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Public statements

    May 17, 2019

    Responding to the news that lawmakers in Taiwan have passed a law that will see the island become the first place in Asia to legalize same-sex marriage, effective from 24 May, Annie Huang, Acting Director of Amnesty International Taiwan, said:

    “Taiwan has today made history in the fight for equality for LGBTI people. Love has won over hate, and equality has won over discrimination. This is a moment to cherish and celebrate, but it has been a long and arduous campaign for Taiwan to become the first in Asia to legalize same-sex marriage.

    “We hope this landmark vote will generate waves across Asia and offer a much-needed boost in the struggle for equality for LGBTI people in the region.

    “We are filled with pride and joy that from next Friday same-sex couples in Taiwan will be able to marry and finally have their love and relationships recognized as equal under the law. But the Taiwanese government must not stop here; it needs to act to eliminate all forms of discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation, gender identities and intersex status.”

    Background

    May 16, 2019

    Amnesty International’s goal is to ensure that the human rights of everyone, everywhere are respected, protected, and upheld. We conduct research and generate action to prevent and halt human rights violations and demand justice for those whose rights have been violated.

    Amnesty International recognizes that lesbian, gay, transgender, queer, and two-spirit (LGBTQ2S), Indigenous, Black, and other people of colour in Canada and around the world disproportionately experience human rights violations perpetrated by the police, state actors, and non-state actors because of systems of oppression.

    State and police violence against LGBTQ2S, Indigenous, Black, and other people of colour violate the right to life; the rights to liberty and security of the person; the right to safety and to live free from violence  and discrimination; the rights to protest, freedom of expression, freedom of association, and peaceful assembly; and the right to live free from torture and other cruel and inhuman treatment.

    May 10, 2019
    Partnership Agreement on Caribou Protection in Northeast BC

    “When caribou disappear, a piece of our culture disappears and we lose a little bit of who we are as the Indigenous people of the area.” - Chief Roland Willson, West Moberly First Nations

    A Partnership Agreement between First Nations and the federal and provincial governments is an important opportunity to take practical steps to recover endangered caribou populations in British Columbia and take meaningful action on reconciliation.

    In the face of a public backlash characterized by racism and bigotry, Amnesty International is urging Premier John Horgan and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to be resolute in fulfilling their commitments and obligations, including recovery of endangered species, reconciliation with First Nations, and combatting racism, by seeing the Partnership Agreement on Caribou Recovery through to implementation.

    May 09, 2019

    Responding to the news that Gambia’s President Adama Barrow has commuted the death sentences of 22 prisoners to life imprisonment, Marie-Evelyne Petrus Barry, Amnesty International West and Central Africa Regional Director-who met with the Gambian President last week- said:

    “The President’s commutation of these death sentences to life imprisonment is an important milestone for Gambia which is slowly and steadily moving away from the death penalty.

    “Less than a week ago, Amnesty International met with President Adama Barrow who confirmed to us his commitment to outlaw this cruel punishment – it’s good to see him take another concrete step against the death penalty.

    “This decision is a positive step, however we want the authorities to go further by abolishing the death penalty for all crimes without delay, including in the country’s future constitution.

    “We also hope they will implement our recommendations to repeal draconian media laws, reform the security sector and end discrimination against women.”

    Background

    May 09, 2019

    This article was originally published in the Toronto Star.

    By Justin Mohammed

    Refugee claimants who cross the Canada-U.S. border irregularly do not reach that decision lightly. Upon doing so, they are arrested and temporarily detained until police establish their identity and ensure they aren’t a security threat. Possessions are restricted to those that they can carry. The route can be dangerous; frostbite has claimed fingers, and hypothermia has even claimed a life. After the refugee protection claim is launched, they remain in limbo for months or years without a guarantee they will be allowed to stay.

    This is what refugee claimants coming through the U.S. weigh when they decide to seek Canada’s protection.

    In spite of this, the federal government has decided to tighten its borders, further targeting refugee claimants who seek Canada’s protection by travelling through the U.S.

    May 06, 2019

    Responding to news that the Polish authorities detained an activist, Elżbieta Podlesna for several hours, on suspicion of offending religious beliefs, Amnesty International’s Regional Europe Researcher, Barbora Cernusakova, said:

    “We are extremely concerned to hear that Elżbieta Podlesna, a Polish human rights activist, was arrested and detained for several hours on spurious charges today upon her return to Poland from a trip to Belgium and the Netherlands with Amnesty International.

    Elżbieta is suspected of "offending religious beliefs", after the police claimed that they found copies of a posters depicting the Virgin Mary with a halo around head and shoulders in the colours of the LGBTQ flag in her house when they raided it. The image had been posted around the town of Płock at the end of April.

    May 02, 2019

    Spokespersons available to take media interviews

    Responding to the Uganda Communications Commission’s decision to order 13 radio and TV stations to suspend their news editors, producers and heads of programming, over “incitement” and “misrepresenting information”, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes, Sarah Jackson, said:

    “This order from Uganda’s communications commission represents a blatant attack on press freedom and a lamentable tendency towards state censorship. The Ugandan authorities must immediately rescind this decision and end the harassment and intimidation of journalists and media houses. Journalists must be allowed to freely do their job.”

    Background

    May 01, 2019

    Authorities in Arkhangelsk Oblast (north-western Russia) have clamped down on peaceful protest against the construction of a dumping site with arrests, bans and heavy fines.

    On 7 April 2019, activists protesting against a landfill site construction project in the locality called Shyes planned a rally at Lenin Square in the centre of the regional capital Arkhangelsk. Regional authorities banned the protest claiming that a sports event was scheduled on that day at the square. They proposed a venue in a remote part of the city far from traffic or official buildings. The protest rally still took place in the original location and thousands of Arkhangelsk residents peacefully marched through the city centre. Police were present but did not intervene. No sporting event took place there at the time.

    April 22, 2019

    The shocking Sunday morning bombing attacks targeting churches and hotels in three cities in Sri Lanka resulting in more than 290 deaths and leaving more than 500 people injured, is yet another grim wake-up to the intolerance and hatred surging through societies across the world, Amnesty International said today.

    “Amnesty International stands in complete solidarity with Sri Lanka in its time of grief and we extend our deepest sympathy to the victims, to their family, friends and communities. Our hearts go out to all the people of Sri Lanka and we call on the authorities to ensure truth and justice prevail to defeat this senseless violence. These horrific attacks are yet another reminder that all of us needs to take a unified stand against hatred,” said Kumi Naidoo, Amnesty International’s Secretary General.

    March 27, 2019

    AMR 34/0128/2019

    Amnesty International is concerned that the authorities are continuing to impose unjustified obstacles and restrictions on the work of human rights defenders in Guatemala.

    On 22 March 2019, the authorities made public criminal charges filed by the President of the Judiciary and the Supreme Court of Justice against the human rights defenders Claudia Samayoa, President of the Board of the Unit for the Protection of Human Rights in Guatemala (UDEFEGUA), and José Manuel Martínez Cabrera, a member of the Justicia Ya collective. The two defenders were accused of illegally obtaining a copy of a decision issued by the Court on 9 January. This decision, which was also circulated on social media and in the media, was the basis of a complaint filed on 17 January 2019 by the two defenders against members of the Supreme Court of Justice, including its President.

    March 26, 2019

    Amnesty International joins others here today in welcoming Vanessa Rodel and her daughter to Canada as refugees resettled through private sponsorship.  It is a happy end to a search for safety that began when Ms. Rodel fled from the Philippines in 2002; and took an entirely unexpected turn in 2013 when, along with five other asylum seekers in Hong Kong, including two children, she was drawn into the effort to provide support and shelter to Edward Snowden. Mr. Snowden was, of course, being actively sought by US authorities for having publicly leaked documents showing the massive extent of US surveillance practices.

    Ms. Rodel, her daughter and the other five individuals have been at risk in Hong Kong ever since that time.  Joining with Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International approached the Canadian government nearly two years ago, in May 2017, urging that private sponsorship applications that been filed for their resettlement to Canada as refugees be approved. 

    March 21, 2019

    Amnesty International welcomes the Federal Court decision on 20 March 2019 striking down the 36-month Pre-Removal Risk Assessment (PRRA) bar for refugee claimants from Designated Countries of Origin (DCO) on constitutional grounds. The court found that the bar violated Section 15 of the Charter, the right to equality and non-discrimination.

    DCO claimants are those whose country of origin is designated by the Minister as a country that is less likely to produce refugees. There are currently 42 countries designated as a DCO, including Mexico, which continues to face an unrelenting human rights crisis in such areas as violence against women, disappearances and torture, and Hungary, where there are well-documented cases, including by Amnesty, of persecution of Roma people.

    March 15, 2019

    The horrific attacks on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, in which shooters killed 49 people and injured at least 48 more, is a devastating reminder of the consequences of letting hatred and demonization go unchecked, Amnesty International said today. The organization’s Secretary General Kumi Naidoo said:

    “This is one of the darkest days in New Zealand’s history. The attackers who unleashed their deadly hatred and racism upon women, men, and children as they took part in Friday prayers has thrown us all into shock and grief.

    “This is also a moment of reckoning for leaders across the world who have encouraged or turned a blind eye to the scourge of Islamophobia. The politics of demonization has today cost 49 people their lives. Reports that the attackers followed a white supremacist manifesto must galvanize world leaders to start standing against this hate-filled ideology.

    February 12, 2019

    In advance of Saskatchewan Court of Appeal hearings on February 13 and 14, in a case brought by the provincial government of Saskatchewan challenging the constitutionality of the federal government’s carbon pricing system, Amnesty International underscores that regardless of constitutional disagreements, federal, provincial and territorial governments equally share binding international human rights obligations to take urgent and effective measures to address climate change. Constitutional arrangements are no excuse for inadequate or delayed action.

    February 07, 2019

    Across Canada, Amnesty International supporters remember and honour Paul Dewar today as a passionate and fiercely committed human rights champion with whom we worked closely on many cases and campaigns. In political life and since, Paul was always unswerving in his advocacy efforts, be it with respect to concerns about the rights of Indigenous peoples, national security laws and gender equality in Canada, or global determination to help free prisoners of conscience, push for effective measures to tackle major human rights challenges like the trade in conflict minerals, and respond to pressing human rights crises in all corners of our world.  And always, what was most important to Paul was to lift up and learn from individuals and communities at the frontlines of human rights struggle, in Canada and around the world. Paul is already deeply missed, but his legacy will live on in the many thousands of people whose lives he touched and whose activism he inspires. As he urged us in his farewell message, we will “keep building a more peaceful and better world for all.”

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