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    August 29, 2016

    The Israeli authorities must ensure that the trial of a detained humanitarian worker employed by the charity World Vision is fair and open, said Amnesty International on the eve of his trial, amid reports that the proceedings are due to take place in secret.

    Mohammed al-Halabi, the manager of Gaza operations for the child-focused global development NGO, is facing 12 charges including being a member of a “terrorist organization” and siphoning off the charity’s funds for “terrorism” purposes.  He was initially denied access to a lawyer and, when she was eventually allowed to meet him, he alleged he had been seriously mistreated in custody.

    The lawyer is prevented from disclosing the details of that allegation, as well as many other elements of the case, by a set of severe restrictions imposed by the Israeli authorities on reporting around the case. 

    August 29, 2016

    Fresh details of secret detention by the Ukrainian authorities have emerged following the release of 13 people from a Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) compound in Kharkiv, said Amnesty InternationaI and Human Rights Watch today.

    The release comes after Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch exposed the use of torture and secret detention by both Ukrainian authorities and pro-Russian separatists during the conflict in eastern Ukraine in a joint report “‘You Don’t Exist.’ Arbitrary Detentions, Enforced Disappearances, and Torture in Eastern Ukraine” published on 21 July.

    The organizations have now written to the Chief Military Prosecutor of Ukraine with fresh details of secret detention in Ukraine including detailed testimony from some of those released, as well as the details of five who are still being secretly detained in the compound.

    August 27, 2016

    The transfer of a former opposition mayor to prison from house arrest at 3am this morning without any notice is a vile maneuver by the Venezuelan authorities to silence any critics amidst a growing political and humanitarian crisis in the country, Amnesty International said.

    “Authorities in Venezuela seem to be willing to stop at nothing in their quest to prevent anyone from criticizing them, particularly as the political and humanitarian situation in the country continues to deteriorate,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.

    Daniel Omar Ceballos Morales, former mayor of the city of San Cristóbal and leader of the opposition party Popular Will, was sentenced to 12 months in prison in 2014 after failing to follow an order to stop opposition protesters from erecting barricades in the city.

    In August 2015 he was put under house arrest for health reasons. He is now awaiting trial on charges including rebellion and conspiracy to commit a crime in relation to the violent protests that took place across the country in 2014.

    August 26, 2016

    Responding to the decision of France’s highest administrative court to overturn the ban on the burkini on a French beach, John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Europe Director said:

    “By overturning a discriminatory ban that is fuelled by and is fuelling prejudice and intolerance, today’s decision has drawn an important line in the sand.”

    “French authorities must now drop the pretence that these measures do anything to protect the rights of women. Rather, invasive and discriminatory measures such as these restrict women’s choices and are an assault on their freedoms of expression, religion and right to non-discrimination.”

    “These bans do nothing to increase public safety, but do a lot to promote public humiliation. Not only are they in themselves discriminatory, but as we have seen, the enforcement of these bans leads to abuses and the degrading treatment of Muslim women and girls,” 

    August 25, 2016

    Failure to overturn the ban on the burkini would be a missed opportunity to end an assault on women’s freedoms of expression and religion as well as the right to non-discrimination, said Amnesty International as France’s highest administrative court considers a challenge to the ban.

    “The case being considered today offers an opportunity for the French justice system to overturn a discriminatory ban that is fuelled by and is fuelling prejudice and intolerance,” said John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Europe Director.

    “French authorities should drop the pretence that these measures do anything to protect the rights of women. Rather, invasive and discriminatory measures such as these restrict women’s choices, violate their rights and lead to abuse.”

    August 25, 2016

    The Egyptian authorities’ refusal to release Islam Khalil who was tortured and subjected to enforced disappearance for 122 days is another alarming setback for human rights in Egypt, said Amnesty International.

    Islam Khalil was transferred to the Second Raml Police Station in the coastal city of Alexandria in preparation for his release yesterday after a court ordered his release on bail of 50,000 EGP (approximately US$ 5,630) on 21 August 2016.  However instead of releasing him, the police officers beat him repeatedly until he fainted and brought fresh charges against him including the accusation that he physically assaulted a police officer yesterday.

    August 22, 2016

    The legacy of the Rio 2016 Olympics has been shattered with at least eight people killed in police operations in the city during the Games and peaceful protests heavily repressed, Amnesty International said.

    “Brazil has lost the most important medal at play during Rio 2016: the chance to become a champion on human rights,” said Atila Roque, Executive Director at Amnesty International Brazil.

    “The Brazilian authorities missed a golden opportunity to follow on their promises to implement public security policies to make Rio a safe city for all. The only way to undo some of many wrongs that took place during the Games is to ensure all killings and other human rights violations by the police are effectively investigated and that those responsible are brought to justice.”

    Rise in killings by police

    In 2016, police killings in Rio increased month on month as the city prepared to welcome the world.

    According to the Institute for Public Security of the State of Rio de Janeiro, police in the city killed 35 people in April 2016, 40 in May and 49 in June – an average of more than one every single day.

    August 22, 2016

    The execution of 36 men in Iraq yesterday marks an alarming rise in the authorities’ use of the death penalty in response to the dramatic security threats the country is facing, said Amnesty International today.

    The men were convicted over the killing of 1,700 military cadets at Speicher military camp near Trikrit in June 2014, after a deeply-flawed mass trial which lasted only a few hours, and relied on “confessions” extracted under torture.

    “These mass executions mark a chilling increase in Iraq’s use of the death penalty,” said Lynn Maalouf, Deputy Director for Research at Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Regional Office.

    “Time and time again, Amnesty International has emphasized that victims’ families have the right to truth and called for justice for the atrocities committed by the armed group calling itself the Islamic State. However, executing men who were forced to ‘confess’ under torture and were not given a proper chance to defend themselves is not justice.

    August 21, 2016
             States Parties still engaging in unscrupulous arms transfers, putting lives and human rights at risk          More than a quarter of States Parties are yet to meet the treaty’s reporting obligations          Some States Parties opting to reject public scrutiny of their arms transfers

    States must ensure the global Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) lives up to its promise to save lives and protect human rights from the devastating effects of the international arms trade by taking concrete, transparent steps towards more effective implementation, Amnesty International said today.

    The ATT’s second Conference of States Parties (CSP) takes place in Geneva from 22-26 August, and will be attended by hundreds of delegates from more than 100 countries. It is a key moment for States Parties to hold each other to account for the treaty’s implementation and to discuss ways of strengthening it.

    August 18, 2016

    Released  00.01 GMT 19 August 2016

    Commodities giant Trafigura must come clean over the contents of toxic waste dumped in the Côte d’Ivoire capital Abidjan ten years ago, said Amnesty International today.

    Trafigura has never disclosed exactly what was in the 540,000 plus litres of toxic waste dumped at 18 sites in Abidjan on 19 August 2006. More than 100,000 people sought medical attention after the dumping for a whole range of symptoms including dizziness, vomiting and breathing problems, and authorities reported 15 deaths.

    “A decade on from one of the worst environmental disasters of the 21st century, Trafigura and governments alike have abandoned the victims to suffer a toxic legacy. Meanwhile, Trafigura has rebranded itself, claiming it is a transparent, responsible company. This corporate giant, which posted profits of US$1.1 billion in 2015, must not be allowed to completely wash its hands of this disaster,” said Lucy Graham, researcher in Amnesty International’s Business and Human Rights Team.

    August 18, 2016

    Researchers from the Forensic Architecture agency at Goldsmiths, University of London have worked with survivors from Syria’s most notorious prison to build a digital reconstruction of the unmonitored and unphotographed facility, allowing us to see inside for the first time.

    Visit saydnaya.amnesty.org to explore the digital reconstruction of Saydnaya

    Since 2011 thousands have died in Syria’s prisons and detention facilities. With anyone perceived to be opposed to the Syrian government at risk, tens of thousands of people have been tortured and ill-treated, in violation of international law.

    In April 2016, Amnesty International and Forensic Architecture travelled to Istanbul to meet five survivors from Saydnaya Prison, near Damascus. In recent years, no journalists or monitoring groups which report publicly have been able to visit the prison or speak with prisoners.

    As there are no images of Saydnaya the researchers were dependent on the memories of survivors to recreate what is happening inside.

    August 18, 2016

    Responding to reports that at least six people, including four police officers, were killed and scores wounded when two car bombs exploded in eastern Turkey, Amnesty International’s Turkey researcher Andrew Gardner said:

    “Today’s car bombings are the latest in a series of reckless and brutal attacks in eastern Turkey which have claimed the lives of members of the public, including children.”

    “Those responsible for these crimes show a contempt for the right to life and must be brought to justice.” 

    *****

    For media inquiries, please contact Jacob Kuehn // 613-744-7667, ext 236 // email: jkuehn@amnesty.ca 

     

    August 18, 2016

    Australia must establish independent bodies to investigate child abuse in its detention facilities across the country, Amnesty International said today after it obtained more than 1,000 pages of government documents revealing abuses in two more centres.

    The documents -- obtained by Amnesty International through a Freedom of Information request – showed a number of serious incidents, including where staff at the centres in the state of Queensland put child detainees in solitary confinement, deployed a security dog where a child was threatening suicide, caused bone fractures as a result of restraint and control techniques, and conducted partial strip searches using humiliating methods.

    “These official documents shine a light in the darkest corners of these detention centres, and reveal incidents, and in some case policies, which may constitute cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, in violation of Australia’s obligations under international law,” said Champa Patel, Amnesty International’s Senior Research Adviser for South East Asia and the Pacific.

    August 17, 2016

    The horrifying experiences of detainees subjected to rampant torture and other ill-treatment in Syrian prisons are laid bare in a damning new report published by Amnesty International today which estimates that 17,723 people have died in custody in Syria since the crisis began in March 2011 – an average rate of more than 300 deaths each week.

    ‘It breaks the human’: Torture, disease and death in Syria’s prisons documents crimes against humanity committed by government forces. It retraces the experiences of thousands of detainees through the cases of 65 torture survivors who described appalling abuse and inhuman conditions in security branches operated by Syrian intelligence agencies and in Saydnaya Military Prison, on the outskirts of Damascus. Most said they had witnessed prisoners dying in custody and some described being held in cells alongside dead bodies.

    August 17, 2016

    A ruling to release a woman sentenced to eight years in prison after having a miscarriage in Argentina is a step forward for human rights in the country, Amnesty International said.

    Last night the Supreme Court of Tucumán, a state in north Argentina, said there were not enough reasons to keep Belén, 27, in pre-trial detention. The Supreme Court of Tucumán is yet to issue a final ruling on the eight-year sentence imposed on Belén by the lower court. Belén is expected to be released from jail today.

    “Belén’s release is extremely positive and long awaited news. What we need to see now is for the charges against her to be dropped. Belén should have never been held behind bars in the first place, having a miscarriage is not a crime,” said Mariela Belski, Executive Director at Amnesty International Argentina.

    On 26 July, Amnesty International handed over more than 120,000 petitions from across the globe to local authorities, urging for Belén to be released.

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