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    April 03, 2014

    Posted at 0001hrs GMT 4 April 2014

    World leaders must commit to keeping invasive surveillance systems and technologies out of the hands of dictators and oppressive regimes, said a new global coalition of human rights organizations as it launched today in Brussels.

    April 03, 2014

    The US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) has voted for a degree of transparency on the now long-festering injustices associated with the secret detention program operated by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) after the attacks of 11 September 2001.

    Given the systematic failure of the US authorities to declassify and disclose anything like the full truth about the CIA rendition, detention and interrogation programs, any transparency on them is a step in the right direction.

    The SSCI has voted to submit for declassification the summary and findings of its review of the secret detention program, authorized by former President George W. Bush in September 2001 and ended by President Barack Obama in 2009.

    But publication of the SSCI summary and findings – hopefully without redactions – will be just one small step. The administration and Congress must do far more to ensure accountability for past violations and their non-recurrence in the future. For a start, the full SSCI report – and the CIA rendition, detention and interrogation programs themselves – should be declassified.

    April 03, 2014

    Palestine’s application this week to join the Geneva Conventions and key international human rights treaties is a significant advance for human rights protection, Amnesty International said today, urging it to sign up as well to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

    On 2 April 2014 it was announced that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas had the day before signed letters of accession to some 20 multilateral treaties.

    Amnesty International believes the move should spur the Palestinian Authority into bolstering its commitment to upholding the rights of all people within areas under its control. This must mean, among other actions, conducting independent and effective investigations into all alleged violations by Palestinian Authority security forces, and prosecuting those responsible in fair trials when there is sufficient evidence.

    Amnesty International has been calling on Palestine to become a state party to all relevant international human rights and international humanitarian law treaties, without reservations or declarations amounting to reservations, since it achieved UN non-member observer state status in November 2012.

    February 14, 2014

    A court in Krasnodar ruled on 12 February 2014 that environmentalist Yevgeniy Vitishko should serve a three-year sentence in a prison colony. This is the latest step in a sustained campaign by the Russian authorities against environmental activists in Krasnodar Region, which is hosting the Sochi Winter Olympic Games, to prevent them from speaking out about the environmental damage suffered by the region.

    The harassment of the local environmentalists intensified considerably in the months preceding the opening on the Games, and Yevgeniy Vitishko has been particularly targeted in connection with his activism. The decision to send him to serve his sentence in a prison colony is the latest episode in the campaign against him, by the Russian authorities who have sought to prevent protest in Krasnodar Region and specifically to silence one of the most vocal and respected critical voices, in the run-up to the Sochi Games, ultimately by locking him up.

    Amnesty International believes that Yevgeniy Vitishko is a prisoner of conscience, and that he should be immediately and unconditionally released.

    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.

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