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    May 12, 2016

    The Syrian government’s refusal today to allow a sorely needed humanitarian aid convoy into the town of Daraya is a cruel reality check of the suffering of thousands of civilians besieged there since 2012, Amnesty International said.

    The cancellation of the delivery was followed by mortar shelling of Daraya by government forces, killing a father and his son and injuring at least five other civilians. The delivery would have been the first since the siege began more than three years ago but was eventually cancelled after Syrian government forces held it up for some seven hours outside Daraya. It included medical and educational items and baby milk but, critically, did not include food. 

    “Not only was the limited aid long overdue, and it excluded food, the number one need for thousands of civilians, but it was blocked and then followed by what appears to have been indiscriminate shelling, killing and injuring civilians,” said Neil Sammonds, Amnesty International’s Researcher on Syria.

    May 11, 2016

    The Polish government is today putting before parliament an anti-terrorism bill to consolidate power in the hands of the Polish Internal Security Agency (ISA). In its bid to have the new law in place by 1 June 2016, the government has failed to seek input from human rights or other civil society organizations. In response to the proposed bill, Julia Hall, Amnesty International’s expert on counterterrorism and human rights, said:

    “The Polish government is trying to rush through a dangerous anti-terrorism bill that would give seemingly unlimited powers to its intelligence services without allowing for democratic oversight of its operations. The Polish parliament must reject this bill and call for an effective oversight mechanism to be put in place with a view to ensuring that human rights are protected."

    The bill includes provisions for banning assemblies and public protests, as well as long pre-trial detention periods and discriminatory measures targeting foreigners in Poland. It will also give the ISA new powers to access data held by virtually every government agency and private companies. 

    May 10, 2016

    The execution of Motiur Rahman Nizami today is a deplorable move by the Bangladeshi authorities which will not deliver justice to the victims of war crimes, Amnesty International said today.

    Motiur Rahman Nizami, the current chief of Bangladeshi political party Jamaat-e-Islami, was hanged at Dhaka Central Jail today. He was sentenced to death by the International Crimes Tribunal (ICT) in Bangladesh in October 2014 after he was convicted of charges relating murder, torture, rape and the mass killing of intellectuals during Bangladesh’s War of Independence in 1971.

    “We are dismayed that Bangladeshi authorities have executed Motiur Rahman Nizami. The victims of the horrific events of the 1971 Liberation War are entitled to justice, but taking another life is not the answer,” said Champa Patel, Amnesty International’s Director of the South Asia Regional Office

    May 05, 2016

    Responding to Uganda’s Minister of Information and National Guidance, Maj-Gen Jim Muhwezi’s ban on live broadcast media coverage of the opposition Forum for Democratic Change’s activities, Amnesty International issued the following quote.

    “The Ugandan government’s decision to ban live broadcast coverage of the opposition Forum for Democratic Change’s activities, although manifestly unlawful, fits the now depressingly familiar pattern of restricting freedom of expression in a bid to muzzle opposition voices,” said Sarah Jackson, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.

    “The ban announced by Minister Muhwezi aims to restrict completely lawful activities and this is unacceptable. It has no basis in Ugandan law, and is in blatant violation of the myriad regional and international human rights standards to which Uganda is bound.”

    For further information contact 

    Aden Seaton or Sarah French 613-744-7667 ext 263

    May 05, 2016

    The Bangladeshi authorities should halt the imminent execution of Motiur Rahman Nizami and impose a moratorium on the death penalty, Amnesty International said after the country’s Supreme Court rejected his final appeal today.

    Motiur Rahman Nizami, the current chief of Bangladeshi political party Jamaat-e-Islami, was sentenced to death by the International Crimes Tribunal (ICT) in Bangladesh in October 2014. He was convicted of murder, rape and the mass killing of intellectuals during Bangladesh’s War of Independence in 1971.

    “We are dismayed that the Supreme Court has upheld the conviction and death sentence against Motiur Rahman Nizami. The victims of the horrific events of the 1971 Liberation War deserve justice, but the death penalty is not the answer,” said Jameen Kaur, Amnesty International’s Campaigns Director for South Asia.

    “Taking another life will just perpetuate the cycle of violence. We urge the Bangladeshi authorities to halt this execution immediately, and impose a moratorium on the implementation of the death penalty with a view to its eventual repeal.”

     

    May 04, 2016

    Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani should not sign execution orders, Amnesty International said today.

    “By hastily seeking retribution for the horrific bombings that killed over 64 people in Kabul last month, the government of Afghanistan’s plans to execute those convicted of terror offences will neither bring the victims the justice they deserve, nor Afghanistan the security it needs,” said Jameen Kaur, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for South Asia.

    “There is no evidence that the death penalty serves as a deterrent, and there are fears that it will only serve to perpetuate a cycle of violence without tackling any of the root causes.”

    “The death penalty is a cruel and irreversible punishment. In a context where there are very serious questions about the fairness and transparency of the legal process, the use of torture by security forces to extract confessions, and the narrow window for appeal, there is a particular risk of mistakes being made that cannot be corrected.”

    May 03, 2016

    The convictions of three Filipino nationals on charges of espionage were yesterday upheld by Qatar’s Court of Cassation. The Court upheld one life term and two sentences of 15 years’ imprisonment.

    James Lynch, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle and North Africa programme, said:

    “The court’s decision to uphold the convictions of these three men, after an unfair trial in which the authorities totally failed to investigate credible allegations of torture, is the latest demonstration of the deep flaws in Qatar’s criminal justice system, particularly as regards its treatment of migrant workers”.

    “The authorities should immediately announce a full investigation into these men’s torture allegations and review the way these trials have been conducted. All torture-tainted evidence must be excluded.”

    “This case speaks volumes about the sincerity of the government’s stated commitment to extend justice to migrant workers.”

    Background

    April 29, 2016

    The government of North Korea must immediately disclose all details in the court case of U.S. citizen Kim Dong-chul, who was sentenced to 10 years’ hard labour for “spying,” in what appears to be yet another politically motivated decision, said Amnesty International today.

    Kim, a 62-year-old who was born in South Korea, is the latest foreigner to be sentenced to hard labour.

    “The timing of this sentence, amid increasing international tension, calls into question the motivation behind the proceedings. The judicial system is notoriously political, and foreign nationals in particular are very unlikely to receive a fair trial in the country, but few other details have been made public,” said Arnold Fang, East Asia Researcher of Amnesty International.

    “This entire trial has been shrouded in secrecy, and the North Korean authorities must present the evidence for these alleged crimes and make court proceedings fully transparent, so that the international community can see whether a fair trial took place. Otherwise, questions about these convictions will continue.”

    April 29, 2016

    A court ruling that allows the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) to continue to keep 16 soldiers detained raises further serious concerns about their ability to have a fair trial, Amnesty International said today, following a decision announced by the Lesotho Court of Appeal. 

    The Appeals Court turned down a request by the soldiers to be placed under “open arrest”, a form of military bail, after they challenged their ongoing detention under “closed arrest” since May and June 2015.

    The High Court had previously ordered that the men be released on “open arrest” but the LDF, who are detaining the men in Maseru Maximum Security Prison, did not comply with the ruling. Today’s ruling by the Court of Appeals thereby overruled the earlier High Court decision. 

    “Today’s decision by the Lesotho Court of Appeal to deny bail to 16 soldiers who have been held in maximum security since June last year raises serious questions about the Lesotho’s justice system,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Director for Southern Africa.

    April 29, 2016

    The death of another refugee in an Australian-run detention centre on Nauru demonstrates the fatal flaws of a system that must be brought to an end, Amnesty International said today.

    “The desperate actions of this refugee underscore the perilous circumstances found in offshore processing centres run by the Australian government. As Amnesty International has been stressing for several years now, the current system is cruel, inhuman and needs to end,” said Champa Patel, Amnesty International’s Senior Research Adviser for South East Asia and the Pacific.

    A 23-year-old Iranian man known as Omid died in hospital in Brisbane, Australian officials confirmed, after reportedly being held for three years at the Australian-run facility on the Pacific island of Nauru. Omid had been granted refugee status. 

    “We have received reports of rape, sexual harassment and physical and psychological abuse at these centres, and this most recent death is another sad example of how Australia is letting down some of the world’s most vulnerable people,” said Champa Patel.

    April 27, 2016

    Thailand’s military government is brazenly seeking to shut down debate ahead of a referendum on a draft constitution, Amnesty International said today.

    At least a dozen Facebook commenters have been detained or charged on 27 April under a draconian new Order issued by the head of the military government. The arrests come after they commented on the controversial draft of a new constitution Thailand’s military government is seeking to impose.

    The Facebook users who were charged under the law now face up to 10 years in prison and a fine of 200,000 baht ($5,715).

    “If ordinary people cannot comment on a Facebook post without facing the threat of 10 years behind bars and a hefty fine, what hope is there for any open and honest debate on the military government’s draft constitution?” said Josef Benedict, Amnesty International’s Director of Campaigns for South East Asia.

    April 25, 2016

    "The brutal killing today of an editor of an LGBTI publication and his friend, days after a university professor was hacked to death, underscores the appalling lack of protection being afforded to a range of peaceful activists in the country,” said Champa Patel, Amnesty International’s South Asia Director.

    “There have been four deplorable killings so far this month alone. It is shocking that no one has been held to account for these horrific attacks and that almost no protection has been given to threatened members of civil society. Bangladeshi authorities have a legal responsibility to protect and respect the right to life. They must urgently focus their energies on protecting those who express their opinions bravely and without violence, and bringing the killers to justice. The authorities must strongly condemn these horrific attacks, something they have failed to do so far.”                                      

    April 24, 2016

     

    TAKE ACTION: 43 Student Teachers and 27,000+ Others Missing in Mexico

    A damning report by an independent group of experts into the enforced disappearance of 43 Mexican students in September 2014 is yet another dark stain in the Mexican government's atrocious human rights record, said Amnesty International.

     The report, by an independent group of experts (GIEI) appointed by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, contradicts the official version of events and criticizes the Mexican government's investigation to date.

    April 22, 2016

    Responding to FIFA's announcement of a new oversight body to monitor working conditions on stadiums for the 2022 World Cup Mustafa Qadri, Amnesty International's Gulf Migrants Rights Researcher said: 

    “Finally it appears FIFA is waking up to the fact that unless it takes concrete action, the Qatar 2022 World Cup will be built on the blood, sweat and tears of migrant workers. 

    “The announcement of an oversight body and Infantino's admission that FIFA must take human rights seriously are welcome steps in the right direction. Amnesty has already exposed human rights abuses on the Khalifa stadium and the surrounding Aspire Green Zone which need addressing right now. These cases also demonstrate the need to ensure FIFA's human rights monitoring is not limited just to stadiums but includes all other activities linked to the tournament.” 

     

    For more information please call Elizabeth Berton-Hunter, Media Relations. 416-36-9933 ext 332 bberton-hunter@amnesty.ca

    April 21, 2016

    The confirmation of the use of torture by Indonesia’s security forces by Indonesia’s chief of police is an unprecedented turnaround after more than a decade of stubborn denial of this practice, said Amnesty International today.

    In a rare admission, General Badrodin Haiti, the chief of Indonesia’s police, confirmed that members of the elite Detachment-88 counter-terrorism unit kicked an alleged terrorism suspect in the chest, breaking his ribs, and causing his heart to fail.

    “General Badrodin Haiti’s unprecedented admission is a major turnaround in the country’s persistent public denial that torture is rife in Indonesia,” said Josef Benedict, Amnesty International’s Director of Campaigns for South-East Asia.

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