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Public statements

    August 14, 2015

    Sixteen international organizations have joined the Syrian Centre for Media and Freedom of Expression (SCM) in welcoming the release of its president Mazen Darwish and in calling for all charges against him and his colleagues to be dropped, as well as for the release of all other prisoners of conscience who remain detained by the Syrian authorities.

    Whilst welcoming this week’s release of Mazen Darwish and of his SCM colleagues Hani al-Zitani and Hussein Gharir last month we are extremely concerned that they continue to face charges of ‘publicizing terrorist acts’ and are due to face trial later this month. We continue to call for all charges against them to be dropped immediately and unconditionally, and for an end to the persecution and judicial harassment of the three men for their legitimate human rights work. The authorities in Syria must further guarantee that all human rights defenders are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions.

    August 12, 2015

    One week into Canada’s federal election campaign, party leaders have failed to put women’s rights and gender equality issues up for debate.

    The Up for Debate campaign, led by a broad coalition of 175 organizations, has collected over 50,000 signatures from people across Canada calling for a nationally broadcast leader’s debate on women’s rights and gender equality issues. But lack of a clear commitment from all political party leaders to participate in such a debate has put this plan on ice.

    “During last week’s Maclean’s debate, the word ‘woman’ was only mentioned four times, and there was no discussion of women’s rights or gender equality,” said Kelly Bowden of Oxfam, a spokesperson for the campaign. “Without commitment to a standalone debate, and in the absence of discussion in other debates, life and death issues impacting women and girls in Canada are invisible in the federal election campaign.”

    August 11, 2015

    At its International Council Meeting in Dublin, Ireland, Amnesty International adopted a resolution outlining principles that will lead to a new global policy to protect and uphold the human rights of sex workers.    

    The principles seek to protect people of all genders who are involved in the sex trade - and who face deep marginalization and discrimination in countries around the world - from violence and other human rights abuses.

    The resolution directs Amnesty International's Board to adopt a policy supporting the full decriminalization of consensual adult sex work, while continuing to advocate for full and effective enforcement of laws and policies to prevent and redress violence, trafficking and the sexual exploitation of children.

    August 07, 2015

    As the nation marks the one-year anniversary on Sunday of unarmed teenager Michael Brown’s death at the hands of Ferguson, MO police officer Darren Wilson, Amnesty International USA executive director Steven W. Hawkins released the following statement:

    “Michael Brown’s death and similar tragic incidents around the nation highlight a disturbing pattern of use of lethal force and racially discriminatory conduct by law enforcement officers. One year later, there is still a pressing need for reform at the local, state and federal levels.

    “Legislators in Missouri and around the country must bring laws concerning the use of lethal force in line with international standards, limited to instances in which it is necessary to protect life. Our own research found that the laws of every state in the country fail to meet this standard.

    In the wake of Brown’s killing and the militarized response to street protests, a Justice Department investigation found widespread misconduct and racial bias in the Ferguson police department. 

    July 23, 2015

    Indigenous peoples and human rights groups say that a new United Nations report on Canada’s human rights record should be a wake-up call for all Canadians.

    The UN Human Rights Committee, which regularly reviews whether states are living up to their obligations under the binding International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,  today made more than a dozen recommendations for fundamental changes in Canadian law and policy in respect to the treatment of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples.

    The Committee was so concerned about issues of violence against Indigenous women and the violation of Indigenous Peoples’ land rights that it called on Canada to report back within one year on progress made to implement its recommendations on these issues.

    July 23, 2015

    The United Nations Human Rights Committee issued its Concluding Observations today following its review of Canada’s compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Amnesty International welcomes this review of the country’s human rights record, the last of which occurred in October 2005—nearly a decade ago.

          New UN Report goes to the heart of Canada's failure to meet its international human right obligations    

    Read response from Indigenous peoples' organizations and allies

    July 17, 2015

    Several key provisions of Law 1753, which was approved by Congress on 9 June, and through which the government has implemented the 2014-18 National Development Plan (NDP), must be repealed since they threaten to legitimize the mass land grabs that have marked Colombia’s armed conflict, Amnesty International said today.

    Peasant farmer, Indigenous and Afro-descendant organizations, and several congresspeople, have challenged the legality of several articles in the legislation and last month presented a claim before the Constitutional Court to rule on their constitutionality.

    Law 1753 contains several provisions that might enable mining and other economic interests to gain legal ownership over lands that could have been misappropriated through crimes under international law and human rights violations during the course of the country’s long-running internal armed conflict. This could undermine the right of many of these lands’ legitimate occupants to claim ownership over them.

    July 15, 2015

    Amnesty International called today on the Bahraini authorities to release political activist Ebrahim Sharif and end his ongoing prosecution on charges brought solely for the peaceful exercise of his right to freedom of expression following a speech he gave last Friday.

    Ebrahim Sharif, former Secretary General of the National Democratic Action Society (Wa’ad), was arrested at 2.30am on 12 July at his home by security officers and remanded in custody for 48 hours for questioning at the Criminal Investigations Directorate of the Ministry of Interior in connection with statements he made in a speech at a public gathering on 10 July.

    On 13 July, the Public Prosecution interrogated Ebrahim Sharif on charges of “incitement to hatred and contempt of the regime” and “incitement to overthrow the regime by force and illegal means”, under Articles 165 and 160 of the Penal Code. He denied all the charges against him. The prosecution ordered his detention for 15 days pending further investigation. 

    July 09, 2015

    The authorities must respect due process and ensure an impartial investigation in the case of 15 people, most of them human rights defenders and student activists, arrested yesterday in the capital Bogotá in connection with last week’s explosions in the city, Amnesty International said today.

    On 2 July, two small explosive devices were detonated in Bogotá leaving several people injured but no fatalities. The authorities attributed the attack to the guerrilla group National Liberation Army (Ejército de Liberación Nacional, ELN).

    In setting off these explosives in the city, with the high risk to civilian life that this entailed, those responsible clearly showed a complete disregard for human life.
    The authorities have a duty to investigate any criminal activity and bring to justice those suspected of criminal responsibility through an independent and impartial process which conforms to international law and standards.

    June 29, 2015

    When Bill C-51, the Anti-terrorism Act 2015, was tabled in Parliament this spring, Canada’s leading human rights organizations called for the Bill to be withdrawn. Amnesty International, the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association, the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, the Canadian Muslim Lawyers Association, the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group, La Ligue des Droits et Libertés and the National Council of Canadian Muslims have stated from the outset that the serious human rights shortcomings in Bill C-51 are so numerous and inseparably interrelated that the Bill should be withdrawn in its entirety. We believe that any national security law reform should instead, first, be convincingly demonstrated to be necessary and should then proceed only in a manner that is wholly consistent with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the country’s international human rights obligations.

    June 15, 2015

      Over 200 Rights Groups Urge Respect for Free Expression, Assembly

    (Kinshasa) – Congolese authorities should immediately and unconditionally release two activists who were arrested three months ago, on March 15, 2015, during a pro-democracy youth workshop in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a coalition of 14 international and 220 Congolese rights organizations said today. Fred Bauma and Yves Makwambala were arrested at a workshop organized to launch “Filimbi,” a platform to encourage Congolese youth to peacefully and responsibly perform their civic duties.

    The government should also release and drop any charges against other activists, opposition party members, and others detained solely for their political views or for participating in peaceful activities.

    June 10, 2015

    International pressure is increasing on the Paraguayan authorities to urgently provide the girl raped when she was 10-year-old the medical care she desperately needs, including the option of the termination of her pregnancy, Amnesty International said after the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights called for urgent action to protect her human rights. The State has 72 hours to respond to the Inter American Commission.

    The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights is the latest in a long line of international experts who have voiced their outrage at the horrific way this young girl is being treated by the Paraguayan authorities.

    June 09, 2015

    Indigenous peoples’ organizations and human rights groups are calling on federal, provincial, and territorial governments to follow the lead of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in calling for the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples to be used as a valuable framework for the reconciliation of Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in Canada.

    Thousands of people attended powerful events in Ottawa last week, as the TRC formally concluded its mandate. In an executive summary of its final report, due out later this year, the Commission emphasized that “Canadians must do more than just talk about reconciliation; we must learn how to practise reconciliation in our everyday lives—within ourselves and our families, and in our communities, governments, places of worship, schools, and workplaces.”

    The Commission is adamant that the UN Declaration “provides the necessary principles, norms, and standards for reconciliation to flourish in twenty-first-century Canada.”

    June 08, 2015

    Joint release with First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada and KAIROS

    In a landmark ruling Friday, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal concluded that the Department of Aboriginal and Northern Affairs Canada retaliated against Dr. Cindy Blackstock of the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada because of a discrimination complaint filed by that organization.

    According to Dr. Blackstock, “Although I welcome the Tribunal’s confirmation that the federal government’s conduct was unlawful, my real hope is that Parliament passes stronger measures to ensure that people who stand up for children and other vulnerable Canadians won’t be persecuted.” 

    The government’s actions were in response to a human rights complaint filed by the Caring Society and the Assembly of First Nation alleging that the federal government’s flawed and inequitable provision of First Nations child and family services to 163,000 First Nations children is discriminatory.

    June 04, 2015

    Posted at 0001hrs GMT  5 June 2015

    Amnesty International  &  Privacy International

    Governments must accept they have lost the debate over the legitimacy of mass surveillance and reform their oversight of intelligence gathering, Amnesty International and Privacy International said today in a briefing published two years after Edward Snowden blew the lid on US and UK intelligence agencies’ international spying network.

    “The balance of power is beginning to shift,” said Edward Snowden in an article published today in newspapers around the world. “With each court victory, with every change in law, we demonstrate facts are more convincing than fear.”

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