the liability of online intermediaries, including internet service providers (ISPs) and website moderators. The articles relate to supporting or consenting to an offence implicating Thailand’s national security within a computer system under one’s control.  

    February 08, 2011

    A Libyan writer and political commentator arrested last week and accused of a driving offence appears to have been targeted for calling for peaceful protests in the country, Amnesty International has said.

    Jamal al-Hajji, a former prisoner of conscience who has dual Libyan and Danish nationality, was detained on 1 February in Tripoli by plain clothes security officers. They accused him of hitting a man with his car, which he denies.

    Jamal al-Hajji’s arrest came shortly after he made a call on the internet for demonstrations to be held in support of greater freedoms in Libya, in the manner of recent mass protests in Tunisia, Egypt and other states across the Middle East and North Africa.

    "Two particular aspects of the case lead us to believe that the alleged car incident was not the real reason for Jamal al-Hajji’s arrest, but merely a pretext to conceal what was really a politically motivated arrest," said Malcolm Smart, Amnesty International’s director for the Middle East and North Africa.

    February 07, 2011

    Amnesty International has urged the Indonesian government to investigate the killings of three members of a religious minority group by a mob on the island of Java this weekend.

    The killings occurred when reportedly over 1,000 people wielding rocks, machetes, swords and spears stormed the house of a leader from the Ahmadiyya minority faith in the sub-district of Cikeusik, Banten province on 6 February 2011. Several more Ahmadis were wounded in the attack and two are reportedly missing.

    "This brutal attack on Ahmadiyya followers reflects the continued failure of the Indonesian government to protect religious minorities from harassment and attacks and to hold the perpetrators accountable," said Donna Guest, Asia-Pacific Deputy Director at Amnesty International.

    "The Indonesian police must initiate a prompt, thorough and effective investigation into the violence and ensure that those suspected of involvement are prosecuted in fair trials."

    The Ahmadiyya are a religious group who consider themselves a part of Islam, although many mainstream Muslim groups say they do not adhere to the accepted belief system.

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