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    March 17, 2015

    The Cameroonian authorities must ensure humane treatment for detained journalist Gerard Kuissu, Amnesty International said today. His treatment must comply with international human rights law and Cameroon must ensure that he enjoys all fair trial rights and guarantees against ill-treatment.

    Gerard Kuissu, an online journalist and coordinator of human rights group ‘Tribunal Article 53’ was arrested with three of his colleagues in the night of Saturday, 14 March, in Douala after meeting Amnesty International delegates visiting the country. His three colleagues were released the same night after two and a half hours of questioning, while Gerard Kuissu was transferred to a detention facility in the capital Yaoundé managed by the Ministry of Defence. He should either be charged with a recognizably criminal offence or released. He has been held without charge for three days.

    March 13, 2015

    The conviction of Mohamed Nasheed, the former president of the Maldives on terrorism charges after a deeply flawed and politically motivated trial is a travesty of justice, said Amnesty International.

    “Amnesty International condemns the conviction of Mohamed Nasheed to 13 years in jail by judges who were state witnesses during an earlier investigation of this case. This trial has been flawed from start to finish, and the conviction is unsound” said Richard Bennett, Amnesty International's Asia-Pacific Director.

    “Rather than responding to international calls to strengthen the impartiality of the judiciary the government of the Maldives has proceeded with this sham trial for political reasons”.

    March 11, 2015

    Saudi Arabia is well on track to far surpass its previous annual execution records, Amnesty International warned after three more men were put to death this morning, bringing the total number of executions in the country to 44 so far this year.

    That is fully four times the number of people executed in the Gulf Kingdom during the same period last year – 11. Public beheading is the most common method of execution.

    “This unprecedented spike in executions constitutes a chilling race to the bottom for a country that is already among the most prolific executioners on the planet,” said Said Boumedouha, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Program.

    “If this alarming execution rate continues, Saudi Arabia is well on track to surpass its previous records, putting it out of step with the vast majority of countries around the world that have now rejected the death penalty in law or practice.”

    The three men executed this morning include a Saudi Arabian, a Yemeni and a Syrian national, all for drug-related offences.

    March 10, 2015

                 
    Amid growing fear for the safety of abducted journalist and pro-democracy activist, Itai Dzamara, Amnesty International is calling on the Zimbabwe government to immediately investigate and ensure his safety.  

    Itai Dzamara, was abducted yesterday, 9 March 2015 by five men while he was at a barbers’ shop in Harare’s Glen View suburb. The abductors are said to have accused him of stealing cattle before handcuffing him, forcing him into a white truck with concealed number plates and driving off. He has not been seen since.

    “The abduction of Itai Dzamara is deeply alarming. The Zimbabwean authorities, especially the police, must urgently institute a search operation and do all within their power to ensure his safe return. There must be a full and thorough investigation into his abduction, with those responsible brought to justice,” said Noel Kututwa, Amnesty International Southern Africa’s Deputy Director for Research.

    February 19, 2015

    Today’s announcement by the European Commission on managing the migration crisis in the Mediterranean contains the right analysis of the overall situation, but offers no concrete solutions to protecting and saving lives, said Amnesty International.

    “We agree that a European solution to the search and rescue crisis is urgently needed, but that's not being offered here. Member states need to step up and chip in. Extending operation Triton without increasing its assets and operational area changes absolutely nothing,” said Iverna McGowan, acting director of Amnesty International European Institutions Office.

    During a press briefing in Brussels, Dimitris Avramopoulos, European Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, acknowledged that the European Union (EU) needed to react more efficiently to the “ever starker” reality of the rising number of migrants, asylum-seekers and refugees attempting to cross the Mediterranean.

    February 17, 2015

    A Ukrainian soldier is seen atop an armoured vehicle at the entrance to Debaltseve amid clashes earlier this month.© MANU BRABO/AFP/Getty Images

    Debaltseve’s possible capture by pro-Russian separatists must not result in widespread detainee abuse, Amnesty International urged amid reports that the Ukrainian military had partly lost control of the key railway hub town in eastern Ukraine.

    Video has emerged this afternoon apparently showing dozens of Ukrainian soldiers surrendering to armed groups as they closed in on Debaltseve. According to media reports, between 4,000 and 8,000 Ukrainian troops may be encircled in the town.

    “There is a history of separatist armed groups torturing or otherwise ill-treating captured pro-Kyiv soldiers. Some reports are as recent as 9 February near Debaltseve. Such acts would be war crimes,” said Denis Krivosheev, Deputy Europe and Central Asia Director at Amnesty International.

    “We urge all sides in the conflict to treat any detainees humanely according to the Geneva Conventions.”

    February 09, 2015

    Today’s abrupt halt of the US military court hearing of five alleged plotters of the 11 September 2001 attacks is just the latest in a string of serious incidents that have marked the inherently unfair military commission process at Guantánamo Bay, Amnesty International said.

    Minutes after the hearing began, the military judge called a recess after one of the defendants, Yemeni national Ramzi bin al-Shibh, told the court he had previously seen a court-appointed interpreter in CIA black sites where detainees had been tortured.

    "If these allegations are true, then the interpreter's presence alongside the former black site detainees is deeply unsettling. The defence teams should be able to interview him as a likely witness to torture and enforceddisappearance,” said Anne FitzGerald, Director of the Research and Crisis Response Programme at Amnesty International, who was present in the courtroom in Guantánamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba.

    January 30, 2015

    The UK authorities must respond urgently to a statement today by a former Bush Administration staffer that interrogations of CIA detainees took place on the British island of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean, Amnesty International said.

    Lawrence Wilkerson the Chief of Staff to the former US Secretary of State Colin Powell told Vice News that after leaving office in 2005, intelligence sources had informed him that Diego Garcia had been used as a site “where people were temporarily housed and interrogated from time to time."

    "The UK has consistently evaded the question of Diego Garcia. This new information must finally trigger a truthful response from the UK authorities. Was Diego Garcia used for detention and interrogation by the USA? And if so, who will be held to account for those patently illegal practices?," said Julia Hall, Amnesty International's expert on counter-terrorism and human rights.

    January 26, 2015

    The health of a prisoner of conscience on hunger strike in Oman has deteriorated seriously, Amnesty International warned ahead of his imminent transfer to the capital Muscat for a court hearing. 

    Saeed Jaddad, a human rights activist jailed for his peaceful activism, was hospitalized on 23 January in the city of Salalah, two days after beginning a hunger strike following his arrest on 21 January. Police have ignored medical advice stating he is unfit to travel. 

    "The authorities in Oman are endangering the health and life of activist Saeed Jaddad, who should not be facing trial in the first place,” said Philip Luther, Director of the Middle East and North Africa Program at Amnesty International. 

    “Rather than putting him at further risk by transferring him from Salalah to Muscat for a court trial, Saeed Jaddad should be released immediately and unconditionally.” 

    A doctor at the hospital in Salalah yesterday recommended that Saeed Jaddad should not be put back into police custody for transfer to Muscat because of his failing health.

    January 16, 2015

    Amnesty International has received information indicating that the flogging of Raif Badawi has not been carried out today on medical grounds.

    January 15, 2015

    The Mauritanian authorities must release three activists - including a prominent opposition politician - jailed today for holding anti-slavery rallies, Amnesty International said.

    Police used tear gas and batons to disperse the protestors in front of the court who were demonstrating against the judgment.

    The court in the southern town of Rosso handed down two-year sentences to three anti-slavery activists and human rights defenders, Brahim Bilal, Djiby Sow and Biram Ould Dah Ould Abeid, a former presidential candidate. They have been convicted of membership of an unrecognized organization and of taking part in an unauthorized assembly. Seven other activists were acquitted.

    “The conviction of these activists for taking part in peaceful protests on charges which are vague and open to abuse violates their human rights to free expression and freedom of peaceful assembly,’’ said Gaetan Mootoo, Amnesty International West Africa Researcher.

    January 13, 2015

    An artillery strike on a bus that killed 10 civilians and wounded 18 in eastern Ukraine must be investigated urgently as it could amount to a violation of international humanitarian law, Amnesty International said.

    An unguided Grad artillery system was apparently used in the strike, but at present it is unclear where the attack came from. It hit a civilian bus which was passing through a military checkpoint controlled by pro-Kyiv forces in the town of Volnovakha.

    “The world needs to know the truth about this tragic incident. It must be investigated thoroughly, impartially and independently, as a possible violation of the laws of war,” said Denis Krivosheev, Deputy Europe and Central Asia Director at Amnesty International.  

    “Those responsible for this incident either failed to take steps to protect civilians, as demanded by international humanitarian law, or it was a deliberate act which would constitute a war crime.”

    January 09, 2015

    Following reports of the massacre of large numbers of civilians by armed group Boko Haram in north east Nigeria, Amnesty International has expert spokespeople available to comment.

    “The attack on Baga and surrounding towns, looks as if it could be Boko Haram’s deadliest act in a catalogue of increasingly heinous attacks carried out by the group. If reports that the town was largely razed to the ground and that hundreds or even as many as two thousand civilians were killed are true, this marks a disturbing and bloody escalation of Boko Haram’s ongoing onslaught against the civilian population,” said Daniel Eyre, Nigeria researcher for Amnesty International.

    “We are currently working to find out more details of what happened during the attack on Baga and the surrounding area. This attack reiterates the urgent need for Boko Haram to stop the senseless killing of civilians and for the Nigerian government to take measures to protect a population who live in constant fear of such attacks,” said Daniel Eyre.
     

    January 08, 2015

    Amnesty International has learned that the imprisoned Saudi Arabian activist Raif Badawi will be flogged in public after Friday prayers tomorrow in front of al-Jafali mosque in Jeddah.

    Raif Badawi was sentenced to 10 years in prison, 1,000 lashes and a fine of 1 million Saudi Arabian riyals (about US$266,600) last year for creating an online forum for public debate and accusations that he insulted Islam. According to information obtained by Amnesty International, Raif Badawi will receive up to 50 lashes tomorrow, while the rest of the full sentence of 1,000 lashes will be carried out over a period of 20 weeks.

    January 07, 2015

    Sri Lankan authorities must hold to account those who threatened three prominent activists with death today and ensure that tomorrow’s presidential elections passes without further violence, Amnesty International said.

    Opposition campaigners Brito Fernando, Phillip Dissanayake and Prasanga Fernando – who are all well-known human rights defenders active with families of the “disappeared” – today received phone calls from unknown people who threatened them with death. Prasanga Fernando was told the three should “make your funeral arrangements at your homes”.

    “These death threats against activists who have been peacefully defending human rights are utterly deplorable. The Sri Lankan authorities must do their utmost to find and hold to account those responsible, and send a clear signal that threats and violence around the elections will not be tolerated,” said David Griffiths, Amnesty International’s Deputy Asia Pacific Director.

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