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    July 02, 2015

    A shocking U-turn on a Brazilian Parliamentary decision that rejected lowering the age at which young people can be tried as adults and sent to appalling conditions in adult prisons risks endangering the safety and lives of millions of young people across the country, said Amnesty International.

    Last night, the President of the Brazilian House of Representatives, Eduardo Cunha, called for a new vote on a proposal to lower the age of criminal responsibility from 18 to 16 years old. The proposal had already been rejected by the lower chamber of Parliament earlier in the day.

    "The Brazilian Parliament is treading on dangerous ground. Eduardo Cunha threw parliamentary procedures on their head by reintroducing nearly the same proposal less than 24 hours after it was voted down. This sets a very dangerous precedent,” said Atila Roque, Executive Director at Amnesty International Brazil.

    July 01, 2015

    In a shocking revelation, the UK’s Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT) today notified Amnesty International that UK government agencies had spied on the organization by intercepting, accessing and storing its communications.

    In an email sent today, the Tribunal informed Amnesty International its 22 June ruling had mistakenly identified one of two NGOs which it found had been subjected to unlawful surveillance by the UK government. Today’s communication makes clear that it was actually Amnesty International Ltd, and not the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) that was spied on in addition to the Legal Resources Centre in South Africa.

    The NGOs were among 10 organizations that launched a legal challenge against suspected unlawful mass surveillance of their work by the UK’s spy agencies.

    July 01, 2015

    The Chinese government must immediately repeal a new national security law that gives the authorities sweeping powers to crack down on and suppress human rights, Amnesty International said.

    China's legislature today passed the law which defines "national security" in broad and vague terms, covering areas including politics, culture, finance and the internet.

    "The definition of 'national security' under the law is virtually limitless. The law gives a blank cheque to the government to punish and monitor anyone it does not like - human rights activists, government critics and other opposition voices," said Nicholas Bequelin, Amnesty International's Regional Director for East Asia.

    "The law clearly has more to do with protecting the Communist Party's control of the country than with national security. The leadership of the Party and its monopoly on political power is explicitly listed as being part of 'national security' in the law."

    June 26, 2015

    Amnesty International USA release

    The Supreme Court of the United States today delivered a historic ruling affirming the right of same-sex couples across the country to legally marry.

    “This is a joyous day not just for loving and committed same-sex couples, but for everyone who believes in human rights and equality for all,” said Steven W. Hawkins, executive director of Amnesty International USA.

    “The ability to marry the partner of your choice and raise a family is a human right enshrined in international law. While much work remains to be done to ensure that all forms of discrimination against LGBT people are eliminated once and for all, this long-awaited and significant decision affirms that same-sex couples and their families deserve the same respect and recognition as anyone else.”

     

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

    June 16, 2015

    By sentencing Egypt’s former President Mohamed Morsi and 102 others, including senior Muslim Brotherhood members, to death today, the Egyptian authorities have once again demonstrated the appalling state of the country’s justice system, Amnesty International said.

    “This appalling outcome is sadly not surprising. It’s just another symptom of how horrendously broken Egypt’s justice system has become,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme.

    “This is nothing more than a vengeful march to the gallows. These entire legal proceedings have been a mockery of justice and the death sentences must be thrown out. Mohamed Morsi and his aides must be released or retried in civilian court in line with Egyptian law and international fair trial standards without recourse to death penalty.”

    June 16, 2015

    The verdict against Sheikh Ali Salman today, sentencing him to four years in prison for inciting disobedience and hatred, demonstrates the Bahraini authorities’ consistent disregard for the right to freedom of expression, said Amnesty International.

    “Today’s verdict is shocking. It is yet another clear example of Bahrain’s flagrant disregard for its international obligations. Sheikh Ali Salman has been sentenced solely for peacefully expressing his opinion,” said Said Boumedouha, Deputy Director of the Middle East and North Africa Program at Amnesty International.

    “For a country that has expressed outrage at criticism of its human rights records, Bahrain has not hesitated to suppress political opposition and muzzle critical voices at every opportunity. The authorities must release Sheikh Ali Salman immediately and unconditionally, and ensure his conviction is quashed.” 

    June 15, 2015

    The South African governments shocking failure to heed to its own court order and arrest Bashir is a betrayal to the hundreds of thousands of victims who were killed during the Darfur conflict, Amnesty International said today. 

    The North Gauteng High Court ruled this afternoon that the South African government’s failure to detain Sudan President Omar al-Bashir was inconsistent with the Constitution and that the government should have arrested him upon his arrival in the country pending a formal request from the ICC. 

    However, he was apparently allowed to leave this morning despite an interim order that he be prevented his departure. 

    “South Africa’s role was clear from the day president Omar Al-Bashir touched down in the country – he should have been arrested and handed over to the ICC to face trial for the war crimes he is alleged to have committed,” said Netsanet Belay, Amnesty International’s Research and Advocacy Director for Africa. 

    June 13, 2015

    South Africa must immediately arrest Sudanese president Omar Al-Bashir and hand him over to the International Criminal (ICC), Amnesty International has said today. Omar Al-Bashir, who is on the wanted list of the court, is reportedly on his way to South Africa to attend the 25th AU Summit currently underway in Johannesburg.

    “Al-Bashir is a fugitive from justice. If the government of President Zuma fails to arrest him, it would have done nothing, save to give succour to a leader who is accused of being complicit in the killing, maiming, torture of hundreds of thousands of people in a conflict that has blighted the lives of millions and destroyed the hopes and aspirations of an entire generation,” said Netsanet Belay, Amnesty International’s Research and Advocacy Director for Africa.

    June 12, 2015

    A legal ruling that will mean the continued incarceration for long-suffering Albert Woodfox piles further injustice on a man who has suffered for decades in solitary confinement, said Amnesty International today.

    On Monday 9 June a federal court ordered the immediate release of Albert Woodfox and denied the state the opportunity to try him again. The state protested that ruling and today the 5th Circuit Court decided to keep Albert Woodfox in detention, until the appeal is heard.  

    “Today’s heartbreaking ruling from the 5th Circuit Court means Albert Woodfox, who has already spent 43 years in prison, faces yet further barriers to his freedom. Amnesty International supporters from all over the world had hoped to rejoice with Albert today as he walked free from incarceration, but his continued detention is a yet another cruel blow for a man who has spent more than 40 years in intolerable solitary confinement,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.

    Albert Woodfox's conviction had already been overturned on three separate occasions.

    June 11, 2015

    The Mombasa High Court ruling issued today barring the Kenyan government from declaring two human rights organizations as terrorist entities is a partial victory for justice over politically motivated intimidation and harassment of civil society, said Amnesty International today. 

    However, despite winning the case, the prominent non-governmental organizations, Haki Africa and Muslims for Human Rights (MUHURI), did not have their bank accounts unfrozen, as they had requested. 

    “Haki Africa and MUHURI are legitimate human rights organizations that should be allowed to freely carry on their work as human rights defenders without fear of harassment or intimidation”, said Muthoni Wanyeki, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes. 

    “The original decision declaring these two groups as having terrorist links was clearly politically motivated. If justice is to be fully served the bank accounts of both organizations must immediately be unfrozen and other regulatory and administrative steps impeding their full operations must be reversed.” 

    June 04, 2015

    The Thai military government’s last minute shutdown of a panel discussion on human rights is a blatant attempt to silence criticism in violation of Thailand’s international legal obligations, Amnesty International said.

    The event, a report launch by the NGO Thai Lawyers for Human Rights, on human rights violations in the year since the 2014 military coup, was today cancelled by Thai authorities at the last minute. Media reports said that authorities claimed the event was “likely to cause disturbance”.

    “Authorities must stop repressing free speech and peaceful assembly in the name of security. The shutting down of this event is a blatant attempt to silence criticism of the authorities and flies in the face of their obligations to respect freedom of expression,” said Rupert Abbott, Amnesty International’s Southeast Asia and Pacific Research Director.

    June 02, 2015

    The killing of nine people, mostly humanitarian workers, in a despicable gun attack in northern Afghanistan last night is an urgent reminder of the need for authorities to increase protection for aid workers, said Amnesty International.

    The attack took place in an NGO guesthouse in the province of Balkh, Zari district, in northern Afghanistan. No-one has yet taken responsibility.

    The aid workers were part of the Czech organization People in Need, which runs rural development projects.

    “Being an aid worker in Afghanistan is an extremely risky business which will only become more dangerous if authorities fail to ensure those responsible for these disgraceful attacks face justice,” said Horia Mosadiq, Afghanistan Researcher at Amnesty International.

    “The latest attack must be urgently investigated and those responsible brought to justice. Anything less will send the message that aid workers are a fair target.”

    May 21, 2015

     

    The dropping of criminal libel charges against Angolan journalist, Rafael Marques de Morais, by the Luanda Provincial Tribunal is a victory for freedom of expression and human rights in the country, said Amnesty International today. The court dropped all charges after his appearance in court on 21 May 2015.

    Amnesty International calls on the Angolan government to stop further targeting him for doing his work

    “The dropping of the charges against Rafael Marques de Morais is a clear demonstration that there was no case against him as we have been saying from the beginning. As a journalist, whose only crime was to document human rights violations in the country, we believe that he has always been innocent,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International's Regional Director for Southern Africa.

    May 19, 2015

    Today’s passing of the draconian “undesirable organizations” bill is a dark day for freedom of expression and association in Russia, said Amnesty International.

    The bill which passed its third and final reading in the State Duma today, enables the state to ban the activities of foreign or international non-governmental organizations deemed to be undermining “state security”, “national defence” or “constitutional order”. It will also then punish Russian activists and civil society groups for maintaining ties with those “undesirable” organizations.

    The bill needs to be approved by the upper chamber of the Russian parliament and signed into law by the president. This is in practice a mere formality.

    “This legislation is the latest chapter in an unprecedented crackdown against non-governmental organizations which is effectively criminalizing lawful activity and squeezing the life out of free speech and association,” said John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International Director for Europe and Central Asia.

    May 07, 2015

    The US government’s mass surveillance of communications received a major setback today with a court of appeals ruling that the National Security Agency's bulk collection of phone records is illegal, said Amnesty International.

    "For almost two years since the Snowden revelations, the US government has claimed the bulk collection of phone records is legitimate. Today's decision is a sign that the case for mass surveillance programmes is crumbling," said Sherif Elsayed-Ali, Deputy Director of Global Issues at Amnesty International.

    "This is just one of several court challenges questioning the legal basis of the mass surveillance programs pursued by the USA and its allies. This should be the beginning of the end as governments are forced to face facts and admit that their surveillance programs have gone far beyond the remit of the law. This decision should spur Congress to let the sun set on section 215 of the USA Patriot Act which has been used to conduct surveillance far beyond even our worst fears.

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