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    May 22, 2019

    The U.S. Department of Justice should immediately drop all criminal charges against humanitarian volunteer Dr. Scott Warren, and stop criminalizing humanitarian aid, Amnesty International said today.

    “The U.S. government is legally required to prevent the arbitrary deaths of migrants and asylum seekers in border areas. Yet instead, authorities have willfully destroyed humanitarian aid provisions in deadly desert terrain and are criminally prosecuting humanitarian volunteers in order to deter them from saving lives,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International. 

    The U.S. government is prosecuting Dr. Warren for allegedly “harbouring” two undocumented migrants by providing them with humanitarian aid in the form of food, water, and clean clothing, in the desert town of Ajo, Arizona, where he lives. If convicted on all three criminal charges against him, Dr. Warren could face up to 20 years in prison. His felony trial is scheduled to begin on 29 May.

    May 22, 2019

    Cyril Ramaphosa is due to be inaugurated as president of South Africa on 25 May 2019, nearly three weeks after his African National Congress (ANC) party’s election victory. Ahead of the inauguration, Shenilla Mohamed, Executive Director of Amnesty International South Africa said:

    “As his African National Congress prepares to lead the country for the next five years, Cyril Ramaphosa must place human rights at the centre of the government’s domestic and foreign policy priorities. This begins with ensuring justice for victims of the events in Marikana, who are still waiting for answers almost seven years on.

    “Cyril Ramaphosa should publicly commit to ensuring full respect for the human rights, dignity and equality of all South Africans – the principles on which the country was founded as enshrined in the bill of rights.

    “He should draw inspiration from Nelson Mandela who stood with human rights even when it was unpopular to do so, and did not shy away from calling out leaders who found themselves on the wrong side of humanity.”

    Background

    May 22, 2019

    In response to a decision by Turkey’s Constitutional Court to reject an application by civil society leader Osman Kavala to end his continued pre-trial detention on the grounds that it is in violation of his human rights, Amnesty International’s Turkey Campaigner Milena Buyum said:

    “Today’s inexplicable decision by Turkey’s highest court rubs salt into the wound of injustice. Osman Kavala’s rights have been abused. He should not have spent a single day behind bars, let alone nearly 600 days. The charges against him must be dropped and he must be immediately released.”

    “The outlandish allegations against Osman Kavala are an attempt to rewrite history and to silence one of Turkey’s most prominent civil society figures.

    “Yet again, following a decision earlier this month to reject the applications of jailed journalists Ahmet Altan and Nazlı Ilıcak, the Constitutional Court’s decision has prolonged the detention of someone who should never have been imprisoned in the first place.

    May 21, 2019

    On 21 May, a delegation comprising the executive director of Amnesty International Brazil, Jurema Werneck, and the Amnesty International Americas director, Erika Guevara-Rosas, will visit Brasilia, where they will attempt to deliver to President Bolsonaro and other representatives of the government a letter setting out these concerns, together with recommendations for guaranteeing, promoting and protecting human rights in the country.

    “Some of the measures adopted or proposed by this government over the past five months raise many concerns,” said Jurema Werneck. “They could increase the risk of homicides with firearms. They legitimise a public security policy based on the use of lethal force. They violate the rights of indigenous peoples and Quilombolas. They base drug policy on punitive and ineffective practices. They could increase monitoring of NGOs without justification. They deny victims of the military regime the right to truth, justice and reparations. All of this is accompanied by an overtly anti-human-rights rhetoric which only adds to Amnesty International’s concerns about the human rights situation in Brazil.”

    May 21, 2019

    The Indonesian authorities must ensure full respect for the human rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly ahead of the announcement of the official general election results scheduled for 22 May, Amnesty International said today.

    “The authorities in Indonesia must let people demonstrate freely and peacefully. Security forces must refrain from using unnecessary or excessive force or intimidating demonstrators,” said Amnesty International Indonesia’s Executive Director Usman Hamid.

    Prior to the announcement by the Election Commission (KPU)  tomorrow, civil society organizations and prominent opposition political activists have announced plans to stage mass protests in Jakarta on 22 May, saying they would reject the 17th April presidential election results.

    On Sunday 19 May, media reported that police were intimidating groups travelling on busses to Jakarta,  instructing them to turn back and not join the rally.

    “Preventing people from joining a peaceful protest is a violation of their human rights. Everyone has the right to join others and express their thoughts peacefully,” Usman Hamid added.

    May 17, 2019

    Amnesty International welcomes Canada’s decision to remove all countries from the Designated Countries of Origin (DCO) list. The DCO regime violates the rights of refugee protection claimants to a fair hearing by imposing shorter timelines and other measures for no reason other than the claimant’s country of origin. Furthermore, delays in accessing the Pre-Removal Risk Assessment (PRRA) for claimants from DCO countries have been found to be unconstitutional.

    In March 2019, the Federal Court struck down the distinction between the DCO and non-DCO claimants’ access to the PRRA. While DCO claimants were ineligible to apply for a PRRA for 36 months from the date of rejection of their claims, non-DCO refugee claimants were ineligible for 12 months after rejection of their claims. This difference in treatment was considered unconstitutional. Similarly, in July 2015, the Federal Court found that differential treatment in accessing the Refugee Appeal Division between DCO and non-DCO claimants was contrary to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

    May 15, 2019

    Responding to the UAE Federal Court’s verdict into the case of eight Lebanese men, all Shi’a Muslims, sentencing one to life in prison, two to ten years, and acquitting five others following a trial marred by due process and fair trial concerns, Lynn Maalouf, Amnesty International’s Middle East Research Director, said:

    “The absence of basic requirements of a fair trial – such as having access to a lawyer – strips today’s verdict of any reliability or credibility.

    “The eight men were held in solitary confinement for over a year – this in itself can amount to torture. They were also denied access to their lawyers from the beginning of the trial; a number of the men claimed they had been tortured to sign so-called confessions but there have been no investigations into these claims. These details leave us with no confidence in the process that led to the conviction of the three men.

    May 15, 2019

    Responding to the Alabama Senate approving a measure on Tuesday that would outlaw almost all abortions in the state, Tarah Demant, the Director of the Gender, Sexuality and Identity Program at Amnesty International USA, said:

    "Alabama’s vote is the latest in a string of abortion bans specifically designed to strip people’s reproductive rights away. These bans will be deadly, endanger pregnant people’s lives, and criminalize doctors and health care providers for simply doing their jobs and providing care.

    "These bans reinforce violence against women by victimizing survivors of rape and sexual violence twofold by denying their right to access abortion. They are a gross and dangerous turn back to a dark history where women risked their lives to access their sexual and reproductive rights."

    May 15, 2019

    In response to the discussion of proposed legislation in the Political Commission of El Salvador’s Legislative Assembly, which could have implications for access to justice for victims of the armed conflict, Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International, said:

    “El Salvador’s legislators cannot turn their backs on the victims of crimes under international law and grave human rights violations committed during the armed conflict. The Salvadoran authorities are obliged to bring to justice anyone suspected of being responsible for the extrajudicial executions, torture and enforced disappearances that took place during the armed conflict. To do otherwise would risk becoming complicit in heinous crimes.”

    May 14, 2019

    Today marks the first anniversary of the arrests of several prominent women human rights defenders in Saudi Arabia, after a shameful year for human rights in the Kingdom in which activists, journalists, academics, and writers were targeted, Amnesty International said today.

    In the past year, Saudi Arabian activists, including several women human rights defenders, have suffered the terrible ordeal of arbitrary detention, unable to speak to or see their loved ones for long months and with no access to legal representation. Women activists also detailed accounts of their torture, ill-treatment and sexual abuse to the court, and many of them now face a prison term for their peaceful activism and speech.  

    May 14, 2019

    Following the announcement by Sudan’s Public Prosecutor that he will charge former president Omar al-Bashir with the recent killing of protestors, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes, Seif Magango said:

    “While this promises to be a first step towards holding al-Bashir accountable for his heinous crimes, the Sudan authorities must hand him over to the International Criminal Court to answer charges of crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide. Al-Bashir must face justice not only for recent crimes, but also for the crimes under international law he allegedly committed while he was in power.

    “This announcement is all the more significant coming off the back of yet another night of bloody violence in Sudan during which at least four people were killed, and about 90 sustained gunshot injuries. The prosecutor must also investigate and charge everyone else responsible for the continued use of excessive lethal force against peaceful protestors.

    May 14, 2019

    Responding to the killing of at least one individual and the spate of attacks against Muslim-owned businesses, mosques and houses in several parts of Sri Lanka, Amnesty International’s South Asia Researcher, Thyagi Ruwanpathirana said:

    “The Sri Lankan authorities must protect the country’s Muslim minority as it is being targeted by mobs in horrific attacks on their homes, mosques and businesses in the wake of the Easter Sunday massacre. The authorities must take steps to promote unity in diversity against the forces of hatred, those promoting fear and violence, and pitting communities against each other.

    “The authorities must put the protection of human rights at the heart of its response and prevent further violence, including holding the suspected perpetrators of earlier attacks accountable. In particular, prosecutions must also meet international fair trial standards.

    “It is alarming to see reports that those suspected to be involved in the March 2018 anti-Muslim violence may have been involved in these recent attacks as well.

    May 13, 2019

    Reacting to the onward voyage of the Saudi Arabian state shipping company’s vessel, the Bahri Yanbu, from the Spanish port of Santander this afternoon, Ara Marcen Naval, Deputy Director for Arms Control and Human Rights at Amnesty International, said:

    “Laden with arms that will likely be used in the war in Yemen, the Bahri Yanbu has been bouncing off European ports like a pinball. After loading up with Belgian munitions in Antwerp, it has visited or attempted to visit ports in the UK, France and now Spain, and is due to dock at the Italian port of Genoa later this week. 

    “This is a serious test of EU countries’ resolve to uphold their obligations under the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) and EU Common Position on Arms Exports. Several states have failed this test in the space of just a few days.

    “No EU state should be making the deadly decision to authorize the transfer or transit of arms to a conflict where there is a clear risk they will be used in war crimes and other serious violations of international law.

    May 10, 2019

    Amnesty International is supporting a legal action to take the Israeli Ministry of Defence (MoD) to court, to demand that it revokes the export license of NSO Group, an Israeli company whose spyware products have been used in chilling attacks on human rights defenders around the world.

    In a petition to be filed tomorrow at the District Court of Tel Aviv, approximately 50 members and supporters of Amnesty International Israel and others from the human rights community set out how the MoD has put human rights at risk by allowing NSO to continue exporting its products. In August 2018 an Amnesty staff member was targeted by a particularly invasive piece of NSO Group software called Pegasus, also linked to attacks on activists and journalists in Saudi Arabia, Mexico and the United Arab Emirates.

    “NSO Group sells its products to governments who are known for outrageous human rights abuses, giving them the tools to track activists and critics. The attack on Amnesty International was the final straw,” said Danna Ingleton, Deputy Director of Amnesty Tech, who has provided supporting testimony.

    May 10, 2019

    Amnesty International welcomes today’s landmark decision in Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness v Chhina, finding that the statutory regime in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act does not provide for review that is “at least as broad and advantageous as habeas corpus.”

    This case was about the basic right of immigration detainees to challenge the lawfulness of their detention by way of habeas corpus – a constitutionally protected right rooted in centuries of common law protections limiting the power of the State to arbitrarily deprive individuals of their liberty. When the case was heard last fall, Amnesty International argued that Canada has an international legal obligation to guarantee immigration detainees are able to exercise this right.

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