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Public statements

    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.
     

    June 18, 2012

    Please note that on 4 July 2014, the Federal Court of Canada ruled that the cuts constituted “cruel and unusual treatment” and violated the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Health coverage will be restored to refugees at midnight, Tuesday 4 November.   The case is not over.  The Government has appealed the decision in the Federal Court of Appeal.

    Amnesty International is deeply concerned that changes to the Federal Interim Health Program are discriminatory and will result in violations of the right to health of refugees in Canada, in contravention of Canada’s international human rights obligations.  Amnesty International is calling on the federal government to withdraw the changes and to ensure that any changes to the program are consistent with international human rights standards with respect to access to health care, non-discrimination and refugee protection.

    June 12, 2012

    Amnesty International welcomes the Canadian government’s recent indication that it is prepared to explicitly recognize the rights to water and sanitation. In an interview with Embassy Magazine on May 29th Environment Minister Peter Kent stated that “by the time we get to Rio, we will make it clear that Canada recognizes the right to safe drinking water and to basic sanitation.” The statement refers to the upcoming Rio+20, United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, to be held in Brazil June 20-22, 2012.

    Canada has, for many years and through several different governments, refused to acknowledge the existence of the rights to water and sanitation under international law. That opposition has run counter to a growing number of authoritative pronouncements from various international bodies clearly recognizing the rights to water and sanitation. 

    June 05, 2012

    The people of Asubpeeschoseewagong Anishnabek (Grassy Narrows First Nation) know first-hand the terrible consequences of having control over their traditional lands and territories taken from them.

    In the 1950s, provincial hydroelectric dams flooded large areas of land, wiping out wild rice beds central to their culture and way of life.
    In the 1960s, a pulp and paper mill in Dryden, Ontario contaminated the rivers with mercury, resulting in the devastating closure of the fishery and debilitating health problems that are still being felt today.

    Then, beginning in the 1980s, large-scale, industrial logging cleared over half the forest in the traditional territory of Grassy Narrows, destroying trap lines and other areas vital for sustenance, medicine and ceremony.

    Today, the people of Grassy Narrows – and the province of Ontario - face a crucial turning point.

    June 01, 2012

    On the eve of the 23rd anniversary of the Chinese military’s violent suppression of peaceful demonstrators in and around Beijing’s Tiananmen Square, Amnesty International again calls on the government to hold an open and independent inquiry into the events of 1989.

    Hundreds, if not thousands, were killed or injured on the night of 3 and 4 June when the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) opened fire on unarmed civilians. To this day, the government bans public discussion of those events. Still, many brave Chinese have exercised their right to peacefully call on the government to re-investigate the events surrounding the bloodshed and to hold those responsible accountable.

    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.

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