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    May 05, 2016

    The daily security threats that plague the lives of Iraqi civilians must not open the door to more human rights violations, Amnesty International warned today at the end of a six-day trip to Baghdad and Erbil headed by the organization’s Secretary General, Salil Shetty.

    Both the Iraqi government and the Kurdistan Regional Government promised to investigate a string of abuses by their respective militias and security forces.

    “The atrocities committed by the Islamic State (IS) armed group do not give a free pass to Shi’a militias and Kurdish Peshmerga to go on the rampage in blatant violation of international humanitarian law,” said Salil Shetty.

    “The Iraqi authorities and their international backers should ensure human rights are not sacrificed in the fight against IS. Even during conflict there are rules that must be observed - the protection of civilians is paramount.”

    May 04, 2016

    The release of Iranian artist and activist Atena Farghadani yesterday is a long-overdue step towards righting the injustice against her and must be followed by the immediate and unconditional release of other peaceful artists and activists who remain behind bars, Amnesty International said today.

    “Atena Farghadani’s release represents a legal and moral victory for her and encourages the efforts of activists worldwide to campaign for the release of other prisoners of conscience in Iran, as well as for reforms to the unjust laws used to put them behind bars in the first place,” said Magdalena Mughrabi, interim Deputy Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Amnesty International.

    “While this is a time for celebration, it is vital that the world doesn’t forget that Atena Farghadani should never have been imprisoned in the first place and that many others like her continue to languish in cells or have the threat of prison hanging over their head for peacefully exercising their rights.”

    May 04, 2016

    Pakistani authorities must carry out an independent, thorough and transparent inquiry into the torture and death of political activist Aftab Ahmad while he was in the custody of the Rangers, a paramilitary force under the command of the Pakistan Army, Amnesty International said today.

    The call comes after the Director-General of the Rangers, Maj. Gen. Bilal Akber, admitted that Aftab Ahmad was tortured in custody and ordered an internal investigation into the circumstances of his death.
    “It will not suffice for the Rangers to investigate themselves. A series of contradictory statements by the paramilitary force in the hours since the news of Aftab Ahmad’s death emerged point to attempts to mislead the public and resist accountability,” said Jameen Kaur, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for South Asia.

    “The chilling revelation that Aftab Ahmad was tortured and died in the Rangers’ custody must result in an independent, efficient and transparent investigation.”

    May 03, 2016

    The UN Security Council should impose targeted sanctions on all those carrying out deliberate attacks on hospitals and other war crimes, said Amnesty International as it released harrowing testimony revealing how hundreds of civilians, including children, have been killed by intensified Syrian government air strikes since 21 April.

    The organization interviewed doctors and activists in Aleppo including several who were in the al-Quds civilian hospital when it was attacked on 27 April by the Syrian government. The eyewitnesses described terrible scenes of destruction, said that the hospital was well-known and clearly marked and that the nearest military installation was over a kilometre away.

    Al-Dabeet hospital, in the Syrian government-controlled al-Mohafaza area, catering for women and children was also damaged in a rocket attack today. It is unclear where the attack came from but media reports suggest it was from an armed group. A hospital employee told Amnesty International that four women were killed and several more injured when a rocket fell outside the hospital, destroying its emergency room.

    May 03, 2016

    More than 1,000 detainees, including some as young as 15, are being held without charge in horrendous conditions at makeshift holding centres in Anbar governorate, west of Baghdad, said Amnesty International today.

    A delegation led by the organization’s Secretary General, Salil Shetty, gained access on 30 April to a centre run by Anbar’s counter-terrorism agency (Mukafahat al-Irhab) in Ameriyat al-Fallujah, where 683 male detainees are held without charge.

    The detainees are cramped into several rooms within a complex of disused warehouses being used as a detention and interrogation facility.

    “The detainees are squeezed into a space of less than one square metre each, sitting in a crouching position day and night, unable to stretch or lie down to sleep and are rarely allowed outside for fresh air,” said Salil Shetty.

    “It was a truly shocking sight – hundreds of human beings packed together like sardines in a tin and held in inhumane and degrading conditions for months on end.”

    May 03, 2016

    Human rights defenders, torture survivors, parliamentarians and youth activists celebrated a significant milestone following the announcement that Canada has committed to joining an important UN torture prevention treaty. Foreign Affairs Minister Stephane Dion made the announcement in Ottawa as he accepted more than 50,000 Amnesty International petition signatures calling on Canada to help end torture around the world.

     

    “The news that Canada is readying to join the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture is a tremendous step forward. It is long overdue and will position Canada strongly in the global fight to prevent torture. This has been 13 years in the waiting. Now it is time to make it happen.”
    - Alex Neve, Secretary-General of Amnesty International Canada

     

    April 28, 2016

    The Chinese government must scrap a new law aimed at further smothering civil society, Amnesty International said today.

    China’s National People’s Congress adopted on 28 April a fundamentally flawed law governing Foreign NGOs and their domestic partners. The new law will have severe consequences for freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association, which are already sharply curtailed under existing laws and policies.

    “The authorities – particularly the police – will have virtually unchecked powers to target NGOs, restrict their activities, and ultimately stifle civil society,” said William Nee, China Researcher at Amnesty International. 

    “The law presents a very real threat to the legitimate work of independent NGOs and should be immediately revoked.”

    The law is the latest in a raft of legislation aimed at bolstering government power under the guise of national security and at the cost of human rights. A sweeping National Security Law, passed in July 2015, defines “national security” in such broad and vague terms that the authorities are essentially given carte blanche.

    April 26, 2016

    Released 27 April 2016 at 00:01 Brazil time (03:01 GMT)

    Residents in many of Rio de Janeiro’s favelas are living in terror after at least 11 people have been killed in police shootings since the beginning of the month, Amnesty International warned ahead of the 100-day countdown to the Olympic Games.

    In the city of Rio alone, at least 307 people were killed by the police last year, accounting for one in every five homicides in the city. Meanwhile the authorities have failed to hold those responsible to account and have increasingly taken a hard-line approach against mainly peaceful street protests.

    “Despite the promised legacy of a safe city for hosting the Olympic Games, killings by the police have been steadily increasing over the past few years in Rio. Many have been severely injured by rubber bullets, stun grenades and even firearms used by police forces during protests,” said Atila Roque, Executive Director of Amnesty International Brazil. 

    April 26, 2016

    One year on from the start of the Burundi crisis, the human rights situation in the country continues to deteriorate and accountability for horrific acts of violence remains elusive, Amnesty International said today. The decision by the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to open a preliminary examination underlines the gravity of the situation.

    Burundi has been in a political crisis since President Pierre Nkurunziza’s decision to stand for a third term in office last April, which many saw as unconstitutional. Since then, hundreds have been killed and hundreds of thousands have fled abroad.

    “Burundians have paid the price as the political crisis escalated over the last 12 months, as killings, torture, arbitrary arrests and enforced disappearances have increased to alarming levels,” said Muthoni Wanyeki, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.

    April 26, 2016

     

    26 April 2016

    Security forces arbitrarily arrested hundreds of people in response to planned protests in Egypt yesterday, said Amnesty International, after large numbers of security forces deployed to prevent demonstrators from gathering in Cairo and elsewhere.

    The Front of Defence for Egyptian Protesters (FDEP) early this morning told Amnesty International that they knew of at least 238 people, including foreign nationals, activists and journalists, who were arrested on 25 April across Egypt. The FDEP is a group of local activists, including human rights lawyers, formed to protect peaceful demonstrators from human rights violations. The “Freedom for the Brave” movement, another local watchdog, had logged a list of 168 names late yesterday as activists continued to identify detainees. 

    April 25, 2016

    Early and forced marriage in Burkina Faso is robbing thousands of girls as young as 13 of their childhood, while the cost of contraception and other barriers prevent them from choosing if and when to have children, Amnesty International said in a report published today. 

    Coerced and denied: Forced marriages and barriers to contraception in Burkina Faso exposes how many women and girls are threatened or beaten when they try to make their own decisions about when to marry or have children.

    “Far too many women and girls in Burkina Faso have no control over their lives: they are denied their right to choose if, when and with whom they marry and whether to have children,” said Alioune Tine, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for West and Central Africa.

    “Once married, girls are expected to have children as soon as possible. Early pregnancies greatly increase the risk of girls dying or experiencing life-changing physical injuries. Very few have the chance to go to school or complete their education. 

    April 25, 2016

    The Legal Strategy Coalition on Violence Against Indigenous Women (LSC), a national coalition of individuals and civil society organizations, has supported the call for a national inquiry into the issue of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls (MMIW). Like other advocates, activists and community members, the LSC is deeply concerned that the inquiry be a meaningful one.

    LSC members have a breadth of knowledge and interdisciplinary expertise regarding the MMIW issue. Today, the LSC has released a statement on the importance of full provincial and territorial cooperation with the upcoming national inquiry.

    It is crucial that the role of provinces and territories and the extent of their participation in the upcoming national inquiry be clearly determined as soon as possible. The full participation and cooperation of all Canadian jurisdictions in the upcoming national inquiry is necessary in order to ensure meaningful outcomes.

    April 24, 2016

    The sentencing of human rights activist Issa al-Hamid to nine years in prison and a travel ban of equal duration is the latest evidence of the Saudi Arabian authorities’ resolve to continue their ruthless onslaught against civil society in the Kingdom, said Amnesty International.

    Issa al-Hamid is a founding member of the Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association (ACPRA), an independent human rights organization. The majority of its founding members are currently serving lengthy prison terms for their peaceful human rights activism and calls for reform.

    April 22, 2016

    The high-level European delegation travelling to Turkey on Saturday must address the catalogue of human rights abuses faced by refugees in the country, not sweep them under the carpet, said Amnesty International today.

    Chancellor Angela Merkel, along with European Council President Donald Tusk and European Commission Vice-President Frans Timmermans, will visit Gaziantep in southern Turkey.

    In the weeks since the EU-Turkey migration deal was signed, Amnesty International and other organizations have documented refugees being denied entry to Turkey at the Syrian border, being shot at by security forces and being forcibly returned to their country of origin.

    “There is no photo-op that can obscure the deep flaws in the EU-Turkey deal. What Angela Merkel really needs to bring back from Turkey are not smiling photos but cast-iron guarantees that the Turkish authorities will stop sending refugees back to their countries of origin and start implementing its asylum laws effectively,” said John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Director for Europe and Central Asia.

    Turkey illegally returning refugees to Syria

    April 21, 2016

              ·         Hundreds shot, beaten and burned alive
             ·         Satellite pictures reveal site of possible mass grave

    Mass slaughter of hundreds of men, women and children by soldiers in Zaria and the attempted cover-up of this crime demonstrates an utter contempt for human life and accountability, said Amnesty International as it publishes evidence gathered on the ground revealing how the Nigerian military burned people alive, razed buildings and dumped victims’ bodies in mass graves.

    The report, Unearthing the truth: Unlawful killings and mass cover-up in Zaria, contains shocking eyewitness testimony of large-scale unlawful killings by the Nigerian military and exposes a crude attempt by the authorities to destroy and conceal evidence.

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