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    August 17, 2016

    Responding to today’s reports that the Australian Government-run refugee detention centre on Manus Island will close Anna Neistat, Amnesty International’s Senior Director for Research, said:

    “While welcoming the news that the centre will close Amnesty International urges the Australian Government to bring those currently held there to Australia. We must not forget that the Government set up a system of deliberate abuse of and cruelty towards almost two thousand people in two detention centres who are simply looking for a safe place to rebuild their lives.”

    “Amnesty International calls on Australian Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, Peter Dutton to urgently confirm the timeframe by which it will close the detention centre and safely settle refugees in Australia. Offshore processing can no longer be part of Australia’s response to those attempting to arrive here by boat seeking protection.”

    August 17, 2016

    The Huthi armed group in control of parts of Yemen must immediately ensure the release of all 27 members of the Bahá’í religion who have been detained in the capital, Sana’a, for a week without charge, in a blatant case of persecution of a minority faith, Amnesty International said today.

    Armed officers in balaclavas from Yemen’s National Security Bureau (NSB) intelligence agency, which works hand in hand with the armed Huthi authorities, stormed a Bahá’í youth workshop in Sana’a on 10 August and arrested 65 people, including 14 women and six people under 18 without an arrest warrant. Further arrests were carried out yesterday.

    “The arbitrary arrests of Bahá’í people for doing nothing more than attending a peaceful community event is completely unjustifiable. It is just the latest example of authorities’ persecution of minority faiths,” said Magdalena Mughrabi, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme.

    August 17, 2016

    Renewed violence underscores the urgency of bringing to account those responsible for crimes under international law committed during South Sudan’s armed conflict, said Amnesty International and FIDH today, a year on from a faltering peace agreement.

    The peace accord was signed on 17 August 2015 in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa. It requires the African Union (AU) to set up a hybrid court for South Sudan to investigate and prosecute individuals suspected of committing genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity since the conflict began in December 2013.

    “Last month’s return to violence underscores the need to seek accountability for the horrendous crimes committed and should bolster, not undermine, the pursuit of justice,” said Elizabeth Deng, Amnesty International’s South Sudan Researcher.

    “The African Union must stop dragging its feet and take concrete steps to set up the court, including by immediately collecting and preserving evidence before it is lost and witnesses’ memories of events fade.”

    August 16, 2016

    Singapore’s Administration of Justice (Protection) Bill is a broad and vaguely worded law that will impose yet another undue restriction on freedom of expression, Amnesty International said today.

    “Under the guise of protecting the judicial system, the new law threatens to criminalise people for criticising the courts or the administration of justice in Singapore,” said Josef Benedict, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for South East Asia and the Pacific.

    The new law, which was passed by Singapore’s parliament yesterday, includes punishments of up to three years in jail and $100,000 (US) in fines.

    Several sections in the new law grant the authorities far-reaching powers to crack down on any discussion, debate and criticism of cases under review by the judiciary.

    Section 11 of the Act, for example, widens the scope of already stifling restrictions on what can be said or written on the internet. All material that can be accessed by people in Singapore, regardless of whether it originated from there, can be subjected to the new legislation.

    August 16, 2016

    Amnesty International Canada (English Branch)’s  Board of Directors is thrilled to announce the appointment of Jayne Stoyles as the organization’s new Executive Director.  Jayne will take over from Bob Goodfellow who, after 28 years of strong leadership, is retiring in September. She joins Alex Neve, Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada, in the organization’s senior leadership.

    “Jayne’s experience, understanding and life-long commitment to human rights make her an extraordinarily effective leader, complimenting Amnesty International Canada’s  strong record of impactful human rights work at home and Internationally,” said Lana Verran, Board President for Amnesty International Canada. 

    “Amnesty is an organization whose core work consists of mobilizing and empowering its members and supporters to take action and effect meaningful progress in the protection of fundamental human rights,” said Alex Neve. “Jayne will bring the leadership, direction and passion needed to guide and enhance the organization’s critical work in the years ahead.”

    August 16, 2016

    Increased humanitarian assistance is urgently required to alleviate the suffering of millions of Iraqis displaced across the country and to provide basic services to hundreds of thousands of people who are expected to be displaced by military operations to recapture territory controlled by the group calling itself Islamic State (IS), said Amnesty International today following a three-week research trip to the country.

    Humanitarian organizations have already been struggling to meet the most basic needs of the more than 3.4 million people who have been forced to flee IS rule and ongoing fighting to recapture IS territory. The impending battle for Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city and an IS stronghold, is expected to displace hundreds of thousands more in the coming months.

    August 15, 2016
    Lonmin only built three show houses in Marikana since 2006 Mine workers still live in “truly appalling” conditions Company’s excuses expose bad planning, false reports to shareholders Company admits 13,500 mine workers do not have formal accommodation

    British platinum mining giant Lonmin Plc is still failing to deliver adequate housing for its workforce in Marikana, in spite of the resounding wake-up call it received in the wake of the killing of 34 striking mine workers in 2012, Amnesty International revealed today in a new report.

    August 15, 2016

    The Saudi Arabia-led coalition’s aerial bombardment of a hospital supported by Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) in Yemen is an atrocious attack that could amount to a war crime, Amnesty International said today.  The Abs Rural Hospital which was hit at around 3:30pm local time, has treated 4,611 patients since MSF began to support it in July 2015.

    “The bombardment of this hospital is a deplorable act that has cost civilian lives, including medical staff who are dedicated to helping sick and injured people under some of the most challenging conditions. Deliberately targeting medical facilities is a serious violation of international humanitarian law which would amount to a war crime. The circumstances of this attack must be thoroughly and independently investigated,” said Magdalena Mughrabi, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme.

    “Today’s air strike appears to be the latest in a string of unlawful attacks targeting hospitals highlighting an alarming pattern of disregard for civilian life.”

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    August 13, 2016

    The release of a Mexican environmental activist, and prisoner of conscience, who was unfairly imprisoned nine months ago in what seems to be punishment for his peaceful activism against illegal logging is a triumph for justice and human rights, Amnesty International said.

    Ildefonso Zamora Baldomero was arrested in November 2015 in the Indigenous Tlahuica community of San Juan Atzingo, 80km south-west of Mexico City. He was accused of participating in a burglary in July 2012.

    The criminal charges against Ildefonso Zamora were based on fabricated evidence. A federal judge decided there was no basis to believe he was responsible of any crime and even doubted the crime even existed.

    “Campaigning against illegal logging is not a crime. Instead of prosecuting environmental activists for their peaceful activities, the Mexican authorities should ensure they are able to carry out their legitimate work without fear of reprisals,” said Carlos Zazueta, Mexico Researcher at Amnesty International.

    August 12, 2016

    The UN Committee against Torture (CAT) issued a wake-up call to Burundi today, said Amnesty International after the Committee flagged an increase in the use of torture and other ill-treatment since the beginning of the country’s current crisis in April 2015.

    In its concluding observations following a special report submitted at CAT’s request, the Committee’s 10 independent international experts expressed deep concern over hundreds of cases of torture alleged to have taken place in recent months in both official and unofficial places of detention.

    “The spike in torture cases we have seen in Burundi since the onset of the crisis is extremely alarming and must be urgently addressed by the Burundian government,” said Sarah Jackson, Amnesty International’s East Africa Deputy Regional Director.

    The Committee made strong recommendations including conducting prompt, efficient and impartial investigations into all allegations of torture and ill-treatment and ensuring that all those responsible are prosecuted and sentenced taking into account the grave nature of the offence.

    August 12, 2016

    Amnesty International is calling for Russia, the USA and the United Nations to arrange the humanitarian evacuation of a badly-injured ten-year-old girl from the Syrian town of Madaya, which is besieged by Syrian government forces.

    The girl, Ghina Ahmad Wadi, was shot in the leg by a sniper on 2 August at the Abdel Majed checkpoint when she was on her way to buy medicine for her mother. She was shot in her left thigh, causing a complex bone fracture and a severing of a nerve. Her eight-year-old sister who was with her was also injured.

    Madaya is controlled by Syrian government forces in alliance with Hezbollah fighters, and Ghina’s family have appealed to the Syrian authorities to allow her to be evacuated to a hospital in Damascus or in Lebanon - a request which has been denied, including in the past week.

    A doctor working at a field hospital in Madaya has told Amnesty that the girl urgently needs surgery that is not available in Madaya, which has been under a tight government siege since July last year. Instead, Ghina has only been provided with sedatives - including morphine - which ease her extreme pain for only ten to 15 minutes at a time.

    August 12, 2016

    A series of apparently coordinated blasts at tourist spots in southern Thailand overnight are reprehensible acts of violence that must be thoroughly investigated, with those responsible brought to justice, Amnesty International said today.

    At least four people were killed in the blasts and dozens more were injured as four bombs exploded in the resort town of Hua Hin and several others in Phuket, a popular tourist destination, as well as in Trang province.

    “Nothing can justify intentionally carrying out indiscriminate attacks, which disregard the basic right to life. These acts of violence show utter contempt for human rights,” said Champa Patel, Senior Research Advisor for Amnesty International’s Southeast Asia and Pacific Regional Office.

    “Those behind the attacks must be brought to justice through fair trials. Amnesty International calls on Thai authorities to ensure their response is in accordance with their obligations under international human rights law.”

    So far no group has claimed responsibility for the attacks. 

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    August 11, 2016

    The Syrian city of Aleppo has been hit by a suspected chlorine attack, which would amount to a war crime if confirmed, and constitutes an alarming sign that Syrian government forces are intensifying their use of chemical weapons against civilians, Amnesty International said Thursday.

    The attack on a residential neighbourhood in a part of Aleppo controlled by armed groups is the third reported use of chemical weapons in northern Syria in just two weeks and has reportedly killed at least four people. Amnesty International has confirmed at least 60 others, mostly children, sought medical care after showing symptoms characteristic of a chlorine attack.

    “This attack in Aleppo is yet another flagrant violation of international humanitarian law and signals a distressing pattern in the use of chemical weapons by regime forces,” said Magdalena Mughrabi, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme.

    The latest attack comes as Russia announced a three-hour daily ceasefire on the city, as humanitarian aid is desperately needed in some areas.

    August 11, 2016

    Responding to today’s High Court ruling that Kenyan human rights lawyer Willie Kimani and two others were subject to enforced disappearance and later executed by police, Victor Odero, Amnesty International’s East Africa Campaigner said:

    “The court’s determination is a watershed moment in the history of justice in Kenya as it sheds the spotlight on the common but under-reported scourge of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances in the country.”

    “The ruling is a fitting tribute to Willie Kimani, Josphat Mwendwa and Joseph Muiruri, as well as hundreds of other Kenyans who have been executed or disappeared at the hands of the police, and a victory for everyone who protested and demanded justice for them.”

    The court also ruled that Willie Kimani should be recognised as a champion of justice.

    August 09, 2016

    Iranian authorities have intensified their repression of women’s rights activists in the country in the first half of this year, carrying out a series of harsh interrogations and increasingly likening any collective initiative relating to women’s rights to criminal activity, Amnesty International said today.

    The organization’s research reveals that since January 2016 more than a dozen women’s rights activists in Tehran have been summoned for long, intensive interrogations by the Revolutionary Guards, and threatened with imprisonment on national security-related charges. Many had been involved in a campaign launched in October 2015, which advocated for increased representation of women in Iran’s February 2016 parliamentary election.

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