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    November 09, 2020

    Civil society groups are outraged and deeply disappointed that the governments of Quebec and Alberta are not participating in the Federal-Provincial-Territorial ministerial human rights meeting November 9-10.

    The organizations, including Amnesty International Canada’s English- and French-speaking sections, learned late last week that the Alberta and Quebec governments will send observers to the meeting, instead of their ministers responsible for human rights. The Quebec government has made it clear that it opposes plans to reference “systemic racism” in a joint media release that will be issued following the meeting, while the Alberta government refuses to recognize that Canada’s international human rights obligations are binding on the province.

    The Federal, Provincial and Territorial ministers responsible for human rights will be meeting, virtually, to discuss their collective responsibility to ensure that the human rights of all people are protected across the country. This is only the third meeting of its kind in the past 32 years, with the other meetings having taken place in 1988 and 2017.

    November 09, 2020

    Responding to the arrest of more than 1,000 people in a single day of peaceful protest in Minsk and other Belarusian cities, Marie Struthers, Amnesty International’s Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia, said:

    “Over the weekend, the security forces under the command of President Alyaksandr Lukashenka escalated reprisals against peaceful dissent and took the human rights crisis in Belarus to a new level, with gruesome footage of riot police beating unarmed demonstrators and officers shoving elderly people into police vans.

    “These acts add weight to the already heavy dossier of government violations of human rights, including unlawful use of force, arbitrary mass arrests, torture and ill-treatment of people who speak out against Lukashenka’s government. Hundreds of those arrested face up to 15 days of administrative detention, which can be applied multiple times amounting to lengthy imprisonment intended to silence and intimidate.

    November 08, 2020

    The Tunisian authorities must immediately stop exploiting largely outdated, overly broad and repressive laws to prosecute individuals for exercising their right to freedom of expression online, said Amnesty International in a detailed briefing and campaign launched today.

    Amnesty International found that at least 40 bloggers, administrators of widely followed Facebook pages, political activists and human rights defenders have face criminal prosecution between 2018 and 2020 simply for publishing online posts critical of local authorities, the police or other state officials. 

    "It is extremely disturbing to see bloggers and activists being targeted with criminal prosecutions under laws that date back to the time of repression in Tunisia ten years after the revolution, for simply posting their views on Facebook. Instead of trying to muzzle criticism, the Tunisian authorities should uphold the right of each and every person to express themselves freely and safely without fear of reprisals,” said Amna Guellali, Amnesty International's Deputy Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

    November 07, 2020

    Following reports that Joe Biden will become the 46th president of the United States of America, Amnesty International USA’s Interim Executive Director, Bob Goodfellow, released the following statement:  

    “As an organization dedicated to defending everyone’s human rights in the U.S. and around the world, Amnesty International USA calls on the new Biden administration to act immediately to end human rights violations perpetrated by the U.S. government, including the detention and separation of children and their families seeking safety.    

    November 06, 2020

    OTTAWA – Amnesty International is pleased to announce that its first-ever online human rights conference in Canada will feature an array of high-profile activists, Indigenous rights advocates, and award-winning authors. 

    Sparking Connections is an online, nation-wide gathering of Amnesty International Canada’s English-speaking membership and wider community. Organized by Amnesty International’s members, the conference will take place over two weeks from Nov. 7-21. 

    Everyone is invited to participate in skill-building workshops, attend community events and tune into the incredible keynote speeches. 

    Dr. Pam Palmater, a Mi’kmaw lawyer, scholar and social justice advocate, will launch the conference on Nov. 7 on 1 p.m. EST with a keynote address on what it means to do human rights work on stolen, Indigenous lands. The general public can live stream the keynote here.  

    November 04, 2020

    On 16 October, Samuel Paty, a 47-year-old teacher, was murdered in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine (Paris region). An 18- year old holding refugee status in France beheaded the teacher allegedly because he had shown his students some cartoons depicting the prophet Mohammed.

    On 29 October, three people were killed in a church in Nice. The main suspect is a 21-year old Tunisian national. The authorities have arrested another person who is suspected of being an accomplice. Amnesty International condemns the murders in the strongest possible terms. All our thoughts are with the families of the victims.

    French authorities have legal obligations to carry out a prompt, thorough, independent, impartial, transparent and effective investigation into the murders. Anyone suspected of being responsible should be brought to justice and judged following a fair trial. Regrettably, following the murders, the French Minister of Interior Gérald Darmanin, made announcements that raise concerns regarding the authorities’ willingness to comply with the country’s international human rights obligations.

    November 03, 2020

    Responding to news that the Belarusian authorities have started mass criminal proceedings against more than 200 peaceful protesters who were detained during a rally on Sunday, and are now at risk of being jailed for up to three years, Denis Krivosheev, Deputy Director of Amnesty International for Eastern Europe and Central Asia said: 

    “The Belarusian authorities clearly fear freedom of peaceful assembly in the country, and are now criminalizing it wholesale, by attempting to prosecute 231 detained protesters in one single case. The protesters called their rally on Sunday a March against Terror, and now they are being intimidated by the authorities even further. 

    “By officially calling hundreds of participants of a peaceful demonstration criminals, the Belarusian authorities show their deep disdain for human rights and fundamental freedoms. This criminal case is utterly absurd and sets a dangerous precedent. It must be immediately dropped. 

    November 02, 2020

    Amnesty International can reveal that at least 54 people from the Amhara ethnic group were killed in an attack late on 1 November by suspected members of the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) armed group.

    The attack on Gawa Qanqa village in Guliso District of West Wellega Zone took place just a day after Ethiopian Defense Forces troops withdrew from the area unexpectedly and without explanation. Witnesses said dozens of men, women and children were killed, property looted and what the militants could not carry away, they set on fire.

    “This senseless attack is the latest in a series of killings in the country in which members of ethnic minorities have been deliberately targeted. The fact that this horrendous incident occurred shortly after government troops abruptly withdrew from the area in unexplained circumstances raises questions that must be answered,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for East and Southern Africa.

    “The Ethiopian authorities must investigate what happened and prosecute those responsible for the attack through fair trials.”

    October 30, 2020
    Reinstate Contract; Amend Labor Law

    (Beirut, October 30, 2020) – Lebanon’s State Shura Council, the country’s top administrative court, delivered a sharp blow to migrant domestic worker rights by suspending the implementation of a new standard unified contract, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch said today. The standard unified contract, which the Labor Ministry adopted on September 8, 2020, included new protections for migrant domestic workers, including vital safeguards against forced labor, and would have been an important first step toward abolishing the abusive kafala (sponsorship) system.

    October 29, 2020

    The Indian government must immediately halt its intensifying suppression of dissent, said Amnesty International, following a series of raids by counter-terrorism forces on the homes and premises of civil society groups, human rights defenders and journalists in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) region on Wednesday 28 October.  

    The National Investigation Agency (NIA), the country’s premier anti-terror agency, raided the residences and offices of prominent human rights activists Khurram Parvez, the co-ordinator of J&K Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS), three of his associates and Parveena Ahanger, Chairperson of the Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP). Both organizations have reported extensively on human rights abuses in Kashmir, including the indefinite administrative detention and extrajudicial execution of human rights defenders, torture of people in detention and the widespread impunity of the security forces in the region. Further raids were carried out on the offices of the NGOs Athrout and GK Trust and on the residence of Agence France-Presse’s Kashmir correspondent Parvez Bukhari.  

    October 29, 2020

    Amnesty International has verified the use of banned cluster bombs by Armenia for the first time in the current Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, following an attack on the city of Barda in Azerbaijan.

    Yesterday (28 October 2020), at approximately 1.30pm local time, one or several Smerch rockets were fired into Barda, striking a residential neighbourhood close to a hospital. The Azerbaijani Prosecutor General’s Office has stated that at least 21 people were killed, with an estimated 70 more injured.

    Amnesty International’s Crisis Response experts verified pictures (taken by Vice News reporters in the city) of fragments of 9N235 cluster munitions from Russian-made 9M55 Smerch rockets, that appear to have been fired into the city by Armenian forces.

    “The firing of cluster munitions into civilian areas is cruel and reckless, and causes untold death, injury and misery,” said Marie Struthers, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

    October 28, 2020

    The Nigerian authorities’ must end their attempts to cover up the Lekki Toll Gate massacre, Amnesty International said, as it released a new timeline investigating the atrocity one week later.

    The timeline – available here – collates photographs and video footage to confirm that Nigerian Army vehicles left Bonny Camp, a military base approximately a seven-minute drive from the toll gate, at 6.29pm local time on 20 October. 

    Footage then tracks the vehicles to the toll gate. At approximately 6.45pm, the Nigerian military opened fire on the #EndSars protesters who were peacefully calling for an end to police brutality.

    “What happened at Lekki Toll Gate has all the traits of the Nigerian authorities’ pattern of a cover-up whenever their defence and security forces commit unlawful killings,” said Osai Ojigho, Country Director of Amnesty International.

    October 28, 2020

    Amnesty International has informed the Belarusian authorities that the organization has collected about 191,000 signatures from supporters calling for an end to the crackdown on peaceful protests and accountability for police abuses. The petition was launched ahead of Belarus’s 9 August presidential election amid mounting violations against protesters. As the crackdown against peaceful protesters has intensified, it has been signed by hundreds of thousands of people from 184 countries. 

    “When we started this campaign back in July, we could not have foreseen just how widespread and brutal the assault on peaceful protesters would be. The Belarusian authorities have descended to new lows in their pursuit of critics and political opponents, arresting thousands of people and carrying out a campaign of intimidation, torture and other ill-treatment that is ongoing. Only a couple of weeks ago, the Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs condoned the use of lethal weapons against protesters,” said Aisha Jung, Amnesty International’s Senior Campaigner on Belarus. 

    October 23, 2020
    Canadian companies must take responsibility for human rights abuses abroad, says human rights organization  

    Amnesty International is welcoming news that a group of Eritrean plaintiffs have reached an out-of-court settlement in a lawsuit against Canadian mining company, Nevsun Resources.

    The case, filed in British Columbia in November 2014 by former mine workers Gize Yebeyo Araya, Kesete Tekle Fshazion and Mihretab Yemane Tekle, alleged that Nevsun was responsible for benefitting from gross human rights abuses such as slavery and forced labour, torture, and crimes against humanity during the construction of its copper and gold mine in Eritrea.

    The terms of the settlement – which concludes years of legal wrangling across three continents – are confidential.

    October 23, 2020

    Law enforcement agencies across the USA are failing to facilitate people’s fundamental right to freedom of peaceful assembly, and to protect protests and counter-protests from violent disruption by armed groups among others, Amnesty International said today in a new report, Losing the Peace: US Police Failures to Protect Protesters from Violence. 

    Since the police killing of George Floyd in May 2020, there have been thousands of peaceful anti-racism and political protests and counter-protests across the USA. Yet in nearly 200 incidents where violence occurred between participants in conflicting protests, Amnesty International found that US police forces frequently failed to take preventive measures to avoid the disruption of peaceful assemblies and failed to protect protesters from violent attacks when they did occur.

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