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    April 28, 2015

     From Amnesty International USA

    (Baltimore, MD) —Following protests over the death of Baltimore resident Freddie Gray in police custody, Amnesty International USA Executive Director Steven W. Hawkins issued the following statement:

    "The police-related death of another young unarmed black man has understandably sparked anguish and protests in the streets of Baltimore this week. While we await the findings of a prompt, impartial and independent investigation into the death of Freddie Gray, we call on the Baltimore Police to exercise restraint during the protests, to prioritize non-violent means and only use force when absolutely unavoidable, in a manner designed to minimize injury.

    April 23, 2015

    The failure to extend Triton’s operational area will fatally undermine today’s commitment from several European nations to provide resources, ships and aircraft to search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean, said Amnesty International.

    “What we witnessed today in Brussels was a face-saving not a life-saving operation. All the words and resources being thrown at this problem suggest that EU leaders are being serious about saving lives at sea.  But the reality is they are still only meeting the problem halfway,” said John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Director for Europe and Central Asia

    “Unless they go the extra mile, migrants and refugees will continue to drown and Europe will have again failed shamefully – to deal with this tragedy on its doorstep. If Triton can’t be changed, then Triton is not the solution, however many resources one gives it.”

    The announcement of increased funding and assets towards existing European Union (EU) border control operations, including Operation Triton, came at the end of an emergency summit in Brussels on the humanitarian crisis in the Mediterranean.

    April 23, 2015

    Draft Brussels summit proposals are a woefully inadequate and shameful response to the crisis in the Mediterranean and will fail to end the spiral of deaths at sea, said Amnesty International.

    According to a leaked draft statement, European Union leaders meeting in Brussels this afternoon are expected to reject urgent calls for a major expansion of search and rescue operations across the Mediterranean. Instead the draft includes a doubling of Operation Triton and border-surveillance operations, which only patrol within 30 miles of the Italian and Maltese coasts, far from where most of the deaths occur. If adopted, such an operation would still fall far short of what was in place under Mare Nostrum.

    April 23, 2015

    The trial of Angolan journalist, Rafael Marques de Morais, is a mockery of freedom of expression and charges against him must be immediately and unconditionally dropped, said Amnesty International today as he returned to court in a criminal libel trial.

    Rafael Marques de Morais faces more than 20 defamation charges for publishing a book in Portugal in 2011 highlighting corruption and human rights violations allegedly committed by the Angolan army generals and companies operating in the country's diamond communities.

    "The case against Rafael Marques de Morais demonstrates a sustained attack on an individual and the right to freedom of expression in Angola. He is being targeted for simply expressing his thoughts about societal wrongs in the country. This must stop," said Noel Kututwa, Amnesty International's Deputy Director for Southern Africa.

    Rafael Marques de Morais is a recipient of numerous prestigious international awards and has been recognised for his courageous journalistic work. He has been arrested and detained several times in Angola.

    Amnesty International has been following the trial since it began last month.

    April 22, 2015

    The sentencing of a human rights lawyer and outspoken government opponent in Azerbaijan to seven and a half years in jail on forged charges shows the authorities’ desperate attempt to silence all critics ahead of the start of the European Games, said Amnesty International.

    Intigam Aliyev, head of the NGO Legal Education Society, was sentenced to seven and a half years on charges of tax avoidance, illegal entrepreneurship and abuse of power.

    “Intigam Aliyev is the latest victim of a concerted campaign by authorities in Azerbaijan to sweep all of the country’s problems under the carpet as they prepare to host the largest European sports event in less than two months. The message is: Tell the world about our problems and you will be punished,” said Denis Krivosheev, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Europe and Central Asia.

    “The only ‘crime’ Intigam Aliyev has committed is to defend the human rights of his fellow citizens. He should have never been jailed in the first place and must be released immediately and unconditionally.”

    April 21, 2015

    The sentencing of Mohamed Morsi to 20 years in prison today is a travesty of justice and demonstrates, once again, that the Egyptian criminal justice system appears to be completely incapable of delivering fair trials for members or supporters of the former president's administration and the Muslim Brotherhood, said Amnesty International.

    The organization is calling for Mohamed Morsi to receive a fair re-trial in a civilian court in line with international standards, or to be released.

    “This verdict shatters any remaining illusion of independence and impartiality in Egypt’s criminal justice system,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Deputy Middle East and North Africa Director at Amnesty International.

    “Any semblance of a fair trial was jeopardized from the outset by a string of irregularities in the judicial process and his arbitrary, incommunicado detention. His conviction must be quashed and the authorities must order a full re-trial in a civilian court or release him."

    April 19, 2015

    The latest capsizing of a boat carrying refugees and migrants in the Mediterranean – with hundreds of people feared dead – is a man-made tragedy that could well have been avoided, Amnesty International said.

    A boat able to carry hundreds of refugees and migrants – according to the Italian coast guard - capsized this morning off the Libyan coast. The boat had sent a request for help to the Maritime Rescue Coordination Center in Rome, which requested a Portuguese merchant vessel to attend the call.

    So far, 28 people have been rescued and 24 bodies have been recovered, according to the coast guard. A rescue operation is currently ongoing with 17 ships involved as well as aircrafts.

    “What we are witnessing in the Mediterranean is a man-made tragedy of appalling proportions. These latest deaths at sea come as a shock, but not a surprise,” said John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Director for Europe and Central Asia.

    April 14, 2015

    Today’s execution of an Indonesian woman with a suspected mental illness is just the latest in the recent macabre spike in Saudi Arabia’s state-sponsored killings, Amnesty International said.

    Saudi Arabian state media reported that Siti Zainab Binti Duhri Rupa was executed this morning in Medina. She was sentenced to death in 1999 after she “confessed” in police custody to killing a woman who had allegedly mistreated her since hiring her as a domestic worker the year before.

    The authorities waited for more than 15 years for the youngest of the victim’s children to reach adulthood to decide whether or not the family would want to pardon Siti Zainab or demand her execution under qisas (retribution).

    “Imposing the death penalty and executing someone with a suspected mental illness smacks of a basic lack of humanity. This practice has been widely condemned on the world stage and Saudi Arabia should take this opportunity to reconsider its stance on the death penalty,” said Philip Luther, Middle East and North Africa Programme Director at Amnesty International.

    March 30, 2015

    The horrifying murder of a blogger who was hacked to death in Dhaka this morning, the second violent killing of a Bangladeshi blogger in a month, must be a “wake up call” to the authorities on the need to create a safe environment for journalists and activists to express their views, said Amnesty International.

    Washiqur Rahman was killed near his home in Bangladesh’s capital Dhaka. Two men have been arrested near the scene. Police has said the blogger was attacked for his alleged “anti-Islamic” writings.

    His murder comes a month after US-based writer and atheist blogger Avijit Roy was killed with a machete while visiting the Bangladeshi capital. He had previously received threats for his atheist views. Police have arrested one suspect.

    March 26, 2015

    At least six children under the age of 10 were among a reported 25 people killed in Saudi Arabian-led airstrikes in the Yemeni capital Sana’a early this morning, Amnesty International confirmed after speaking to hospital officials and eyewitnesses. 

    The organization spoke to medical personnel at four different hospitals where the dead were taken after being pulled from the rubble of 14 houses that were hit in a residential neighbourhood near the city’s international airport. The rest of those killed were men, mostly in their 30s and 40s. It is believed that more people may still be buried beneath the rubble, and at least 20, including four women, were admitted to hospital with mainly shrapnel injures.

    “This high toll of civilian deaths and injuries in these attacks raises concerns about compliance with the rules of international humanitarian law. Saudi Arabian and any other armed forces carrying out airstrikes in Yemen are required to take all feasible precautions to spare civilians,” said Said Boumedouha, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Program.

    March 24, 2015

    The death this morning of at least eight peaceful protesters, shot by members of the Huthi-loyal Yemeni Central Security Forces in Ta’iz, illustrates a shocking disregard for human life as the country descends into chaos, said Amnesty International.

    Doctors working at two hospitals in the city of Ta’iz told Amnesty International that at least another 119 individuals were admitted with injuries inflicted by security forces since anti-Huthi protests began on Sunday. Most were treated for injuries related to tear gas inhalation and at least 38 had gunshot wounds.

    “Human rights in Yemen are in free-fall as even peaceful protest becomes a life-threatening activity,” said Said Boumedouha, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Program.

    “The Huthi leadership must immediately rein in the security forces and armed men under its control and tell them that force must not be used against peaceful protesters. People should not be at risk of death or serious injury for merely voicing their opposition to the Huthi takeover of towns and cities.  

    March 20, 2015

    The suicide bombing of two mosques in Sanaa today, that killed dozens of people and wounded more than 100 others, must be investigated immediately and those responsible brought to justice, said Amnesty International.

    Images broadcast from the scene showed mosque carpets covered in shattered glass and injured people being carried out of the mosques as bodies lay in pools of blood nearby.

    “Attacking people while they are praying in a place of worship shows utter contempt for fundamental principles of humanity. There can be no justification for such attacks,” said Said Boumedouha, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme.

    “Those who ordered and planned these abominable crimes must be apprehended and brought to justice.”

    The attacks took place at the Badr mosque in southern Sanaa, and the al-Hashoosh mosque in a northern district of the capital just after noon prayers. Both are frequented mostly by Houthi supporters.  

    March 18, 2015

    Today’s armed attack that killed at least 19 people, according to the Tunisian Prime Minister, and injured many more in a museum in central Tunis shows an utter disregard for the right to life, Amnesty International said.

    The organization is calling on the authorities to ensure that all those involved in planning and carrying out this attack are apprehended and brought to justice. 

    “This deadly attack, which in itself is utterly deplorable, must not be allowed to derail what many regard as the region’s most successful transition from authoritarianism to the rule of law and respect for human rights,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Deputy Middle East and North Africa Program Director at Amnesty International. 

    “The best answer to this atrocity would be bringing those responsible to justice in fair trials. A return to the draconian measures of the Ben Ali years which trampled over human rights would compound the tragedy of this crime and is likely to play into the hands of those trying to undermine Tunisia’s transition.”

    March 18, 2015

    The Yemeni authorities must set up a prompt, thorough, independent and impartial investigation into today’s despicable killing of leading journalist and activist Abdulkarim al-Khaiwani, Amnesty International said.

    According to media reports, unidentified gunmen on a motorbike shot Abdulkarim al-Khaiwani dead near his house in the centre of the capital Sana’a today. A former recipient of Amnesty International UK’s Special Award for Human Rights Journalism under Threat, he had been imprisoned several times and faced years of harassment under former President ‘Ali ‘Abdullah Saleh.

    “Given the history of intimidation and harassment Abdulkarim al-Khaiwani faced for his outspoken journalism and peaceful activism, his despicable killing today smacks of a politically motivated assassination,” said Said Boumedouha, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Program.

    March 17, 2015

    Eyewitnesses to an alleged chlorine gas attack last night in Idlib, northern Syria, have told Amnesty International about the horrific death of an entire family, including three children younger than three years of age.

    Scores of other civilians were exposed to toxic chlorine gas in two apparent chemical weapons attacks allegedly carried out by government forces in and around the town of Sermine, Idlib, last night, eyewitnesses said.

    “These horrific attacks that resulted in civilians, including small children, suffering excruciating deaths, are yet more evidence that the Syrian government forces are committing war crimes with impunity. The situation in Syria must be referred to the International Criminal Court as a matter of urgency,” said Philip Luther, Middle East and North Africa Program Director at Amnesty International.

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