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    May 14, 2020

    Amnesty International is calling on King Salman bin Abdulaziz of Saudi Arabia to release several notable women’s rights defenders, two years after they were detained.

    On 15 May 2018, a number of prominent Saudi women’s human rights activists were arrested. They had been peacefully advocating for years for the right of women in the kingdom to drive, as well as broader reforms related to the repressive male guardianship system.

    In the days and weeks that followed, more of their fellow peaceful activists were detained as part of the Saudi authorities’ crackdown and smear campaign.

    “It is heartbreaking that two years have now passed with these brave women still behind bars, especially as during this time Saudi women have been enjoying some of the newfound rights they had fought so hard for,” said Lynn Maalouf, Amnesty International’s Middle East Research Director.

    “In prison, many suffered mental and physical anguish – including torture, sexual abuse and solitary confinement. Scores of others, though released, still face trial based on charges relating to their peaceful activism.

    May 14, 2020

    The inhumane treatment of refugees and migrants threatens to stall progress on tackling COVID-19, Amnesty International said today, warning that overcrowded camps and detention centres will become new epicentres unless urgent action is taken. The organization said that lockdowns and movement restrictions have exacerbated dire living conditions, leaving millions of people at risk of starvation and illness.

    The organization is calling for concerted global action to ensure hundreds of thousands of people on the move are provided with adequate access to food, water, sanitation and healthcare to ensure their survival as countries prepare to come out of lockdown.

    “It is impossible to properly contain this virus when so many people worldwide are living in desperately overcrowded, unsanitary camps and detention centres. At a time when we need compassion and cooperation more than ever some governments have instead doubled down on discrimination and abuse – preventing deliveries of food and water, locking people up, or sending them back to war and persecution,” said Iain Byrne, Head of Amnesty International’s Refugee and Migrant Rights team.

    May 13, 2020

    The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau

    Prime Minister of Canada

    80 Wellington Street

    Ottawa, Ontario

    K1A 0A2

     

    13 May 2020

    Dear Prime Minister Trudeau,

    Re: Demonstrating Global Leadership on Refugees and Migrants in light of COVID-19

    We write this Open Letter to you, amidst the unprecedented challenges governments everywhere face in responding to the COVID-19 crisis, to express our firm conviction that Canada can, and must, provide much needed global leadership when it comes to providing meaningful human rights protection for migrants and refugees around the world. We write as Canadians, permanent residents and refugees living in Canada who have had opportunities to serve in roles or positions internationally in which we have engaged substantially in concerns about refugee protection globally. We have witnessed and appreciated the value of Canadian leadership in the past and stress how urgently needed it is at this time.

    May 12, 2020
    Canadian Coalition on Human Rights in China says Canadian government’s inadequate response emboldens pro-Beijing actors

    OTTAWA – Advocates across Canada are increasingly facing threats, intimidation, and harassment for sounding the alarm on serious human rights concerns in China, according to a new report.       

    The Canadian Coalition on Human Rights in China, a coalition of Canada-based civil society organizations with a specific focus on the place of human rights in Canada’s foreign policy with China, released the report today. The Coalition is calling on Canadian officials to urgently address these deeply worrying incidents, some of which have involved cyberbullying, death threats, racist insults, and aggressive counter-protests organized in response to pro-democracy demonstrations. Many of these cases are clearly linked, either directly or indirectly, to Chinese state actors.

    Further, the report highlights a new trend of such incidents taking place on university campuses and secondary schools across Canada.

    May 10, 2020
    Detailed investigation into 18 air and ground attacks on schools and hospitals Russia and Syria deliberately hit hospitals on UN ‘do not target’ list Strong evidence of Russia’s direct involvement in unlawful air strikes

    The UN Security Council must not cut a vital aid lifeline for civilians in the context of war crimes and crimes against humanity in north-west Syria, Amnesty International urged today, as a resolution allowing humanitarian assistance to reach Idlib across Syria’s borders is set to expire in the coming weeks.

    A new Amnesty International report, 'Nowhere is safe for us': Unlawful attacks and mass displacement in north-west Syria, details 18 cases – the majority in January and February 2020 – where Syrian and/or Russian government forces targeted medical facilities and schools in Idlib, western Aleppo and north-western Hama governorates.

    May 04, 2020

    Responding to news that South China Morning Post journalist Tashny Sukumaran is being investigated by the Malaysian Royal Police for reporting on the mass arrests of migrant workers and refugees in Kuala Lumpur on 1 May, Preethi Bhardwaj, Interim Executive Director of Amnesty International Malaysia, said:

    “Authorities must drop the alarming investigation against Tashny Sukumaran immediately. Journalists who report on human rights abuses related to the pandemic should be able to carry out their work without fear of persecution. During a pandemic, authorities should have more important priorities than prosecuting reporters for articles they don’t like.”

    “The Malaysian government has repeatedly used laws including the Penal Code and the Communications and Multimedia Act to curb criticism of the government since the start of the pandemic. Amnesty International Malaysia has long criticised the use of these laws, which are open to arbitrary use by the authorities, to silence journalists, government critics, and human rights defenders. These provisions must go,” Bhardwaj said.

    May 04, 2020
    Warning comes as Government plans to introduce COVID-19 tracking app Move could ‘open the door to pervasive state surveillance and privacy infringement’ - Kate Allen

    UK Government plans to introduce a COVID-19 tracing app with a potentially centralized contract tracing system are deeply concerning and may mean that people’s right to privacy could become “another casualty” of coronavirus, Amnesty International UK warned today.

    Kate Allen, Amnesty International UK Director, said:

    “We’re extremely concerned that the Government may be planning to route private data through a central database, opening the door to pervasive state surveillance and privacy infringement, with potentially discriminatory effects.

    “Ministers should instead be examining decentralized, privacy-preserving models such as those many European governments are pursuing.

    May 03, 2020

    Amnesty International is calling for the immediate and unconditional release of all the prisoners of conscience it is campaigning for worldwide, who are now at heightened risk due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

    “As this devastating virus sweeps across the globe, prisons are at risk of becoming dangerous hotspots for COVID-19. It is more important than ever that states take urgent measures to protect all those who are behind bars, including by releasing all individuals who are held simply for peacefully exercising their rights,” said Sauro Scarpelli, Deputy Campaigns Director at Amnesty International.

    “Prisoners of conscience have not committed a crime, and yet they continue to be arbitrarily detained in conditions that are now becoming increasingly perilous. The overcrowding and lack of sanitation in many prisons around the world make it impossible for detainees to take preventive steps against the disease, such as physical distancing and regular hand washing. Their unjustified detention is putting them at heightened risk.”

    May 01, 2020

    The backlash against journalists and others who criticize their governments’ handling of COVID-19 is hampering efforts to tackle the virus, Amnesty International said today. The organization warned that censorship of vital information related to the pandemic has become a global phenomenon and urged governments to prioritise public health over their own egos.

    Ahead of World Press Freedom Day, Amnesty International is highlighting cases where authorities may have put the right to health at risk by cracking down on freedom of expression and access to information.

    “There is no hope of containing this virus if people can’t access accurate information. It is truly alarming to see how many governments are more interested in protecting their own reputations than in saving lives,” said Ashfaq Khalfan, Amnesty International’s Director of Law and Policy.

    April 30, 2020
    Health workers not adequately protected At least 40 health workers tested positive for COVID-19

    The Nigerian authorities must ensure that health workers in the frontline of COVID-19 response have access to the protective equipment they need, said Amnesty International Nigeria today marking International Workers Day.

    Brave health workers have been working in difficult conditions, providing health services in the fight against COVID-19. They face the risks of being exposed to the COVID-19 virus, stigmatization, separation from their families, mental health and other concerns.

    “Across Nigeria, health workers are facing extremely difficult and unsafe conditions of work, such as shortages of personal protective equipment, dilapidated and overstretched health facilities, unfair remuneration and harassment by security forces,” said Osai Ojigho Director Amnesty International Nigeria

    April 30, 2020

    In light of the measures implemented by president Nayib Bukele to contain the pandemic, including the detention of people in forced confinement for breaching the quarantine, Amnesty International, the Center for Justice and International Law, the Due Process of Law Foundation, the Washington Office on Latin America, and the Mesoamerican Initiative for Women Human Rights Defenders published an open letter to the president today expressing concern about the Salvadoran government’s actions.  

    “Today we collectively call on president Bukele to lead a public health strategy to protect the population and their rights in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. The government must immediately reverse those measures that, far from serving health purposes, have only led to multiple reports of alleged human rights violations, including arbitrary detentions and excessive use of force,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International.

    April 30, 2020

    VANCOUVER, Coast Salish Territories – Today, 38 human rights, health, prisoner rights, and legal organizations are calling on BC’s Chief Coroner and BC’s Solicitor General to direct an immediate inquest into the tragic death of a man in Correctional Service Canada’s custody at Mission Institution. His death on April 15th is the first reported COVID-related death of a federal prisoner.

    In their letter, the 38 provincial and national organizations state, “Amidst a global pandemic, we cannot continue to sit back and watch people die in prison from the ticking time bomb of COVID-19 spreading through these institutions.” The organizations recognize that an inquest is absolutely in the public interest and is a minimum first step to ensure that similar deaths can be prevented.

    April 29, 2020
    Amnesty International visited 12 military camps in South Sudan Site visits and satellite imagery reveal multiple forces violating arms embargo Child soldiers, illicit concealment and diversion of arms also documented

    The UN Security Council must renew and strengthen enforcement of the arms embargo on South Sudan, Amnesty International said today, exposing new evidence that multiple security forces are breaching it and concealing weapons amid a volatile security situation. Next month the Security Council is set to vote on a resolution that would renew the embargo, which currently expires on 31 May 2020.

    Earlier this year, the organization’s investigators gained access to 12 military training and cantonment sites across the country run by members of formerly opposed forces including the South Sudan People’s Defence Forces (SSPDF), Sudan People’s Liberation Army-In Opposition (SPLA-IO) and South Sudan Opposition Alliance (SSOA), as well as the so-called “Organized Forces” of the police, fire brigade, and wildlife service.

    April 27, 2020

    Reacting to the publication today of US Africa Command’s (AFRICOM) first quarterly assessment of civilian casualties resulting from its operations in Africa, which acknowledges that two Somali civilians were killed and three injured in an air strike, Seif Magango, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for Eastern Africa, said:

    “This first regular public report acknowledging AFRICOM’s role in civilian casualties is a welcome glimmer of transparency in more than a decade of deadly military operations that until now have been shrouded in secrecy. Now there must be accountability and reparation for the victims and their families – the US military has still neither contacted nor offered reparation to the families of any of the civilians it has admitted to killing.

    April 27, 2020

    Following Saudi Arabia’s announcement that it plans to end the use of the death penalty against people below the age of 18 at the time of the crime in cases not involving the counter-terror law, Amnesty International has called on the country to totally abolish the death penalty.

    “While this represents a significant step for Saudi Arabia if implemented, the country’s continued use of the death penalty reached a shocking high last year with 184 recorded executions,” said Heba Morayef, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Regional Director.

    “The death penalty is the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment; no country should still be using it and Saudi Arabia’s record is particularly bad in this respect. Saudi Arabia must now establish an official moratorium on executions as a first step towards abolishing the death penalty completely.

    “It should also not be forgotten that dozens of peaceful human rights activists remain detained following convictions in grossly unfair trials solely for campaigning for equality and justice in a vastly repressive environment.”

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