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    July 11, 2018

    Amnesty International is deeply concerned by recent backlash against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people in Malaysia by several politicians, including the Minister of Religious Affairs, as well as threats against a prominent LGBTI activist. Amnesty International calls on the new government to condemn recent attacks against LGBTI people in Malaysia, adopt policies to protect LGBTI people from discrimination and ensure full enjoyment of their rights.

    Last week, Minister for Religious Affairs Datuk Mujahid Yusof Rawa said that even though he has pledged to listen to the views of LGBTI people in the country, this should not be construed as overt support for LGBTI people.

    A member of Parti Islam Se-Malaysia (PAS), a conservative opposition party, then said that LGBTI people “infringe on society’s rights and the norms of humanity”, while the Deputy Head of Government in Kelantan State stated that “gays and lesbians” are “bigger issues” for the country, compared to a recent case of child marriage that was widely condemned both domestically and abroad.

    July 11, 2018

    Amnesty International Canada, PEN Canada and the Toronto Association for Democracy in China welcome news of Liu Xia’s release from China and commemorate the work of Liu Xiaobo on the first anniversary of his death on July 13, 2017.

    Liu Xia, a poet and artist, has suffered from depression since being placed under house arrest in 2010, after her late husband Liu Xiaobo was awarded the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize. During that time, she has been surveilled relentlessly, and effectively detained since the death of Liu Xiaobo on July 13, 2017.

    “This is what international pressure can do for human rights,” said Alex Neve, Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada. “Thanks to tens of thousands of people who spoke up as part of the ‘Free Liu Xia’ campaign, she has at long last been freed and is now safely in Germany.”

    Liu Xiaobo was a writer, literary critic, human rights activist, and co-author of Charter 08, a manifesto calling for political reform in China. He was arrested in 2009 on suspicion of “inciting subversion of state power” and sentenced to eleven years' imprisonment. 

    July 10, 2018

    Colombia faces a grave human rights crisis as a result of repeated targeted killings of human rights defenders, while the authorities look on unperturbed, Amnesty International said today.

    The violence is relentless in the regions of Antioquia, Cauca, Chocó and Nariño, despite repeated complaints from local communities. According to the Ombudsman’s Office of Colombia, a state body, the murder of a human rights defender is reported every three days. Those worst affected are community, Indigenous or Afro-descendant leaders and those who defend the rights of the victims of the armed conflict.

    “The silent complicity of the Colombian authorities cannot continue. The killing of those who defend human rights is causing renewed suffering in the country and destroying the social fabric of communities that have historically borne the brunt of the armed conflict and are now at greater risk due to the resurgence of paramilitary groups,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.

    July 10, 2018

    The repressive actions of the Nicaraguan government have reached deplorable levels, Amnesty International said today, after one of the bloodiest weekends since the repression of protests began almost three months ago.

    “Heavily armed pro-government groups remain at large, accompanied by police forces, committing joint attacks against the civilian population,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International.

    “The message sent by the highest ranking Nicaraguan authorities is that they are willing to do anything to silence the voices of those who demonstrate against this violent repression. This situation is extremely serious and deserves strong condemnation from the international community.”

    At least 17 people were killed in Matagalpa, Jinotepe and Diriamba during the weekend, most of them by police and pro-government armed groups. In addition, the arbitrary detention of dozens of people was reported.

    July 10, 2018

    Responding to reports that artist Liu Xia, widow of Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo, has left China and is traveling to Germany, Patrick Poon, China Researcher at Amnesty International, commented:

    “It is wonderful news that Liu Xia is finally free and that her persecution and illegal detention at the hands of the Chinese authorities has come to an end, nearly one year since Liu Xiaobo’s untimely and undignified death.

    “Liu Xia never gave up on her wrongfully imprisoned late husband, and for this she was cruelly punished. The Chinese authorities tried to silence her, but she stood tall for human rights. However, after eight years under illegal house arrest her health is a cause for genuine concern.

    “Now, the harassment of Liu Xia’s family who remain in China must end too. It would be most callous of the Chinese authorities to use Liu Xia’s relatives to put pressure on Liu Xia to prevent her from speaking out in the future.”

    Background

    July 09, 2018

    Responding to today’s decision by a Yangon court to formally charge Reuters journalists, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, with breaching the country’s Official Secrets Act, Tirana Hassan, Amnesty International’s Director of Crisis Response, said:

    “This is a black day for press freedom in Myanmar. The court’s decision to proceed with this farcical, politically motivated case has deeply troubling and far-reaching implications for independent journalism in the country.

    “In their investigations of military operations in Rakhine State, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo were simply doing what journalists are meant to do – expose the truth and hold the powerful to account. Charging them under this draconian law – even after widespread national and international condemnation – is a clear sign that the authorities are intent on silencing critical voices. It also serves notice to other journalists working in the country that speaking out comes with serious consequences.

    July 09, 2018

    Ahead of tomorrow’s appeal hearing for three Vietnamese human rights defenders - Vu Quang Thuan, Nguyen Van Dien and Tran Hoang Phuc - who were sentenced to up to eight years in prison in January on charges of “anti-state propaganda” in relation to posts they made on social media, Amnesty International's Senior Director of Global Operations Minar Pimple said:

    “Vu Quang Thuan, Nguyen Van Dien and Tran Hoang Phuc are victims of the Vietnamese government’s shameful crackdown on all forms of dissent. They have been targeted purely for their peaceful activism.

    “These three men have committed no crime; they have merely used social media to express opinions that the authorities do not like – namely by supporting the protection of human rights and social justice in the country.  

    “Viet Nam’s long-running use of repressive laws to prosecute and punish peaceful activists must end. As a start, Hanoi’s High Court must tomorrow quash all charges against these men and release them.”

    Background

    July 05, 2018

    Mexico’s Federal Attorney General’s office (PGR) must not charge the seven human rights defenders who are being investigated for the offence of “obstructing the execution of a public work” in the town of Cuetzalan unless there is strong evidence against them, Amnesty International said today.

    “It is crucial that the PGR ensure that the investigation is not based on unfounded or unreliable evidence as reprisal for their work to defend human rights and that it guarantees their right to a fair trial in accordance with international standards,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.

    “It is essential that the Mexican authorities do not misuse the criminal justice system to harass and silence human rights defenders and use this as a way to obstruct their legitimate work to defend the land, territory and environment.”

    July 05, 2018

    Israel’s forcible transfer of Palestinians from their homes and settling of Israeli civilians in the Occupied Palestinian Territories violate the Fourth Geneva Convention and are war crimes, Amnesty International said as it continues to monitor the fast-changing situation on the ground in the Palestinian village of Khan al-Ahmar.

    This morning Israeli security forces closed off the areas surrounding the Khan al-Ahmar community in preparation for the demolition of the entire village, including schools, farmland, a mosque and the homes of all families living in the village.

    “Going ahead with the demolition of Khan al-Ahmar is not only profoundly cruel; it would also amount to forcible transfer, which is a war crime. Israel must be held to account for such grave breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which is a standard it has set for itself and demanded of other nations. The international community also has a responsibility to ensure respect for the Geneva Conventions. The demolition of Khan al-Ahmar must be stopped,” said Magdalena Mughrabi, Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International

    July 05, 2018

    As the UN Security Council meets today to review measures aimed at bringing long-overdue peace and stability to South Sudan, Amnesty International is reiterating its longstanding call for the imposition of a comprehensive arms embargo to cut off the supply of weapons being used to kill, maim and destroy the lives of the South Sudanese people.

    “The people of South Sudan have suffered gross human rights violations and war crimes for more than four years now and the world has done very little to end them. The UN Security Council must step up and take a leadership role in ending these atrocities by stopping the flow of arms into South Sudan,” said Seif Magango, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.

    Amnesty International urges the Security Council and the international community, including manufacturers and suppliers of arms, to take decisive steps to end the mass atrocity crimes in South Sudan by drying up its supply of weapons.

    July 05, 2018

    Amnesty International calls for “zero-tolerance” on child migration detention

    With hundreds of traumatized children still trapped in detention centres in the USA as a result of the Trump administration’s family separation policy, Amnesty International is calling on world leaders to take action by including a commitment to end child migration detention in the text of the Global Compact on Migration (GCM), which enters the final stage of negotiations next week.

    “The appalling scenes in the USA have illustrated why an international commitment to ending child migration detention is so desperately needed – these negotiations could not have come at a more crucial time,” said Perseo Quiroz, Amnesty International’s Senior Americas Advocate.

    “Many world leaders have expressed their outrage at the Trump administration’s recent horrendous treatment of children whose parents have arrived in the USA irregularly. Now is the time to channel that outrage into concrete action.

    July 05, 2018

    Submission to UN Human Rights Committee Focuses on Accountability

    The Liberian government should undertake fair and credible prosecutions of international crimes committed during its two civil wars, 76 Liberian, African, and international nongovernmental organizations said in a submission to the United Nations Human Rights Committee released today.

    The submission was made ahead of Liberia’s appearance before the committee, which monitors implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights by its states parties, scheduled for July 9-10, 2018 in Geneva.

    “Since the war ended in 2003, the Liberian government has skirted the issue of criminal accountability for war crimes,” said Hassan Bility, executive director of the Monrovia-based Global Justice and Research Project. “Not one person has been prosecuted for past violations.”

    July 05, 2018

    A coalition of civil society organizations is calling on Canada to commit to an independent, external review following a flawed and inadequate internal investigation in the wake of media reports suggesting Canadian-built armoured vehicles may have been used by Saudi Arabian armed forces in violence directed at civilian populations in the Kingdom’s Eastern Province.

    In an Open Letter to Minister of Foreign Affairs Chystia Freeland, the coalition expressed grave concern that the internal government report, which was released publically in May 2018, revealed “major shortcomings” both in the investigation of the allegations and in interpretation of Canadian obligations under interna­tional law.

    July 05, 2018

    Responding to news that two academics and two students from Chiang Mai University were charged on Wednesday, along with a writer, with ‘holding an unlawful political gathering’ after they were photographed at a private academic conference with a banner protesting military surveillance of the event, Katherine Gerson, Amnesty International’s Thailand campaigner said:

    “These absurd charges would be laughable were it not for the potentially grave consequences for those involved, and what they say about the parlous state of the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly in Thailand.

    “All these students and academics did was make a peaceful, satirical comment about the heavy military presence at a university conference. For this, they could face up to six months in jail under a repressive decree introduced by the military government. Pushing this case through the judicial system highlights the crippling measures authorities are instituting to silence academics and gag any form of dissent.

    July 04, 2018

    Amnesty International will be debating proposals to tackle the devastating human rights consequences of misguided attempts by countries to criminalise and restrict abortion and to punish people for using drugs.

    Delegates from around the world will be gathering in Warsaw, Poland, over July 6-8 to hold crucial votes on the organisation’s positions on safe and legal abortion and how States control the production, sale and use of drugs.

    “We want to make sure we are well placed to fight for the human rights of millions of people whose lives are impacted by how governments criminalise or restrict access to abortion and by the prohibition of drugs. Both issues require a much more compassionate approach from governments to protect the rights of the people who are most at risk,” said Tawanda Mutasah, Amnesty International’s Senior Director for Law and Policy.  

    Access to abortion

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