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    June 21, 2016

    The Eritrean foreign minister’s confirmation that all politicians and journalists arbitrarily arrested in 2001 are alive is welcome news but they must now be immediately and unconditionally released, said Amnesty International.

    In a Radio France Internationale (RFI) interview broadcast on 20 June, Foreign Minister Osman Saleh referred to the detainees as political prisoners and said “all of them are alive” and will be tried “when the government decides”. The detainees, who were arrested in September 2001, included 11 politicians and 10 journalists. Until now the Eritrean authorities have refused to disclose their whereabouts or their health status to their families.

    “Amnesty International considers all 21 prisoners of conscience and has campaigned for their release since they were arrested 15 years ago. It is a travesty of justice that they have been held incommunicado for so long without charge or trial,” said Sarah Jackson, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.

    June 02, 2016

    Released 00:01 GMT 3 June 2016

    The European Union (EU) must immediately halt plans to return asylum-seekers to Turkey on the false pretence that it is a “safe country” for refugees, said Amnesty International in a briefing published today.

    The briefing, No safe refuge: Asylum-seekers and refugees denied effective protection in Turkey, (attached) details the short-comings in Turkey’s asylum system and the hardships refugees face there that would render their return under the EU-Turkey Agreement of 18 March illegal – and unconscionable.

    The briefing shows that Turkey’s asylum system is struggling to cope with more than three million asylum-seekers and refugees. As a result, asylum-seekers face years waiting for their cases to be dealt with, during which time they receive little or no support to find shelter and sustenance for themselves and their families, with children as young as nine working to support families.

    June 02, 2016

    The life of a wrongfully imprisoned Iranian Kurdish human rights defender and journalist rests in the Iranian authorities’ hands, said Amnesty International. He is gravely ill in hospital nearly a month into an ongoing hunger strike.

    The 54-year old prisoner of conscience Mohammad Sadiq Kabudvand, who is approaching the end of a decade-long prison sentence on fabricated charges, has been on hunger strike since 8 May. He is protesting against the authorities’ efforts to condemn him to a further prison sentence on a spurious charge of ‘spreading propaganda against the system’ from inside the prison.

    “Mohammad Sadiq Kabudvand has already spent close to a decade in prison simply for doing his legitimate human rights work and journalism. The fact that the authorities are building a fresh case against him so close to his release date suggests they are plumbing new depths in their efforts to keep this resolute defender of human rights behind bars,” said James Lynch, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Deputy Director.

    May 31, 2016

    The Danish Parliament has ushered in a historic victory in the struggle for transgender rights by today adopting a decision to no longer stigmatize transgender identities as mental disorders, said Amnesty International.

    “This very encouraging move from Denmark sets a strong example internationally towards destigmatizing transgender people and paving the way for quick and transparent processes for legal gender recognition,” said Leda Avgousti, Amnesty International’s Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Advisor.

    “It is disgraceful that globally the norm is for transgender people to be placed under the category of mental disorders because of their gender identity. This label means that transgender people are forced to undergo traumatizing and humiliating psychiatric evaluations in order to legally change their gender or even to be able to access gender reassignment treatment.”

    May 30, 2016

    Today’s judgment convicting former Chadian president Hissène Habré marks a significant moment for international justice and a huge relief for the tens of thousands of victims who have waited for this day for over 25 years, said  Amnesty International.

    Following a trial which began in July last year, the Extraordinary African Chambers (EAC) in Dakar sentenced Habré  to life imprisonment after he was found guilty of crimes against humanity, war crimes and torture committed in Chad between 1982 and 1990. He was found to have personally committed rapes. The chambers rejected the seizure of his property frozen during the trial.

    “This verdict is a victory for those victims who fought tirelessly to ensure Hissène Habré could not get away with crimes under international law. It demonstrates that when there is enough political will states can work together effectively to end impunity in even the most entrenched situations,” said Gaetan Mootoo, Amnesty International West Africa researcher.

    May 30, 2016

    In a shocking attack on the right to freedom of expression Bahrain’s authorities today upheld the conviction of opposition leader Sheikh  ‘Ali Salman and increased his prison sentence from four to nine years for giving speeches in which he criticized the government, said Amnesty International.

    “Sheikh ‘Ali Salman’s conviction is clearly politically motivated and is designed to send a message to others that even legitimate and peaceful demands for reform will not go unpunished. He is a prisoner of conscience and should never have been put on trial in the first place. He must be immediately and unconditionally released,” said James Lynch, Deputy Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Amnesty International.

    May 29, 2016

    Saudi Arabia’s authorities today continued their relentless efforts to stamp out independent human rights activism by sentencing another key activist to eight years in prison, Amnesty International said today.

    Abdulaziz al-Shubaily, is the only active founding member of the Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association (ACPRA), an independent human rights organization, who is not behind bars. He was tried at the Specialized Criminal Court (SCC) and sentenced under a repressive counter-terrorism law. He faced a number of different charges which included “communicating with foreign organizations” and providing information to Amnesty International for use in two of its reports. He also faces an eight-year travel ban, during which time he is forbidden from writing on social media.

    May 29, 2016

    An Egyptian military court has sentenced eight individuals, all civilians, to death and another 18 to lengthy prison terms, after a grossly unfair military trial that relied on “confessions” extracted under horrific torture including defendants being whipped with a burning cloth, said Amnesty International today.

    “This verdict is an affront to justice and must be quashed immediately,” said Magdalena Mughrabi-Talhami, Amnesty International’s Regional Deputy Programme Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

    “Sentencing to death men who were tortured into ‘confessions’ is an egregious injustice, even by the degraded standards of Egypt’s justice system. They must receive a fair trial before an ordinary civilian court that meets international standards and excludes torture-tainted evidence, without the recourse to the death penalty.”

    May 27, 2016

    Released 00:01 GMT, 28 May 2016

           Rohingya refugees are being kept in indefinite detention        Failure to properly investigate criminal gangs responsible for abuse

    Hundreds of refugees who survived the 2015 boat crisis in South East Asia have been locked up in poor conditions in Malaysia ever since, Amnesty International said, following a visit to the country to investigate the fate of people one year on.

     

    After harrowing footage of desperate refugees and migrants stranded at sea was beamed around the world last May, Malaysia agreed to accept 1,100 people. Almost 400 of those were identified as Rohingya refugees – people fleeing persecution in Myanmar. One year on, the majority of the Rohingya remain in Malaysia’s Belantik detention centre.

     

    May 26, 2016

    Dozens of detainees held in dire conditions in poorly ventilated metal shipping containers, fed only once or twice a week and given insufficient drinking water are at risk of death, warned Amnesty International today. 

    According to information obtained by the organisation, these conditions have apparently resulted in the deaths of multiple detainees at the Gorom detention site, located about 20km south of the capital Juba. Soldiers also periodically take them out of the containers and beat them.

    “Detainees are suffering in appalling conditions and their overall treatment is nothing short of torture,” said Muthoni Wanyeki, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.

    “This egregious disregard for human life and dignity must stop and for that to happen, the detention site should be immediately shut down until conditions are brought into compliance with human rights standards.”

    May 24, 2016

    Released: 00:01 GMT on 25 May 2016
     
    Almost half of European Union (EU) member states have flouted an EU-wide suspension on arms transfers to Egypt, risking complicity in a wave of unlawful killings, enforced disappearances and torture, Amnesty International said today.
     
    Despite the suspension imposed after hundreds of protesters were killed in a show of grossly excessive force by security forces in August 2013, 12 out of 28 EU member states have remained among Egypt’s main suppliers of arms and policing equipment. It is feared that EU Foreign Ministers could soon decide to scrap the current, already insufficient, suspension.

    “Almost three years on from the mass killings that led the EU to call on its member states to halt arms transfers to Egypt, the human rights situation has actually deteriorated,” said Magdalena Mughrabi, interim Deputy Middle East and North Africa Programme Director at Amnesty International.

    May 23, 2016

    AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL USA PRESS RELEASE

    Following the verdict in the second of several trials related to the death of Freddie Gray in police custody, Amnesty International USA called for widespread reform of laws governing the use of lethal force by police.

    “The courts are an important component of seeking accountability for the tragic death of Freddie Gray, but there is still a critical need to reform laws related to lethal force by police across the country,” said Jamira Burley, senior campaigner with Amnesty International USA.

    “Lives are at stake. All states must bring lethal force laws in line with international standards that require that such force should be used only as a last resort.”

    AIUSA also expressed concern for the protection of peaceful protesters following the verdict.

    May 23, 2016

    Vietnamese authorities must end their crackdown on peaceful protesters and release all prisoners of conscience, Amnesty International said today.

    As Viet Nam hosts US President Barack Obama on a three-day visit, the authorities have pressed ahead with their assault on the freedoms of expression and peaceful assembly by arresting six peaceful activists and orchestrating a campaign of intimidation and harassment against dozens more.

    “Even as it faces the glare of global attention with the US President’s visit, the Vietnamese authorities, shamefully, are carrying out their repressive business as usual,” said Rafendi Djamin, Amnesty International’s Director for South East Asia and the Pacific.

    The six peaceful activists who have been arrested in recent days are: Nancy Nguyễn, Nguyễn Viết Dũng, Phạm Đoan Trang, Vũ Huy Hoàng, Nguyễn Ngọc Như Quỳnh, and Nguyễn Bá Vinh.

    May 23, 2016
      16 new civilian casualties, including nine children, documented in aftermath of Saudi Arabia-led coalition’s cluster bomb use   Internally displaced people returning home to de facto ‘minefields’   Use of US, UK and Brazilian-made cluster munitions documented   Urgent need for international demining assistance

    Children and their families returning home in northern Yemen after a year of conflict are at grave risk of serious injury and death from thousands of unexploded cluster bomb submunitions, Amnesty International said, following a 10-day research trip to Sa’da, Hajjah, and Sana’a governorates.

     International assistance is urgently needed to clear contaminated areas and countries with influence should urge the Saudi Arabia-led coalition forces to stop using cluster munitions, which are internationally banned and inherently indiscriminate.

    May 21, 2016

    The Bangladeshi authorities’ treatment of a prominent 81-year-old journalist, who has been held in solitary confinement for several weeks and denied medical care for chronic and life threatening health conditions, is an act of cruelty, Amnesty International said today.

    Shafik Rehman, editor of the monthly Mouchake Dhil magazine, was arrested on 16 April suspected of being involved in a plot to assassinate Sajib Wazed Joy, the son of Bangladesh’s Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

    “The Bangladeshi authorities must end the prolonged solitary confinement of Shafik Rahman and ensure his well-being. It is absolutely shocking that an 81-year-old diabetic man with a history of heart problems is being denied the medical care he needs,” said Champa Patel, Director of Amnesty International’s South Asia Regional Office.

    According to Shafik Rehman’s lawyer and family members, he has been kept in isolation since 27 April in Kashimpur Central Jail, a maximum security prison, where he is not allowed to interact with other prisoners. He has had minimal access to both his legal team and family members since he was first arrested.

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