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Public statements

    May 18, 2011

    Amnesty International sees as positive the action taken on 12 May to enforce the arrest warrant issued against Rufino Juárez Hernández, the leader of the group Unión de Bienestar Social de la Región Triqui (Ubisort), Union for the Social Well-being of the Triqui Region, who is accused of at least two murders committed in the community of San Juan Copala, municipality of Santiago Juxtlahuaca, during 2010.

    This arrest is the first significant step that has been taken following the investigations carried out to clarify the killing of several members of the Triqui community in the area. It is essential that further progress is made with these efforts and that the accused enjoy full due process guarantees so that their responsibility can be established by means of a fair trial.

    Amnesty International hopes that this action by the Office of the State Attorney-General marks the beginning of action to dismantle the illegal armed groups operating in the region and to end the impunity that has left a climate of anxiety in which the population has been subjected to attacks and harassment.

    May 03, 2011

    Amnesty International today expressed its concern over the safety of Judge María Cristina Trejos Salazar after President Juan Manuel Santos appeared to question the validity of her decision to convict a retired army general for serious human rights violations.

    On 28 April, the judge sentenced retired general Jesús Armando Arias Cabrales to 35 years in prison for his role in the enforced disappearance of 11 people in November 1985, when military forces stormed the Palace of Justice in Bogotá where members of the M-19 guerrilla group were holding those inside hostage. Over 100 people died as a result of the siege and the military operation.

    Following the verdict, on 30 April President Santos reportedly said that there was no proof that retired general Cabrales had “any direct relationship with the alleged crimes committed during the taking of the Palace of Justice” and that the conviction was not “healthy for the country”.

    In June 2010, another judge sentenced retired colonel Luis Alfonso Plazas Vega to 30 years in prison for his role in the same crime. Both convictions are under appeal.

    April 28, 2011

    Amnesty International has submitted the following statement to the sixteenth special session of the UN Human Rights Council on the human rights situation in the Syrian Arab Republic.

    For six weeks the Syrian government has been violently repressing pro-democracy protests that have been taking place throughout the country. This follows a long history of repression which has seen the arbitrary arrest, detention and imprisonment of peaceful government critics and advocates of reform, including for Kurdish minority rights, torture and other ill-treatment of detainees and prisoners on a widespread and systematic scale, extrajudicial executions and enforced disappearances. All these human rights violations are being committed with impunity.

    April 27, 2011

    Indigenous peoples and human rights organizations urge all political leaders in Canada to make a clear public commitment to ending the discriminatory underfunding that is tearing apart First Nations families.

    For the last decade, government studies have shown that the federal government is failing in its responsibilities to Indigenous children and their families. The government spends significantly less money per child for children’s services in First Nations reserves than its provincial and territorial counterparts provide in predominantly non-Aboriginal communities. This is despite the higher costs of delivering services in remote communities and the greater need created by the residential school legacy and other pressures on First Nations communities.

    One consequence is that most First Nations families do not have access to the same level and quality of early intervention and preventative programming available to other families in Canada. As a result, the intended last resort of removing children from their homes and communities has become the primary government approach for child protection in many First Nations communities.

    April 18, 2011

    As Zimbabwe’s celebrates 31 years of independence, Amnesty International today expressed concern about the lack of effort by the government to address the legacy of human rights violations and respect for human rights guaranteed in the country’s own constitution as well as international treaties.

    Despite the formation of the Government of National Unity (GNU) in 2009, human rights violations have continued unabated. Unjustifiable restrictions of the rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly are undermining the stability brought about by the setting up of the GNU.

    For example, six activists, Munyaradzi Gwisai, Hopewell Gumbo, Antonater Choto, Welcome Zimuto, Eddson Chakuma and Tatenda Mombeyarara, are facing treason charges after organizing a public lecture to discuss events in Egypt and the Middle East. If convicted they face the death penalty. The six were part of a group of 45 activist arrested on 19 February 2011. The other 39 were acquitted after a magistrate in Harare dismissed the charges against them.

    April 14, 2011

    The Azerbaijani authorities have initiated a new wave of arrests and criminal charges in an attempt to stifle the latest opposition rally, “Great Unity Day” planned for 17 April. On 9 April a further five opposition activists were charged with “organising mass disorder” for their participation in the violently dispersed 2 April “Day of Wrath” protest in Baku.

    The new charges bring the total number of activists facing long prison terms for their involvement in the 2 April protest to 10, seven of whom Amnesty International considers to be prisoners of conscience.

    The treatment of these 10 activists highlights the range of human rights abuses currently occurring in Azerbaijan. Local rights groups report that the activists have been beaten by police and remanded in custody after closed hearings on the basis of no or very little evidence, without having been granted access to a lawyer of their choice.

    April 11, 2011


    Nobel Peace Laureate Shirin Ebadi and nine human and labour rights organizations today expressed dismay at parliamentary proceedings in Iran which look set to pass into law a bill which appears intended to wipe out independent civil society in the country, in violation of international standards on freedom of association and assembly, which Iran is obliged to uphold.

    The nine - a mix of international and Iranian organizations - Amnesty International, Arseh Sevom, Education International (EI), Hivos, Human Rights Watch, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), in the framework of their joint programme, the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, FIDH’s affiliate the Iranian League for the Defence of Human Rights, and the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran – along with Shirin Ebadi called on members of Iran’s parliament to reject the draft law.

    April 07, 2011

    Amnesty International welcomed today the adoption of the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence.  

    After more than two years of negotiations, the Ministers’ Deputies of the Council of Europe adopted the text of the Convention. The treaty will be opened for signature at the Ministerial Session of the Committee of Ministers in Istanbul on 11 May.

    This treaty establishes a framework for governments to ensure robust action to prevent, investigate and prosecute violence against women. It will also facilitate the sharing of good practices and provide a solid basis for improvements in securing women’s equality before the law in Europe.It contains up-to-date models for legislation on the definitions of rape and sexual violence, domestic violence, stalking, risk assessment, protection measures and services for women and girls who are survivors of violence.

    March 29, 2011

    Amnesty International today condemned Chinese authorities for their plan to execute three Filipinos on Wednesday for the non-violent offence of drug smuggling, which falls short of the legal threshold of the ‘most serious’ crimes as set in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

    Ramon Credo, a 42-year-old father of five, was detained on 28 December 2008 at Gaoji International Airport in Xiamen, China. He is alleged to have smuggled  4,113 grams of heroin in his luggage. He is scheduled to be executed in Xiamen.

    Authorities detained Sally Villanueva, 32, on Christmas Eve 2008 also at Gaoji International Airport. She is alleged to have smuggled  4,410 grams of heroin in her luggage. She, too, is scheduled to be executed in Xiamen. She is a mother of two.
    Elizabeth Batain, 38, was detained on 25 May 2008 at the airport in Shenzhen. She is alleged to have smuggled 6,800 grams of heroin in her suitcase. She is scheduled to be executed in Shenzhen.

    March 18, 2011

    The Malaysian government’s prosecution of 54 anti-racism protestors violates freedom of association and peaceful assembly, Amnesty International said today.

    On 4 April, hearings begin for participants in a peaceful rally against racial discrimination, held by Hindraf Makkal Sakthi and its affiliated Human Rights Party in Kuala Lumpur on 27 February.

    Hindraf, a nongovernmental organization which advocates for equal rights for Malaysians of Indian origin, was banned as an “unlawful society” in 2008 under the Societies Act.

    P. Ramesh, the national secretary of Hindraf, and five others are scheduled to appear in magistrates’ court in Ipoh. They have been charged with being members of an “unlawful society” under Section 43 of the Societies Act. If convicted, they face up to three years in prison and a fine of 5,000 ringgit (US$1,600).

    March 11, 2011

    As the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar presents his report to the 16th session of United Nations Human Rights Council, governments should speak with one voice on Myanmar’s long-standing failure to address widespread and systematic human rights violations in the country.

    While a new administration has been appointed following elections, not only has the human rights situation in Myanmar not improved, it shows no signs of changing in the foreseeable future.  Nearly 2,200 political prisoners remain behind bars, most of whom are prisoners of conscience, imprisoned solely for the peaceful exercise of their rights to freedom of expression, association, and assembly.  Censorship and other serious restrictions on freedom of expression remain, and violations of international human rights and humanitarian law against ethnic minorities - including acts against the civilian population which constitute crimes against humanity - continue. 

    March 08, 2011

    Amnesty International supports the voices of Aboriginal families in calling for real action, not empty rhetoric, to stop violence against Aboriginal women and girls.

    In October 2010, Minister of State for the  Status of Women, Rona Ambrose, stated, “I am very concerned about the pattern of violence against Aboriginal women, and the impact it has on the families and communities who suffer as a result.”

    Despite this recognition, the federal government has yet to establish a national plan of action in keeping with the high rates and severity of violence faced by First Nations, Métis and Inuit women. Instead, the government continues to pursue piecemeal solutions that leave unacceptable gaps in the information and protection available to Aboriginal women and girls.

    “The families of missing and murdered Aboriginal women deserve answers and we deserve justice,” says Melanie Morrison whose 25-year-old sister Tiffany Morrison went missing in June 2006 in Kahnawake, outside Montreal. In June 2010, Tiffany was found to be the victim of a homicide. Her murder remains unsolved.

    March 08, 2011

    Amnesty International stands alongside women and girls in Nicaragua this International Women’s Day.  Amnesty International supports the women’s movement demand to end sexual violence against women and girls. Together we are calling on the Nicaraguan authorities to eradicate rape and widespread sexual abuse of girls.

    According to police statistics, between 1998 and 2008, more than 14,000 cases were reported. Two thirds of the victims were under the age of 17.

    Amnesty International research has shown that young victims of rape and sexual abuse demand that their right to be free from sexual violence is protected by the Nicaraguan government, and that they are supported so they can overcome the physical and psychological trauma caused by such acts of violence. This is Nicaragua’s obligation under national and international law.

    With regards to these obligations under international law to protect the rights of women and girls, five UN expert committees have highlighted the problem and repeatedly asked the government to take action on violence against women and girls, without clear results to date.

    February 16, 2011

    (Paris, 16 February 2011) – Other nations and the UN should speak out against a wave of executions in Iran, the Nobel Peace Laureate Shirin Ebadi and six human rights organizations said today. Shirin Ebadi and the human rights groups called on the Iranian Judiciary and Parliament to institute an immediate moratorium on all executions.

    At least 86 people have been executed since the start of 2011, according to information received by the six organizations. The groups are Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Reporters without Borders, the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, the International Federation for Human Rights, and its affiliate, the Iranian League for the Defence of Human Rights. At least eight of those executed in January were political prisoners, convicted of “enmity against God” (moharebeh) for participating in demonstrations, or for their alleged links to opposition groups.

    “The Iranian authorities have shown that they are no longer content to repress those contesting the re-election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad by arresting and convicting them - they have shown they will now resort to execution,” Shirin Ebadi said.

    February 10, 2011

    On the second anniversary of the Government of National Unity (GNU), Amnesty International is urging Zimbabwe’s coalition government to act on ongoing human rights abuses and to institute reforms of the security sector and the media.

    Two years since the unity government was set up in Zimbabwe, Amnesty International is concerned about lack of progress in implementing key reforms to address the legacy of human rights abuses.  

    “The hope for an end to a decade of human rights abuses that greeted the unity government two years ago, is rapidly fading away and has been replaced by fear and instability amid talk of another election in 2011,” said Erwin van der Borght, Amnesty International’s Director for Africa.

    In recent weeks, supporters of President Robert Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party in Harare have targeted perceived supporters of the MDC-T formation led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, with violence with the tacit approval of the police.

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