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    February 07, 2011

    Former US president George W. Bush will not travel to Geneva on February 12, according to reports in the Tribune de Genève. The cancellation comes ahead of expected protests and possible legal action against the former president.
     
    On Friday, Amnesty International sent Genevoise and Swiss federal prosecutors a detailed factual and legal analysis of President Bush’s criminal responsibility for acts of torture he is believed to have authorised. Amnesty International concluded that Switzerland had enough information to open a criminal investigation against the former president.  
     
    Such an investigation would be mandatory under Switzerland’s international obligations if President Bush entered the country.
     
    The organizers of the event President Bush was expected to attend told the Tribune de Genève that they decided to cancel the visit because of the “controversy” it has generated.  They denied that the potential criminal investigations against the former president were a factor in the decision.
     

    February 07, 2011

    Amnesty International today warned that a Google employee reportedly arrested in Cairo during mass protests is facing a serious risk of torture and other ill-treatment by Egyptian security forces.

    Father of two Wael Ghuneim was arrested by Egyptian security forces on 28 January 2011 during protests in Cairo, eyewitnesses said. His whereabouts remain unknown.

    "The Egyptian authorities must immediately disclose where Wael Ghuneim is and release him or charge him with a recognizable criminal offence," said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Deputy Director of Middle and North Africa at Amnesty International.

    "He must be given access to a doctor and a lawyer of his choice and not be subjected to torture or other ill-treatment. His case is just one of many that highlight the continued crackdown by the Egyptian authorities on those exercising their right to protest peacefully."

    Wael Ghuneim, who is Google's head of marketing for the Middle East and North Africa, travelled to Egypt from Dubai, where he lives, on about the 23 January for a business trip.

    February 05, 2011

    Two members of an Amnesty International fact-finding team were among five human rights workers and journalists freed by Egyptian military police late on Friday night after a day and half in detention.

    The five were among some 35 Egyptian and international human rights activists, lawyers and journalists arrested Thursday when military police raided the offices of the Hisham Mubarak Law Center in Cairo.

    None of the Egyptian nationals have been released. Amnesty International believes that they remain held incommunicado at Camp 75, a military police camp in Manshiyet el-Bakri, on the outskirts of Cairo.

    “We are greatly relieved by the release of our staff members and those freed with them,” said Salil Shetty, Secretary General of Amnesty International.  “But it is simply outrageous that the Egyptian activists arrested with them have not also been freed.”

    “There can be no justification for continuing to detain them,” said Salil Shetty. “They must be released immediately, unconditionally, and returned in safety to their families.”

    February 04, 2011

    Amnesty International has condemned the imprisonment of two Rwandan journalists who criticized president Paul Kagame ahead of last year’s elections.

    Agnes Nkusi Uwimana, editor of the private Kinyarwanda tabloid newspaper, Umurabyo, and her deputy editor, Saidati Mukakibibi, were sentenced today to respectively 17 and 7 years imprisonment over opinion pieces they wrote ahead of the August 2010 presidential elections.

    “Today’s verdict marks yet another blow to freedom of expression and opinion in Rwanda”, said Amnesty International’s Africa Programme Director, Erwin van der Borght.

    “Rwanda’s clampdown on critics shows no sign of abating after last year’s elections”.

    Agnes Nkusi Uwimana was found guilty of threatening state security, genocide ideology, divisionism and defamation and Saidati Mukakibibi was found guilty of threatening state security.

    February 04, 2011


    The Communist Party of India (Maoist), an armed opposition group, must immediately release a civilian and five officers of the Chhattisgarh state armed police force whom they have been holding as hostages since 25 January and must ensure their safety and well-being as long as they detain them, Amnesty International said.

    The five police officers – Ramadhar Patel, Raghunandan Dhruv, T Ekka, and two constables Ranjan Dubey and Manishankar – and the civilian were travelling in a civilian transport bus at the time of their abduction at Kungera village when they were travelling from Dhanora post to Narayanpur town.

    The Maoists, in a communication to the media issued by their East Bastar committee, have demanded that the authorities should stop plans to establish a new training centre on jungle warfare in Chhattisgarh to be run by India’s armed forces. The state authorities recently allotted 500 square kilometres in Abhujmaad, a dense forest believed to be partly under Maoist control.

    February 04, 2011

    February 5 marks the 14th anniversary of a violent crackdown on peaceful Uighur protesters by security forces in the city of Gulja (In Chinese: Yining), in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region (XUAR) in China’s far-West. On 5 February 1997 dozens of people were killed or injured in Gulja when security forces opened fire on Uighur protesters. The Uighurs had begun a peaceful protest against the banning of “meshreps”, a traditional Uighur form of social gathering, the closing of a Uighur football league, high unemployment among Uighurs, and the closure of religious schools. Many dozens were killed and injured, and potentially hundreds in the ensuing days according to unconfirmed reports. In the government crackdown, thousands were detained, many hundreds disappeared, and there were reports of executions after unfair trials.

    February 04, 2011

    The Egyptian authorities should immediately reveal the whereabouts of Egyptian and international human rights activists, lawyers and journalists arrested during a raid on the Hisham Mubarak Law Center in Cairo on the afternoon of February 3, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch said today.

    The two organizations demanded the immediate release of all those detained including their staff. In a separate incident yesterday afternoon, three members of the Egyptian Centre for Housing Rights were also arrested and taken from the building and now remain missing.

    Among more than 30 arrested, those detained include; Daniel Williams, a Human Rights Watch researcher; Said Haddadi, an Amnesty International researcher and a female colleague; Ahmed Seif Al Islam, the former director of the Hisham Mubarak Law Center; a French and a Portuguese journalist; and at least nine other lawyers associated with the Hisham Mubarak Law Center or volunteers from the Front to Defend Egypt’s Protesters.

    February 03, 2011

    An Amnesty International representative has been detained by police in Cairo after the Hisham Mubarak Law Centre was taken over by military police this morning.

    The Amnesty International member of staff was taken, along with Ahmed Seif Al Islam, Khaled Ali, a delegate from Human Rights Watch and others, to an unknown location in Cairo. Amnesty International does not know their current whereabouts.  

    “We call for the immediate and safe release of our colleagues and others with them who should be able to monitor the human rights situation in Egypt at this crucial time without fear of harassment or detention,” said Salil Shetty, Secretary General of Amnesty International.

    A number of other activists are still being held in the Centre.

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

    February 03, 2011

    Amnesty international has called on the Egyptian Vice President, Omar Suleiman, to stop the violence unleashed by pro-government supporters in Cairo and across the country amid fresh reports of a renewed crackdown on journalists and activists.

    Journalists have reportedly been detained and activists harassed by security forces following violence yesterday that saw at least five killed and several hundred wounded in the fighting between pro- and anti-government supporters in Cairo's Tahrir Square.

    "The Egyptian authorities must ensure that protesters, journalists and human rights activists are protected. The lack of police on the ground responding to the violence is a blatant sign of the complicity of the Egyptian government in the violence, or at best the total abdication of responsibility for law and order at a moment of national crisis," said Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s Secretary General.

    "Peaceful demonstrations must be allowed, whatever the views expressed, and peaceful demonstrators must be protected, and regardless of any political negotiations taking place."

    February 03, 2011

    Two members of the Amnesty International delegation in Egypt have been detained in Cairo today, along with a number of other human rights workers.  

    This followed a raid by the military police on the Hisham Mubarak Law Centre where the Amnesty International representatives were meeting other human rights workers. Amnesty International does not know their current whereabouts.  

    “We call for the immediate and safe release of our colleagues and others with them who should be able to monitor the human rights situation in Egypt at this crucial time without fear of harassment or detention,” said Salil Shetty, Secretary General of Amnesty International.

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

    February 03, 2011

    Amnesty International has condemned a sweeping crackdown by Egyptian security forces today that saw activists and journalists harassed and two Amnesty International staff members detained along with dozens others.

    The two Amnesty International delegates were among about 30 detained during a raid by security forces on the Hisham Mubarak Law Centre (HMLC) in Cairo earlier today. They also include human rights activist Ahmed Seif Al Islam and Khaled Ali, director of the Egyptian Centre for Economic and Social Rights (ECESR).

    “The Egyptian authorities appear to be attempting to suppress the wave of popular protest that has swept the country by targeting those reporting on it, including human rights activists, journalists and others,” said Claudio Cordone, Senior Director at Amnesty International.

    “Amnesty International staff must be allowed to carry out their work in Egypt without fear of harassment or unlawful detention. We call for their immediate and safe release.”

    A delegate from Human Rights Watch was also detained in the raid on the HMLC.

    Staff of the HMLC had been representing protestors arrested during the demonstrations.

    February 02, 2011

    Amnesty International today called on the Egyptian authorities to protect the right to peaceful protest as clashes erupted with organized groups of pro-government supporters attacking protesters in Cairo and across Egypt.

    An Amnesty International fact-finding team in Egypt reported that the violence appeared to be orchestrated in part by the authorities to suppress continuing protests calling for political reform.

    "The army seems now to be reneging on its commitment to protect peaceful protesters," said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Middle East and North Africa Program Deputy Director at Amnesty International.

    "The fact that such violence is allowed to continue as the army stand there begs the question whether they have orders not to interfere."

    Earlier in the day, the army said anti-government protestors should return to their everyday lives, following the announcement on Tuesday by President Mubarak that he would not stand for re-election.

    Later the army is reported to have allowed pro-Mubarak supporters to flood into Tahrir Square and attack the anti-government protesters.

    February 01, 2011

    On Wednesday, February 2, 2011, lawyers for Amnesty International Canada and the B.C. Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) will present their final submissions before the Military Police Complaints Commission. In 2008, the Commission launched the Afghanistan Public Interest Hearing to investigate the role of military police officers in the transfers of prisoners captured by Canadian Forces to risk of torture by Afghan security forces.

    The evidence presented to the Commission over the course of these hearings has been disturbing, and paints a troubling picture of abdication of responsibility by senior members of the military police and startling lack of concern across government agencies for the fate of prisoners captured by Canadian Forces.

    January 31, 2011

    Amnesty International has urged the Israeli authorities to end their harassment of Palestinian human rights activists after a well-known campaigner in Haifa was jailed for nine years and given an additional one-year suspended sentence earlier today.
     
    Ameer Makhoul, a longstanding Palestinian activist, was convicted on various counts of having contact with enemies of Israel and espionage after a plea bargain agreement at his trial. He was originally charged with an even more serious offence, "assisting an enemy in war", which could have carried a life sentence, but that was dropped by the prosecution when he agreed to a plea bargain.
     
    "Ameer Makhoul's jailing is a very disturbing development and we will be studying the details of the sentencing as soon as we can," said Philip Luther, Amnesty International's Middle East and North Africa deputy director.
     
    "Ameer Makhoul is well known for his human rights activism on behalf of Palestinians in Israel and those living under Israeli occupation. We fear that this may be the underlying reason for his imprisonment."
     

    January 28, 2011

    Amnesty International has urged the Egyptian authorities to rein in security forces to prevent further deaths of protesters, amid continuing nationwide protests. Thousands have joined demonstrations across Egypt in recent days against poverty, police abuse and corruption.

    "The Egyptian authorities must rein in the security forces to prevent bloodshed," said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Amnesty International's Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

    "The authorities cannot continue to rely on the 30-year-old State of Emergency to enforce a blanket prohibition on public demonstrations and grant sweeping powers of search and arrest."

    The organization said protesters must have the right to organize protests and demonstrate free from intimidation, violence, and the threat of detention and prosecution.

    Late last night communication lines to much of Egypt were severely disrupted, with internet connections and mobile phone services being cut off.

    This followed disruption to SMS services, Twitter and Bambuser earlier in the week. Prominent human rights activists had also had their mobile phone accounts deactivated.

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