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Public statements

    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.

    July 12, 2011

    Indiscriminate attacks which lead to civilian casualties are a serious violation of international humanitarian law and could constitute war crimes, Amnesty international said following the detonation of an explosive device in the urban centre of Toribío Municipality, Cauca Department, on 9 July, which has been attributed to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrilla group.

    The explosion took place during an armed attack by the FARC against the security forces in the municipality, in the south-west of the country.

    The detonation of the explosive device, which had been placed on a bus in what is a predominantly Indigenous part of the country, is reported to have resulted in the deaths of at least one civilian and a police officer. The explosion also injured at least 70 civilians who are Indigenous community members, as well as at least two police officers.

    The shockwave from the blast damaged buildings as far away as 400 metres from its epicentre. The explosion was attributed to the FARC in a communiqué issued by regional Indigenous organizations.

    June 09, 2011

    Two years after the disputed election of 12 June 2009 which saw President Mahmoud Ahmadinejhad returned to power, the human rights situation in Iran remains dire.

    The security forces continue to use violence against peaceful protestors and have carried out thousands of arrests. Many detainees have been tortured or otherwise ill-treated and hundreds have been sentenced to prison terms and in some case death after grossly unfair trials. Prison conditions are harsh.

    Opposition leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, who stood against President Ahmadinejhad in the June 2009 election, have been held under house arrest, together with their wives, Zahra Rahnavard and Fatemeh Karroubi, for more than 100 days without any legal order.

    Some of those who have sought to expose human rights violations and the all pervasive climate of impunity that prevails, such as Mehdi Mahmoudian who compiled information about torture of detainees, have been imprisoned while lawyers who have defended those targeted by the state have themselves been targeted for legitimately pursuing their profession.

    June 02, 2011

    It’s been 22  years since the People’s Liberation Army fired on peaceful protesters in Beijing and other cities , killing hundreds, if not thousands, of students and other ordinary people who had gathered to demand a more open and responsive government.
    In the two decades since the harsh crackdown on the unarmed protestors, the Chinese government has deflected any calls for an open and honest accounting of what happened in and around Tiananmen Square on June 3rd and 4th. What many call a massacre, the Chinese Communist Party now calls a mere “political disturbance.”  This week, China opened up its secret national archives, but justified keeping any of the historical documents on Tiananmen Square (and other unpleasant disturbances) under wraps, lest they damage anyone’s “privacy” or “reputation.”

    May 19, 2011

     Six years to the day that the government of Zimbabwe embarked on a program of  mass forced evictions which left 700,000 people without a home, a livelihood, or both, Amnesty International called on the government to urgently address the plight of survivors.

    Survivors of the devastating program of forced evictions known as Operation Murambatsvina, continue to endure deplorable living conditions, without access to basic essentials services and they remain at risk of further forced evictions.

    Residents of Operation Garikai settlements, the program created to resettle some of the victims of the forced evictions following international criticism, are continuing to face daily violations of their right to adequate housing.

    Operation Garikai settlements are characterized by large numbers of plastic shacks which have housed entire families since 2005 despite having been erected as temporary shelters. After six years they are torn and soiled, with scraps of material in place to keep out the wind and rain. In bad weather families crammed into the tiny structures have little protection from the elements.

    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).

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