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    June 04, 2020

    The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau

    Prime Minister of Canada

    80 Wellington Street

    Ottawa, Ontario

    K1A 0A2

    June 3, 2020

    Dear Prime Minister,

    We are writing this Open Letter, on behalf of Amnesty International’s supporters across Canada and also reflective of the concerns of the entire global movement of Amnesty International, to urge you to take a much stronger position of unequivocal opposition to Israeli Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu’s plan to annex a large part of the West Bank, land that is part of Occupied Palestinian Territory.  

    Prime Minister Netanyahu is expected to finalize this in the coming weeks. Such a step would violate the UN Charter, jus cogens norms of international law, and international humanitarian legal obligations. It would certainly stand as well to deepen and exacerbate decades of severe and entrenched human rights violations against Palestinians living in the West Bank. It is urgent and vital for Canada to express firm, explicit and public condemnation of this move.

    June 04, 2020

    Responding to Hong Kong’s Legislative Council passing a law that makes it illegal to insult China’s national anthem, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for East and Southeast Asia, Joshua Rosenzweig, said: 

    “People who ‘insult’ China’s national anthem could now be jailed for up to three years. But today the Hong Kong authorities have again insulted the right to freedom of expression in their latest attempt to criminalize peaceful dissent.

    “People’s right to express their different feelings about national anthems and other state symbols is well protected by international human rights law. This law’s broad and subjective provisions leave it open to wide interpretation and abuse.

    “The passing of this odious bill is an ominous sign for the future of human rights in Hong Kong. With China’s ruthless national security law looming, the city’s rights and freedoms are under greater threat than ever before.”

    Background

    June 02, 2020

    OTTAWA – The Canadian government must advance consistent and globally-coordinated action to reverse China’s deeply problematic decision to apply its national security laws to Hong Kong. This troubling move poses extremely dangerous implications for the people of Hong Kong, said several human rights defenders and federal politicians in a press conference today.

    Last week, the Canadian government released a joint statement – along with the United Kingdom, the United States and Australia – condemning the new legislation. Alex Neve, Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada’s English branch, said “it is now vital to deepen and expand on this joint declaration of concern, through consistent and forceful diplomacy with China, with other governments around the world, and in all available multilateral fora.”  

    June 02, 2020

    Today, on International Sex Workers’ Day, Amnesty International and the Network of Women Sex Workers from Latin America and the Caribbean (RedTraSex) call on states in the Americas to take immediate measures to guarantee the rights of women who engage in sex work in the context of COVID-19. In particular, they must guarantee access to adequate health services without discrimination, access to social security and protection from human rights violations, such as torture, which in this case is gender-based, committed by the security forces in the context of states of emergency.

    “Cisgender and transgender women who engage in sex work are systematically marginalized, stigmatized and face multiple barriers when exercising their rights. There is concern that the COVID-19 pandemic is aggravating this inequality. States in the Americas have an obligation to protect all women, regardless of their occupation, from the violence and insecurity caused by gender-based discrimination,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International.

    June 02, 2020

    Responding to remarks by President Donald Trump today in the Rose Garden, Ernest Coverson, the End Gun Violence campaign manager at Amnesty International USA said:

    “The violence that can no longer be ignored is the violence committed against Black lives by the police. The real disgrace is the anti-Black racism of the Trump administration.The President swore an oath to the nation to protect all of its people - not just those he deems worthy. 

    “The time for justice has passed for George Floyd, his children, and his loved ones. The possibility for justice was taken away the day that he was killed. All that remains is accountability - and accountability has been absent from an administration that continues to fan the flames of hate. 

    June 01, 2020

    Responding to the authorities’ banning of Hong Kong’s annual June Fourth Tiananmen anniversary vigil for the first time in 30 years due to COVID-19 social distancing measures, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for East and South East Asia, Joshua Rosenzweig, said:   

    “COVID-19 must not be used as an excuse to stifle freedom of expression. Hong Kong authorities should help facilitate a socially distanced Tiananmen vigil rather than outright banning it. On June Fourth, of all days, people in Hong Kong must be allowed to peacefully exercise their rights to freedom of expression and assembly.

    “In recent weeks we have seen the Hong Kong police repeatedly clamp down on peaceful protests with arbitrary mass arrests and excessive force – including the use of tear gas and pepper pellets. By deeming this important memorial event ‘illegal’, the police have again needlessly exacerbated rising tensions when thousands of people simply want to light a candle for those who lost their lives during the horrific events of 4 June, 1989.

    May 29, 2020

    The shocking death of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer has once again highlighted that anti-Black racism in policing across the United States is an entrenched, unrelenting human rights crisis that needs concerted action at all levels of government and society. 

    The number of Black people in the US who have been killed, profiled, harassed or otherwise targeted by law enforcement including police, security guards and by private citizens continues to grow at a staggering rate. Further, the number of Black women, transgender, and gender non-conforming people who die from racist, sexist, and transphobic violence is an alarming cause for concern. Breonna Taylor and Tony McDade are the latest on this often-omitted list.

    “The intersections of race, gender, and sexuality play a key role in who is remembered, who is not, and whose deaths spark widespread outrage,” said Daniella Barreto, Digital Activism Coordinator with Amnesty International Canada. “Any Black person murdered is a tragedy that warrants action.”

    May 27, 2020

    Responding to a May 25 video showing a Minneapolis police officer using his knee to pin down a man by his neck until he was unable to breathe, Kristina Roth, the senior program officer for Criminal Justice Programs at Amnesty International USA said:

    “No person should ever wake up wondering if that day will be the day that a police officer ends their life, yet people of color, particularly black people, across the country live with that painful and traumatic reality. The actions of this Minneapolis police officer have terrorized people who have already lost so much.

    May 27, 2020

    Responding to the Hong Kong police’s heavy-handed response to today’s protests against the proposed national anthem and national security laws, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for East and South East Asia Joshua Rosenzweig said:

    “Today’s excessive and indiscriminate use of force by the police to disperse protesters once again exposes the authorities’ utter disregard for human rights on the streets of Hong Kong. Mass arrests in entirely peaceful assemblies show that the Hong Kong government is targeting anyone exercising their right to freedom of expression.

    “As rights in Hong Kong come under ever increasing threat, the national anthem bill is another attempt to make peaceful dissent a crime in the city. Under this vaguely worded and repressive law, people in Hong Kong could face up to three years in prison if they are deemed to have ‘insulted’ or ‘misused’ China’s national anthem.

    May 26, 2020

    The COVID-19 pandemic has increased levels of insecurity and violence against women across Europe and, without focused government attention, risks exacerbating gender inequalities and levels of discrimination, a guide by Amnesty International, Women's Link Worldwide and the International Planned Parenthood Federation warned today.

    A Guide for Europe: Protecting the rights of women and girls in times of the COVID-19 pandemic and its aftermath provides governments with a roadmap for taking necessary measures to protect the rights of women and girls, who are disproportionately affected by the pandemic, especially those experiencing intersecting and persistent forms of discrimination.

    “During this health crisis and in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, women’s and girls’ rights must be respected and guaranteed,” said Viviana Waisman, President & CEO of Women’s Link Worldwide.

    “These guidelines give us the framework to demand that European states comply with their obligations and maintain their commitment to the rights and lives of women and girls during this crisis and beyond.”

    May 22, 2020

    Responding to the Chinese government’s proposal to enact new national security legislation for Hong Kong, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for East and South East Asia, Joshua Rosenzweig, said:

    “China routinely abuses its own national security framework as a pretext to target human rights activists and stamp out all forms of dissent. This dangerous proposed law sends the clearest message yet that it is eager to do the same in Hong Kong, and as soon as possible.

    “The Hong Kong government has progressively embraced the mainland’s vague and all-encompassing definition of ‘national security’ to restrict freedom of association, expression and the right to peaceful assembly. This attempt to bulldoze through repressive security regulations poses a quasi-existential threat to the rule of law in Hong Kong and is an ominous moment for human rights in the city.

    May 21, 2020

    Women make up 70% of health care workers globally, putting their lives at risk caring for those infected by COVID-19. Gender-based violence rose by almost 30% in some parts of the world in the first weeks of lockdown. An estimated 47 million women around the world may not be able to access modern contraceptives as health care systems divert resources to treating COVID-19 patients.

    These are a few examples, highlighted in a new briefing released today, of how women, girls and gender-diverse people face unique challenges in the COVID-19 pandemic.

    A Feminist Action Agenda for Canada’s Global Response to COVID-19 – produced by Oxfam Canada, Amnesty International, the Nobel Women’s Initiative, Inter Pares, Action Canada for Sexual and Health Rights, and the Equality Fund – states that Canada is well-placed to take a leadership role in ensuring that women’s rights and gender justice are at the heart of the global COVID-19 response.

    May 20, 2020

    GENEVA (20 May 2020) – UN experts today called on Canada to secure the urgent release and repatriation of a five-year-old orphaned girl being held in inhuman conditions in north-eastern Syria’s overcrowded Al-Hol camp.

    “Canada has an obligation to intervene in favour of its nationals abroad, particularly if there are reasonable grounds to believe that their non-derogable human rights have been violated,” said the experts.

    “Within this context, special care must be taken for children, particularly if their parents are dead,” the experts emphasized.

    “With the COVID-19 pandemic in play, and thus in a time of new vulnerabilities for children, the return of this orphaned child to Canada and reunion with her family/relatives is even more urgent.” 

    After her parents – suspected of affiliation with ISIL – were reportedly killed in a 2019 airstrike, she was taken to Al-Hol camp, which houses an estimated 70,000 people, including more than 40,000 children.

    May 19, 2020

    As government representatives meet at the World Health Organization’s annual assembly to make crucial decisions regarding the international response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Amnesty International released a report today on the dire state of the rights of health workers in the Americas. The report urges countries in the region to prioritize and protect health workers’ rights during and beyond the pandemic and calls on the United States to take swift and decisive action to guarantee continued funding to the WHO.

    May 15, 2020

    Today, in an open letter addressed to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, a coalition of Canadian civil society organizations expressed deep concern regarding the analysis contained in the Global Affairs Canada (GAC) document Final Report: Review of export permits to Saudi Arabia. The government document was published in April following the announcement that the moratorium on approving new permits for military exports to Saudi Arabia would be lifted.

    In the view of the civil society coalition, the government’s analysis is unsatisfactory and demonstrates a weak commitment to Canada’s obligations under the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT).  They also expressed concern that the Final Report contains an insufficiently robust analysis with regards to the undermining of peace and security, international humanitarian and international human rights law, gender-based violence, the “substantial risk” test and diversion.

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