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    March 10, 2019

    Warning: This media release contains graphic testimonies from child survivors of sexual abuse. 

    An investigation by Amnesty International has revealed that children as young as eight years old have been raped in the Yemeni city of Ta’iz. The suspected perpetrators, including members of militias backed by the Saudi Arabia-led Coalition, are yet to be held to account.

    The families of four boys told Amnesty International that their sons had been sexually assaulted in a series of incidents over the past eight months. In two of the cases, families alleged that those responsible were Islahi-aligned militiamen supported by the Saudi Arabia-led Coalition. 

    “The heartbreaking testimonies of these young survivors and their families expose how the ongoing conflict has rendered children vulnerable to being sexually exploited in a city plagued by weak security and institutions. These victims and their families have been left unprotected and alone to face the horrific ordeal of sexual abuse and its aftermath,” said Heba Morayef, Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International.  

    March 07, 2019

    Syrian women must have an official and active role in shaping the country’s future Amnesty International said today, as it launched a new campaign highlighting the gender-based violations women have experienced during the conflict and the failure to include them in discussions and decision-making about the future.

    The campaign Unheard No More: Syrian women shaping Syria’s future illustrates how since the beginning of the Syrian crisis in 2011, women have been subjected to multiple violations and abuses including arbitrary detention, enforced disappearance, abduction and gender-based violence at the hands of the Syrian authorities and other parties involved in the conflict.

    March 07, 2019

    Afghan women must have a say in the future of their country, Amnesty International said today, as the human rights organization unveiled a mural in Kabul celebrating their tremendous achievements.

    As part of Amnesty International’s BRAVE campaign to promote the rights of human rights defenders, the mural depicts Afghan women protesting for their rights, demanding equality, and raising their voices for justice.

    This is the second mural that Amnesty International has unveiled in Kabul as part of its BRAVE, or “Shuja” (in Dari) campaign. The first mural was consecrated to the memory of journalists who have been killed doing their jobs, depicting the famous Afghan photographer Shah Marai of Agence France Presse holding a camera.

    March 07, 2019

    Reacting to news that the Trump administration has revoked a part of an Obama executive order requiring reporting on civilian casualties, Daphne Eviatar, Amnesty International USA’s Director of Security with Human Rights stated:

    “This is a shameful decision that will shroud this administration’s actions in even more secrecy with little accountability for its victims.

    “The public deserves to know how many civilians are killed by U.S. actions. This is an unconscionable decision and in complete disregard of fundamental human rights.

    “It is incomprehensible that this vital work will be left only to human rights organizations such as ours.”

    Background

    In 2016, Amnesty International USA spoke out on the Obama-era policy documenting standards for airstrikes, when they were first announced, calling for more transparency and accountability.

    March 07, 2019

    Update:

    On 7 March Malak al-Kashef appeared in front of a Supreme State Security Prosecutor, who ordered her detention for 15 days pending investigations for “aiding a terrorist organization” and “misusing social media to commit a crime punishable by law”. The police then took her to an undisclosed location, where they detained her incommunicado until 10 March, when her lawyer was able to confirm that the police is detaining her in solitary confinement at al-Haram police station in Giza. Her detention is up for renewal again on 19 March, when the prosecutor will decide whether to release her or extend her detention.

     *****

    Fears are growing for the safety and wellbeing of Malak al-Kashef, a transgender woman seized during a police raid from her home in Giza in the early hours of 6 March and who has not been heard from since, Amnesty International said.

    Malak al-Kashef was taken by police to an undisclosed location. Her lawyers have not been able to locate her and police stations have denied she is in their custody.

    March 07, 2019

    In a positive development, the Government of South Sudan has been summoned to appear before the East African Court of Justice (EACJ) on 25 March 2019 over the arbitrary arrest and detention of businessman and philanthropist Kerbino Agok Wol.

    The South Sudanese government, and particularly its National Security Service (NSS), is allegedly responsible for widespread human rights violations including arbitrary arrest and detention, and torture and ill-treatment in detention, which are committed with rampant impunity.

    This is the first time ever that the South Sudan government has been taken to the regional court for human rights violations committed by the NSS.

    “Amnesty International welcomes this judicial development which offers a ray of hope for the people of South Sudan who have endured seemingly endless human rights violations and abuses with no justice in sight until now,” said Seif Magango, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.

    March 07, 2019

    Responding to news that the Constitutional Court has ruled on the request to dissolve the Thai Raksa Chart Party, Katherine Gerson, Amnesty International’s Thailand campaigner said:

    “This decision highlights the Thai authorities’ abuse of judicial powers to restrict the peaceful association and expression of the political opposition. This far-reaching measure raises strong concerns about the human rights to freedom of association and expression in the period leading to the elections.

    “We call on the military government and all election candidates to commit to protecting these fundamental rights during the elections – and for the next government to undertake deep reforms to end the continued decline in human rights protections. 

    “Serious human rights violations have flourished in Thailand's past decade of political instability, including these last four years of military rule. Sweeping and vaguely worded legal restrictions, including a ban on meetings of five or more persons for ‘political’ purposes, have facilitated a wide-ranging attack on political opponents and civil society.”

    March 06, 2019

    States should take a clear stand against human rights violations in Saudi Arabia by joining a UN Human Rights Council statement addressing the government’s crackdown on peaceful activists, including a group of detained women human rights defenders known to have been tortured and sexually abused, said Amnesty International.

    The crucial statement, due to be delivered at a Human Rights Council session on Thursday, is expected to address Saudi Arabia’s use of counter-terrorism legislation to persecute people peacefully exercising their right to freedom of expression and assembly, and the killing of Jamal Khashoggi.

    “This initiative at the UN Human Rights Council offers a rare opportunity for states to take a strong public stand against the catalogue of human rights violations by the government of Saudi Arabia.  States who stay silent risk abdicating responsibility at a crucial moment and sending a dangerous message that Saudi Arabia can continue to commit egregious abuses without being held to account,” said Heba Morayef, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

    March 05, 2019

    A call for consent-based rape legislation by Danish Minister of Justice Soren Pape Poulsen is an important and welcome step, said Amnesty International as it launches a new report into barriers to justice for rape victims in Denmark.

    Responding to a statement by Soren Pape Poulsen today, that there is a “need for new legislation that that says sex should always be voluntary,” Amnesty International’s Secretary General Kumi Naidoo said:

    “We welcome the fact that the Danish Minister of Justice has chosen to make a statement supporting Amnesty’s call for consent-based legislation.

    “Together with the survivors campaigning for improved access to justice, we look forward to seeing the draft law. But this is only one piece of the puzzle and it is essential that other Ministries support this initiative. Any law must be accompanied by proper implementation, appropriate sexuality education and challenging rape myths through awareness-raising.”

    March 05, 2019

    Responding to reports by The Intercept that Google is still working on Project Dragonfly, its censored search engine for China, Anna Bacciarelli, AI and Big Data Researcher and Adviser at Amnesty Tech, said:

    “The lack of transparency around the development of Dragonfly is very disturbing. We continue to call on Google’s CEO Sundar Pichai to publicly confirm that it has dropped Dragonfly for good, not just ‘for now’. Our Secretary General Kumi Naidoo visited Google’s Mountain View office last week to reiterate our concerns over Dragonfly, including the apparent disregard for transparency and accountability around the project.

    “If Google is still developing Project Dragonfly, it’s not only failing on its human rights responsibilities but ignoring the hundreds of Google employees, 70+ human rights organisations and hundreds of thousands of campaign supporters around the world who have all called on the company to respect human rights and drop Dragonfly.”
     

    March 04, 2019

    Amnesty International has received credible reports that Amade Abubacar, a journalist who is being arbitrarily detained in a Mozambican prison, is being subjected to ill-treatment, including denial of food, family visits and medical treatment.

    Amade Abubacar was arrested on 5 January for documenting deadly attacks by armed groups against civilians in Cabo Delgado province, and is believed to be in a critical condition in detention. Amnesty International is calling for his immediate and unconditional release.

    “Allegations that Amade Abubacar is being ill-treated and denied medical treatment must be investigated thoroughly and transparently and all those suspected of criminal responsibility brought to book. Amade is languishing in jail for simply doing his job as a journalist, exposing the suffering wrought on civilians by deadly attacks in Cabo Delgado,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for Southern Africa.

    March 04, 2019
    Demand grows for rape laws to recognise need for consent

    Denmark’s reputation for gender equality masks a society with one of Europe’s highest levels of rape, where flawed legislation and widespread harmful myths and gender stereotypes have resulted in endemic impunity for rapists, Amnesty International said in a report published today.

    “Give us respect and justice!” Overcoming barriers to justice for women rape survivors in Denmark reveals that women and girls are being failed by dangerous and outdated laws and often do not report attacks through fear of not being believed, social stigma and a lack of trust in the justice system.

    “Despite Denmark’s image as a land of gender equality, the reality for women is starkly different, with shockingly high levels of impunity for sexual violence and antiquated rape laws which fail to meet international standards,” said Kumi Naidoo, Amnesty International’s Secretary General.

    March 04, 2019

    In response to the announcement today that the independent broadcaster Prime TV will be suspended for 30 days, Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for Southern Africa said:

    “The suspension of Prime TV is a ploy to muzzle independent voices in Zambia and to undermine the right to freedom of expression and media freedom. It is clearly intended to send a chilling message that journalists need to self-censor or face dire consequences. 

    “This unlawful suspension must be immediately lifted to allow Prime TV to continue telling the Zambian story as it unfolds. Zambia can only benefit from the plurality of media voices.”

    Background 

    The Independent Broadcasting Authority informed Prime TV of its suspension for 30 days earlier today, citing failure to comply with the conditions of its broadcasting license by the station.

    March 04, 2019

    Responding to the news that photojournalist Mahmoud Abou Zeid, known as Shawkan, was finally released today after spending more than five years in prison on trumped-up charges, Amnesty International’s North Africa Campaigns Director Najia Bounaim said:

    “Mahmoud Abou Zeid’s long overdue release brings to an end a painful ordeal for him and his family. As a prisoner of conscience, he should never have been forced to spend a single minute behind bars – let alone five and a half years.

    “After his release, he faces ludicrous probation measures which require him to spend 12 hours of each day at a police station from 6pm to 6am for the next five years. These outrageous measures will severely restrict his liberty and should be lifted immediately.

    “Mahmoud Abou Zeid was arrested and imprisoned solely for doing his job as a journalist. His conviction, more than five years later, on trumped-up charges during a grossly unfair mass trial alongside more than 700 other defendants was a mockery of justice.

    March 04, 2019

    Authorities should investigate the arson attack on the house of Murdani, the executive director of the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi) for West Nusa Tenggara (NTB) Branch, identify the perpetrators and determine whether it was connected to his work as a human rights defender, Amnesty International Indonesia said today. This call follows Amnesty’s own investigation of the blaze’s aftermath, which revealed signs of an elaborate attack that may amount to an assassination attempt.

    “It has now been weeks since this terrifying fire, and authorities do not seem to be handling the case with any seriousness or urgency. Despite the many threats Murdani has received over the years in relation to his work, and even days before the blaze, the police have publicly mooted theories to cast a respected environmental activist in a negative light,” Amnesty International Indonesia’s Executive Director Usman Hamid said.

    A fire engulfed the house in Menemeng village in Lombok, NTB, in the early hours of January 28, while Murdani, his wife, their four-year-old daughter and 17-year-old son were asleep.

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