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    June 24, 2016

    Responding to the UK’s referendum vote in favour of leaving the EU, Kate Allen Amnesty’s UK Director, said:

    “People will want reassurance that their rights will be safeguarded and the government has a duty to publicly commit to protecting those rights.

    “Whether the UK is a member of the EU or not, it remains beholden to an international human rights system, whose norms it should continue to uphold and whose mechanisms it should continue to respect.

    “Even as it negotiates its exit, the UK government should be looking to preserve the strong rights protections that originated in EU law – particularly in areas such as non-discrimination, the right to privacy and worker’s rights.

    “The Brexit debate was sadly contaminated by unpleasant xenophobic undertones: wherever it is that the UK is now heading, these sentiments and this kind of politics should have no place.

    “The challenge now, is to focus on what unites us rather than what divides us and universal human rights are central to that.”

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    June 23, 2016

    The agreement on a definitive bilateral ceasefire and cessation of hostilities, signed today in Cuba by the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), is an historic step in efforts towards signing a peace deal between the two sides, Amnesty International said today.

    However, the agreement will only come fully into force after a peace deal is signed, most likely in the next few months. Nevertheless, today’s announcement brings ever closer the prospect of an end to a 50-year-old conflict marked by crimes under international law and serious human rights violations and abuses and by the failure to bring to justice those suspected of criminal responsibility in such crimes.

    The agreement sets out the mechanisms by which the FARC will demobilize and disarm- to be completed within 180 days after the signing of a peace agreement – as well as the steps the authorities will take to guarantee the security of FARC combatants during their demobilization, including measures to combat paramilitary groups (referred to as criminal gangs by the government), which continue to operate despite their supposed demobilization a decade ago.

    June 22, 2016

    The “iron fist” security response pledged by Jordanian authorities in the wake of Tuesday’s car bombing of a military outpost along the border with Syria must not descend into closing the border and denying humanitarian aid to tens of thousands of Syrian refugees fleeing armed conflict, Amnesty International said today.

    No group has yet claimed responsibility for the apparently well-coordinated attack, which killed six army border guards and injured several others. 

    More than 70,000 people are stranded in the desert area known as “the berm”, which is a raised barrier of sand marking the Jordanian limit of the Jordan-Syria border near Rukban and Hadalat crossings. A total closure of the border and denial of humanitarian aid to the area would inevitably lead to extreme hardship among those unable to find refuge and put their lives at risk.

    June 22, 2016

    The decision to shut down the independent newspaper, The Post, is a deliberate ploy to silence the media ahead of the election, said Amnesty International today.

    Zambian authorities ordered the closure of the publishing company, Post Newspapers Limited, on 21 June 2016, demanding US$6.1 Million tax in arrears. However, the newspaper is alleging selective application of the law by authorities to target the critical news organization.

    "The closure of The Post newspaper is a disturbing development clearly designed to silence critical media voices. The shutting down of one of Zambia’s main independent newspapers in the run up to an election is an affront to media freedom and the authorities should immediately reverse their decision,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International's Director for Southern Africa.

    "If the newspaper owes taxes, necessary arrangements should be made to settle the dispute. Shutting down the newspaper threatens the right to freedom of expression."

    June 20, 2016

    Amnesty International welcomes the return of Salim Alaradi to Canada after more than 21 months in illegal detention in the United Arab Emirates. Supporters from Amnesty International welcomed Mr. Alaradi today when he arrived at Toronto’s Pearson Airport, where he briefly addressed media before continuing to his home in Windsor, Ontario. 

    “Amnesty International welcomes the news that Salim Alaradi has been able to reunite with his family and return to Canada.  Amnesty International supporters across Canada had campaigned on his behalf during his ordeal of unlawful imprisonment and torture in the United Arab Emirates,” said Alex Neve, Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada.  “While he has regained his freedom, he has not seen justice for the serious human rights violations he endured.  Amnesty International will continue to stand with Salim in pressing for redress and accountability for what he has been through.”

    June 20, 2016

    Half a million people call for government to end #MMIW

    Ottawa—Today on Parliament Hill, the Native Women’s Association of Canada, Am I Next campaign, Amnesty International Canada, and the Canadian Federation of Students sent a powerful message to the government of Canada: half a million petition signatures supporting a strong and effective national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls and two-spirit people.

    “For nearly 20 years the Native Women’s Association of Canada has been demanding answers and calling for accountability as our sisters continue to be stolen simply because they are Indigenous,” said Dawn Harvard, President of the Native Women’s Association of Canada. “Now is the time for change, so that my daughters can grow up in safety.”

    The petition signatures were delivered to Dr. Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs, and Patty Hajdu, Minister for the Status of Women.

    June 20, 2016

    Ottawa – Aujourd’hui, sur la Colline parlementaire, l’Association des femmes autochtones du Canada, la campagne « Suis-je la prochaine? », Amnistie Internationale Canada et la Fédération canadienne des étudiantes et étudiants ont livré un puissant message au gouvernement du Canada : un demi-million de personnes ont signé une pétition pour demander la tenue d’une enquête nationale exhaustive et efficace sur la disparition et l’assassinat de femmes et filles autochtones ainsi que de personnes bispirituelles.

     

    « Depuis près de 20 ans, l’Association des femmes autochtones du Canada exige des réponses et une reddition de comptes pendant que nos sœurs continuent d’être enlevées pour la simple raison qu’elles sont des Autochtones, a déclaré Dawn Harvard, présidente de l’Association des femmes autochtones du Canada. Le temps du changement est arrivé, afin que mes filles puissent grandir en sécurité. »

     

    June 20, 2016

    The Thai authorities must reverse their decision to charge three prominent human rights defenders with criminal defamation and computer crimes for documenting and publishing details of human rights violations in the country, Amnesty International said today.

    “Instead of using broad and vague laws to target human rights defenders, the Thai authorities should be following up on the reports of alleged torture and other ill-treatment, with a view to holding those responsible accountable,” said Audrey Gaughran, Amnesty International’s Director of Global Issues.

    The three well-known Thai activists, Somchai Homla-or, Pornpen Khongkhachonkiet, and Anchana Heemmima, have all been summoned to appear at Pattani Police station on 26 July 2016, to face charges of criminal defamation and violating the Computer Crimes Act.

    June 17, 2016
    A new decree by the governor of Rio de Janeiro authorizing spending cuts ahead of the 2016 Olympic Games must not be used as an excuse to cut short basic services and training for security forces to be deployed in favelas, Amnesty International said.   “The decision to cut down on social services and security ahead of the Rio Olympics is not only shocking but incredibly worrying, particularly given Rio’s utterly poor record when it comes to homicides and police killings,” said Atila Roque, Brazil Director at Amnesty International.    “What Rio needs is not less but more investment to ensure security forces that will be deployed across the state are properly trained to prevent the kind of human rights violations we have been documenting for years.”   “This is not the time to hide behind numbers. Authorities in Rio de Janeiro have a responsibility to keep its people safe. Failing to take this responsibility seriously will only end up in more pain and suffering.”  

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    June 16, 2016

    The international community must not be duped by surface-level efforts to smooth out Azerbaijan’s human rights record, which remains dire, said Amnesty International in a report published today, ahead of this week’s inaugural Formula 1 Grand Prix of Europe race in Baku.

    “The arrival of the world’s premier racing series in Baku must not steer attention away from the government onslaught on civil society,” said Denis Krivosheev, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Europe and Central Asia.

    “Behind the glitz lies an everyday reality in which authorities have shut down NGOs and arrested or harassed their leaders.”

    Since the beginning of 2016, faced with falling oil revenues and rising international pressure, the Azerbaijani authorities have released several dozen prisoners. Among those released are twelve prisoners of conscience, including award-winning investigative journalist Khadija Ismayilova.

    June 15, 2016

    The Indonesian central government should allow dozens of Sri Lankan Tamil asylum seekers, including a pregnant woman and nine children, who have reached the coast of Lhoknga, Aceh, to disembark and meet UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) officials, Amnesty International said today.

    “These people have endured a long and difficult journey already. Now that they have reached land in Aceh, they should be allowed to disembark and meet UNHCR officials,” said Josef Benedict, Amnesty International’s Director of Campaigns for South East Asia and the Pacific.

    The organization fears that the Indonesian authorities may push the boat - reportedly carrying 44 people - back into international waters.

    The Aceh fishermen discovered the boat off the coast of Aceh province on 11 June. They subsequently reported the boat to the Indonesian navy who have not allowed the boat to disembark and the people on it to apply for asylum, arguing the asylum-seekers lack the proper documentation.

    June 15, 2016

    The allegations that have come forward through an anonymous letter from members of the Canadian Military Police and reported today in La Presse, regarding the Canadian military’s detention policy and practices  in Afghanistan are gravely concerning. For years, Amnesty International called for a halt to the handover of detainees to Afghan authorities because of concerns about torture. The organization has repeatedly called for transparent investigations into the potential complicity of Canadian forces in serious human rights violations committed by Afghan forces following the transfers. Today’s revelations, if true, underscore the urgent need for a Commission of Inquiry in order to ascertain the full facts of what occurred and identify the reforms needed to ensure these circumstances do not arise again. 

    June 14, 2016

    Released 00:01 GMT Tuesday 14 June 2016

    The EU’s plans to cooperate more closely with Libya on migration risk fuelling the rampant ill-treatment and indefinite detention in horrifying conditions of thousands of refugees and migrants, said Amnesty International.

    Last month the EU announced plans to extend its anti-smuggling naval mission in the Mediterranean, Operation Sophia, for another year and to train, build up the capacity of and share information with the Libyan coastguard following a request by the new Libyan government. However, testimonies gathered during visits to Sicily and Puglia in May 2016 reveal shocking abuses by the Libyan coastguard and at immigration detention centres in Libya.

    Amnesty International spoke to 90 people who survived the treacherous sea crossing from Libya to Italy, including at least 20 refugees and migrants who described shootings and beatings while being picked up by the coastguard or harrowing torture and other ill-treatment at detention centres. In one case, the Libyan coastguard abandoned a boat leaving some 120 people on board instead of rescuing them.

    June 13, 2016

    The Israeli military today renewed for six months the detention of Palestinian circus performer Mohammad Faisal Abu Sakha, who has been held without charge since his arrest in December 2015, in a case that exemplifies the authorities’ arbitrary and repressive use of administrative detention, said Amnesty International.

    Mohammad Abu Sakha performs as a clown and teaches at the Palestinian Circus School in Birzeit, near Ramallah, where he specializes in working with children with learning difficulties.

    “The arbitrary detention of Mohammad Abu Sakha is yet another shameful example of the Israeli authorities’ abusive use of administrative detention. He has already spent more than six months behind bars without being charged or allowed to stand trial - he has been denied even the slightest semblance of justice,” said Philip Luther, Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Amnesty International.

    “The Israeli authorities must either charge Mohammad Abu Sakha with a genuine criminal offence or order his release. For decades, Israel has relied upon administrative detention, in many cases as an alternative to bringing

    June 13, 2016

    Malawian officials must live up to their promises to end violence against people with albinism and tackle discrimination against this group, Amnesty International said on International Albinism Awareness Day.

    During a series of meetings with senior government officials, including President Arthur Peter Mutharika, on 7 June, Amnesty International secured commitments to not only address the spate of killings of people with albinism but also to tackle the root causes of discrimination.

    “Recognition by the Malawian authorities at the highest level that people with albinism not only experience daily discrimination but also live in constant fear of attacks is an important step in addressing the problem,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for Southern Africa.

    “Malawian police need more resources and must conduct thorough and effective investigations to bring the abductions and killings to an end. Visible policing in rural areas coupled with an effective public education campaigns can contribute significantly in arresting the problem.”

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