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    January 27, 2016

    Today’s appeal court ruling upholding a two-year prison sentence for five activists, who were convicted of allegedly taking part in a protest last year, is yet another example of the unfair and arbitrary nature of Egypt’s criminal justice system, Amnesty International said.

    Surgeon and poet Ahmed Said was among the five activists who were arrested and jailed in November 2015 for allegedly taking part in a protest. However, according to defence lawyers working on the case, there is no evidence proving that the protest, as stated in the National Security Agency’s investigations report, actually took place.

    The report is based on the investigations of a single National Security Agency officer, but at least two of the activists say they were tortured and ill-treated during interrogation. Some of the offences for which they were convicted, such as assembling without a permit, are in themselves contrary to international standards as they criminalize the exercise of protected human rights, while others, such as disrupting traffic, were unfounded.

    January 14, 2016

    A series of bomb blasts and shootings that rocked Jakarta this morning have killed at least seven people, five of whom were suspected attackers. The armed group calling itself Islamic State (IS) has reportedly claimed responsibility.

    In response to the attacks Josef Benedict, Amnesty International Southeast Asia and Pacific Deputy Campaigns Director, said:

    “Today’s attack shows an utter disregard for the right to life. This is sadly not the first time Indonesians have seen their loved ones killed in horrific attacks by extremist groups who use bloodshed to further their despicable aims.

    "The Indonesian authorities must conduct a prompt, impartial and thorough investigation into the attack and ensure that all those involved in planning and carrying out this attack are brought to justice in fair trials without the recourse to the death penalty.

    January 12, 2016

    The arrest of Samar Badawi, a prominent human rights defender, is the latest example of Saudi Arabia’s utter contempt for its human rights obligations and provides further damning proof of the authorities’ intent to suppress all signs of peaceful dissent, said Amnesty International.

    Read Samar Badawi's blog:  "My Husband is in Prison for Supporting Human Rights in Saudi Arabia"

    January 08, 2016

    More than 100 Syrian refugees have been forcibly returned to Syria by the Lebanese authorities today, Amnesty International has learned.  Around 150 others are still stranded at Beirut’s Rafic Hariri International Airport and are at risk of imminent deportation in the coming hours. The authorities are reportedly planning to force them to leave on the next flight at 9:30pm local time.

    The refugees had arrived in Beirut on flights from Syria with the intention of travelling on to Turkey. They were due to depart on 7 January but were unable to leave as two Turkish Airlines flights were cancelled ahead of new visa regulations for Syrian refugees imposed by the Turkish authorities that came into force today restricting access to the country.

    December 18, 2015

    Jordan must not deport the approximately 800 Sudanese asylum-seekers currently being held near Queen Ali International Airport in Amman, Amnesty International said today. The asylum-seekers were taken from outside UNHCR’s office in the capital Amman in the early hours of Wednesday morning and transferred to an industrial area by the airport.

    “It is an absolute disgrace that Jordan is about to deport these asylum-seekers back to a country where they will be at real risk of human rights violations and their lives will potentially be in danger,” said Francesca Pizzutelli, Researcher in Amnesty International’s Refugee and Migrants Rights Team.

    “Most of these people have fled from Darfur, where they would face a real risk of persecution, brutal repression and other human right violations by the Sudanese government in the region.

    December 17, 2015

    The international community must take urgent steps to address the political crisis in Burundi and restore full respect for human rights as the country moves dangerously to the brink of civil war, said Amnesty International following a special session of the United Nations Human Rights Council.

    The organization described the adoption of a resolution to send a team of international experts to Burundi to investigate the violence and recommend solutions as an important first step, and called for an intensified focus on human rights violations.

    "There is no time to delay - Burundi is facing a human rights crisis”, said Sarah Jackson, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.

    “There is an urgent need for a redoubling of efforts to resolve the political crisis in Burundi, and the international community must act vigorously by supporting the urgent mission of independent experts to investigate crimes under international law and human rights violations as soon as possible. Burundi must receive the mission without delay.”

    December 16, 2015

    Authorities in Viet Nam must immediately and unconditionally release human rights lawyer Nguyễn Vãn Ðài, who has been detained on charges of “spreading propaganda against the state” shortly after the EU-Viet Nam Human Rights dialogue was held in the capital Ha Noi, Amnesty International said today.

    According to a statement by the Ministry of Public Security, Nguyễn Vãn Ðài was taken into police custody on Wednesday and charged under Article 88 of the Penal Code, which has frequently been used to imprison peaceful activists and human rights defenders. A search warrant was issued for his house in Ha Noi. The arrest comes a month before the once every five years National Congress of the Communist Party of Viet Nam which is often preceded by a crackdown on dissent.

    December 16, 2015

    Protesters have been labelled ‘terrorists’ by Ethiopian authorities in an attempt to violently suppress protests against potential land seizures, which have already resulted in 40 deaths, said Amnesty International.

    A statement issued by state intelligence services today claims that the Oromia protesters were planning to “destabilize the country” and that some of them have a “direct link with a group that has been collaborating with other proven terrorist parties”.

    “The suggestion that these Oromo - protesting against a real threat to their livelihoods - are aligned to terrorists will have a chilling effect on freedom of expression for rights activists,” said Muthoni Wanyeki, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.

    “Instead of condemning the unlawful killings by the security forces, which have seen the deaths of more than 40 people in the last three weeks, this statement in effect authorizes excessive use of force against peaceful protesters.”

    December 15, 2015

    The shooting of members of a Shi’ite religious group in Zaria, Kaduna state, by the Nigerian army must be urgently investigated said Amnesty International today, and anyone found responsible for unlawful killings must be brought to justice.

    “Whilst the final death toll is unclear, there is no doubt that there has been a substantial loss of life at the hands of the military,” said M.K. Ibrahim, Director of Amnesty International, Nigeria.

    “Firearms should only be used as a last resort, if strictly unavoidable in order to protect life. It is crucial that the authorities refrain from using excessive force and ensure that anyone responsible for unlawful killings is brought to justice in fair trials.”

    As well as the loss of life, security forces arrested many members of Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN), including the leader of the group, Ibraheem Zakzaky, who was picked up at his residence on Sunday morning and remains in detention. It is unclear if he has access to a lawyer. Reports suggest that the dead and injured were taken to the military hospital and to the university teaching hospital.

    December 09, 2015

    Today’s conditional release of Leyla Yunus, one of Azerbaijan’s most prominent human rights defenders, should be followed by immediately and unconditionally setting all prisoners of conscience free, Amnesty International said.  

    “This is a step in the right direction that will send a crucial message of hope on the eve of International Human Rights Day. It should open the door to unconditional freedom, not just for Leyla Yunus, but all prisoners of conscience in Azerbaijan,” said Denis Krivosheev, Deputy Europe and Central Asia Program Director at Amnesty International.

    “Azerbaijani authorities must now quash all charges against Leyla Yunus and her husband Arif and remove any conditions attached to her release.”

    Leyla and Arif Yunus were convicted on 13 August 2015 for “fraud” and other purported crimes related to their NGO work. They faced prison sentences of eight and seven-and-a-half years, respectively. Arif Yunus was released on medical grounds on 12 November.

    December 07, 2015

    Russia’s jailing of a peaceful opposition activist for violating the country’s new law on public assemblies is a shocking and cynical attack on freedom of expression, Amnesty International said today.

    Ildar Dadin was sentenced to three years in jail by a Moscow court for repeated anti-government street protests. He is the first person to be jailed using the law, which was introduced in 2014 and punishes repeated breaches of public assembly rules.

    “The shocking sentencing of Ildar Dadin shows that the Russian authorities are using the law on public assemblies to fast-track peaceful protesters to prison,” said John Dalhuisen, Europe and Central Asia Director at Amnesty International.

    “This cynical move shows that compared to the drawn out criminal proceedings against peaceful protesters in the past, the authorities have now created a shortcut for imprisoning activists. It is more dangerous to be a peaceful activist in Russia than at any time in recent years.”

    The recent changes to Russia’s draconian law on public assemblies criminalize anyone found to have violated the law more than twice within 180 days.

    December 03, 2015

    In the past 24 hours, judges in two states in northern Mexico have released torture victims who have spent years in prison away from their families and young children, providing hope for justice in countless similar cases of people tortured and detained unfairly, Amnesty International said today.

    Bus driver and father of four Adrián Vásquez was released in the early morning of 2 December from prison near Tijuana, more than three years after he was arrested and tortured by state police and accused of being a high-level drug trafficker.

    Just hours later, Cristel Piña, a 25-year-old mother of two, was released from a prison in Ciudad Juárez, more than two years after being arrested and brutally beaten and tortured with sexual violence until she agreed to confess on videotape to extortion. Amnesty International campaigned for both of these survivors of torture.

    November 30, 2015

    “Reports of Turkey rounding up and detaining over a thousand refugees in the west of the country are alarming but not surprising.

    Ever since September, we have seen the Turkish authorities detaining scores of refugees, often completely incommunicado, and forcibly returning them to neighbouring Syria and Iraq.

    This is as illegal as it is unconscionable. In the wake of this weekend’s EU-Turkey migration talks, it’s a stain on the EU’s conscience too,” said Andrew Gardner, Amnesty International’s Turkey Researcher.

     

    For more comment, please contact Elizabeth Berton-Hunter, Media Relations 416-363-9933 ext 332 bberton-hunter@amnesty.ca

    November 26, 2015

    Venezuela must urgently investigate the killing of an opposition politician or risk further political violence in the country ahead of the upcoming parliamentary elections, said Amnesty International.

    “The killing of Luis Manuel Díaz provides a terrifying view of the state of human rights in Venezuela. Unless authorities are decisive in investigating this tragedy and bringing those responsible to justice, the door will be wide open to more violence,” said Marcos Gómez, Director at Amnesty International Venezuela.

    Luis Manuel Díaz, leader of the Democratic Action party in Guarico in Central Venezuela was shot dead during a public meeting.

    Opposition candidates and human rights activists have reported other attacks and intimidation during the electoral campaign.

    Parliamentary elections will be held on 6 December.

     

    For further information contact John Tackaberry, Media Relations
    (613)744-7667 #236 jtackaberry@amnesty.ca

    November 19, 2015

    The decision by Rio de Janeiro State Public Prosecutor’s Office to prosecute the killing of a 10-year-old boy in a favela earlier this year is a positive sign towards ensuring the external oversight of police actions, Amnesty International said today.

    Eduardo de Jesus Ferreira, who was black, was shot in the head during a police operation in Alemão complex, one of the city’s largest favelas, on 2 April this year.

    “The circumstances surrounding young Eduardo’s death could become a watershed moment in the fight against impunity and this is an important step by the Public Prosecutor to ensure external oversight over police actions,” said Átila Roque, Executive Director of Amnesty International Brazil.

    “This is crucial when we are talking about a police force that has killed more than 1,000 people between 2014 and 2015 in alleged confrontations. Transparency in this investigation will be a way to protect everyone.”

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