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    December 13, 2016

    As the National Assembly and the Senate vote on the renewal of the state of emergency today and tomorrow, Amnesty International is calling on parliamentarians to reject the extension of these disproportionate measures.

    After four extensions and more than a year under the state of emergency the risks and knock-on effects of these measures are becoming all too apparent.

    Not only is the effectiveness of the state of emergency seriously in question, but the consequences on those targeted under its provisions are very real. The rights of hundreds of men, women and children have been trampled, leaving them traumatized and stigmatized.

    While it is the duty of the authorities to take necessary measures to protect the population, it is also their responsibility to ensure that any derogation from international standards does not become the norm and to demonstrate the necessity for the renewal.

    December 13, 2016

    Shocking reports from the UN that scores of civilians have been extrajudicially executed by advancing Syrian government forces in eastern Aleppo point to apparent war crimes, said Amnesty International. The organization is making an urgent plea for all parties to the conflict to protect the civilian population.

    The UN human rights office said it had reliable evidence that up to 82 civilians were shot on the spot by government and allied forces who entered their homes, or at gunpoint in the streets, over the past few hours. 

    “The reports that civilians - including children - are being massacred in cold blood in their homes by Syrian government forces are deeply shocking but not unexpected, given their conduct to date. Such extrajudicial executions would amount to war crimes,” said Lynn Maalouf, Deputy Director for Research at the Beirut Regional office.  

    December 12, 2016

    The federal government has come halfway in improving the country’s human rights record.  A year-end Report Card assessment by Amnesty International finds notable progress on half of the human rights recommendations included in the organization’s December 2015 Human Rights Agenda for Canada.  The government has, however, stumbled or failed when it comes to the other half. Protection of Indigenous rights are among the areas where the Trudeau government has faltered most notably, giving rise to increasing levels of concern.

    December 12, 2016

    NEW YORK – Responding to reports that President-elect Donald Trump’s intends to nominate Rex Tillerson to serve as Secretary of State and John Bolton to serve as Deputy Secretary, Eric Ferrero, director of communications for Amnesty International USA released the following statement:

    “These reported nominations are deeply troubling and could undermine human rights in the US and abroad.As Secretary of State, Tillerson would be the U.S.’s chief diplomat and, as such, will be the face of Trump’s policy around the world. We know that Tillerson has been successful in safeguarding the interests of a massive oil company – will he be as invested in safeguarding human rights abroad?

    “In this role, Tillerson would have to exert pressure on governments worldwide to comply with human rights standards, including Russia. The Senate should question him vigorously about his relationship to a government with such a poor human rights record. The U.S. must have a Secretary of State that will hold all countries accountable for human rights violations – even countries that have profited from his business.

    December 12, 2016

    Changes to labour laws in Qatar barely scratch the surface and will continue to leave migrant workers, including those building stadiums and infrastructure for the World Cup, at the mercy of exploitative bosses and at risk of forced labour, said Amnesty International in a new briefing published today.

    New name, old system? Qatar’s new employment law and abuse of migrant workers, details the failings of Qatar’s meagre labour reforms which the government has said will overhaul key aspects of the country’s sponsorship system. The briefing warns that the risk of forced labour and other abuses remains high for migrant workers, including those building World Cup stadiums, transport infrastructure and other key facilities like hotels.

    December 12, 2016

    President Jacob Zuma’s long-overdue announcement that the government is ready to pay compensation to the victims of the 2012 Marikana tragedy is an important development towards achieving justice for the victims and their families, Amnesty International said today.

    The President also announced that some members of the South African Police Service are facing criminal charges for their role in the killings of 44 people during the wage dispute between Lonmin mine and its striking employees in August 2012.  

    “While the compensation for the loss of life and livelihoods for the tragic events of that fateful week in August 2012 is a welcome step forward, four years was much too long for the survivors and their families to wait,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Director for Southern Africa.

    “The government must act swiftly to finalize the payment and ensure effective remedies and justice for the 44 lives lost.”

    December 09, 2016

    Press Conference: Amnesty International issues 2016 Human Rights “Report Card” for Trudeau government

    On December 13, Amnesty International Canada will issue a human rights “report card” for the Trudeau government’s first full calendar year in power at a press conference in Ottawa.

    The end-of-year assessment measures Canada’s progress against the organization’s Human Rights Agenda for Canada, which Amnesty presented to the government in December 2015 in order to help guide its efforts toward the protection of human rights domestically and abroad.

    In its assessment, Amnesty outlines several areas where Canada has achieved significant human rights successes in 2016. It also addresses several areas of notable concern where the Trudeau government has failed to make adequate progress on human rights, or has made decisions which have taken Canada in the wrong direction with troubling human rights implications.  

    Speaking at the press conference will be:

    December 09, 2016

    Authorities in Cameroon must investigate the use of excessive and unnecessary force that led to the deaths of between two and four people during a protest in the north western city of Bamenda yesterday, Amnesty International said today.

    Eye witnesses recounted that security forces fired live rounds and teargas in reaction to people throwing stones, describing how they saw the bodies of two men who had been shot dead. Media reports quoting police sources have reported that at least four people were killed.

    Security forces were also seen launching teargas into an area apparently unrelated to the protests, as well as firing live ammunition in the air.

    “Authorities in Cameroon must shed light on the circumstances of these killings and injuries by immediately conducting thorough, impartial and effective investigations. Those reasonably suspected of criminal responsibility for these deaths must be brought to justice,” said Ilaria Allegrozzi, Amnesty International’s Central Africa Researcher.

    December 08, 2016

    The Sri Lankan authorities must take decisive action to stop torture and other ill-treatment, investigate complaints, and hold perpetrators accountable, Amnesty International said today following the publication of the concluding observations by the UN Committee against Torture on Sri Lanka.

    “If the Sri Lankan authorities are serious about breaking with the harrowing legacy of the country’s decades-long conflict, it must end impunity for torture and other acts of ill-treatment,” said Champa Patel, Amnesty International’s South Asia Director.

    “Sri Lanka has taken important and positive steps. However, we also share the UN Committee against Torture’s alarm over Sri Lanka’s failure to prevent these crimes by the security forces and their concern that torture and other ill-treatment continue to take place. Impunity persists for perpetrators, as well as for those who have committed enforced disappearances, and deaths in custody and the use of coerced confessions continue to be reported.”

    Lingering shadow of the conflict

    December 08, 2016

    Egyptian authorities must immediately and unconditionally release photojournalist Mohammed Abu Zeid, popularly known as Shawkan, who has spent more than three years in detention and whose court hearing takes place on Saturday 10 December, Amnesty International said today. The authorities must also drop all charges against him.

    “Mohammed Abu Zeid was simply doing his job when he was arrested, taking photographs of the violent dispersal by security forces of a sit-in at the Rabaa al-Adaweya Square in Cairo in 2013 that led to horrific mass killings. His detention by the Egyptian authorities is clearly politically motivated and he should not be held for another day – taking pictures is not a crime,” said Najia Bounaim, Deputy Director for Campaigns at Amnesty International’s Tunis Regional office.

    December 08, 2016

    For the first time, Amnesty International’s flagship global human rights campaign is taking aim at a human rights case in Canada. On December 10th, activists around the world will call for a stop to the Site C hydroelectric dam in northeastern British Columbia – one in ten cases around the world featured for concerted action in this year’s annual Write for Rights campaign.

    “The fact that a human rights case in Canada has been selected for this campaign alongside top-priority cases in countries including Egypt, Iran, the United States and China is significant,” says Alex Neve, Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada. “It speaks to the seriousness of the human rights concerns related to construction of the Site C dam and also to the level of international scrutiny which the Trudeau government will bear if it fails to change course on this issue.”

    December 08, 2016

    The arrest of award-winning Sudanese human rights activist Dr Mudawi Ibrahim Adam is further proof of the government’s intolerance of independent voices, said Amnesty International after his employer confirmed today that state agents arrested him in Khartoum on 7 December.

    He was arrested by National Intelligence Security Service agents at the University of Khartoum, where he works as an engineering professor, and taken to an undisclosed location, where he is at grave risk of torture and other ill-treatment.

    He has not been informed of the reasons for his arrest or charged with any offence.

    “Mudawi’s arbitrary arrest underscores the government’s desperate attempts to extinguish the last embers of dissent in the country. This wanton repression and disregard for human rights must come to an end,” said Michelle Kagari, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.

    December 07, 2016

    The arrest today of Azza Soliman, the founder of the Center for Egyptian Women’s Legal Assistance, an NGO which works to prevent violence against women, is a clear sign that Egyptian authorities are intensifying the crackdown on human rights activists, said Amnesty International.

    Police officers arrived at Azza Soliman’s home this morning, presented an arrest warrant and took her to Masr el Gedida police station on the outskirts of Cairo, before taking her to an investigative judge’s office in New Cairo for questioning. 

    “Azza Soliman’s arrest is the latest chilling example of the Egyptian authorities’ systematic persecution of independent human rights defenders. We believe she has been arrested for her legitimate human rights work and must be released immediately and unconditionally. The intimidation and harassment of human rights activists has to stop,” said Najia Bounaim, Deputy Director for Campaigns at Amnesty International’s Tunis Regional office.

    December 06, 2016

    The condemning of 15 people to death by the Specialized Criminal Court today after a grossly unfair trial is a travesty of justice and a serious violation of human rights, said Amnesty International. 

    The men were among 32 people arrested across Saudi Arabia in 2013 and 2014 who were accused of spying for Iran. Fifteen others were sentenced to prison terms ranging from six months to 25 years and two were acquitted.

    The men were charged with a series of offences including “high treason” with some facing several other ludicrous charges which should not be considered criminal offences such as “supporting protests”, “spreading the Shi’a faith” and “possessing banned books and videos”. 

    “Sentencing 15 people to death after a farcical trial which flouted basic fair trial standards is a slap in the face for justice. Time and again, Saudi Arabia’s justice system has been proven to be incapable of ensuring fairness and justice,” said Samah Hadid, Deputy Director for Campaigns at Amnesty International’s Beirut regional office.

    December 06, 2016
    First anniversary of round-the-clock curfew in UNESCO world heritage site Forced displacement may amount to collective punishment

    Tens of thousands of residents of the UNESCO world heritage site of Sur are among an estimated half a million people forced out of their homes as a result of a brutal crackdown by Turkish authorities over the past year which may amount to collective punishment, said Amnesty International in a new report.

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