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Public statements

    April 08, 2021

    Amnesty International Canadian Section (English-Speaking) (AICES) respects the privacy of its employees’ personal information and will therefore not make any public comment on human resource matters.

    As human rights advocates, it is unacceptable that Amnesty supporters across our entire movement — from our governance, members, to our staff and volunteers have experienced or witnessed racism at AICES.

    It takes incredible courage to share these difficult experiences and we thank these individuals for coming forward. We take their accounts seriously and unreservedly apologize to all of our colleagues across our organization who have or continue to experience harm and pain. Our mission is to prevent and address racism and discrimination wherever it manifests.

    These issues are not new, and the Board takes full responsibility for our collective failure to hold ourselves accountable. There is more we could have done to address the different layers of individual, systemic and structural instances of racism.  

    March 05, 2021

    Ottawa, ON – Amnesty International welcomes Canada’s decision to request formal negotiations on Syria under the Convention against Torture. 

    “Holding the Syrian government accountable for war crimes, crimes against humanity and torture is a critical step to end a culture of impunity that has plagued the country for years and provides a glimpse of justice for Syrian victims,” said Amnesty International (Canada) Secretary General Ketty Nivyabandi. 

    Amnesty International previously called on Canada to pursue formal negotiations against Syria through the International Court of Justice (ICJ). While the International Court of Justice does not have jurisdiction to try individuals accused of war crimes or crimes against humanity, it can hold states responsible for failing to ensure that perpetrators are brought to justice. 

    November 20, 2020

    We, members of the Canadian Coalition on Human Rights in China, represent groups across the country who are deeply concerned by systemic and unrelenting violations of human rights by the Government of China. We are also deeply troubled by the longstanding and worsening efforts, carried out by individuals and organizations that are led, backed or encouraged by the Chinese government, to harass and intimidate human rights defenders from our communities here in Canada. We reiterate our calls for the Canadian government to prioritize concern for human rights in our relationship with China. 

    We welcome the recent statement by Prime Minister Trudeau calling attention to the intensification of intimidation and harassment, here in Canada, by agents and proxies of the Chinese government, in an effort to silence and intimidate voices raised against wholesale intimidation, cultural genocide, linguistic suppression and curtailing the freedom of conscience and religion. 

    November 04, 2020

    On 16 October, Samuel Paty, a 47-year-old teacher, was murdered in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine (Paris region). An 18- year old holding refugee status in France beheaded the teacher allegedly because he had shown his students some cartoons depicting the prophet Mohammed.

    On 29 October, three people were killed in a church in Nice. The main suspect is a 21-year old Tunisian national. The authorities have arrested another person who is suspected of being an accomplice. Amnesty International condemns the murders in the strongest possible terms. All our thoughts are with the families of the victims.

    French authorities have legal obligations to carry out a prompt, thorough, independent, impartial, transparent and effective investigation into the murders. Anyone suspected of being responsible should be brought to justice and judged following a fair trial. Regrettably, following the murders, the French Minister of Interior Gérald Darmanin, made announcements that raise concerns regarding the authorities’ willingness to comply with the country’s international human rights obligations.

    July 30, 2020

    On July 22, 2020 the Federal Court ruled that sending refugee claimants back to the USA under the Safe Third Country Agreement violates their right to liberty and security protected by section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.  The Court therefore determined that the Canadian legislation designating the US as a safe third country are of no force or effect. However, the Court ordered that its decision will only take effect after six months, in other words on January 22, 2021.

    In a letter to Prime Minister Trudeau, Deputy Prime Minister Freeland, Public Safety Minister Blair, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Mendicino, and Minister of Justice and Attorney General Lametti, the Canadian Council for Refugees, Amnesty International and the Canadian Council of Churches have implored the government to:

    May 01, 2020

    Millions of people in the Americas live in countries that will likely enter their deadliest phase of the COVID-19 pandemic in coming weeks. Doctors, nurses, nursing assistants, cleaners in hospitals and nursing homes, medical transportation and security staff, who are working to support those affected by COVID-19, are putting their health and safety at risk. These people, while providing a herculean effort, must not be considered “superhuman”. During this pandemic, it is crucial to respect their human rights. Every person working on the frontline in health services deserves the protection of their rights to health and safety at work, freedom from harassment and discrimination, and their rights to speak up without being silenced.

    January 06, 2020

    Responding to Philippine Vice President Leni Robredo’s call on the government to review its anti-drug strategy, including by ending violent police operations, Joanne Mariner, Amnesty International’s Research Director for Southeast Asia, said:

    “Vice President Robredo gave a damning insider account of the government’s murderous approach to the drug problem. This is yet more proof that the Duterte administration should address the problem through drug rehabilitation programs rooted in communities – not through a brutal policy of extrajudicial killings.

    “Robredo’s assessment gives credence to what Amnesty International and others have said time and again: the government’s ‘war on drugs’ is a war on the poor, marked by human rights violations and rampant impunity for the police and other high ranking officials. Another approach is possible, one based on respect for human rights, human life and human dignity, which addresses the social conditions that give rise to illegal drug use and trade.

    December 13, 2019

    As negotiations come to a close at the UN Climate Summit in Madrid (COP 25 – the meeting of States that are party to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change), Chiara Liguori, Amnesty International Policy Adviser on Climate Crisis said:

    “From Mozambique to Philippines, people have lost their lives, their homes and their livelihoods to disasters caused or exacerbated by the climate crisis, despite their countries’ minimal contributions to it. Meanwhile, wealthy industrialized countries that have benefitted economically for over a century from growing emissions - while suffering far less from its ill-effects - are content to be global freeloaders, with the costs being borne by developing countries.

    “It is not too late for industrialised countries to do the decent thing and contribute their fair share to upholding the rights to life, to food and other human rights of people most affected by climate impacts.  They must agree to the establishment of an effective and fair international finance mechanism to provide new and additional funding to affected people in developing countries.

    December 12, 2019

    With just a few hours left for states to reach agreements at the 2019 UN climate negotiations at the 25th Conference of Parties (COP25) of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, Amnesty International calls on negotiators to finally listen to people’s demands and put human rights considerations at the centre of their decisions. If they fail to do so, they will set the stage for decades of human rights abuses for which they will be responsible.

    COMMIT TO urgent and human rights compliant climate action

    December 09, 2019

    Responding to the announcement by the Philippines’ Commission on Human Rights that 47 major fossil fuel and carbon-polluting companies could be held accountable for violating the rights of its citizens for the damage caused by climate change, Ashfaq Khalfan, Amnesty International’s Director of Law and Policy said:

    “The Philippines Human Rights Commission has today created a beacon of hope for the victims of the climate crisis.  This is the first time ever that a human rights body has said that fossil fuel corporations can be been found legally responsible for human rights harms linked to climate change. 

    “While the Commission’s decision has no immediate penalties for the companies in question, their landmark announcement creates a major legal precedent. It opens the door for further litigation, and even criminal investigations, that could see fossil fuel companies and other major polluters either forced to pay damages, or their officials sent to jail for harms linked to climate change. The decision also affirms that fossil fuel companies have to respect human rights and invest in clean energy.

    October 01, 2019

    In response to the shooting of a protester by police in Hong Kong during demonstrations marking China’s National Day, leaving him in a critical condition in hospital, the Director of Amnesty International Hong Kong Man-Kei Tam said:

    “The shooting of a protester marks an alarming development in the Hong Kong police’s response to protests. The Hong Kong authorities must launch a prompt and effective investigation into the sequence of events that left a teenager fighting for his life in hospital. Police should only use lethal force in response to an imminent threat of death or serious injury and only as a last resort. 

    “We are urging the Hong Kong authorities to urgently review their approach in policing the protests in order to de-escalate the situation and prevent more lives being put at risk.” 

    Amnesty International analyzed videos of the shooting and pinpointed the location as Hau Tei Square in Hong Kong’s Tsuen Wan area. In a short video statement the Hong Kong Police Force defended the shooting by stating that the officer felt his life was under threat: 

    September 05, 2019

    Responding to the news that Abdul Samad Amiri, the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission’s acting director in Ghor province, was kidnapped and killed by the Taliban, Amnesty International’s South Asia Campaigner, Samira Hamidi, said:

    “This brutal act is a war crime. Even as the Taliban claims to be pursuing peace, it continues to kill people in the most gruesome way. Abdul Samad Amiri devoted his life to standing up for the rights of others, those who have no one else to speak for them. Our thoughts are with Abdul Samad’s family and his brave colleagues at the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission.

    “This tragedy underscores the grave dangers that human rights defenders in Afghanistan face. Threatened by all sides in a conflict that continues to claim civilian lives daily, they are left defenceless. The Afghan government and the international community must provide them with the protection they desperately need and not abandon them.”


    August 28, 2019

    Responding to news that hundreds of internally displaced Iraqis, mostly women and children, have been forcibly returned today from a northern camp, Hammam al-Alil, to their hometown in Hawija despite serious humanitarian and security concerns, Amnesty International’s Middle East Research Director, Lynn Maalouf said:

    “These reports that hundreds of internally displaced Iraqis are being loaded onto buses and taken to Hawija are extremely disturbing – much of the city is in ruins. Many of these people don’t have homes to go back to, and will struggle to access essential services such as health care and schooling and may not afford access to water and electricity. Until the government has established a framework to ensure their safe, voluntary return, the Iraqi government must refrain from sending anyone back. 

    August 22, 2019

    Responding to the news of the wildfires that have been raging in the Amazon rainforest for several weeks, Kumi Naidoo, Secretary General of Amnesty International said:

    “The responsibility to stop the wildfires that have been raging in the Amazon rainforest for several weeks now lies squarely with President Bolsonaro and his government. They must change their disastrous policy of opening up the rainforest for destruction, which is what has paved the way for this current crisis.

    “Earlier this year Amnesty International documented illegal land invasions and arson attacks near Indigenous territories in the Amazon, including Rondônia state where many of the fires are raging.

    August 22, 2019

    Responding to the decision of the Communications and Information Ministry to shut down mobile internet in Papua and West Papua provinces, Amnesty International Indonesia’s Executive Director Usman Hamid said:

    “This blanket internet blackout is an appalling attack on people’s right to freedom of expression in Papua and West Papua. This is not a time for censorship. These tensions are not an excuse to prevent people from sharing information and peacefully speaking their mind. In addition, the decision would also prevent people from documenting and sharing evidence of abuses committed by security forces, just as authorities are sending more security forces to the region.

    “The immediate priority for the authorities should be to launch a thorough and effective investigation into the root cause of the unrest: allegations of discrimination and unlawful use of force against Papuan students in Surabaya and Malang in East Java over the weekend. Further restricting the exercise of human rights must not be the answer.”



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