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    February 19, 2019

    Responding to today’s arrest of one of the leaders of the #ArewaMeToo movement, Maryam Aiwasu, who is pursuing justice for victims of sexual violence in Nigeria, Osai Ojigho Director Amnesty International said:

    “Authorities must immediately and unconditionally release Maryam Aiwasu who has done nothing more than speaking up for women’s rights. Her arrest appears to be an attempt to intimidate and harass both her and other women supporting #ArewaMeToo – a movement seeking justice for victims of sexual violence in Nigeria.

    “While arresting Maryam, the police attempted to gain access to her laptop and mobile phone by force; this is clearly an effort to access the sensitive evidence she and other human rights defenders have been gathering to seek justice for victims of sexual violence.

    February 19, 2019

    Responding to the decision of a Turkish first instance appeals court to uphold the conviction of journalists and executives from the Cumhuriyet newspaper, Amnesty International’s Turkey Strategy and Research Manager, Andrew Gardner said:

    “Today’s ruling to send the former Cumhuriyet staff back to prison exposes yet again the way in which politically motivated trials and unsound court decisions are simply rubber stamped by an equally biased appeals process.

    “The prosecution of scores of journalists and other media workers is an ongoing affront to press freedom and to justice. By using the courts to increase their stranglehold on the media, the authorities have once again displayed the ugly side of Turkey’s broken judicial system. This should ring alarm bells for anyone who cares about freedom of expression.”

    For more information please contact Elizabeth Berton-Hunter, Media Relations 416-363-9933 ext 332 bberton-hunter@amnesty.ca

    Background

    February 19, 2019

    In response to President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s statement that the government will deal with those suspected to be behind the national ‘stay-away’ protests, including non-governmental organizations, trade union leaders, opposition leaders, doctors and lawyers, Muleya Mwananyanda, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for Southern Africa said:

    “President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s unfortunate comments are deeply troubling and unwarranted. Coming off the heels of Amnesty International’s expose of a systematic targeting of dissent during the national ‘stay-away’ period, they affirm that his government used security forces, including military personnel, to brutalize people who were protesting. This latest threat is a sinister hint that the situation could become even worse.

    “If his government wants to build an inclusive country that is based on respect for human rights, President Mnangagwa should accommodate differing views, whether they please his government or not.”

    Background

    February 15, 2019

    Grave Concern Detainees Have Been Tortured, Killed

    Equatorial Guinea named a French anti-corruption lawyer in an arrest warrant against 16 people, in apparent retaliation for his involvement in a money laundering trial against the president’s eldest son, nine human rights and anti-corruption groups said today.

    The warrant accuses the 16 targets of laundering money and helping to finance “terrorism and the proliferation of arms trafficking in Central Africa.”

    Named in the warrant are also people already in police custody accused of participating in a December 2017 coup attempt. They have been unable to communicate with their families or lawyers since their arrest, raising serious concern about their risk of torture and other ill treatment and in some cases their right to life, the organizations said.

    February 15, 2019

    Egyptian authorities are flagrantly violating international law by denying family visits to scores of detainees, Amnesty International said today. The organization has examined an official document which confirms there is an open-ended ban on family visits in a number of sections at two major prison complexes in Cairo and Alexandria.

    Amnesty International has also recorded at least 61 cases of people who were prevented from receiving family visits for protracted periods – in some cases for up to two years -  at Tora prison in Cairo and Borg al-Arab in Alexandria. The total number of detainees barred from receiving family visits at these two prisons is likely to be much higher.

    “Egypt’s arbitrary and unlawful restrictions on family visits are depriving scores of detainees of their rights to keep in touch with family members, and often also of the chance to receive medication, food or clothing from their loved ones during their detention,” said Najia Bounaim, Amnesty International’s North Africa Campaigns Director.

    February 15, 2019

    Responding to the conviction of four people in connection with the assassination of prominent lawyer Ko Ni in Myanmar, Amnesty International’s Director of Crisis Response, Tirana Hassan, said: 

    “Despite today’s verdict, serious questions remain about whether all those responsible have been brought to justice. Myanmar’s authorities have shown time and again that they are unable to conduct credible investigations or ensure accountability, and this has perpetuated a climate of impunity in the country. This long and tortuous trial has done little to bring light to the assassination of one of the country’s most prominent lawyers. 

    “Although no-one sentenced to capital punishment has been executed since 1988, we are disturbed that two of the defendants have been sentenced to death. Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all circumstances and without exception.”  

    Background 

    February 14, 2019

    A type of Belgian machine gun known to be wielded by a Yemeni militia in the Hodeidah offensive is among the weaponry set to be showcased this weekend at one of the Middle East’s largest arms fairs in Abu Dhabi, Amnesty International said today.

    According to promotional materials for the UAE’s IDEX2019 arms fair, the Minimi will be among the thousands of types of weapons available for sale. Manufactured in Belgium’s Wallonia region by FN Herstal, it is among an array of arms transferred by the Belgian Walloon authorities to the Saudi Arabia/UAE-led coalition in recent years for use in the armed conflict in Yemen.

    An Amnesty International investigation last week documented the same weapon type being used by “The Giants,” a Yemeni militia that is backed and supplied by the UAE but not accountable to any government.

    February 14, 2019

    Reacting to the European Parliament’s condemnation of the ongoing repression and torture of a group of women’s rights defenders detained in Saudi Arabia since May 2018, the Director of Amnesty International’s European Institutions Office Covadonga de la Campa said:

    ‘The European Parliament’s resolution on Saudi Arabia is an important step which acknowledges the incredible courage of these imprisoned men and women, several of whom have been tortured for demanding the end of the male guardianship system, campaigning for women’s right to drive and tirelessly defending human rights.’

    ‘After the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, EU High Representative Federica Mogherini assured the European Parliament that the EU would support human rights activists “regardless of geopolitics”. It is time for them to come good on this promise and speak out for Saudi detainees, as silent diplomacy has thus far failed to protect them.’

    February 14, 2019

    By T.K.

    We all have that one person we immediately connect with. Someone who you know will always be part of your life. The person you can easily talk to, even though it has been months if not years since you last saw one another. For me, Eman Al Nafjan is such a person. Someone I am proud of, who inspires and makes me laugh. 

    We met in 2010 while I was living in Saudi Arabia. Eman introduced me to Saudi culture and cuisine, and taught me useful Arabic phrases. She took me around the magical souks in Riyadh.

    We used to spend hours discussing all aspects of life. At that time, she was working as an English teacher at a university while completing her PhD in linguistics. Since 2010, our tradition has been to meet once a year to enjoy new places, visit museums and catch up. We are both morning people, but Eman is up earlier than most. Even on holiday, I would often find her sitting at a table, very early in the morning, with a cup of strong coffee in one hand and a newspaper in the other.

    February 13, 2019

    Responding to the arrest warrant served to Maria Ressa at the Rappler offices today on charges of ‘cyber libel’, Amnesty International Philippines Section Director, Butch Olano, said:

    “Just days after the National Bureau of Investigation announced that it will indict Maria Ressa for cyber libel, a warrant for her arrest was served today. Amnesty International Philippines condemns the arrest based on a trumped-up libel charge. This is brazenly politically motivated, and consistent with the authorities’ threats and repeated targeting of Ressa and her team. Authorities should end this harassment, drop the charges, and repeal this repressive law.

    “In a country where justice takes years to obtain, we see the charges against her being railroaded and the law being used to relentlessly intimidate and harass journalists for doing their jobs as truth-tellers.”

    Background

    February 13, 2019

    The approval of laws 5377 and 5257, which the Congress of the Republic will discuss on Wednesday, February 13, would put the human rights of thousands of people in Guatemala at risk, said Amnesty International today.

    “These legislative initiatives put at risk the progress of the last decade in the investigation and prosecution of those responsible for human rights violations in Guatemala. These advances have been possible thanks to the valiant and tireless efforts of the victims, their legal representatives, prosecutors and the people and civil society organizations that defend human rights. These laws would also put in doubt the future of the fight against impunity,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International.

    The possible approval of law 5257, under discussion for the third time, which proposes amending the Law on Non-Governmental Organizations for Development, constitutes a threat to the rights to freedom of expression and association in Guatemala. It would impose excessive controls and onerous requirements for the registration and operation of NGOs in the country.

    February 13, 2019

    Egyptian authorities today hanged three prisoners convicted of killing a police officer during clashes that erupted in the weeks following the deadly Rabaa massacre. The executions brought the total number of executions in Egypt to six within a span of two weeks.

    Responding to the news, Amnesty International’s North Africa Campaigns Director Najia Bounaim said:

    “These executions, which come just days after three other people were put to death in separate cases, mark an alarming escalation in executions so far this year.

    “The death penalty is the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment and its use is appalling under any circumstances, but it is even more so given that all six execution

    victims were sentenced based on confessions they said were extracted under torture. The shocking flaws in Egypt’s justice system have seen hundreds sentenced to death after grossly unfair trials in recent years.

    February 13, 2019

    In response to the Medivac Bill passing the senate and the Prime Minister’s announcement that Christmas Island will be reopening Amnesty International Australia Refugee Coordinator Graham Thom said:

    “The passing of the Medivac Bill is a welcome step towards humanity for the refugees on Manus and Nauru. It is reassuring that public opinion is finally being reflected in parliament through the many people that fought so hard to get the bill through.

    “In Hakeem’s case the Australian government recognised this and worked hard to ensure he was returned to Australia. But many other people with the same recognised refugee status as Hakeem remain detained in terrible conditions on Manus and Nauru.

    “Most of the people on Manus Island and Nauru are recognised refugees who have proven their lives would be in danger if they were returned to their countries of origin. You can’t demonise the refugees on Manus and Nauru on one hand while welcoming others and praising their contribution to Australia.

    February 12, 2019

    The Nigerian authorities must protect people from violence and ensure full respect for freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association before, during and after the country’s upcoming general election, Amnesty International said ahead of the votes scheduled for 16 February and 2 March 2019.

    There have been several instances of violence at election campaign rallies in some states in recent months, including the deaths of four people in Kano state in clashes between rival political supporters in December 2018.

    “The election-related violence in states such as Kano, Kwara, Kogi, Rivers, Taraba and Bayelsa is deeply troubling and, if not urgently addressed, will undermine respect for human rights throughout the election period,” said Osai Ojigho, Director of Amnesty International Nigeria.

    “Amnesty International has received reports of supporters of some politicians violently targeting political opponents, real or perceived. The authorities must stamp out any potential impunity by ensuring these incidents are investigated and that those suspected to be responsible are brought to justice.”

    February 12, 2019

    Kenyan Court Drops Oversight

    The Kenyan police and the South Sudanese authorities should ensure effective, transparent and impartial investigations into the enforced disappearance of two South Sudanese critics in Nairobi more than two years ago, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch said today.

    On January 17, 2019, a Kenyan High Court ended its 24-month oversight of the police investigation into the disappearances of Dong Samuel Luak, a prominent South Sudanese lawyer and human rights activist, and Aggrey Idri, a member of the political opposition. They were snatched off the streets of Nairobi on January 23 and 24, 2017 respectively. The families had initiated the petition for judicial review following concerns that the Kenyan Police had not effectively investigated.

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