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    February 10, 2019

    Authorities in Côte d’Ivoire must end arbitrary arrests and harassment of people for perceived critical views and dissent, and immediately and unconditionally release those detained, Amnesty International said as next year’s presidential elections approaches.

    In a new report, Côte d’Ivoire: A fragile human rights situation, submitted ahead of the country’s UN Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in May, the organization highlights key human rights concerns including the use of repressive laws to crackdown on dissent.

    “The Ivorian authorities’ use of repressive laws amid a crackdown on the right to freedom of expression has resulted in the arbitrary detention of scores of people simply for peacefully exercising their human rights,” said François Patuel, Amnesty International’s West Africa Researcher.

    “As next year’s presidential election approaches, the authorities should take immediate action to ensure people can freely express their opinion without fearing arrest. They must respect, protect, promote and fulfil human rights before, during and after the election.”

    February 08, 2019

    Responding to reports that Iranian prison guards in riot gear beat prisoners and used tear gas, firearms and pepper spray during raids inside the women-only Shahr e-Rey prison (commonly known as Gharchak) in Varamin outside Tehran that began last night, Amnesty International’s Research and Advocacy Director for the Middle East and North Africa, Philip Luther, said: 

    “The reports of the Iranian prison guards’ reckless and heavy-handed response to protests at Shahr-e-Rey prison are deeply alarming. Many prisoners were reported to have received hospital treatment for the effects of tear gas.

    “Prison authorities must refrain from using unnecessary and excessive force against prisoners. Instead of carrying out violent raids against prisoners, they should be working to address the inhumane and squalid conditions at Shahr-e Rey prison.”

    Background:

    February 08, 2019

    Member states of the African Union must ensure that Egypt’s upcoming chairmanship does not undermine the continental body’s human rights mechanisms, said Amnesty International today. President Abdelfattah al-Sisi of Egypt will assume the position of the chairperson of the African Union on 10 February during its 32nd ordinary session in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

    “During his time in power President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has demonstrated a shocking contempt for human rights. Under his leadership the country has undergone a catastrophic decline in rights and freedoms,” said Najia Bounaim, Amnesty’s North Africa Campaigns Director.

    “There are real fears about the potential impact his chairmanship could have on the independence of regional human rights mechanisms and their future engagement with civil society.”

    February 07, 2019

    A new briefing by Amnesty International documents how the Zimbabwean authorities have mounted a brutal crackdown and violence against protesters, using killings and torture, among other serious human rights violations to crush protests against fuel prices which began on 14 January.

    Amnesty International interviewed relatives of some of the 15 people who have been killed by security forces since the start of protests, and detailed how authorities have used lethal and excessive force such as tear gas, baton sticks, water cannons and live ammunition to silence dissent.

    “The Zimbabwean authorities have resorted to the most brutal tactics imaginable to crush demonstrations against fuel hikes. Killings, reports of rape by military personnel and widespread arbitrary arrests of many protestors and non-protestors, have cast doubts on hopes that President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government might mean a better future for Zimbabweans where respect for human rights is the norm,” said Muleya Mwananyanda, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for Southern Africa.

    February 06, 2019
    Release prisoners of conscience Investigate death of PTM activist Arman Luni Disclose whereabouts of human rights defender Gulalai Ismail

    The Pakistani authorities must immediately and unconditionally release protestors belonging to the peaceful Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) who have been arbitrarily detained, Amnesty International said today.

    At least 19 people were arrested from cities across Pakistan on 5 February 2019 as the PTM marked a global day of peaceful protests calling for an end to discrimination against Pashtuns in Pakistan and for an end to enforced disappearances, extrajudicial executions and other human rights violations.

    Amnesty International also calls on the Pakistani authorities to investigate the killing of activist Arman Luni, who appears to have been the subject of an extrajudicial execution, and disclose the whereabouts of the well-known human rights defender Gulalai Ismail, who may have been subjected to an enforced disappearance.

    February 06, 2019

    Responding to the announcement by Radio Free Asia that one of their contributors, Truong Duy Nhat, was reportedly abducted in Bangkok (Thailand), Amnesty’s Senior Director for Global Operations, Minar Pimple, said:

    “Truong Duy Nhat’s disappearance is deeply alarming. He is a former prisoner of conscience who was repeatedly targeted by the Vietnamese authorities. We know from several sources that he travelled to Bangkok to claim asylum. No-one has seen or heard from him since 26 January.

    “Thai authorities must immediately investigate these multiple reliable reports of abduction from members of the Vietnamese exile community, corroborated by Nhat’s colleagues at Radio Free Asia, who have now raised the alarm. Viet Nam security forces have abducted exiles and refugees from Thailand and elsewhere in the past. Truong Duy Nhat is at a clear risk of torture or other ill-treatment if his abduction is confirmed.

    “Vietnamese authorities have been silent over Truong Duy Nhat’s disappearance. They must come forward with any information about his whereabouts and ensure his safety and freedom of movement.”

    February 06, 2019

    Responding to the attack on two journalists shot dead in Takhar province when gunmen entered a radio station and opened fire, Amnesty International’s South Asia Researcher, Zaman Sultani, said:

     “The attack on two journalists working in a radio station by unknown gunmen in Takhar province is a horrific crime. This attack once again highlights the risks journalists continue to face in Afghanistan for just doing their job. The Afghan authorities must ensure safety and protection for all so they can work freely and without fear.

    “The Afghan authorities must ensure thorough investigation and the perpetrators must be brought to justice through fair trials without recourse to death penalty.”

    This has been the second attack on journalists in Afghanistan in 2019. In January journalist Javid Noori was attacked and killed by the Taliban. 2018 was reported to be the deadliest year for journalists in Afghanistan, killing 15.

    February 06, 2019

    The following can be attributed to Joanne Lin, national director of advocacy and government relations at Amnesty International USA:

    “Tonight’s State of the Union was just another opportunity for the president to peddle his politics of hate and fear to a captive audience. He has emboldened despotic regimes around the world by turning a blind eye, and in some cases, actively promoting human rights violations in places like Saudi Arabia and North Korea. At the southern border, his obsession with divisive symbols like a wall is just part of his continued efforts to stigmatize people desperately in need of protection. His policy of sending vulnerable asylum seekers back to dangerous conditions in Mexico is nothing short of cruel. 

    “No wall, no military buildup, no expansion of detention facilities, no pushbacks of people legally seeking asylum at the border. It’s time to come back to human rights and work for policies that treat all people and families with dignity.”

    February 05, 2019

    An open source investigation published by Amnesty International today highlights a growing danger in Yemen’s conflict as the United Arab Emirates (UAE) recklessly arms militias with a range of advanced weaponry.

    The investigation, “When arms go astray: Yemen’s deadly new threat of arms diversion to militias,” shows how the UAE has become a major conduit for armoured vehicles, mortar systems, rifles, pistols, and machine guns – which are being illicitly diverted to unaccountable militias accused of war crimes and other serious violations.

    “While the USA, the UK, France and other European states have rightly been criticized for supplying arms to Coalition forces, and Iran has been implicated in sending arms to the Huthis, a deadly new threat is emerging. Yemen is quickly becoming a safe haven for UAE-backed militias that are largely unaccountable,” said Patrick Wilcken, Arms Control and Human Rights Researcher at Amnesty International.

    February 05, 2019

    Responding to news that the Philippines Senate may vote in favour of lowering the age of criminal responsibility to 12 years old, Amnesty International’s Senior Director for Global Operations, Minar Pimple, said:

    “This regressive law, if passed, will endanger children’s lives rather than reduce crime. Let’s remember that the so-called ‘war on drugs’ – in whose name this law was drafted – is a reckless war on the poor that has already left tens of thousands dead, including children.

    “Today the government takes another harsh step, by opening the door to the criminal prosecution of young children including for drug-related offences. In a climate where the police act as judge, jury and literally, executioner, this bill risks enabling further abuses of power.

    “The Philippine authorities claim the draft law is designed to rehabilitate children. If that was the goal, they would focus on fulfilling their obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and existing juvenile welfare laws. The Philippine Senate should reject this deeply dangerous bill.”

    February 04, 2019

    With less than four years to go until the 2022 World Cup, the Qatari authorities risk falling behind on their promise to tackle widespread labour exploitation of thousands of migrant workers, Amnesty International said today.

    In a new briefing, “Reality Check: The state of migrant workers’ rights with less than four years to go until the Qatar 2022 World Cup”, the organization examines Qatar’s high-profile reform process and reveals how much work the authorities still need to do to fully respect and protect the rights of around 2 million migrant workers.

    “Time is running out if the Qatari authorities want to deliver a legacy we can all cheer - namely a labour system that ends the abuse and misery inflicted upon so many migrant workers every day,” said Stephen Cockburn, Deputy Director of Global Issues at Amnesty International.

    February 01, 2019

    Responding to a Hong Kong judicial review that upheld the government’s policy of forcing transgender people to undergo surgery before having their gender legally recognized, Man-kei Tam, Director of Amnesty International Hong Kong, commented:

     “Today’s judgment is a blow for the recognition of transgender people. It is a missed opportunity to address the discrimination transgender people in Hong Kong face.

    “No one should be forced to undergo gender affirming surgery in order to have their gender legally recognized. We urge the government to do the right thing and end this discriminatory and highly intrusive policy irrespective of today’s ruling.

    “The government should also swiftly introduce comprehensive legislation against discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation, gender identity or intersex status.”

    Background

    Henry Edward Tse, Q and R are three transgender men born female. They sought a judicial review after the government refused to legally recognize his gender unless he underwent gender affirming surgery. They feared such medical treatment would damage their health.  

    February 01, 2019

    At least 60 people were killed following the 28 January devastating Boko Haram attack on Rann, a border town in Borno state, northeast Nigeria, Amnesty International has confirmed.

    The organization also analyzed satellite imagery which shows hundreds of burned structures in the town. Many of the destroyed structures only date back to 2017, suggesting they were shelters for internally displaced people who came to Rann seeking protection.

    “We have now confirmed that this week’s attack on Rann was the deadliest yet by Boko Haram, killing at least 60 people. Using satellite imagery we have also been able to confirm the mass burning of structures as Boko Haram unleashed a massive assault on Rann, most of which is now destroyed,” said Osai Ojigho, Director of Amnesty International Nigeria.

    “This attack on civilians who have already been displaced by the bloody conflict may amount to possible war crime, and those responsible must be brought to justice. Disturbingly, witnesses told us that Nigerian soldiers abandoned their posts the day before the attack, demonstrating the authorities’ utter failure to protect civilians.”

    February 01, 2019

    Responding to reports that Saudi Arabia’s public prosecutor is no longer seeking the death penalty for Israa al-Ghomgham, an female activist who is being prosecuted for peacefully participating in anti-government protests in the country’s eastern province in 2015, Samah Hadid, Amnesty International’s Middle East Director of Campaigns said:

    “The news that Saudi Arabia’s authorities have dropped their outrageous call for Israa al-Ghomgham to be executed comes as a huge relief. However, while her life is no longer at risk, she is still facing a ludicrous prison sentence simply for participating in peaceful demonstrations.

    “Saudi Arabia’s prosecutors must now immediately drop their call for the death penalty against four other defendants facing trial alongside Israa al-Ghomgham. All have been detained for exercising their peaceful right to freedom of expression, association and assembly.

    February 01, 2019

    Responding to the Australian Defence Force’s (ADF) admission that its air strikes in Mosul, Iraq may have caused up to 18 civilian deaths in 2017, Lynn Maalouf, Amnesty International’s Middle East Research Director, said:

    “The Australian Defence Force’s latest admission that its air strikes killed civilians during the battle for Mosul in 2017 is a step in the right direction. Once again, the Australian government has proven more willing to take responsibility for causing loss of civilian life than its coalition partners, including the UK, USA and France.

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