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    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.

    April 20, 2016

    Posted at 0001hrs GMT    21 April 2016

    Hundreds of asylum-seekers, refugees and migrant workers have been deported and even abducted in forced returns from Russia to Uzbekistan, where they have been subjected to torture, said Amnesty International in a briefing released today.

    The briefing, Fast-track to Torture: Abductions and Forcible Returns from Russia to Uzbekistan, examines how the Russian authorities have cooperated with Uzbekistan in hundreds of deportation cases despite clear risks that individuals could be tortured upon return. In the rare instances that Russia has denied extradition requests, Uzbekistani security forces have been granted free reign to abduct wanted nationals from Russian soil.

    “The Russian authorities are not simply turning a blind eye to torture and injustice in Uzbekistan, they are lending a helping hand,” said John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Director for Europe and Central Asia.

    April 20, 2016

    Mauritania must quash the death sentence handed down to a blogger for apostasy and release him unconditionally, Amnesty International said today, ahead of his appeal court hearing in the south-western city of Nouadhibou tomorrow.

    Mohamed Mkhaïtir, 33, was sentenced to death in December 2014, after a year in pre-trial detention, for writing a blog that criticized those who use Islam to discriminate against certain groups in the society. It is the first time the death sentence has been imposed for apostasy in Mauritania since the country gained independence in 1960.

    “The death penalty should not be used in any circumstances, the sentencing of Mohamed Mkhaïtir to death for writing a blog that criticized those who use religion to discriminate is unjust and it shows how far the Mauritanian authorities will go to try and stamp out dissent’’, said Gaetan Mootoo, Amnesty International West Africa researcher.

    “The Mauritanian authorities must quash the death sentence and immediately and unconditionally release him.”

    April 20, 2016

    The brutal killing of an 18-year-old Sudanese university student by intelligence agents yesterday must be urgently and impartially investigated, Amnesty International said today, as repression of students in the country intensifies.

    Abubakar Hassan Mohamed Taha, a first year engineering student at the University of Kordofan in Al-Obeid, the capital of North Kordofan State, died of a gunshot wound to the head. Another 27 students were injured, five of them seriously.

    “This violent attack is yet another shocking episode in a series of human rights violations against university students across Sudan and underlines the government’s determination to put out the last vestiges of dissent,” Muthoni Wanyeki, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes. 

    “The reprehensible violence by state agents against the students must be thoroughly and impartially investigated and those responsible brought to justice.”

    April 19, 2016

    The brutal assault by Zimbabwe's state security agents on the brother of the abducted pro-democracy activist Itai Dzamara must be urgently and impartially investigated and those responsible brought to justice, Amnesty International said today.

    State security agents punched and beat Patson Dzamara with batons and later forced him to drink about four litres of water after he staged a peaceful demonstration at Independence Day celebrations attended by President Robert Mugabe on 18 April at Harare's National Sports Stadium.

    Patson Dzamara held up a placard reading “Independent but not free – where is my brother Itai” near a VIP tent when up to 10 security agents set upon him.

    “The brutal attack on Patson Dzamara for simply lifting a placard is yet further evidence that the Zimbabwean government is prepared to lash out at anyone highlighting its appalling human rights record,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Director for Southern Africa.

    April 18, 2016

    Air strikes on residential areas in the south eastern Pool region of Congo that have reportedly resulted in deaths, casualties and the destruction of properties, including churches, schools and medical facilities represent an unlawful use of lethal force by the security forces, Amnesty International said today.

    They are a clear violation of the country’s international human rights obligations, including the right to life and should be subject to a thorough, independent and impartial investigation. Eyewitnesses told the organization that on 5 April, helicopters dropped at least 30 bombs on residential areas including a school in the town of Vindza where the target was a house which used to be the residence of Pastor Frederic Ntumi, leader of the “Ninjas” armed group. The government blamed the “Ninjas” for the 4 April violence in the capital Brazzaville. Subsequently the towns of Soumouna and Mayama have come under attack. An eyewitness told Amnesty International that she saw at least 30 dead bodies between Soumouna and Ngula a village located some 8 km.

    April 18, 2016

    Posted at 0001hrs  GMT   19 April 2016

    The terrifying reality of the Syrian government’s relentless barrel bombing of the besieged city of Daraya, outside Damascus, is made brutally clear in a new video released by Amnesty International today amid the latest round of peace talks in Geneva.

    Warning: Video contains graphic content

    The organization hopes the harrowing eyewitness footage will spur the international community to re-double its demands on the Syrian government to grant immediate lifesaving humanitarian access to Daraya and all areas still under siege.

    Although no barrel bombs have been dropped on Daraya since the partial “cessation of hostilities” came into effect on 26 February, there have been attacks with other weaponry and thousands of civilians who remain in the city continue to suffer from severe food and medical shortages and no electricity.

    April 17, 2016

    Released 00:01 GMT+1 on Monday 18 April 2016

    With all eyes focused on the implementation of the recently agreed EU-Turkey deal, the plight of more than 46,000 refugees and migrants stuck in squalid conditions across mainland Greece, is in danger of being forgotten, said Amnesty International in a report released today.

    The report, Trapped in Greece: an avoidable refugee crisis, examines the situation of refugees and migrants – the majority women and children –trapped on mainland Greece, following the complete closure of the Macedonian border on 7 March.

    “The decision to close the Western Balkans route has left more than 46,000 refugees and migrants in appalling conditions and in a state of constant fear and uncertainty,” said John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Director for Europe and Central Asia.

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