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Public statements

    May 11, 2012

    With the anticipated release of the Canadian government’s human rights impact of the Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement, Amnesty International Canada urges that the human rights emergency affecting Indigenous Peoples in the South American country is given the priority attention it deserves.

    “As Amnesty International testified to the UN Human Rights Council in March 2012, there have been few tangible improvements in the overall human rights situation in Colombia despite commitments made by the Colombian government,” said Kathy Price, Amnesty Canada’s Campaigner on Colombia.  “The crisis facing Indigenous Peoples, many of whom live in areas of economic interest, requires special attention.”

    May 02, 2012

    Singapore’s announcement that it carried out four executions in 2011, after no executions the previous year, flouts the global trend toward abolition of the death penalty and reversed a notable reduction in executions there, Amnesty International said today.

    On 27 March 2012, Amnesty International published its annual global figures on the use of the death penalty, noting no confirmed reports of executions in Singapore for 2011. After publication, however, Amnesty International learned that Singapore authorities had reported four executions for 2011.

    April 03, 2012

    Amnesty International calls for the immediate and unconditional release of three young women arrested by the Russian authorities as members of the punk group ‘Pussy Riot’ who staged a protest song in Moscow’s Christ the Saviour Cathedral on 21 February.

    Several members of the punk group ‘Pussy Riot’, with their faces covered in balaclavas, sang a protest song titled “Virgin Mary, redeem us of Putin” in the cathedral.  The Russian authorities subsequently arrested Maria Alekhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova on 4 March and Ekaterina Samusevich on 15 March claiming they were the masked singers. Although the three women admit to being members of the larger ‘Pussy Riot’ group, they deny any involvement in the particular protest in the cathedral.

    The three women are currently in pre-trial detention until 25 April. They have been charged with hooliganism under the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (Article 213), which carries a maximum sentence of seven years’ imprisonment.

    March 16, 2012

    The government of Iraq should immediately investigate and bring to justice those responsible for a targeted campaign of intimidation and violence against Iraqi youth seen as belonging to the non-conformist “emo” subculture, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission said today. The attacks have created an atmosphere of terror among those who see themselves as potential victims.

    On March 8, 2012, the Interior Ministry, in an official statement, dismissed reports by local activists and media of a campaign against those seen as emo. The ministry said the reports were “fabricated” and “groundless,” and that it would take action against people who were trying “to highlight this issue and build it out of proportion.” An official ministry statement, on February 13, that characterized emo culture as “Satanist” cast doubt on the government’s willingness to protect vulnerable youth, the international rights groups said.

    March 13, 2012

    Provisions that would make it legal for police to secretly detain certain groups of criminal suspects would violate China’s obligations under international law and should be dropped from the latest revisions to the Criminal Procedure Law, Amnesty International said today.

    The latest draft of the law removed a clause that would allow authorities to “disappear” suspects for up to six months. However, in a set-back for China’s criminal justice system, the latest revisions presented to the legislature on 8 March and expected to be passed on 14 March would, for the first time, make it legal for police to secretly detain suspects outside the formal detention system for up to six months if they have been accused of “endangering state security,” “terrorism” or certain types of “bribery.”

    Already, many thousands of people in China are being held in secret and are at great risk of being tortured. These thousands include petitioners seeking justice, members of underground churches, and political activists.

    March 08, 2012

    Amnesty International is calling on the Mexican government to specify what measures it will take to comply with the recommendations on Mexico of the Working Group of Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances presented to the UN Human Rights Council on Tuesday.

    The Working Group’s report highlights the terrible dimensions of this grave violation of human rights in Mexico and the lack of a government policy designed to prevent and punish this crime.

    Organizations of relatives of disappeared persons and the National Human Rights Commission have reported the disappearance of thousands of people. The majority of these reports have not been adequately investigated, which has prevented determining whether public officials are involved. This is crucial as the involvement of public officials determines whether it is a crime of enforced disappearance, for which the State is responsible.

    February 22, 2012

    The undersigned Organisations call on the Syrian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Mazen Darwish, a prominent Syrian human rights defender and Director of the Syrian Centre for Media and Freedom of Expression (SCM) – an organization that enjoys UN ECOSOC consultative status -, as well as seven of his colleagues and a visitor, who were arrested on 16 February 2012 during a raid on their Damascus offices.

    In total 16 people were arrested during the raid at SCM offices in Damascus, which  was carried out by officers from Air Force Intelligence (AFI) who were assisted by a group of plain-clothed armed men, according to a statement from the SCM. Seven people have been conditionally released and have to report to the detention centre every day for further interrogations.

    February 16, 2012

    There have been a number of recent media articles in Sri Lanka recently suggesting that Amnesty International’s impartiality had been compromised because the Canadian Tamil Congress chose to make Amnesty International Canada a beneficiary of funds raised at their third annual Walk-a-Thon held in Toronto in September 2011.

    The Walk-a-thon is an annual event which offers individuals an opportunity to support organizations in Canada involved in social, health and justice causes and to make a contribution to Canada’s social fabric. Previous recipients in 2009 and 2010 were the Sick Kids Hospital Foundation and the Canadian Cancer Society. Funds raised come from hundreds of individuals taking part in the event and from numerous sponsors, including small businesses within the Tamil Canadian community. The funds raised from the 2011 Walk-a-thon totaled approximately CDN$50,000. 

    These donations in no way impair the independence of Amnesty International – which is nonpartisan and works on human rights issues around the globe. We receive financial support from a broad range of individuals committed to the protection and promotion of human rights. 

    February 01, 2012

    Amnesty International is deeply disappointed to learn about the recent decision made by the Canadian Quebec Court of Appeal to refuse jurisdiction to hear a class action brought on behalf of Congolese citizens against the Canadian company, Anvil Mining Limited (“Anvil Mining”), for serious human rights abuses committed in Kilwa in 2004, otherwise known as “the Kilwa Massacre.”


    On 25 January 2012, the Quebec Court of Appeal reversed the decision of the Superior Court judge Honorable Benoît Emery determining that sufficient links to Quebec existed for establishing Quebec’s jurisdiction and thus allowing the case to proceed so that the substance of the allegations could be heard. (1) 


    In his decision, Judge Emery stated:

    (translation) "In fact, at this stage of the proceedings, everything indicates that if the Tribunal dismissed the action on the basis of article 3135 C.C.Q. [which allows the court to decline jurisdiction if another forum is more appropriate], there would exist no other possibility for the victims to be heard by civil justice.”

    January 23, 2012

    A law issued on Saturday providing immunity from prosecution for President Ali Abdullah Saleh and all those who worked with him during his administration is a bitter blow for those calling for justice for human rights violations over recent years, Amnesty International said today.

    The law, passed by the Yemeni parliament on 21 January 2012, provides “complete immunity from legal and judicial prosecution” for President Saleh. It further provides immunity from criminal prosecution for all those who worked under President Saleh during his rule – whether in civil, military or security positions – in connection with “politically motivated acts” carried out during the course of their official duties; they are, however, not exempt from prosecution for “acts of terrorism”. The law does not clarify what is meant by “politically motivated acts” or “acts of terrorism”.

    December 17, 2011

    A year after a young Tunisian street vendor set himself alight, triggering an uprising which led to the toppling of his country’s government, many Tunisians say their demands for justice have yet to be fulfilled.

    The newly-announced government must ensure that the needs of the victims and their right to truth, justice and reparation are met. It now has the opportunity to show its commitment to human rights and its will to break with the legacy of human rights abuses of the past.
    Mohamed Bouazizi’s desperate act on 17 December 2010 prompted a wave of protests across Tunisia and the Arab world, calling for freedom, an end to corruption and better living conditions, which led to the demise of Tunisia’s long time autocratic and repressive government – followed by the fall of the authorities in Egypt and Libya.

    December 08, 2011

    Indigenous peoples and individuals have the right to enjoy the same standard of living and access to government services that are enjoyed by other people in Canada. They have the right to live and bring up their families on their own lands and territories. Our organizations, Canadian human rights and faith-based groups, are deeply concerned that these basic principles are repeatedly cast in doubt.

    An emergency intervention by the Red Cross has focused political attention on the severe housing crisis in the northern Ontario Cree community of Attawapiskat. Canadians were shocked to see images of children overcrowded into moldy shacks with no water or electricity. However, international human rights bodies have been raising concerns for years about the conditions in many Indigenous communities in Canada. The government has ignored both the criticisms and the corresponding recommendations.

    November 30, 2011

    The transfer of former President Laurent Gbagbo to the International Criminal Court (ICC) marks the first significant step towards addressing impunity for crimes against humanity committed in the country, in particular between 2002 and 2011.

    The transfer of Laurent Gbabgo gives hope to some of the thousands of victims of these crimes committed by all parties over nearly a decade. However, the ICC Prosecutor should not limit the investigation by focusing only on the crimes under international law committed since December 2010.

    On 29 November 2011, Laurent Gbagbo was surrendered to the ICC by the national authorities of Côte d’Ivoire following a warrant of arrest issued under seal by the judges of the Pre-Trial Chamber III on 23 November 2011. The crimes included in the warrant of arrest are murder, rape and other forms of sexual violence, persecution and other inhumane acts.

    November 07, 2011

    Amnesty International is calling on the federal government to move quickly to approve the application made by Omar Khadr in the spring of 2011, under the International Transfer of Offenders Act, for return to Canada.

    Under the terms of a plea agreement reached between Omar Khadr and US officials in October 2010, Omar Khadr pled guilty to the five charges he faced. Further to that agreement, he was convicted and sentenced to an eight year prison term commencing on 31 October 2010.

    The terms of the plea agreement required Omar Khadr to remain in US custody for a further year, at which point he would be eligible for a possible transfer back to Canada. The agreement includes a commitment from US authorities to “positively endorse” any such transfer application. A diplomatic note from the Canadian government to the US government, dated 23 October 2010, indicated that they would be “inclined to favourably consider Mr. Khadr's application to be transferred to Canada to serve the remainder of his sentence.”

    October 26, 2011

     On Friday, October 28, the Human Rights Commission of the Organization of American States (OAS) will hold its first ever hearings into the violation of Indigenous land rights in Canada.

    The case before Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) concerns the 1884 expropriation of over 237,000 hectares of resource-rich land from the traditional territories of the Hul’qumi’num peoples on Vancouver Island. The Hul’qumi’num Treaty Group  alleges that Canada has violated international human rights norms by refusing to negotiate for any form of redress for the expropriated lands, which are now mostly in the hands of large forestry companies, and by failing to protect Hul’qumi’num interests while the dispute remains unresolved.

    More than a dozen Indigenous peoples’ organizations and human rights groups have filed legal briefs in support of the Hul’qumi’num case.

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