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    May 12, 2016

    The Iranian authorities must urgently halt the scheduled execution this Sunday of a teenager who was just 15 years old at the time of his arrest, said Amnesty International.

    Alireza Tajiki, now 19 years old, was sentenced to death in April 2013 after a criminal court in Fars Province, southern Iran, convicted him of murder and rape primarily on the basis of “confessions” extracted through torture which he repeatedly retracted in court. His execution is due to take place on Sunday 15 May in Shiraz’s Adel Abad Prison in Fars Province.

    “Imposing the death penalty on someone who was a child at the time of the crime flies in the face of international human rights law, which absolutely prohibits the use of the death penalty for crimes committed under the age of 18. It is particularly horrendous that the Iranian authorities are adamant to proceed with the execution when this case was marked by serious fair trial concerns and primarily relied on torture-tainted evidence,” said James Lynch, deputy director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Amnesty International.

    May 12, 2016

    Uganda must immediately arrest Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir and hand him over to the International Criminal Court (ICC), said Amnesty International today. Omar Al-Bashir, who is on the court’s wanted list, arrived in Kampala this morning to attend the inauguration of President Yoweri Museveni.

    “Uganda must face up to its international obligations and arrest Omar Al-Bashir who is wanted on charges of genocide,” said Muthoni Wanyeki, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.

    “As a signatory to the Rome Statute, Uganda has an absolute obligation to surrender him to the ICC. Failure to do so would be a breach of its duty and would be a cruel betrayal of the hundreds of thousands of people killed and displaced during the Darfur conflict.”

    The situation in Darfur, Sudan, was referred to the ICC in 2005 by the UN Security Council. Arrest warrants against President Al-Bashir have been outstanding since 2009 on charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly committed in Darfur from 2003 to 2008.

    May 12, 2016

    Amnesty International strongly welcomes Canada's recent statement of unconditional support for the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. 

    On May 10, federal Minister of Indigenous Affairs Carolyn Bennett told the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues that Canada is "now a full supporter of the Declaration, without qualification."

    The Minister went on to describe implementation of the Declaration as "breathing new life into section 35" - the provision of the Canadian Constitution affirming Aboriginal and Treaty rights - "and recognizing it now as a full box of rights for Indigenous peoples in Canada." 

    May 10, 2016

    If President-elect Rodrigo Duterte is serious about introducing change in the Philippines, he must turn his back on the history of human rights violations and end the prevailing culture of impunity, Amnesty International said today.

    Rodrigo Duterte, the former Mayor of Davao city, is set to become the newly-elected President of the Philippines after leading the voting in the 9 May 2016 election. Duterte’s principal rivals have conceded defeat.

    “If Rodrigo Duterte is serious about bringing change to the Philippines, he should address the dire human rights situation in the country and put an end to extrajudicial executions, unlawful arrests, secret detention as well as torture and other ill-treatment,” said Rafendi Djamin, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for South East Asia.

    During the course of the presidential election campaign, Duterte has issued a series of inflammatory statements that, if enacted, would contravene the Philippines’ international human rights obligations, including his promise to reduce crime rates by shooting suspected criminals.

    May 09, 2016

    The death penalty will deliver neither the justice that victims deserve nor the security that Afghanistan seeks, Amnesty International said today.

    Six men were executed on 8 May 2016 after they were convicted for their  involvement in a series of high-profile violent attacks - including the 2011 killing of former President and head of the High Peace Council, Burhanuddin Rabbani, and an attack on a Kabul supermarket in the same year.

    The executions mark the first time the government of President Ashraf Ghani has resorted to this cruel, unjust and irreversible punishment this year. Since a bombing last month in Kabul that killed more than 64 people, the Afghanistan government has vowed to implement the death penalty more frequently.

    The families who lost loved ones in violent attacks deserve justice for these appalling crimes,” said Champa Patel, Amnesty International’s South Asia Director. “But the death penalty merely serves as vengeance, perpetuates the cycle of violence, and fails to address any root causes.”

    May 09, 2016

    Pakistani authorities are failing to protect human rights defenders, Amnesty International said today.

    The murder of Khurram Zaki, a human rights defender and former journalist, who was gunned down at a restaurant in Karachi on 8 May 2016 marks the latest such killing of a noted Pakistani human rights defender in recent years.

    “As a human rights defender, Khurram Zaki, who was known to face threats from violent groups, deserved protection from those who meant him harm,” said Champa Patel, Amnesty International’s South Asia Director.

    “Pakistani authorities must immediately initiate a thorough, impartial and effective investigation into his murder and bring his killers to justice.”

    Zaki’s death comes as human rights defenders across Pakistan were marking the anniversaries of the killings of activist Sabeen Mahmud, who was shot dead in Karachi on 24 April 2015, and lawyer Rashid Rahman, who was killed at his office in Multan on 7 May 2014.

    May 06, 2016

    The Ethiopian authorities must immediately and unconditionally release a prominent opposition politician facing a possible death sentence on trumped-up terrorism charges over comments he posted on Facebook, said Amnesty International.

    Yonatan Tesfaye, the spokesman of the opposition Semayawi (Blue) party, was arbitrarily arrested in December 2015 and held in lengthy pre-trial detention for comments he posted on Facebook. The government says his posts against a government plan to extend the capital’s administrative authority to the Oromia region were in pursuit of the objectives of the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), which it considers a terrorist organisation.

    “The Ethiopian authorities have increasingly labelled all opposition to them as terrorism. Yonatan Tesfaye spoke up against a possible land grab in Oromia, which is not a crime and is certainly not terrorism,” said Muthoni Wanyeki, Amnesty International’s Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.

    “He and many others held under similar circumstances should be immediately and unconditionally released.”

    May 06, 2016

    Authorities in the south Indian state of Kerala must ensure an independent investigation into allegations of police inaction in a case involving the rape and brutal murder of a 30-year-old Dalit woman in Vattolippadi, Kerala. The failure of the police to investigate previous complaints about caste-based discrimination and harassment against the woman’s family must also be investigated.

    On the evening of 28 April, the woman, a law student, was found dead in her home by her mother, who works as a daily wage labourer. Media reports state that the autopsy found 38 wounds on the woman’s body and signs of rape, and her intestines had been partially removed. The police subsequently registered a First Information Report (FIR), but have not yet provided a copy of the FIR to the victim’s family, despite being required to do so under Indian law.

    Three men have been detained in relation to the killing. The Kerala government has announced that it will give 100,000 INR as compensation to the family.

    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.

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