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    March 22, 2016

    Posted at 0001hrs GMT   23 March 2016

    The combination of grossly inadequate support from the international community and barriers imposed by the government of Jordan are leaving Syrian refugees unable to access health care and other vital services, said Amnesty International in a new report published ahead of a major high-level meeting on responsibility sharing for Syrian refugees.

    Living on the margins: Syrian refugees struggle to access health care in Jordan features heart-rending cases of refugees in need of emergency care to treat injuries sustained during the conflict in Syria being turned away at the Jordanian border - leaving some to die as result of their wounds. It also highlights how many Syrian refugees, who live outside refugee camps, are either unable to afford medical care since the Jordanian authorities imposed new fees in November 2014, or lack the necessary documents to be eligible to access health care.

    March 21, 2016

    Posted at 0001hrs GMT   22 March 2016

    States – including the USA and the UK – must halt all transfers of arms for use in the Yemen conflict in order to stop the fuelling of serious violations that have had devastating consequences for civilians, said Amnesty International today, almost a year since the conflict began.

    More than 3,000 civilians including 700 children have been killed and at least 2.5 million people have been displaced from their homes over the past year. At least 83% of the country’s population are also in dire need of humanitarian aid.

    “One year on, the international community’s response to the conflict in Yemen has been deeply cynical and utterly shameful,” said James Lynch, Deputy Middle East and North Africa Director at Amnesty International.

    March 21, 2016

    Posted at 0001hrs GMT  22 March 2016

    Government attacks on the encryption of online communication threaten human rights around the world, warned Amnesty International in a briefing published today as tech giant Apple challenges the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in court over an order to provide software to bypass iPhone encryption.

    The briefing, Encryption: A Matter of Human Rights, which is Amnesty International’s first official stance on encryption and human rights, says that people everywhere should be able to encrypt their communications and personal data as an essential protection of their rights to privacy and free speech.

    “Encryption is a basic prerequisite for privacy and free speech in the digital age. Banning encryption is like banning envelopes and curtains. It takes away a basic tool for keeping your private life private,” said Sherif Elsayed-Ali, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Global Issues.

    March 18, 2016

    The Egyptian authorities are expected to freeze the assets of two prominent human rights defenders and their family members tomorrow as part of an investigation into foreign funding of NGOs. The move is yet another blatant attempt to paralyse civil society in Egypt that leaves no doubt as to the government’s resolve to crush freedom of expression and association, Amnesty International said today.

    According to a news outlet close to the government, the Cairo Criminal Court will rule tomorrow on the freezing of assets and travel bans against human rights lawyer Gamal Eid, investigative journalist Hossam Bahgat, and two other unnamed persons, as well as members of their families.

    “The measures against Hossam Bahgat and Gamal Eid are arbitrary and punitive, imposed in response to their criticism of the deteriorating human rights situation in Egypt. Amnesty International urges the Egyptian government to refrain from imposing such measures, and to end its onslaught against human rights defenders and civil society,” said Said Boumedouha, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme.

    March 18, 2016

    Amnesty International India Release

    Authorities in Madhya Pradesh must drop charges against and immediately release two men arrested for allegedly sharing a satirical image of the chief of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the ideological mentor of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.

    "Arresting people simply because they mocked public figures is an absurd overreaction by the authorities,” said Abhirr VP, Campaigner at Amnesty International India.

    On 17 March, 22-year-old Shaqir Yunus and 21-year-old college student Wasim Sheikh from Khargone, Madhya Pradesh were arrested for allegedly sharing the satirical image on Whatsapp and Facebook, following complaints that the men had hurt the feelings of the Hindu community. The digitally altered image made fun of the RSS’s recent decision to change its uniform from khaki shorts to brown trousers.

    March 18, 2016

    Key legal reforms proposed by the Norwegian Ministry of Health today mark an important breakthrough that could change the lives of transgender people in Norway for generations to come, said Amnesty International.

    If adopted by Parliament, the Ministry’s proposal would give transgender people access to legal gender recognition through a quick, accessible and transparent procedure. Crucially, it would allow individuals to self-determine their gender and do away with Norway’s shameful legacy of compulsory requirements that are discriminatory and violate a range of human rights.

    “This is a milestone for all of us who have been fighting hard for the right to be who we are. Thanks to our combined efforts together with transgender activists and LGBT organizations in the country, we can look forward to the upcoming adoption of a law that will give transgender people access to legal gender recognition,” said Patricia M. Kaatee, Policy Adviser at Amnesty International Norway.

    March 17, 2016

    Azerbaijan’s embattled civil society received a rare glimmer of hope today as President Ilham Aliyev signed a decree ordering the release of 148 prisoners, including 10 prisoners of conscience, said Amnesty International.

    The move came just hours after the European Court of Human Rights ruled that Azerbaijan’s detention of one of those released – human rights defender Rasul Jafarov – violated international law.

    “The release of 10 prisoners of conscience is always good news, but celebrations should be muted by the fact that at least eight still remain behind bars. While this is a welcome development, praise for the Azerbaijani authorities should be reserved for when all those unjustly imprisoned are released and the squeeze on civil society ends,” said Denis Krivosheev, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Europe and Central Asia.

    March 17, 2016

    As Tunisia prepares to extend a nationwide state of emergency on 22 March, Amnesty International has highlighted the government’s disproportionate and repressive use of emergency laws to trample on human rights.

    On 7 March armed men attacked military bases and a police station in the southern town of Ben Guerdane on the border with Libya. The attack and ensuing clashes killed around 68 people, including at least seven civilians and 12 security officers. This is the latest in a spate of deadly attacks in Tunisia over the past few months, which has prompted authorities to place scores of people under assigned residence orders, restricting their movements to specific areas, as part of measures that are, in some cases, excessive and discriminatory.

    March 16, 2016

    Posted at 0001hrs CAT  17 March 2016

    The authorities in Lesotho must uphold human rights and the rule of law and end continuing harassment and intimidation of lawyers and human rights defenders, said Amnesty International today, marking Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili’s first year in office.

    “In the year since Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili’s inauguration, we have seen a disturbing pattern of human rights violations committed with absolute impunity as illustrated by the repeated flouting of court orders by the Lesotho Defence Force,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Director for Southern Africa.

    “Lawyers, civil society leaders and journalists have been intimidated and even threatened with death for simply doing their jobs.”

    March 16, 2016

    "The arrest of 18 peaceful youth activists in the Democratic Republic of Congo is yet another shameful attempt by the authorities to restrict citizens’ ability to peacefully express themselves in the lead up to elections scheduled for later this year,” said Sarah Jackson, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.

    “They must be immediately and unconditionally released for they committed no crime when they peacefully protested the continued unlawful detention of their colleagues, Fred Bauma and Yves Makwambala, on trumped up charges.”

    “Bauma and Makwambala, who on 15 March completed a year in jail, must also be released, as well as all other activists arrested for peacefully exercising their right to freedom of expression and assembly. Their arrests violate international law and DRC’s own constitution.”

     

    March 16, 2016

    The release last night of Mohammed al-‘Ajami, also known as Ibn al-Dheeb, is a welcome development that ends a needless four year ordeal for the Qatari poet.

    Amnesty International has spoken to Mohammed al-‘Ajami’s legal representative, who said that relatives of the poet confirmed to him that the poet was released around 7.30pm Doha time on 15 March. The organization has also seen video footage of him after his release.

    “The release of Mohammed al-‘Ajami is long overdue good news,” said James Lynch, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa program,

    “It is absurd that he had to spend more than four years behind bars, when his poetry was simply the peaceful expression of his conscientiously held beliefs.

    “We hope that the authorities will take the opportunity of this release to review Qatar’s criminal justice system and ensure that such flagrant violations of the right to freedom of expression are not repeated. This case has been a blight on Qatar’s international reputation.”

    March 13, 2016

    Posted at 0001hrs GMT    14 March 2016

             Protest actions to take place outside Nigerian embassies around the world

    Two years after at least 640 recaptured detainees were slaughtered by soldiers of the Nigerian Army, the authorities have failed to conduct an effective, impartial and independent investigation into the killings, said Amnesty International.

    The detainees – men and boys, many arbitrarily arrested in mass screening operations - were killed after they fled the barracks in Maiduguri, Borno state on 14 March 2014 following a Boko Haram attack. The majority were shot. The others had their throats cut. To mark the anniversary of this massacre, Amnesty International campaigners will be gathering outside Nigerian embassies around the world to call for independent investigations and prosecutions.

    “It is shocking that two years after these horrific killings there has been no justice for the victims and their relatives,” said Netsanet Belay, Amnesty International's Research and Advocacy Director for Africa.

    March 11, 2016

    The families of three young men arrested for their involvement in anti-government protests while under the age of 18, fear their sons are among four people reported to be facing execution tomorrow, Amnesty International said today.

    The family of Ali al-Nimr expressed fears on social media that he, along with Dawood Hussein al-Marhoon and Abdullah Hasan al-Zaher, is among the prisoners referred to in a government-run newspaper article published today. The article said the scheduled executions will complete a wave of punishments for terrorism offences that saw 47 people executed on the same day in January.

    March 11, 2016

    The prosecution of five Mexican marines accused of the enforced disappearance of a man who was found dead weeks after his arrest in 2013 is a long awaited positive step that must herald a new official approach to tackling Mexico’s relentless wave of disappearances, said Amnesty International.

    “These arrests bring a ray of hope to the relatives of Armando del Bosque Villarreal and to the families of the tens of thousands of people whose whereabouts are still unknown across Mexico to finally obtain truth, justice and reparations,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.

    “The Mexican authorities must urgently build on this positive move and ensure adequate investigations into the more than 27,000 cases of people who have been disappeared or gone missing in recent years. Brining those responsible to justice is the only way to stop this monumental human rights crisis.”

    Armando del Bosque Villarreal, 33, was forcibly disappeared in August 2013, after marines stopped his car and arrested him in the town of Colombia in the northern Mexican state of Nuevo León.

    March 11, 2016

    Messages from Edward Snowden, Ai Weiwei and Pussy Riot will be broadcast across the internet by AdBlock and Amnesty International on the World Day against Cyber Censorship, 12 March 2016.

    Throughout the day, AdBlock’s 50 million users will be shown messages from Amnesty International where ads would usually appear. The messages will click through to content from people who governments have tried to silence. 

    “Even if you’re not doing anything wrong, you’re being watched and recorded,” said Edward Snowden in one of the messages.

    “Without freedom of speech there is no modern world, just a barbaric one,” said Ai Weiwei in his message.

    “Authorities don’t just use handcuffs and arrests, but also media attacks,” said Pussy Riot.

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