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Public statements

    June 26, 2019
    Denmark to become tenth country in Europe to recognize that sex without consent is rape 

    Following the publication of a “Government agreement” committing itself to introduce consent-based rape legislation Amnesty International’s Women’s Rights Researcher, Anna Błuś, said:

    “This commitment by the new government to amend Danish law to recognize the simple truth that sex without consent is rape in law is a welcome if long-overdue, step forward. It is a testament to all the survivors who have spoken out and all the campaigners who have fought long and hard for change.

    “Together with the survivors campaigning for improved access to justice, we look forward to seeing the draft law and hope that the authorities also commit themselves to taking steps to challenge rape myths and gender stereotypes at all levels of society. This will require institutional and social change, as well as comprehensive sexuality and relationships education, including on sexual consent.

    June 26, 2019

    Myanmar authorities should immediately end an internet shutdown imposed in conflict-affected areas of Rakhine and Chin States since 21 June 2019, said Amnesty International today. The shutdown has created an information black hole in an area where the Myanmar military has committed serious violations – including war crimes – raising serious concerns about the safety of civilians. It is essential that the Myanmar authorities ensure the right to information in times of crisis.

    June 24, 2019

    The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) ruled today that Poland’s contested Law on the Supreme Court is in breach of EU law. Under an interim decision from the CJEU from November 2018, Polish authorities had already been ordered to restore the Supreme Court to its composition before April 2018, when the law came into force.

    In response to the news, Eve Geddie, Director of Amnesty International’s European Institutions Office, said:

    “Today the European Union’s top court has confirmed what we have long been saying, that the Polish government acted against EU law when it attempted to force almost a third of Supreme Court judges to retire and attempted to exert control over the judiciary.”

    The amendment of the Law on the Supreme Court is part of a broader “reform” of the judiciary in Poland. Amnesty International considers that these changes effectively politicize the judiciary and undermine its independence.

    June 21, 2019

    Responding to news that five men known as the "Wolf Pack" have been sentenced to 15 years in prison for rape by Spain's Supreme Court, Massimo Moratti, Deputy Director of the European Regional Office said:

    “We are delighted that justice has finally prevailed in this horrific case and that the rights of the survivor have been upheld. But the journey to get here has been long, and caused the woman involved further unnecessary and avoidable suffering.

    “This case shows exactly why it’s so crucial for Spain’s Penal Code to be amended. Sex without consent is rape; it’s that simple. The assumption in law that a victim gives their consent because they have not resisted is deeply problematic and undermines access to justice, especially since “involuntary paralysis” or “freezing” has been recognized by experts as a common response to sexual assault.

    June 19, 2019

    Responding to the release of the UN report on the murder of Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi, which concludes that he was the victim of “an extrajudicial killing for which the state of Saudi Arabia is responsible under human rights law,” and that “there is credible evidence, warranting further investigation of high-level Saudi officials’ individual liability, including the Crown Prince’s,” Lynn Maalouf, Amnesty International’s Middle East Director of Research, said:

    “We call on UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres to immediately take up the Special Rapporteur’s recommendation to launch an international follow-up criminal investigation. The UN report confirms that the steps taken to date by Saudi Arabia to ensure accountability are not only inadequate, but violate themselves human rights standards, both procedurally and substantively. 

    June 17, 2019

    Responding to the news of former Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi’s death in custody today Magdalena Mughrabi, Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa, said:

    "The news of Mohamed Morsi’s death in court today is deeply shocking and raises serious questions about his treatment in custody. The Egyptian authorities must immediately order an impartial, thorough and transparent investigation into the circumstances of his death, as well as his detention conditions and his ability to access medical care.  

    "Egyptian authorities had the responsibility to ensure that, as a detainee,he had access to proper medical care.

    June 11, 2019

    We are hopeful that in a matter of days the Senate will vote to adopt a private member’s bill that would require the federal government to begin in earnest the work of implementing global human rights standards to protect the cultures, lives and well-being of Indigenous peoples.

    Bill C-262, a Bill to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, is a vital and necessary step for reconciliation in Canada, consistent with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s recognition of the UN Declaration as “the framework” for reconciliation.

    However, some Conservative Senators have already used stalling tactics to delay the Bill’s passage through the Senate and there is concern that they might use such tactics again to prevent a final vote.

    These Senators have claimed to support the UN Declaration and the rights of Indigenous peoples while asserting that Bill C-262 is “rushed” and that Parliament has not had the opportunity to understand the “far-reaching” implications of implementing the UN Declaration.

    June 06, 2019

    Today, Baskut Tuncak, the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and toxics, said the government has “failed” to answer why it has not remediated massive levels of mercury contamination in a river near Grassy Narrows First Nation. Tuncak made his preliminary observations – which will be followed by a report about the government’s steps to protect human rights implicated by the management of hazardous wastes – following an eight-stop trip across Canada that included a visit with those who have been impacted by mercury poisoning in Grassy Narrows First Nation.  

    In response, Craig Benjamin, Amnesty International Canada’s Indigenous Rights Campaigner, said:

    May 30, 2019

    Statement of Amnesty International Canada,  Council of Canadians,  CUPE Ontario

    Our organizations are deeply disappointed that the federal government has failed to take decisive action to guarantee that survivors of mercury poisoning at Grassy Narrows will get the medical care they need and deserve. 

    Although the federal Indigenous Services department had announced that Minister Seamus O’Regan would sign a memorandum of understanding with Grassy Narrows when he visited the northwestern Ontario First Nation yesterday, no such agreement was reached.

    According to a statement released by the Grassy Narrows Chief and Council, negotiations are continuing around key needs of the community. This includes a call for the federal government to put the necessary funds for the construction and operation of a treatment centre into trust so that health of mercury survivors will be protected from shifting political winds.

    May 17, 2019

    Responding to the news that lawmakers in Taiwan have passed a law that will see the island become the first place in Asia to legalize same-sex marriage, effective from 24 May, Annie Huang, Acting Director of Amnesty International Taiwan, said:

    “Taiwan has today made history in the fight for equality for LGBTI people. Love has won over hate, and equality has won over discrimination. This is a moment to cherish and celebrate, but it has been a long and arduous campaign for Taiwan to become the first in Asia to legalize same-sex marriage.

    “We hope this landmark vote will generate waves across Asia and offer a much-needed boost in the struggle for equality for LGBTI people in the region.

    “We are filled with pride and joy that from next Friday same-sex couples in Taiwan will be able to marry and finally have their love and relationships recognized as equal under the law. But the Taiwanese government must not stop here; it needs to act to eliminate all forms of discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation, gender identities and intersex status.”

    Background

    May 16, 2019

    Amnesty International’s goal is to ensure that the human rights of everyone, everywhere are respected, protected, and upheld. We conduct research and generate action to prevent and halt human rights violations and demand justice for those whose rights have been violated.

    Amnesty International recognizes that lesbian, gay, transgender, queer, and two-spirit (LGBTQ2S), Indigenous, Black, and other people of colour in Canada and around the world disproportionately experience human rights violations perpetrated by the police, state actors, and non-state actors because of systems of oppression.

    State and police violence against LGBTQ2S, Indigenous, Black, and other people of colour violate the right to life; the rights to liberty and security of the person; the right to safety and to live free from violence  and discrimination; the rights to protest, freedom of expression, freedom of association, and peaceful assembly; and the right to live free from torture and other cruel and inhuman treatment.

    May 10, 2019
    Partnership Agreement on Caribou Protection in Northeast BC

    “When caribou disappear, a piece of our culture disappears and we lose a little bit of who we are as the Indigenous people of the area.” - Chief Roland Willson, West Moberly First Nations

    A Partnership Agreement between First Nations and the federal and provincial governments is an important opportunity to take practical steps to recover endangered caribou populations in British Columbia and take meaningful action on reconciliation.

    In the face of a public backlash characterized by racism and bigotry, Amnesty International is urging Premier John Horgan and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to be resolute in fulfilling their commitments and obligations, including recovery of endangered species, reconciliation with First Nations, and combatting racism, by seeing the Partnership Agreement on Caribou Recovery through to implementation.

    May 09, 2019

    Responding to the news that Gambia’s President Adama Barrow has commuted the death sentences of 22 prisoners to life imprisonment, Marie-Evelyne Petrus Barry, Amnesty International West and Central Africa Regional Director-who met with the Gambian President last week- said:

    “The President’s commutation of these death sentences to life imprisonment is an important milestone for Gambia which is slowly and steadily moving away from the death penalty.

    “Less than a week ago, Amnesty International met with President Adama Barrow who confirmed to us his commitment to outlaw this cruel punishment – it’s good to see him take another concrete step against the death penalty.

    “This decision is a positive step, however we want the authorities to go further by abolishing the death penalty for all crimes without delay, including in the country’s future constitution.

    “We also hope they will implement our recommendations to repeal draconian media laws, reform the security sector and end discrimination against women.”

    Background

    May 09, 2019

    This article was originally published in the Toronto Star.

    By Justin Mohammed

    Refugee claimants who cross the Canada-U.S. border irregularly do not reach that decision lightly. Upon doing so, they are arrested and temporarily detained until police establish their identity and ensure they aren’t a security threat. Possessions are restricted to those that they can carry. The route can be dangerous; frostbite has claimed fingers, and hypothermia has even claimed a life. After the refugee protection claim is launched, they remain in limbo for months or years without a guarantee they will be allowed to stay.

    This is what refugee claimants coming through the U.S. weigh when they decide to seek Canada’s protection.

    In spite of this, the federal government has decided to tighten its borders, further targeting refugee claimants who seek Canada’s protection by travelling through the U.S.

    May 06, 2019

    Responding to news that the Polish authorities detained an activist, Elżbieta Podlesna for several hours, on suspicion of offending religious beliefs, Amnesty International’s Regional Europe Researcher, Barbora Cernusakova, said:

    “We are extremely concerned to hear that Elżbieta Podlesna, a Polish human rights activist, was arrested and detained for several hours on spurious charges today upon her return to Poland from a trip to Belgium and the Netherlands with Amnesty International.

    Elżbieta is suspected of "offending religious beliefs", after the police claimed that they found copies of a posters depicting the Virgin Mary with a halo around head and shoulders in the colours of the LGBTQ flag in her house when they raided it. The image had been posted around the town of Płock at the end of April.

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