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    January 05, 2017
    Militias allied to the Iraqi government have access to arms from at least 16 countries Recent arms transfers have fuelled enforced disappearances, abductions, torture, summary killings, and deliberate destruction of civilian property Iraq is the world’s sixth-largest importer of heavy weaponry

    Paramilitary militias nominally operating as part of the Iraqi armed forces in the fight against the armed group calling itself Islamic State (IS) are using arms from Iraqi military stockpiles, provided by the USA, Europe, Russia and Iran, to commit war crimes, revenge attacks and other atrocities said Amnesty International in a new report today.

    Field research and detailed expert analysis of photographic and video evidence since June 2014 has found that these paramilitary militias have benefited from transfers of arms manufactured in at least 16 countries, which include tanks and artillery as well as a wide range of small arms.

    January 04, 2017

    The conviction of an Israeli soldier who shot dead a Palestinian man involved in a knife attack in Hebron as he lay wounded on the ground offers a small glimmer of hope amid the rampant impunity for unlawful killings in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, said Amnesty International today.

    The soldier, Elor Azaria, was found guilty of the manslaughter of Abed al-Fatah al-Sharif, one of two Palestinians believed to have been involved in the stabbing of an Israeli soldier on 24 March 2016 in Hebron, after a military court ruled that his actions violated the Israeli army’s rules of engagement.

    “Today’s conviction of a member of the Israeli forces is a rare occurrence in a country with a long record of using excessive and unwarranted force, and where soldiers who may have committed crimes under international law very seldom face prosecution. The verdict is a small step in the right direction and offers a glimmer of hope that soldiers who commit unlawful killings may no longer go unpunished,” said Philip Luther, Research and Advocacy Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International.

    January 04, 2017

    The Iranian authorities must immediately transfer Arash Sadeghi, an imprisoned human rights defender who ended his 71-day hunger strike yesterday, to hospital so that he can receive the urgent specialized medical care he requires, Amnesty International said today.

    Arash Sadeghi went on hunger strike in October 2016 in protest at the imprisonment of his wife, the writer and human rights defender Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee, who was jailed for writing a fictional story about stoning. After a global outcry, she was eventually released on temporary prison leave yesterday.

    Arash Sadeghi was due to be transferred from Tehran’s Evin Prison to a hospital last night. However, reliably informed sources told Amnesty International that the prison authorities have refused to transfer him.

    January 03, 2017

    The armed group calling itself the Islamic State (IS) has claimed responsibility for Monday’s bombings, that targeted civilians in the predominantly Shi’a neighborhood of Sadr city, Baghdad. In response, Samah Hadid, Deputy Director for Campaigns at Amnesty International’s Beirut regional office.said:

    “The systematic targeting of civilians in busy neighborhoods during day time, shows the Islamic State’s appalling disregard for human life and an intent to harm and terrorize a civilian population. By claiming responsibility for these horrific attacks, the Islamic State is boasting of committing war crimes.

    “Such deliberate attacks on civilians can never be justified and constitute a clear violation of international humanitarian law. They must be stopped immediately and those behind the attacks must be brought to justice.”

    According to media reports, the multiple bombings left at least 35 people dead and more than sixty injured, with one targeting a busy market in the heart of Sadr city, another targeting the nearby car park of Al-Kindi hospital and the third exploding near the Jawader hospital.

    December 23, 2016

    Following the United Nations Security Council’s adoption of a resolution calling on Israel to cease all settlement activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT), Sherine Tadros, Head of Amnesty International’s UN Office in New York, said:

    “At the close of a shameful year for the Security Council, where divisions repeatedly blocked the adoption of key resolutions to protect the most vulnerable, today’s decision to finally pass a resolution condemning illegal Israeli settlements is a welcome step.

    “This is the first time in almost four decades that such a resolution has been passed. During this time, settlements not only continued to be built, but at an accelerated pace.

    “The resolution includes a crucial demand that the Israeli authorities immediately halt all settlement activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Such activities constitute a flagrant violation of international humanitarian law and, according to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, constitute a war crime.

    December 23, 2016

    The United Nations Security Council’s failure to approve a 23 December, 2016, resolution that would have imposed an arms embargo on South Sudan and placed a travel ban and asset freeze on three senior South Sudanese leaders was deeply disappointing, seven non-governmental groups said today.

    The measure failed to gain the nine votes needed to pass, with seven in favour and eight abstentions.

    “South Sudanese civilians had a reasonable expectation that the Security Council would make good on its long-standing threat to impose an arms embargo and extend sanctions to some of the senior leaders who have been responsible for grave human rights abuses” said John Prendergast, founding director at the Enough Project.

    “I can only imagine their frustration with today’s vote.”

    Amnesty International, Control Arms, Enough Project, Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect, Humanity United, Human Rights Watch and PAX issued the statement jointly.

    December 22, 2016

    In response to the United Nations General Assembly resolution establishing an independent international mechanism to ensure accountability for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Syria since March 2011, Anna Neistat, Amnesty International’s Senior Director of Research said:

    “With this resolution, the General Assembly helps overcome the Security Council's deadlock on accountability and is the first step toward justice for thousands of victims.

    “The situation in Syria continued to be one of the most heart-breaking tragedies of our time. It is also a clear example of the failure of the broken international system that was established – with the Security Council at its centre -- to prevent the atrocities that shock the conscience of humanity.

     

    “By passing this resolution, the international community is standing up against the Security Council’s utter inability to act in the face of gruesome atrocities being committed before the eyes of the entire world. This is a crisis that, over five years, has cost hundreds of thousands of lives and caused unimaginable suffering to the people of Syria."

     

    December 21, 2016

    Released 22 December 2016 00:00 GMT

    The desperate plight of a generation of children is in the balance as the bloody battle for the city of Mosul threatens to become a humanitarian catastrophe, Amnesty International said today following a field investigation.

    On a visit to the region this month, the organization met children of all ages who had suffered terrible injuries after being caught in the line of fire between the armed group calling itself Islamic State (IS) and government forces, who are backed by a US-led coalition.

    “Children caught in the crossfire of the brutal battle for Mosul have seen things that no one, of any age, should ever see. I met children who have not only sustained horrific wounds but have also seen their relatives and neighbours decapitated in mortar strikes, torn to shreds by car bombs or mine explosions, or crushed under the rubble of their homes,” said Donatella Rovera, Amnesty International’s Senior Crisis Response Adviser, who returned from a 17-day mission to northern Iraq.

    December 20, 2016

    Following the attack in Berlin yesterday, Markus N. Beeko, Amnesty International Germany’s Secretary General said:

    “Amnesty International condemns the dreadful attack on the Christmas market in Berlin. Our thoughts are with the victims and their families. It is now essential to counter violence and hatred with solidarity and the rule of law.”

     

    For more information contact Jacob Kuehn, Media Relations 613-744-7667 ext 236 jkuehn@amnesty.ca

     

     

    December 19, 2016

    Saudi Arabia should immediately abandon all use of cluster munitions, destroy its stockpile and accede to the international Convention on Cluster Munitions, Amnesty International said after the Kingdom’s surprise admission today that it used the inherently indiscriminate weapon in Yemen.

    General Ahmed al-Asiri, the spokesperson for the Saudi Arabia-led military coalition, stated today that it would cease use of UK-made BL-755 cluster munitions, confirming Amnesty International’s finding that this type had been used since at least December 2015. Amnesty International previously revealed the coalition’s use of UK, US and Brazilian-made cluster munitions in the conflict.

    December 19, 2016

    Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen said:

    “The Government is almost giving the impression that this information is a bolt from the blue – when the reality is that Amnesty and others have been reporting on Saudi Arabia’s use of UK cluster munitions in Yemen for months.

    “Back in May we revealed how the Saudi coalition had been using British-made cluster bombs in their attacks near Yemeni villages and farms in the north of the country.

    “Over the years, the UK has sold billions and billions of pounds’ worth of weapons – including cluster bombs – to Saudi Arabia, and it’s hardly a surprise they’re turning up in bombed-out villages in Yemen.

    “Thousands of Yemeni civilians have already been killed and injured by the Saudi coalition’s reckless and indiscriminate bombing of homes, hospitals, schools and factories.

    December 19, 2016

    The protracted politicking and negotiations have finally resulted in a Security Council resolution allowing UN monitors to be sent to Aleppo.

    The resolution follows a weekend of intense negotiation under the threat of a third Russian veto in three months.

    “The world is watching how the UN responds to the plight of Aleppo. This important measure has come far too late, with hundreds of thousands of people demanding the Syrian and Russian governments allow a safe evacuation and independent monitoring. But thousands are still trapped in besieged areas of Eastern Aleppo, waiting for hours in sub-zero temperatures to be evacuated,” said Sherine Tadros, Head of Amnesty International’s UN office in New York.

    December 19, 2016

    The Myanmar security forces are responsible for unlawful killings, multiple rapes and the burning down of houses and entire villages in a campaign of violence against Rohingya people that may amount to crimes against humanity, Amnesty International reveals in a new report today.

    Based on extensive interviews with Rohingyas in both Myanmar and Bangladesh, as well as analysis of satellite imagery and photos and videos, the report also documents how dozens of people have been arbitrarily arrested during the military’s vicious and disproportionate security campaign in Rakhine State over the past two months.

    “The Myanmar military has targeted Rohingya civilians in a callous and systematic campaign of violence. Men, women, children, whole families and entire villages have been attacked and abused, as a form of collective punishment,” said Rafendi Djamin, Amnesty International’s Director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific.

    December 15, 2016

                                       

    Armoured vehicle sales, forgotten residential school survivors, Bangladeshi climate refugees and Tanzanian girls fleeing FGM are among the human rights issues recently explored by Canadian journalists. Today, journalists who have pursued these stories, are recognized as winners of the 2016 Amnesty International Canada Media Awards.

    December 14, 2016

    The Ethiopian government systematically and illegally blocked access to social media and news websites in its efforts to crush dissent and prevent reporting of attacks on protesters by security forces during the wave of protests that started in November 2015 and led up to the state of emergency, a new report released today shows.

    Research conducted by Amnesty International and the Open Observatory of Network Interference (OONI) between June and October 2016 shows that access to WhatsApp was blocked, as well as at least 16 news outlets.

    “It’s clear that as far as the Ethiopian government is concerned, social media is a tool for extremists peddling bigotry and hate and therefore they are fully justified in blocking internet access. The reality, though, is very different. The widespread censorship has closed another space for Ethiopian’s to air the grievances that fueled the protests,” said Michelle Kagari, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.

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