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Public statements

    January 30, 2014

     

    FACTSHEET

    What:  336,412 people from 112 countries have signed an Amnesty International’s petition in the course of three months calling on the Russian President Vladimir Putin to repeal repressive legislation aiming to emasculate civil society, restrict legitimate protest and silence criticism.

    Amnesty International members and supporters from Australia, Japan and New Zealand to Canada, Puerto Rico and USA signed the petition, with Holland alone collecting more than 100,000 signatures.

    January 15, 2014

    A lack of political will and unacceptable court delays are allowing Haiti’s former “president-for-life,” Jean-Claude Duvalier, to escape justice for human rights violations, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch said today. 

    The authorities re-opened a criminal case against the former Haitian dictator three years ago, shortly after he returned to the country on 16 January 2011, following a 25-year exile in France. He faced charges of serious human rights violations such as murder and torture of political opponents, and of corruption. But the case has stalled for almost a year. 

    “It appears that the Haitian authorities have no intention of carrying out thorough investigations into Duvalier-era abuses,” said Javier Zúñiga, Amnesty International’s special adviser to regional programs.

    “The judicial process has stalled, denying victims of his reign of terror their right to truth, justice and reparation. To add insult to injury, Duvalier continues to take part in public events, often at the invitation of the Haitian government.”

    January 09, 2014

    Four years after the devastating earthquake which killed around 200,000 people and left some 2.3 million homeless, very little has been done to ensure the respect, protection and fulfilment of the right to adequate housing in Haiti, Amnesty International said today.

    More than 170,000 people are estimated to still be living in more than 300 displacement camps, in the majority of cases in appalling conditions with no access to essential basic services such as clean water, toilets and waste disposal. While the dire sanitation conditions leave them exposed to the risk of cholera and other diseases, the lack of solid shelters makes them vulnerable to flooding and other adverse weather conditions especially during the hurricane season.

    Although official numbers of internally-displaced persons (IDPs) have significantly gone down from the initial estimated 1.5 million in July 2010, most people who have been relocated from camps have not benefitted from durable housing solutions which ensures their right to adequate housing.

    December 10, 2013

    December 10th celebrates international human rights and the inherent dignity and equal rights of all members of the human family. Refugees are part of the human family and entitled to the same rights.

    These rights include the rights to asylum, to liberty, to protection from torture, to an adequate standard of living, to healthcare, to be reunited with family and to the protection of the best interests of children.

    Sadly, respect for the rights of refugees is waning. At a time when serious human rights abuses are taking place in every region of the world and displacing millions of people, countries are building administrative walls, closing doors, denying protection.

    November 20, 2013

    On November 7, 2013, the Supreme Court of Canada heard the crucial case of William v. British Columbia. At stake is the right of the Tsilhqot’in Nation to own lands at the heart of its traditional territory. Canadian law recognizes that Indigenous peoples may hold ongoing title to their lands that predates colonization. Yet to date no Canadian court has ever affirmed such Indigenous title.

    Amnesty International and Canadian Friends Service Committee (Quakers) joined together, and along with First Nations and other interveners, called on the Supreme Court to reject government efforts to limit First Nations’ ownership and control of land. We urged the Court to seize this moment to give practical application to human rights standards affirmed in international law, including the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

    Background to the case

    October 30, 2013

    Greenpeace Canada and Amnesty International Canada

    30 October 2013 (Ottawa) – At a news conference on Parliament Hill today the families of two Canadian Greenpeace activists jailed in Murmansk, Russia, joined Greenpeace and Amnesty International in urging Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird to step up his efforts to secure their release by speaking out publicly and using all available political channels.

    “Last month, my brother took peaceful action to protest Arctic oil drilling,” said Patti Stirling of Port Colborne native Paul Ruzycki. “He wasn’t fighting against Russia; he was fighting to avert an environmental catastrophe. He helped call global attention to a threat to our present and the future generations, and is a hero deserving of all the help this government can give him.”

    October 18, 2013

    In response to the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta decision in Omar Khadr’s case on 18 October 2013, Amnesty International Canada (English Branch) Secretary General Alex Neve noted the following:

     Amnesty International has, for years, pressed US authorities and Canadian authorities to recognize Omar Khadr’s status as a child soldier and to ensure that he is treated according to international legal standards meant to protect and rehabilitate child soldiers.  The organization has been deeply disappointed that no steps have been taken by Canadian corrections officials to do so, despite the fact that Omar Khadr has now been in custody in Canada for over one year at two different institutions.  Granting this court application could have been a significant step towards righting those wrongs.  Amnesty International continues to remind the Canadian government of its obligations under international human rights standards dealing with child soldiers and calls on authorities to take immediate steps to ensure that he is treated in full conformity with those important obligations.

    October 03, 2013

    On November 4-5 2013, Amnesty International Canada will be intervening in a case at the Court of Appeal for Ontario:  Minister of Justice of Canada v Hassan Naim Diab. Our role is as “friend of the Court,” in which we present arguments about the legal test that should be applied to extradition decisions. Lorne Waldman is acting as our counsel.

    Mr. Diab is a Canadian citizen of Lebanese origin currently subject to extradition proceedings by the Republic of France, in connection with his alleged role in the 1980 bombing of a Paris synagogue in which four people were killed and scores injured. The decision to surrender Mr. Diab to France is being challenged by Mr. Diab’s counsel on a number of grounds, including the risk that Mr. Diab will be denied the right to fundamental justice by reason of France’s alleged use of anonymous, unsourced and uncircumstanced evidence that may have been obtained by torture.

    September 17, 2013

    The UN Mission to Investigate Allegations of the Use of Chemical Weapons in the Syrian Arab Republic investigating the 21 August attacks on the outskirts of Damascus on Monday reported that it had found convincing evidence that chemical weapons were used on a large scale.

    Amnesty International condemns the use of chemical weapons in the strongest possible terms. They are internationally banned and their use is a war crime.

    Crimes under international law are being perpetrated on a daily basis in Syria. Accountability for the 21 August attacks and other violations are long overdue.

    We reiterate our call for the UN-mandated Commission of Inquiry on Syria to be given immediate and unfettered access to Syria to seek to uncover further evidence about who was responsible for these attacks. It should also be allowed to investigate the other crimes under international law being committed by all parties to the conflict.

    September 12, 2013

    Six years ago – on September 13, 2007 – the United Nations General Assembly adopted the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as the minimum standards for the “survival, dignity and well-being” of Indigenous Peoples around the world.

    The UN Declaration recognizes Indigenous Peoples’ right to self-determination and calls for the full and effective participation of Indigenous Peoples in all decisions potentially affecting their land. The Declaration urges partnership and collaboration between states and Indigenous Peoples. It sets out the requirement of free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) to protect the right of Indigenous Peoples to make decisions about whether and when development should proceed.

    Implementation of the UN Declaration remains critical as Indigenous Peoples around the world continue to face exploitation of the natural resources of their territories. FPIC and other rights affirmed in the UN Declaration provide indispensable safeguards as Indigenous Peoples struggle to overcome a history of discrimination, marginalization and
    dispossession.

    July 18, 2013

    The reintroduction of the regulation on the transmission of infectious diseases by the Greek Health Minister puts vulnerable groups including sex workers, HIV positive individuals and drug-injecting users at risk of further discrimination and stigmatization. Amnesty International calls on the Greek authorities to immediately overturn the new regulation and to end these discriminatory practices, which violate European and International human rights obligations.
    The regulation by Greece’s new Health Minister, Adonis Georgiadis, comes after Thessaloniki police escalated arbitrary ID checks of transgender women in late May this year.

    June 27, 2013

    Amnesty International is seriously concerned about the ongoing clampdown in Russia against civil society. The organization strongly condemns the use of the “Foreign Agents Law” to prosecute and hold personally liable the leaders of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) that refuse to be labelled in a manner that creates a negative public image of their work in the eyes of the Russian society.  

    The “Foreign Agents Law” requires all organizations that receive foreign funding and engage in loosely defined "political activities" to register as “foreign agents” and to subject themselves to additional and burdensome checks and audits and mark all of their publications and websites with this label, which implies "spy" and "enemy". Amnesty International has previously expressed concern that this legislation, in its entirety, negatively affects the rights to freedom of expression and association.

    June 24, 2013

    Amnesty International is deeply concerned that for the second year in a row, the Canadian government’s required report to Parliament about human rights and the Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement (CCFTA) fails to contain any analysis about human rights realities in Colombia.

    The Canadian government report fails to acknowledge widespread, grave human rights violations in Colombia – including ongoing threats and deadly attacks on trade unionists and community leaders seeking the return of stolen lands, as well as Indigenous peoples, Afro-descendent communities and rural farmers living in areas coveted for their natural resources.

    Notably, the report also excludes any information about Canadian investment in Colombia in the mining and oil and gas sectors.

    June 14, 2013

    Today the UN Human Rights Council adopted its annual resolution on violence against women, with a special focus on sexual violence. Canada has chaired negotiations on this resolution for nearly 20 years, and its leadership has been lauded for progressively strengthening this important resolution.

    The resolution, formerly known as UN Human Rights Council resolution A/HRC/23/L.28 on “Accelerating efforts to eliminate all forms of violence against women: preventing and responding to rape and other forms of sexual violence,” was adopted in Geneva by 89 states.

    It is a welcome addition to the body of UN documents recognizing the need to address the issue of sexual violence, and it includes strong language condemning marital rape and early and enforced marriage.

    May 27, 2013

    Amnesty International and the organizers of KyivPride 2013 welcome the cooperation and protection provided by the Ukrainian police during Saturday’s first ever successful LGBTI Pride March in Ukraine. The Ministry of Internal Affairs’ recognition and fulfillment of their obligation to protect the right to freedom of peaceful assembly for LGBTI people is an important step in combating discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity in Ukraine.

    However, both Amnesty International and the KyivPride organizers remain concerned that the Kyiv City Council chose to ban the Pride March from the city centre, forcing organizers to change to an alternative location at the last moment and curtailing participant’s right to freedom of peaceful assembly. Amnesty International and the Kyiv Pride organizing committee urge the authorities not to impose such limitations on events where LGBTI people seek to peacefully express their views in future.

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