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    November 07, 2012

    ‘President Obama has been given a second chance to keep his promises on human rights. Don’t blow it’ - Suzanne Nossel

    Responding to the re-election of Barack Obama as President of the United States of America, Amnesty International USA executive director Suzanne Nossel said:

    “When President Obama was first elected in 2008, many human rights activists rejoiced. It had been eight long years where the United States tortured, detained hundreds without charge and trial, and tried to justify the horrors of Abu Ghraib.

    “President Obama’s first campaign for the White House offered the promise of an administration that would recapture the United States’ credibility on human rights issues, bringing detention practices in line with international law, repudiating secrecy and ensuring that human rights weren’t traded away in the name of national security.

    “More simply, President Obama promised a new dawn of American leadership, one in which human rights would be given more than lip-service.

    October 23, 2012

    Monday’s conviction of an Egyptian broadcaster for “insulting the President” is a further blow to freedom of expression, Amnesty International said.

    A court in the governorate of Luxor sentenced Tawfiq Okasha to four months in prison. Okasha was not present for the verdict, but was reportedly ordered to pay bail pending an appeal.

    The trial reportedly followed a complaint from an ex-member of Parliament about comments the broadcaster had made about President Morsi on his talk show, Egypt Today. Tawfiq Okasha is a vocal critic of the Morsi administration and has reportedly been the subject of a number of similar defamation cases. He is also currently being tried in a separate case for allegedly inciting violence against President Morsi. In August, his television channel, Al-Faraeen, was suspended – apparently in response to his statements about the authorities. At the time of writing, it remains off air.

    October 16, 2012

     Amnesty International has urged Ukrainian parliamentarians ahead of parliamentary elections on 28 October to commit publicly to addressing police abuse in the country.

    One year since Amnesty International launched its report “No Evidence of a Crime: Paying the Price for Police Impunity in Ukraine”, a review of the manifestos of all major parties contesting the elections shows that none of the parties have put forward a concrete proposal for investigating and punishing endemic police criminality in Ukraine.

    In a number of recent surveys, between 63.9 and 84 percent of Ukrainians have said that they don’t trust their police force. Amnesty International is therefore concerned by politicians’ failure to put concrete proposals on how to address police abuse to the electorate.

    September 25, 2012

    Amnesty International has called today on the Bahraini authorities to ensure the safety of civil society members who participated at the 21st session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva after they received threats of reprisals for their participation in the meeting.

    Mohammed al-Maskati, the president of the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights, has said he was subjected to intimidation before and after delivering a statement to the Human Rights Council in Geneva on 13 September, when he participated in a panel discussion on intimidation and reprisals against persons and organizations who co-operate with the UN. He told Amnesty International that from the date of his arrival in Geneva until after he delivered the speech he received more than a dozen anonymous phone calls in which the callers branded him a “traitor to his country” and an “agent of Iran” and allegedly threatened to kill him upon his return to Bahrain.

    September 19, 2012

    Amnesty International is dismayed that today the Federal Court of Canada denied the motion to stop the removal of Kimberly Rivera, pending the outcome of her Humanitarian and Compassionate application to remain in Canada. Kimberly has been ordered leave Canada for the United States on Thursday 20 September. It is expected that Ms. Rivera will be detained upon arrival in the USA, transferred to military control, court-martialed and imprisoned for refusing to serve in the U.S. military on grounds of conscience.

     Amnesty International considers Kimberly Rivera to be a conscientious objector, and as such would consider her to be a prisoner of conscience should she be detained for military evasion, upon arrival in the United States.

    September 11, 2012

    Following the Canadian government’s decision to end diplomatic relations with  Iran, announced on September 7, 2012, Amnesty International strongly recommends that efforts be intensified to safeguard the rights of  Canadian-Iranian citizens, Hamid Ghassemi-Shall and Hossein Derakhshan as well as Canadian permanent resident, Saeed Malekpour.  Ghassemi-Shall and Malekpour are on death row in Tehran’s Evin Prison and Derakhshan has been sentenced to 19 years for blogging.  Canadian diplomatic efforts on these cases must continue and, given the strained context of relations between the two countries, must become an even greater priority.

    Amnesty International has been working to uphold the rights of these three men since 2008. We have raised concerns that they did not receive fair trials and have also very likely been subjected to torture. We have unequivocally opposed the imposition of the death penalty against Ghassemi-Shall and Malekpour.

    August 28, 2012

    Amnesty International condemns the brutal killing of some 17 people who took part in a music party in Musa Qala district of Helmand province on Sunday night 26 August. According to reports there were two or three women among the dead; some of the victims were shot dead and others were beheaded.

    The Afghan government accused the Taleban of the act and stated that the area where the incident happened was under the control of the Taleban. However, the Taleban has not claimed responsibility for the attack.

    Amnesty International has so far been unable to verify independently the government’s claim or the circumstances surrounding the incident. However, it appears from the reports that none of the victims were actively engaged in fighting, which makes their killing a war crime - if carried out by a party to the armed conflict in Afghanistan.

    August 08, 2012

    “They never consulted with us, they never told us… that this was going to have… so much negative impact, …that it was going to cause so much conflict.” -- Carmen Mejía, an Indigenous woman from San Miguel Ixtahuacán, describing Goldcorp Inc’s Marlin mine in Guatemala.

    In a short report to mark the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples (9 August),  Amnesty International is calling on all governments of the Americas to respect the right of Indigenous peoples to make their own decisions about economic development activities on their lands.

    The brief cites examples from throughout the Americas where governments have failed to carry out  robust consultations to determine how plans for mining, oil and gas development and other development activities would affect the rights of Indigenous peoples. The brief also cites examples of such projects being carried out despite the clear objections of the affected peoples.

    July 26, 2012

    Following the release on18 July of a second Draft Constitution Of Zimbabwe document, Amnesty International has reiterated its call for total abolition of the death penalty in the proposed new Constitution.

    Section 4.5 in the new draft constitution allows for the imposition of the death penalty on a person convicted of murder “committed in aggravating circumstances,” but exempts from the application of the death penalty all women, men under 21 years at the time of the commission of the crime, and those over 70 years of age. It also prohibits the imposition of the death penalty as a mandatory punishment.

    The proposed provisions on the death penalty are disappointing in that Amnesty International has consistently called on Zimbabwe to remove the death penalty entirely from the new Constitution and join the global trend towards abolition of this ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading form of punishment. The death penalty should be abolished fully in the new Constitution regardless of gender and the circumstances in which a crime was committed.

    July 24, 2012

    Two years after an international outcry erupted over her sentence of stoning to death, Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani remains imprisoned in north-west Iran apparently still facing a stoning sentence.  Her lawyer, Javid Houtan Kiyan, arrested on account of his advocacy for her, remains held as a prisoner of conscience, and is reported to have been sentenced to a lengthy prison term.  He is believed to have been tortured during his detention.  

    Recent but unconfirmed reports suggested that the Iranian authorities no longer intend to implement the stoning sentence handed down to Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani in 2006. These reports highlight the need for clarity concerning her fate.

    According to a 25 June 2012 article in The Times [of London] newspaper, Mohammad Mostafaie, one of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani’s previous lawyers, said that he had heard that the stoning sentence had been “lifted” and that “she could be released” before completing her sentence.

    July 24, 2012

    The death last week of Omar Suleiman, former chief of the Egyptian General Intelligence, must lead to the Egyptian authorities pursuing accountability for human rights violations committed during renditions to Egypt in the 2000s, not to turning the page on this episode, Amnesty International said today.

    Omar Suleiman, who also served for 14 days as vice-president during the last days of Hosni Mubarak’s rule, was the alleged mastermind of renditions to Egypt. He is reported to have died in the USA on 19 July after routine medical tests.

    Between 2000 and 2006, an unknown number of individuals suspected of links to terrorism were arrested or abducted in various countries around the world, forcibly transferred to Egypt in secret or otherwise without due process, and interrogated, held incommunicado for long periods and tortured while in the custody of the Egyptian General Intelligence and the now-defunct State Security Investigations (SSI) services.

    July 12, 2012

    United Nations Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Fifth Session, 9-13 July 2012

    Joint submission by Grand Council of the Crees (Eeyou Istchee), Assembly of First Nations, Amnesty International, Canadian Friends Service Committee (Quakers), Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs, Native Women’s Association of Canada, Treaty Four First Nations, Haudenosaunee of Kanehsatake, Indigenous World Association, First Peoples Human Rights Coalition, KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives.

    Our organizations welcome the Expert Mechanism’s consideration of the Follow up report on indigenous peoples and the right to participate in decision making, with a focus on extractives. This is an important opportunity for the United Nations human rights system to more deeply engage with one of the most pressing concerns facing Indigenous peoples around the world.

    July 09, 2012

    Amnesty International welcomes the Singaporean Government’s move towards putting an end to the mandatory death sentencing for drug trafficking and homicide cases, and the moratorium on executions in place until proposed changes in the law are enacted.

    Mandatory death sentences are prohibited under international law and Amnesty International therefore calls on the Government of Singapore to abolish mandatory death sentencing unconditionally.

    Mandatory death sentences prevent judges from exercising their discretion and from considering all extenuating circumstances in a case.  International human rights law prohibits mandatory death sentences as they have been found to constitute arbitrary deprivation of life and cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment.  Many courts and judicial bodies around the world have ruled mandatory death sentencing as unconstitutional.

    June 19, 2012

    As the situation in northern Rakhine State remains very tense, Myanmar authorities should ensure full and unfettered humanitarian access to displaced people, and conduct an independent and impartial investigation into recent communal violence, Amnesty International said in a statement today.

    The Myanmar government should also aim to replace the state of emergency in Rakhine State at the earliest opportunity, facilitate international monitors, and address decades of systemic discrimination against ethnic minority Rohingyas.
     

    The widespread violence in at least eight areas that began on 8 June has reduced considerably, but human rights abuses continue to take place among the Buddhist Rakhine, Muslim Rakhine, and Muslim Rohingya communities, as well as by state security forces.  This is especially the case in Maungdaw and Rathidaung.  

    According to the government, at least 50 people have been killed, and over 30,000 displaced by the violence.  Several thousand homes have been destroyed.

    June 18, 2012

    Amnesty International welcomes plans to re-affirm the rights to water and sanitation at the United Nations (UN) Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20). However, the organization is deeply concerned that the current formulation in the draft Outcome would undermine the legal recognition of the rights to water and sanitation, rights that are essential for life, for dignity and for sustainable development.
     

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