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    April 16, 2018

    The end of Raúl Castro’s mandate as president of Cuba, expected to come on 19 April, presents a historic opportunity to overhaul the state of human rights in Cuba, Amnesty International said today, as it published a roadmap for how the new administration can improve the nation’s human rights record: Transform confrontation into dialogue.

    “This is an opportune moment to engage in essential and constructive dialogue about Cuba’s future. The new president must seize this chance to build on Cuba’s human rights progress in areas like access to healthcare and education, by addressing the nation’s historical human rights challenges, particularly the ongoing restrictions on the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.

    April 13, 2018

    Brazilian authorities must prioritize solving the killing of human rights defender Marielle Franco and her driver, Anderson Gomes, and bring all those responsible to justice, Amnesty International said today on the one-month anniversary of her assassination.

    “Society needs to know who killed Marielle and why. Every day that this case remains unsolved the level of risk and uncertainty surrounding human rights defenders grows worse,” said Jurema Werneck, executive director at Amnesty International Brazil.

    “If the State fails to bring the culprits to justice it sends a message that human rights defenders can be killed with impunity. The authorities must make clear that this is not the case and move swiftly to investigate those who killed Marielle and those who ordered her death.”

    April 13, 2018

    Amnesty International Canada is proud to announce that Ashley Hyshka has won its annual Youth Media Award. Her story “No More Stolen Sisters”, won the national award and was published on February 15, 2018 in "The Runner," a student-owned newspaper with Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) in Surrey, B.C. She is the third national youth media award winner and the first to be awarded from British Columbia.

    "Stolen Sisters examines the plight of missing and murdered indigenous women and girls in B.C., and the institutional errors that may have contributed to some of their deaths. The author has personalized the piece in compelling fashion with interlinked profiles of a frustrated cop and Lorelei Williams, whose family has known only violence,” said Rick MacInnes-Rae, renowned former journalist and volunteer Amnesty Media Award judge. "The story is harrowing in addressing the frequent errors made by police when confronted with probable causes for actions they subsequently did not take. Had some of the leads been followed, it seems clear some of the tragic history might not have occurred."

    April 13, 2018

    Following the killing of Doris Valenzuela, Colombian human rights defender, in Murcia, Spain, on 11 April, Erika Guevara Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International, said:

    “It is with great sadness that we received the terrible news of the death of the brave human rights defender Doris Valenzuela, who was forced to leave Colombia due to a lack of guarantees for her and her family’s safety, and who sadly died in Spain as a result of gender-based violence.

    “It is unacceptable that women defenders continue to suffer double violence: for being activists and for being women, with that violence often coming from those closest to them. It is imperative that the Colombian state guarantee effective protection of women human rights defenders through differentiated measures with a gender perspective, so that cases like that of Doris do not happen again.”

    April 13, 2018

    In reaction to media reports about the existence of audio recordings featuring members of criminal organizations in Mexico and the United States potentially involved in the forced disappearance of 43 students from Ayotzinapa in September 2014, Erika Guevara Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International, said:

    The revelation that the attack on the students and other individuals could have been orchestrated from the United States by members of organized crime should compel the Mexican authorities to finally abandon their discredited theory on the case and commit to a serious and prompt investigation into the events, including into all authorities who could have been involved in this horrific crime. It is time that the Attorney General’s Office revise its investigation and collect all the evidence available”.

    April 11, 2018

    Amnesty International Canada is calling on the BC government to avoid unjustified criminalization of individuals defying an injunction against protests in the proximity of two worksites on the proposed route of Kinder-Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.

    According to media reports, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Kenneth Affleck has called on the BC Attorney General to take over prosecution of pipeline protesters.

    Individuals arrested for allegedly defying the current injunction currently face prosecution as a civil action. Justice Affleck, who issued the injunction against the protests, has reportedly called for criminal prosecution.

    “We share Justice Affleck’s concerns that an important public policy issue -- how to respond to individuals who deliberately violate the protest injunction – should not be determined solely by whether or not a private corporation pursues enforcement. However, unnecessary criminalization of protesters is quite simply not the answer,” said Alex Neve, Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada.

    April 11, 2018

    Responding to the decision by a Myanmar court to press forward with the criminal case against Reuters journalists, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, James Gomez, Amnesty International’s Director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific said:

    “This appalling but wholly unsurprising decision is entirely in keeping with Myanmar’s continued regression on freedom of expression and human rights in general.

    “The case against Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo is clearly politically-motivated and completely baseless. They are languishing behind bars simply because of their peaceful journalism and investigating the atrocities committed against the Rohingya people by Myanmar’s own security forces in Rakhine State.

    April 10, 2018

    Dozens of people, including more than 30 children, were left homeless after their homes were demolished by 20 armed police and bulldozers in the farming area of Embetseni in Malkerns town, Amnesty International said today.

    The demolition, which saw 61 people forcibly evicted from their homes, took place on 9 April. Some of those rendered homeless were forced to spend the night in a chicken shed.

    “This latest demolition of homes exposes the grim reality facing many people in Swaziland today. Hundreds have been forced from their homes in recent years to make way for development,” said Muleya Mwananyanda, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Southern Africa.

    “Despite supposed protection by the country’s laws, ordinary Swazis appear to be helpless in the face of forced evictions for development purposes.”

    According to international human rights standards, even where evictions are deemed to be justified, they must follow due process. No one should be left homeless as a result of the eviction.

    April 09, 2018

    The unexpected release of a North Korean woman widely expected to be sentenced to life in a political prison camp, offers a rare glimpse of hope that the authorities in the repressive state may be loosening their iron grip on the population.

    Koo Jeong-hwa, who was detained after she crossed the Chinese-Korean border with eight other people including her four-year-old son, was forcibly returned to North Korea by the Chinese authorities on 17 November 2017. She had been held in a detention centre in Hoeryeong City since then, accused of committing treason for leaving her country.

    Koo Jeong-hwa’s son was originally detained alongside her but was sent to his grandmother after 20 days because the detention facility said it could not take care of him. He was suffering from frostbite on his hands and feet. Though released from the detention centre, he was still at risk of being sent to a political prison camp with her had she been sentenced, due to the “guilt by association” practice in North Korea that often detains entire families of those found guilty.

    April 09, 2018

    In the wake of the apparent victory of President Orban's party, Fidesz, in Hungary’s general election, Amnesty International’s Europe Director, Gauri van Gulik said:

    “Whilst the climate may be hostile, we are steadfast in our resolve. We will resist the rollback of human rights in Hungary for, and with, all the people and groups who fight for everybody’s rights and freedoms.

    “We will continue to push back against attempts to stoke hostility towards refugees and migrants and will continue to speak up for groups that support and defend them. We will not be cowed by those who attempt to muzzle Hungary’s critical voices and to create an atmosphere of fear.

    “The legitimate work of organisations defending rights in Hungary is more vital now than it has ever been, and we are more committed than ever in our resolve to stand with them.”

     

    To arrange an interview on the ground contact Elizabeth Berton-Hunter, Media Relations 416-363-9933 ext 332 bberton-hunter@amnesty.ca

     

     

    April 06, 2018

    The release of an online activist following a major global campaign should be a first step towards ending the repression of dissident voices in Chad, Amnesty International said today.

    A court in the capital city N’Djamena yesterday ordered the release of Tadjadine Mahamat Babouri, known as Mahadine, who had been detained since 30 September 2016, after simply having posted several videos on Facebook criticizing the government’s management of public funds.

    “We are delighted that Mahadine has been released and will finally be reunited with his loved ones after spending over 18 months in prison on trumped up charges,” said Balkissa Ide Siddo, Amnesty International Central Africa researcher.

    “More than half a million people from across the world signed letters and petitions calling for Mahadine’s release, and they too will be delighted to know that he is finally free.”

    Mahadine had originally been charged with undermining the constitutional order, threatening territorial integrity and national security, and collaborating with an insurrectional movement. If he had been convicted he could have faced life imprisonment.

    April 05, 2018
    Letter from Taner Kılıç says solidarity actions “have lifted my spirits” Photographs and spokespeople available

    Ahead of today’s international day of action, marking his 300th day behind bars, the imprisoned honorary chair of Amnesty International Turkey, Taner Kılıç, has expressed his heartfelt thanks to all those who have stood in solidarity with him.

    In a letter sent from Sincan prison in Izmir, where he has been held since 9 June pending the outcome of his trial, Taner Kılıç writes:

    “Photographs taken from the actions organized under the hot sun, rain and the freezing cold have lifted my spirits and reminded me of the importance of international solidarity in the struggle for human rights.”

    In the letter, published today to coincide with stunts to demand his release by campaigners in more than 40 countries, Taner Kılıç goes on to say:

    April 04, 2018

    The Russian authorities have abjectly failed to take effective action in response to the violent persecution of gay men in Chechnya, Amnesty International said one year after a series of homophobic crimes in the southern republic were exposed.

    A report by the Novaya Gazeta newspaper revealed a horrifying “gay purge” in Chechnya in which dozens of men were abducted, tortured and killed. However, to date, not one person has to be held to account for these crimes.

    “A year ago, this shocking news from Chechnya was ridiculed and dismissed by the Russian government. Since then we have witnessed a shocking display of denial, evasion and inaction by the authorities, who have repeatedly refused to launch an official investigation into the reported heinous crimes and ignored credible evidence provided by Novaya Gazeta and others,” said Denis Krivosheev, Deputy Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia at Amnesty International.

    April 03, 2018

    Amnesty international Canada welcomes the final Report of Bob Rae, the Prime Minister’s Special Envoy to Myanmar, on the grave crisis confronted by the Rohingya people and calls on the government to adopt the report’s recommendations without delay.

    “The report released today offers Canada a clear roadmap for global leadership in making a real difference in the urgent and long-standing human rights crisis affecting the Rohingya population in Myanmar and Bangladesh and we call on the government to adopt the recommendations of the Report without delay,” said Alex Neve, Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada. “In particular, the Canadian government is particularly well positioned to play a leading role in implementing the recommendations to establish mechanisms to ensure justice and accountability for perpetrators of crimes against humanity, and to further increase humanitarian and development assistance for the hundreds of thousands of people who have fled ethnic cleansing and are now confronted by dire humanitarian conditions.”

    Background:

    April 03, 2018

    Reacting to reports of the withdrawal of an executive order issued by the central government that allowed journalists’ accreditation to be suspended by non-government regulatory agencies if they were accused of disseminating ‘fake news’, Aakar Patel, Executive Director, Amnesty International India said,



    “The withdrawal of the Information and Broadcasting Ministry’s order is welcome. This appeared to be a brazen attempt to control the media under the façade of controlling ‘fake news’, and target critics of the government.



    “While intentionally misleading and deceitful reports are a real problem, the solution is not to crack down on press freedom. The government should instead take steps to promote a free, independent and diverse environment for the media.”



    “Several government spokesperson have been known to disseminate disinformation which they should know to be false, on social media and on television. This dangerous trend needs to stop.”



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