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    January 07, 2011

    Amnesty International is calling for the release of three anti-slavery activists who were jailed after exposing a case of two young girls allegedly forced to work as servants. Biram Dah Ould Abeid, Cheikh Ould Abidine and Aliyine Ould Mbareck Fall, all members of an anti-slavery NGO, were sentenced to one-year in jail - including six months suspended - on Thursday in the capital, Nouakchott.

    "Those jailed are prisoners of conscience, detained solely on the basis of their actions in the struggle against slavery," said Erwin van der Borght, Africa Director at Amnesty International.

    "The three men must be immediately and unconditionally released and Biram Dah Ould Abeid urgently treated for injuries he apparently sustained when ill-treated in detention."

    The men were arrested last month by security forces after reporting that the two girls, aged nine and 14, were being held in slavery in the home of a female civil servant. Biram Dah Ould Abeid said he was beaten in custody and denied medical treatment for his injuries.

    January 06, 2011

    Amnesty International today condemned an ongoing crackdown by Tunisian authorities on a wave of protests sparked by the attempted suicide of a young fruit seller who later died of his injuries. At least two protesters have been killed during demonstrations following the attempted suicide of Mohamed Bouazizi, an unemployed graduate who set himself on fire in front of a government building in the town of Sidi Bouzid in early December after police confiscated his fruit cart for selling without a permit. He died from his injuries in hospital on 4 January.

    Mohamed Bouazizi’s attempted suicide on 17 December sparked protests over rising prices, unemployment and corruption in Tunisia that have sometimes turned violent as they continue to spread.

    “Tunisians must be allowed to express their grievances and freely protest. The authorities made empty promises of work opportunities which were followed by a crackdown on protestors,” said Amnesty International.

    January 06, 2011

    Women and girls living in Haiti’s makeshift camps face an increasing risk of rape and sexual violence, Amnesty International said in a new report released today. One year after the earthquake which killed 230,000 people and injured 300,000, more than one million people still live in appalling conditions in tent cities in the capital Port-au-Prince and in the south of Haiti, where women are at serious risk of sexual attacks. Those responsible are predominately armed men who roam the camps after dark.

    More than 250 cases of rape in several camps were reported in the first 150 days after January’s earthquake, according to data cited in the Amnesty International report, Aftershocks: Women speak out against sexual violence in Haiti’s camps.

    One year on, rape survivors continue to arrive at the office of a local women’s support group almost every other day.

    “Women, already struggling to come to terms with losing their loved ones, homes and livelihoods in the earthquake, now face the additional trauma of living under the constant threat of sexual attack,” said Gerardo Ducos, Amnesty International’s Haiti researcher.

    January 05, 2011

    Amnesty International today called on Côte d’Ivoire security forces to stop their attacks on political opponents as new information was revealed about a deadly raid on political allies of Alassane Ouattara, the internationally recognized winner of the presidential election. While outgoing president Laurent Gbagbo has agreed on unconditional negotiations to resolve the political stalemate following December’s poll, Amnesty International received reports of security forces yesterday raiding the Abidjan headquarters of the Democratic Party of Côte d'Ivoire (PDCI), the country’s former ruling party.

    “No political solution to the current crisis in Côte d’Ivoire can be lasting unless it ensures full respect for human rights and the restoration of the rule of law” said Salvatore Saguès, Amnesty International's West Africa researcher. “Security forces should be called to account for carrying out enforced disappearances, arbitrary detentions and extrajudicial executions of their political opponents.”

    January 04, 2011

    Amnesty International is calling for the immediate release of three Russian opposition activists detained in Moscow after a peaceful and sanctioned rally calling for freedom of assembly and later sentenced to administrative detention. Boris Nemtsov, a former deputy prime minister and opposition activists, Ilia Iashin and Konstantin Kosiakin were among about 70 arrested at the rally in Central Moscow on 31 December 2010, the latest in a regular series of rallies in the Russian capital demanding to uphold the right to freedom of assembly.

    They were sentenced on 2 January 2011 to 15, five and 10 days of administrative detention respectively for allegedly failing to follow police instruction, despite eyewitnesses reporting that they had not obstructed police officers.

    “Yet again, the Russian authorities have failed in their obligations to protect the rights to freedom of assembly, a right guaranteed by the Russian Constitution” said Andrea Huber, Europe and Central Asia Deputy Programme Director.

    December 27, 2010

    Amnesty International is calling on the Moscow courts to overturn today’s conviction of prominent businessman Mikhail Khodorkovsky for money-laundering, on the grounds that his trial was unfair and appeared politically motivated. “The Russian authorities’ consistent disregard for due process in this trial only strengthens the impression that this second round of convictions has been politically motivated” said Nicola Duckworth, Amnesty International’s Director for Europe and Central Asia.

    Mikhail Khodorkovsky became one of Russia’s richest and most powerful businessmen after acquiring former Soviet state industries in the 1990s, including the oil company YUKOS. He was arrested in 2003, and has now faced two trials with his former business associate Platon Lebedev – the first for tax evasion and fraud, and the second for embezzlement and money laundering.

    Defence lawyers have been unable to cross-examine witnesses, and defence witnesses have been prevented from taking the stand.

    Authorities have pressured and harassed former colleagues to testify for the prosecution.

    December 24, 2010

    Amnesty International today called on the Iranian authorities to halt the imminent execution of a Kurdish law student, scheduled for 26 December, and to commute his death sentence. The lawyer of Habibollah Latifi, a law student at Azad University in the south western province of Ilam, has been informed by the Iranian authorities that Habibollah Latifi’s execution will take place on 26 December at Sanandaj Prison, Kordestan, in western Iran.

    “We are urgently appealing to the Iranian authorities to show clemency, halt the imminent execution of Habibollah Latifi, and commute his death sentence,” said Malcolm Smart, Amnesty International’s Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

    “While we recognise that governments have a responsibility to bring to justice those who commit crimes, this must be done according to international standards for fair trial. Amnesty International is unconditionally opposed to the death penalty - the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment - in all cases.”

    December 24, 2010

    The life sentence handed down against Dr Binayak Sen by a court in the India state of Chhattisgarh violates international fair trial standards and is likely to enflame tensions in the conflict-affected area, Amnesty International said today. "Life in prison is an unusually harsh sentence for anyone, much less for an internationally recognized human rights defender who has never been charged with any act of violence," said Sam Zarifi, Amnesty International's Asia-Pacific director. "State and federal authorities in India should immediately drop these politically motivated charges against Dr Sen and release him."

    Dr Binayak Sen was convicted of sedition and conspiracy under the Chhattisgarh Special Public Safety Act, 2005, and the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, 2004.

    He was immediately taken into custody after the announcement of the sentence, having been out on bail since May 2009.

    December 24, 2010

    Amnesty International welcomes the readiness of the Human Rights Council to respond to the human rights emergency in Côte d’Ivoire, but regrets that the Council has missed the opportunity to use all means at its disposal to prevent further serious human rights violations and abuses. The Human Rights Council met on 23 December in a special session to consider the worsening situation in Côte d’Ivoire, which has seen an increasing number of unlawful killings, enforced disappearances and physical abuse in the wake of the 28 November presidential election.

    The Council adopted a resolution condemning the human rights violations that have taken place, and calling, in general terms, for an end to human rights violations, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, and an end to incitement to violence, hostility and hate speech.

    December 23, 2010

    Amnesty International is calling on the Turkmenistani authorities to immediately lift the suspension of the operation of the country’s largest mobile phone service provider until arrangements can be made to provide an alternative service enabling them to access independent news sites. Earlier this week, the authorities suspended the operation of the privately-owned and Moscow-based service provider, Mobile TeleSystems (MTS), leaving around 2.5 million people, half of the country’s population and 80 per cent of the mobile phone-users, suddenly unable to use their mobile phones or access the internet.

    “With their arbitrary actions the Turkmenistan authorities are severely restricting communications within the country and with the outside world,” said John Dalhuisen, Europe and Central Asia Deputy Program Director.

    “This measure will unlawfully interfere with correspondence and violate the right of many people in Turkmenistan to receive and impart information in breach of international human rights standards.”

    December 23, 2010

    Hungary’s newly adopted media law will impose potentially wide-ranging restrictions on freedom of expression, Amnesty International warned today. In a move unprecedented within the European Union, the Law on Media and the Freedom of Press, coming into force on 1 January 2011, imposes the same restrictions on all media content, whether broadcast, print or web-based, whether public or privately owned. It also grants broad powers to a new media authority to enforce ill-defined standards.

    “The breadth of the restrictions on media content, the lack of clear guidelines for journalists and editors, and the strong powers of the new regulatory body all risk having a chilling effect on the freedom of expression in Hungary,” said John Dalhuisen, Europe and Central Asia Deputy Program Director.

    A newly created National Media and Communications Authority (NMHH) will have the power to impose heavy fines, ranging from up to 35,000 Euros for periodicals to up to 730,000 Euros for broadcast media, for content it considers to run counter to the “public interest”, “common morality” and “national order”. Fines can also be imposed for “unbalanced” news reporting.

    December 22, 2010

    Amnesty International today urged all states that retain the death penalty to establish an immediate moratorium on executions as the first step toward abolishing the death penalty. The call came after the UN General Assembly today endorsed a resolution on a moratorium on the use of the death penalty, the third since 2007.

    The resolution was adopted by 109 votes in favour, 41 against with 35 abstentions at the UN General Assembly's plenary session in New York.

    More UN Member States supported the resolution this time than the previous vote in 2008 and the number of votes against it has noticeably decreased, confirming the worldwide trend towards ending the use of capital punishment.

    “The UN General Assembly today sent once again a clear message that the premeditated killing by the state must end,” said José Luis Díaz, Amnesty International’s representative at the UN in New York.

    “The minority of countries that continue to use the death penalty should immediately establish a moratorium on executions as the first step towards ending this ultimate denial of human rights.”

    December 22, 2010

    Amnesty International is calling on the Bangladeshi government to immediately investigate allegations that a MP for the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party has been tortured while in police custody. Bangladeshi security forces have tortured Salauddin Quader Chowdhury during interrogations, Amnesty International has learned. This has included applying electrodes to his genitals, beating him, slitting his stomach with razors and twisting his toenails and fingernails with pliers. There are fears that he may face further torture or other ill-treatment.

    “The Bangladeshi government must ensure that Salauddin Quader Chowdhury is protected and treated properly and that these very serious allegations of torture are investigated,” said Abbas Faiz, Amnesty International’s Bangladesh researcher. “In particular, the authorities must ensure that he has access to the necessary specialist medical attention, including by independent doctors.”

    December 21, 2010

    Eyewitnesses have told Amnesty International that abductions, disappearances and physical abuse are increasing as post-election violence escalates in Côte d’Ivoire. Amnesty International has received a growing number of reports of people being arrested or abducted at home or on the streets, often by unidentified armed attackers accompanied by elements of the Defence and Security Forces and militia groups.

    Gendarmes and police officials are accused of attacking a mosque in Grand-Bassam, using live ammunition on crowds and of beating and groping female protestors.

    “It is clear that more and more people are being illegally detained by security forces or armed militiamen and we fear that many of them may have been killed or have disappeared,” said Salvatore Saguès, Amnesty International’s West Africa researcher.

    December 21, 2010

    Amnesty International today called upon the Yemeni authorities to halt the imminent execution of a young man for a crime he is alleged to have committed at the age of 15. “We are urgently appealing to President Ali Abdullah Saleh to show clemency in the case of alleged juvenile offender Muhammed Taher Thabet Samoum,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa. “We call for him to be saved from execution – the ultimate cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment – and for his death sentence to be commuted.”

    As President Ali Abdullah Saleh has now ratified Muhammed Taher Thabet Samoum’s death sentence, he is at imminent risk of execution. Muhammed Taher Thabet Samoum has been sentenced to death for a murder he is alleged to have committed in May 2002. Although he does not have a birth certificate, he maintains that he is now 24 years old, which would make him 15 years old at the time of the offence.

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