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Public statements

    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.

    October 21, 2011

    Amnesty International calls on the authorities to conduct a full review of the legal cases against indigenous prisoners on hunger strike in Chiapas since 29 September 2011. According to available evidence their detention, trial and convictions were marred by irregularities and abuses, including allegations of ill-treatment and torture. Amnesty International believes that they may have been subject to unfair trials and unsafe convictions. They should be retried according to international fair trail standards or released.

    The organization is also concerned that the transfer on 20 October of one of the leading strikers, Alberto Patishtán Gómez, to a federal prison 2000 km away in Guasave, Sinaloa state, is in direct reprisal for his leading role in the hunger strike and human rights demands made by the prisoners.

    October 11, 2011

    The report of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, released yesterday, documenting widespread torture in Afghan detention facilities, and the earlier NATO decision, announced on September 6th, to suspend transfers of prisoners into Afghan custody, both make it clear that Canada’s policy of handing prisoners over to Afghan officials over the course of more than five years violated international law and should have been reversed years ago.  Among many disturbing conclusions, the UNAMA report finds “a compelling pattern and practice of systematic torture and ill-treatment” in facilities where Canada handed over prisoners. In some cases, children in custody were also tortured and abused.  

    Prime Minister Harper has repeatedly stated that Canada’s involvement in Afghanistan was aimed at protecting fundamental Canadian values of “freedom, respect for human rights and the primacy of the rule of law.” It is critically important therefore that the Canadian public get a full and candid accounting of what the government has done and that the government ensure that ongoing responsibilities are met.

    October 04, 2011

    Each year on October 4th communities across Canada come together to honour the lives of missing and murdered Aboriginal women and girls. As we do so, we remember the lives of sisters, daughters, mothers and grandmothers tragically taken from us.
    Today, we offer our support and sympathy to their families and we join with them in demanding justice.
    Statistics consistently show that Aboriginal women face much higher levels of violence than all other women in Canada. The Native Women's Association of Canada has documented more than 600 cases of Aboriginal women and girls who have been murdered or who remain missing.
    This violence has touched the lives of almost every First Nations, Inuit and Métis family and community. And it has moved Canadians from all walks of life to demand action. Violence against Aboriginal women is a national issue, one that must concern us all.
    There can be no piecemeal solution to a tragedy of this scale. We are calling for all levels of government to work with Aboriginal women and representative organizations to establish a comprehensive, national plan of action to stop violence against women. Such a plan of action must:

    September 22, 2011

    Sierra Leone: Amnesty International welcomes the acceptance in principle of a moratorium on the death penalty and the commitment to improve healthcare in connection with birth delivery and to address other causes of maternal mortality

    Human Rights Council adopts Universal Periodic Review outcome on Sierra Leone:
    Thirteen states raised the issue of the death penalty during the review of Sierra Leone, calling for a moratorium on executions, abolition of the death penalty, and ratification of the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.A/HRC/18/10, recommendations 82.1 (Ecuador), 82.2 (Portugal), 82.3 (France), 82.4 (Belgium), 82.14 (France), 82.15 (Ireland), 82.16 (Spain), 82.17 (Austria), 82.18 (Germany), 82.19 (Argentina), 82.20 (Brazil), 82.21 (Chile), 82.22 (Switzerland), 82.23 (Portugal), 82.24 (United Kingdom), 82.25 (Ecuador).  Amnesty International congratulates Sierra Leone on accepting these recommendations in principle and urges it to immediately take all necessary steps to abolish the death penalty in national legislation and to commute existing death sentences to terms of imprisonment.

    September 08, 2011

    Amnesty International has called on the UK authorities to bring to justice all those responsible for the death Baha Mousa, after an inquiry into the death of the Iraqi hotel receptionist found that UK soldiers violently assaulted him while in custody in Basra in 2003.

    Baha Mousa suffered 93 separate injuries before he died, said the inquiry’s report, which was released today. Nine other Iraqis held with Mousa were also subjected to human rights violations that constituted war crimes during their detention.

    Nicola Duckworth, Europe and Central Asia Programme Director at Amnesty International said:

    “What happened to Baha Mousa and the other men detained with him at the hands of British soldiers must never be allowed to happen again. Whatever the pressures the soldiers may have faced in Iraq during that time, torture can never be justified in any circumstances.”

    “Those responsible must be held accountable for their actions and brought swiftly to justice, including in criminal proceedings – nothing less will do”.

    August 31, 2011

    Amnesty International welcomes the reported release of around 70 prisoners of conscience and political prisoners, convicted of vaguely worded “security related” charges including involvement in the protests which followed the disputed presidential election of 2009. They were among 100 said to have been pardoned by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei on 27 August 2011, ahead of the Eid al-Fitr celebrations at the end of the Islamic month of Ramadan.

    Those freed included Dr Arash Alaei, Milad Asadi and Mohammad Pour Abdollah, whose release the organization had campaigned for. Most of those released had served over half their sentences and were eligible for parole. Official media also reported that 1,218 other prisoners had been pardoned in a separate decree.

    August 17, 2011

    Amnesty International welcomes the historic decision of the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women in the complaint regarding Alyne da Silva Pimentel v. Brazil (Communication No. 17/2008).

    Alyne da Silva Pimentel, a 28-year-old woman of African descent and resident of one of Rio de Janeiro’s poorest districts, was six months pregnant with her second child, when she died of complications resulting from pregnancy after her local health center misdiagnosed her symptoms and delayed providing her with emergency care.

    The case was brought by Alyne’s mother who was represented by the Center for Reproductive Rights and the Brazilian NGO Advocacia Cidadã pelos Direitos Humanos. Amnesty International and others provided amicus curiae briefs to the Committee.

    August 05, 2011

    Amnesty International today called on the Jordanian authorities to ensure that the next phase of the investigation into the reported use of excessive force against demonstrators and journalists during a protest in Amman on 15 July 2011 is carried out by a body that is fully independent and impartial and will be perceived as such.

    In a letter sent today to Minister of Interior Mazen Al Saket, Amnesty International welcomed the recent publication of the preliminary findings of an investigation panel set up by the Public Security Directorate (PSD) and a number of its recommendations, including an extended time frame for the investigation, but also expressed concern about the impartiality of the panel, which appears to be seriously undermined by the fact that two of its three members appear directly responsible for some of the police forces under investigation.

    July 26, 2011

    Amnesty International sends its condolences to the victims and their families of these terrible events.

    The organization expresses solidarity with the people of Norway as they try to move on from the bombing and shootings carried out in Norway on 22 July 2011 that took the lives of more than 70 people.

    Amnesty International’s 3 million supporters are at one with the Norwegian people, standing together for an open and diverse society where people are able to express their opinions peacefully.  

    These atrocities have come as a shock to the entire world and the international community is appalled by the flagrant disregard for human life shown by the perpetrator of these crimes, Amnesty International said.  

    Times like these test a nation but the organization has every belief that the Norwegian authorities will ensure that the human rights of the victims, including the families of those who were killed, are fully respected, and that the person or persons responsible are brought to justice in fair proceedings.

    John Tackaberry,
    Media Relations,
    Amnesty International Canada
    613-744-7667, ext 236

    July 26, 2011

    Italy has failed to take action to protect minority groups from discrimination, Amnesty International said today, after the parliament rejected a bill on homophobic and transphobic crimes.

    The bill was rejected by the Chamber of Deputies on Tuesday by 293 votes to 250.

    “The Italian Parliament has wasted an opportunity to take a step in the right direction," said Nicola Duckworth, Amnesty International's Director for Europe and Central Asia Programme.

    Italian law already allows hate crimes based on grounds of race, ethnicity, nationality and religion to be punished. If passed the new bill would have included homophobic and transphobic crimes too.

    "The number of homophobic and transphobic attacks reported in the last few years in Italy remains a matter of concern," said Nicola Duckworth.

    "Hate crimes have a deep impact not only on the immediate victim but also on the group with which that victim identifies."

    Amnesty International urges Italy to ensure the adequate implementation of existing anti-discrimination legislation and to ensure that legislation criminalizing hate crimes does not leave out certain groups.

    July 15, 2011

    The recent repression in the Middle East and North Africa demonstrates that a wide range of arms used by military, security and police forces, must be covered under the scope of an Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), Amnesty International said today.

    The latest draft of the terms of a global Arms Trade Treaty, due for completion in 2012, emerged from talks between UN member states in New York yesterday.

    Amnesty International warns that if certain types of security and police equipment such as non-military firearms, riot guns, crowd control vehicles, shotgun ammunition and tear gas are not clearly covered by the Treaty, many governments will not prevent such arms being supplied and used for serious violations of human rights.

    The international community has widely recognised that conventional weapons, munitions and armaments are often used for internal repression as well as armed conflict, most recently by imposing arms embargos against certain governments in the Middle East.  

    July 14, 2011

    Amnesty International welcomes the decision by the Mexican Supreme Court to remove alleged human rights violations committed by the armed forces from military jurisdiction. The decision represents an historic step in the struggle to limit the jurisdiction of the military courts and to guarantee victims of abuses the right to an effective remedy.

    It also sets an important precedent with regard to the obligation to comply with judgments handed down by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (Inter-American Court) and international human rights treaties.

    Amnesty International urges the Mexican State authorities, as well as the Attorney-General’s Office, to accept this decision and conduct the necessary investigations into reports of human rights violations committed – both in the past and currently – by the armed forces.

    Over recent months the organization has documented several cases of enforced disappearance with regard to which no investigations to clarify the facts have been carried out by either the military or civilian authorities.


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