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    October 09, 2015

    The Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet’s newly awarded Nobel Peace Prize is a fitting tribute to its members’ work in strengthening civil society and human rights in a society still struggling with the legacy of decades of repression and abuse, Amnesty International said today.

    The organization has worked with and spoken out to defend the rights of three of the four Quartet’s members, which have for decades been at the forefront of the fight to defend the human rights of Tunisians.

    “This is an important recognition of the key role that civil society can play in a country emerging from years of dictatorship and human rights violations,” said Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s Secretary General.

    “These organizations were continually threatened by the government before the 2011 uprising, and showed great courage in a climate of repression. In the difficult years since then, they held firm in speaking out for human rights and the rule of law.”

    September 28, 2015

    The Taliban and Afghan security forces must ensure that civilians are protected in accordance with international law and that nobody is targeted in reprisals against their work, Amnesty International said as fighting intensifies in the northern Kunduz province.

    Heavy fighting is ongoing in Kunduz after the Taliban launched a major assault on the provincial capital this morning. There are unconfirmed reports of civilian casualties and the Taliban taking over official buildings, including a public hospital.

    “The Taliban have many times in the past showed their callous disregard for human life and civilians often suffer the brunt of their attacks. As fighting rages in Kunduz, all sides must ensure that civilians and civilian objects are protected according to international humanitarian law, which governs all parties to an armed conflict,” said Horia Mosadiq, Amnesty International’s Afghanistan Researcher.

    “Deliberately targeting civilians not directly participating in hostilities, as well as indiscriminate attacks or disproportionate attacks, would amount to war crimes.”

    September 23, 2015

    Today’s presidential decree granting pardons to 100 people including Al Jazeera journalists Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed and several unlawfully imprisoned activists including Sana Seif and Yara Sallam is welcome news, but represents little more than a token gesture, said Amnesty International.

    The organization said the pardons, made ahead of the Muslim Eid holiday, should be followed by further action to seriously address the appalling human rights record under President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, including the intolerance of peaceful dissent and criticism of the authorities.

    “While these pardons come as a great relief, it is ludicrous that some of these people were ever behind bars in the first place. Hundreds remain behind bars for protesting or because of their journalistic work. All those jailed for peacefully exercising their right to freedom of expression, assembly and association or because of their journalistic or human rights work must have their convictions quashed and be immediately and unconditionally released,” said Said Boumedouha, Deputy Middle East and North Africa Director at Amnesty International.

    September 21, 2015

    Security forces in Nepal must refrain from using excessive force against protestors, Amnesty International said after at least twenty protesters were shot when security forces opened fire on several demonstrations against the country’s new constitution.

    Force and the use of live ammunition by security forces to contain often violent protests have already claimed more than 40 lives in Nepal since August, most of them protesters.

    Investigations by Nepal’s National Human Rights Commission and civil society, including Amnesty International, have found that in many of the protest-related deaths, the force used by security forces was excessive, disproportionate or unnecessary, contrary to international legal standards.

    “More than 40 people, the majority of them protesters, have been killed in recent weeks. We continue to urge the Nepali authorities to rein in their security forces and prevent them from using excessive force,” said David Griffiths, Research Director for South Asia at Amnesty International.

    September 16, 2015

    At least nine people including at least four children separated from their families by Hungarian police during the breach of a border fence in Röszke must be immediately released and reunited with their families, said Amnesty International today. Their exact whereabouts is unknown but they are thought to have been taken to a nearby border control building.

    September 11, 2015

    The shocking images of scores of refugees and asylum-seekers being thrown food by Hungarian police at a registration centre in Roszke underscores the deplorable conditions facing those being held by the Hungarian authorities, said Amnesty International today.

    The organization is calling for human rights monitors to be granted immediate access to all centres and facilities housing refugees, asylum-seekers and migrants who have recently arrived in Hungary.

    “The image of refugees and asylum-seekers clamouring for food as the police throw parcels of food is truly sickening,” said Barbora Cernusakova, a researcher for Amnesty International.

    “Human rights monitors must be given immediate access to registration centres, and every effort must be made to improve the conditions in which refugees and asylum-seekers are held.”

    Amnesty International staff were refused access to the registration centre in Roszke, Hungary which is featured in the youtube video (see below) which gained global media attention today.

    September 11, 2015

    UN peacekeeper reform will only restore credibility if those who rape and sexually exploit the people they are supposed to protect are brought to trial and punished, Amnesty International said today.

    A report released today by the UN Secretary General on the recommendations of the High Level Independent Panel on Peace Operations includes important recommendations to prevent further sex abuse scandals. These include the creation of rapid response teams, mechanisms for local communities to complain and in-country trials.

    However, the report falls short of calling for an important deterrent - asking the UN Secretary-General’s annual report must include full details about cases, including trials and sentences.

    “Sexual misconduct by UN peacekeepers threatens to discredit the entire UN system if it goes unpunished. Unless people are held to account, other reforms will fade into irrelevance. Every time someone wearing the blue beret commits an abuse and gets away with it, another piece of trust in the UN is chipped away,” said Joanne Mariner, Senior Crisis Response Adviser at Amnesty International.

    September 09, 2015

    Brussels - New proposals announced today by the European Commission to address the global refugee crisis will make steps towards protecting refugees but will not solve it in the long nor short term, said Amnesty International. Responding to the announcement,  Acting Director for Amnesty International’s European Institutions Office, Iverna McGowan said:

    "While the proposals published by the Commission today will help to address the refugee crisis, they certainly will not solve it - neither in the short-term nor the long-term.  EU member states must work with the Commission to implement a much more ambitious overhaul of the EU's asylum system - based on signficantly enhanced assistance to front-line member states to receive and process asylum-seekers and mutual recognition of refugee status within the Union.  Member states should be looking to increase safe routes into the EU, not safe countries to send them back to."

    September 06, 2015

    A new report by a group of experts from the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights on the investigation of the disappearance of 43 students in Guerrero, Mexico, uncovers the authorities’ utter incompetence and lack of will to find the students and bring those responsible to justice, said Amnesty International.

    “The revelation by the group of experts of the inconsistencies in the official theory that the students were incinerated in a dumpster highlights the need to urgently redirect investigations,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.

    “Mexico is going through one of the worst human rights crisis of the last decades. The catalogue of failures in the search and investigation over the disappearance of the 43 students that the experts have reported is a massive stain on the Mexican government’s reputation, which they can only begin to reverse if they find those responsible.”

    September 04, 2015

    Maldives authorities must promptly and thoroughly investigate the brutal stabbing in broad daylight today of one of the lawyers of ex-President Mohamed Nasheed and bring to justice those responsible for it, Amnesty International said.

    Mahfooz Saeed, who is also a member of the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) and an active blogger, was attacked by two men in the Maldivian capital Male today around 5pm local time. The men stabbed him in his head, and he is currently going through emergency surgery. The police must undertake a full, impartial and independent investigation, using all available information including any footage from nearby CCTV cameras.

    “This vicious attack must not go unpunished – Maldives authorities must ensure that human rights defenders can work free from fear of reprisals and that those responsible are held to account. There are strong suspicions that this was a targeted attack against Mahfooz Saeed and it is crucial that the true motive is uncovered,” said Abbas Faiz, Amnesty International’s Maldives Researcher.

    September 01, 2015

    Responding to news that three journalists from Vice News have been charged and remanded in pre-trial detention, Amnesty International’s Turkey researcher Andrew Gardner said:

    “Amnesty International calls on the Turkish authorities to release immediately three VICE News journalists. The three were remanded in pre-trial detention late on Monday night on the charge of ‘committing a crime in the name of an illegal organisation’.

    “They were detained after filming clashes between youths and police in southeastern Turkey. The detentions smack of a blatant case of punishing legitimate journalism using anti-terrorism laws.” 

     

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

    September 01, 2015

    The acquittal of two journalists in Thailand -  on trial for reproducing parts of an article on human trafficking – is a welcome move for freedom of expression, but the two should never have had to stand trial in the first place, Amnesty International said.

    The online news outlet Phuketwan’s editor Alan Morison and reporter Chutima Sidasathian were today found not guilty of for criminal defamation and for violating a provision of the Computer Crime Act. The measure penalizes importing forged or false digital information in a manner likely to cause harm to a third party or the public.

    The charges – brought following a complaint by the Thai Royal Navy - stem from one paragraph copied from a Pulitzer Prize-winning article by Reuters, that examined Thailand's role in the trafficking of Rohingya migrants, published in 2013.

    August 26, 2015

    The signing of a peace agreement today by the Government of South Sudan is an important and vital step in ending the violence and addressing the massive human suffering in South Sudan. Amnesty International reiterates its call for both parties to embrace an unequivocal commitment to accountability for atrocities committed during the conflict to ensure a lasting peace.  

    “Both sides must uphold the terms of the peace deal in order to ensure that immediate steps are taken to bring those responsible for crimes under international law to trial and provide full reparations to victims,” said Sarah Jackson, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes. 

    August 26, 2015

    Behrouz Alkhani, a 30-year-old man from Iran’s Kurdish minority, was executed early this morning local time, said Amnesty International, despite the fact that he was awaiting the outcome of a Supreme Court appeal.

    The organization has also learned that the authorities have so far refused to return Behrouz Alkhani’s body to his family.

    “Today's execution of Behrouz Alkhani, who was still waiting for the outcome of a Supreme Court appeal against his sentence, is a vicious act of cruelty by the Iranian authorities and a denigration of both Iranian and international law. It is appalling that they have imposed further pain and suffering on Behrouz Alkhani’s family by refusing to return his body for burial," said Said Boumedouha, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme.

    August 25, 2015

    Behrouz Alkhani, a 30-year-old man from Iran’s Kurdish minority has been transferred out of Oroumieh prison’s general ward and placed in solitary confinement in preparation for his execution tomorrow, despite the fact that he’s still awaiting the outcome of a Supreme Court appeal, said Amnesty International.

    “The Iranian authorities must urgently halt Behrouz Alkhani’s execution. Carrying out a death sentence while a prisoner is awaiting the outcome of his appeal is a serious violation of both Iranian and international law, and is an affront to justice,” said Said Boumedouha, Deputy Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Amnesty International.

    “Behrouz Alkhani faced a grossly unfair trial where basic safeguards such as the right to access a lawyer were ignored. He also says he was tortured and otherwise ill-treated in custody. The authorities must immediately stop this execution and grant him a fair retrial, in proceedings that are in line with international standards, without delay.

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