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    March 28, 2018

    March 28, 2018 - Ethiopia’s incoming prime minister must prioritize addressing the deep-rooted human rights crisis in the country, said Amnesty International following the election of Abiy Ahmed as chairman of the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) party, paving the way for him to become the next premier.

    If approved by parliament, Abiy Ahmed, who also currently heads the Oromo People’s Democratic Organization (OPDO) – an EPRDF member party - will replace Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, who announced his resignation in February “in an effort to facilitate reforms.”

    “Abiy’s election could herald a new dawn in Ethiopia if it is followed by concrete steps to implement far-reaching reforms towards respect for human rights in the country,” said Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s Secretary General.

    “If approved as prime minister, Abiy and his government must take urgent measures to address the human rights crisis in Ethiopia, through concrete and genuine reforms.”

    March 28, 2018

    Responding to eyewitness accounts of journalists and demonstrators being subjected to physical and verbal attacks by security forces in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq where there have been widespread anti-austerity protests since Sunday, Lynn Maalouf, Middle East Research Director at Amnesty International, said:

    “Eyewitnesses we’ve interviewed, including a teacher and a journalist, have described scenes of chaos in Erbil and Dohuk as Kurdish security forces and armed individuals in civilian clothes used violence to disperse peaceful protests.

    “Peaceful demonstrators have been beaten up and insulted. Journalists using cameras or mobile phones to document the protests have been attacked. This is totally unacceptable and a blatant attempt to clamp down on dissent.

    “The Kurdish authorities must immediately put an end to the beating, harassment and intimidation of demonstrators and journalists. They have a duty to ensure that everyone can exercise their right to peaceful protest without interference.”

    Background

    March 28, 2018

    Reacting to the Kenyan authorities’ refusal to let pro-opposition lawyer Miguna Miguna into the country to participate in a judicial proceeding concerning him; and to police beating journalists who turned out to cover Miguna’s return to Kenya at Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, Amnesty International Kenya’s Executive Director Irungu Houghton said:

    “The way Miguna was treated showed blatant disregard for his human rights, after the High Court ordered that he be allowed to re-enter the country. The Kenyan government must also respect and protect the right to freedom of expression and allow journalists to freely report on the case without harassment, intimidation or attacks.

    March 26, 2018

    Reacting to news that journalist and Amnesty International prisoner of conscience Eskinder Nega was re-arrested yesterday, along with 10 other people in Addis Ababa, Joan Nyanyuki, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for Eastern Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes said:

    “These arrests, coming only a month after Eskinder Nega and his colleagues were released from prison, are a clear abuse of power by the Ethiopian authorities and serve as yet more evidence that the state of emergency is being cynically exploited for political ends.

    “The current state of unrest cannot be used as a front to curtail human rights and silence divergent opinions in Ethiopia. All of those arrested have done no more than exercise their right to freedom of expression and must be immediately and unconditionally released.

    “There must be an urgent review of the sweeping powers granted to the Command Post, a body created to manage the state of emergency. At present, they are abusing these powers to target and harass those with dissenting voices.” 

     

    March 26, 2018

    Israel’s policy of deporting African asylum-seekers to two unnamed African countries is an abdication of its responsibility to refugees and an example of the vicious political measures feeding the “global refugee crisis”, Amnesty International said today as the Israeli Supreme Court considers new evidence on the legality of the policy.  

    Israel has allegedly reached agreements with two countries – widely understood to be Uganda and Rwanda. The terms of the agreements are classified.

    Under the government’s new “Procedure for Deportation to Third Countries”, launched in January, those who agree to leave are given US$3,500 and a ticket to either their country of origin or an unnamed “third country”. Those who refuse face indefinite detention. The Israeli government claims the scheme facilitates “voluntary departures” of “infiltrators”. 

    March 26, 2018

    The international community must ensure justice for the deaths of two UN experts killed while investigating human rights abuses in Kasai province in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Amnesty International said one year after their bodies were discovered.

    The remains of Zaida Catalan, a Swedish-Chilean, and Michael Sharp, an American, were discovered on 27 March 2017, two weeks after they disappeared as they investigated human rights violations in the wake of clashes between the Congolese army and supporters of a local chief who had been killed by government security forces.

    “Michael and Zaida were murdered while pursuing justice for the families of thousands of people, killed by militia groups and government security forces,” said Dr. Joan Nyanyuki, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.

    “Justice for them is overdue, and the DRC authorities have failed to credibly investigate the murder and other serious human rights violations perpetrated in the Kasai region. They must never be forgotten and their deaths must not be in vain.”

    March 23, 2018

    Responding to reports that an alleged Russian air strike using an incendiary weapon burned to death 37 civilians – mainly women and children – hiding in an air-raid shelter in the Syrian town of Arbin on Friday, Amnesty International’s Crisis Response Senior Advisor Rawya Rageh said:

    “We have previously documented how the use of incendiary weapons is burning alive civilians who are literally left with nowhere to hide. This attack would appear to be the latest horrific example in that pattern.

    “In areas besieged by the Syrian government such as Daraya and elsewhere, civilians told us what particularly struck fear into their hearts during the final period of the siege before they were forced out was the use of incendiary weapons.

    “Many told us they stopped going down to shelters for fear of being burned alive. Those fears seem especially poignant today in light of this latest horrifying loss of life.”

    According to Russian state media, Russia's Ministry of Defence denied responsibility for the attack.

    Further reading

    March 23, 2018

    In an open letter to Cheryl Urban, Director General of the Latin America and Caribbean Bureau at Global Affairs Canada, Amnesty International Canada notified the Department it will no longer make submissions to the annual report on Human Rights and Free Trade between Canada and Colombia.

    The organization cited serious concerns with the Department’s methodology which fundamentally undermines the credibility of the process, including by failing to assess some of the most significant trade-related human rights concerns in Colombia. Instead, “the Government of Canada chooses to interpret its human rights reporting responsibilities in a limited and restrictive manner that ignores and overlooks pressing human rights concerns directly related to critical trade, investment and business policy and activities that are encouraged, promoted and furthered by the [Canada Colombia Free Trade Agreement],” the Open Letter reads.

    March 23, 2018

    A Saudi Arabia-led coalition attack with a US-manufactured bomb, which turned a civilian home into rubble and killed or injured six members of the same family, is the latest in a long string of potential war crimes Amnesty International has documented over the past three years of Yemen’s devastating conflict. 



    Since the coalition’s campaign of airstrikes against the Huthi armed group began on 25 March 2015, Amnesty International has documented how all parties to the conflict have repeatedly violated international law. 



    “Three years on, Yemen’s conflict shows no real signs of abating, and all sides continue to inflict horrific suffering on the civilian population. Schools and hospitals lie in ruins, thousands have lost their lives and millions are displaced and in dire need of humanitarian aid,” said Lynn Maalouf, Director of Research for the Middle East at Amnesty International. 



    March 22, 2018
    Government continues to deny the existence of slavery but thousands remain enslaved Activists have faced arrest and torture simply for speaking out against exploitation Scores of anti-discrimination groups remain banned

    Mauritanian human rights defenders who speak out against persistent practice of slavery and discrimination in the country have faced arbitrary arrest, torture, detention in remote prisons and the systematic banning of their gatherings, Amnesty International said in a new report published today.

    ‘A sword hanging over our heads’: The repression of activists speaking out against discrimination and slavery in Mauritania documents the growing repression of individuals and organizations who dare to denounce slavery and discrimination, as well as the government’s denial of the problem.

    March 22, 2018
    In response to the decision by President Emmerson Mnangagwa to commute the death sentences of prisoners who have been on death row for more than 10 years, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for Southern Africa, Muleya Mwananyanda, said: “President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s has taken a very progressive step in deciding to spare the prisoners from the hangman’s noose. His action is commendable, but he must build on this positive momentum by ensuring Zimbabwe abolishing the death penalty completely.   “Countries around the world, including in sub-Saharan Africa, are moving away from using the death penalty. There is no credible evidence that the death penalty has a greater deterrent effect on crime than imprisonment. We call on President Mnangagwa to move swiftly to establish an official moratorium on executions as a first step towards abolishing this cruel and inhuman punishment altogether.”   Background
    March 22, 2018

    The continued imprisonment of Palestinian child activist Ahed Tamimi is a flagrant attempt to intimidate those who dare challenge the circumstances of the ongoing occupation, Amnesty International said today after she was sentenced to eight months and a 5,000 shekels fine (around US$ 1,400) with a three year suspended sentence after entering into a plea deal at Ofer military court in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

    17-year-old Ahed Tamimi was accused of aggravated assault and 11 other charges after a video showing her shoving, slapping and kicking two Israeli soldiers in her home village of Nabi Saleh on 15 December 2017 went viral on Facebook.

    March 21, 2018
    New Amnesty campaign launches as Apple chief executive Tim Cook co-chairs business forum in Beijing Millions of Chinese iCloud users face huge new privacy risks after data transfer to joint venture Campaign’s Orwellian theme a nod to Apple’s iconic ‘1984’ TV advert

    Amnesty International is launching a new social media campaign targeting Apple over its betrayal of millions of Chinese iCloud users by recklessly making their personal data vulnerable to the arbitrary scrutiny of the Chinese government.

    In a nod to Apple’s iconic ‘1984’ advert, the campaign takes an Orwellian theme with the line “All Apple users are equal but some are less equal than others”. It launches as the tech company’s chief executive, Tim Cook, touches down in Beijing to co-chair a prestigious business forum.

    “Tim Cook is not being upfront with Apple’s Chinese users when insisting that their private data will always be secure. Apple’s pursuit of profits has left Chinese iCloud users facing huge new privacy risks,” said Nicholas Bequelin, East Asia Director at Amnesty International.

    March 21, 2018

    Amnesty International USA will have member and staff-led delegations in 14 cities around the country as part of the March for Our Lives event this Saturday, March 24. Amnesty International USA is not an organizer of the event, but has endorsed the march.

    “Gun violence in the United States is a human rights crisis,” said Margaret Huang, executive director of Amnesty International USA. “It is unacceptable that people cannot live their lives without fear of being shot. The laws currently in place at all levels are not enough to protect the fundamental right to live. We stand with all students, parents, co-workers, neighbors and loved ones who have been touched by gun violence in saying ‘no more.’ In many communities across the U.S., gun violence is a daily occurrence. They have been calling for change for years--- we need meaningful reform without delay.”

    AIUSA delegations will march in the following cities: Washington DC, New York City, Boston, Chicago, Atlanta, Oakland and Los Angeles, Orange County, Colorado Springs, Fort Collins, Dallas/Fort Worth, Minneapolis, Columbus and Detroit.

    March 21, 2018

    Responding to an Associated Press report that Iraqi authorities have detained or imprisoned at least 19,000 people accused of links to the armed group calling itself the Islamic State (IS) or other terror-related offences, and sentenced more than 3,000 of them to death, Lynn Maalouf, Middle East Research Director at Amnesty International, said:

    “We are deeply alarmed by this report and the Iraqi authorities’ mass use of the death penalty and the courts’ reliance on torture-tainted “confessions” to secure convictions.

    “Amnesty International has documented the flawed screening process by Iraqi forces to which men and boys fleeing areas of conflict have been subjected. Thousands of them have been arbitrarily arrested, forcibly disappeared, and routinely subjected to torture and horrific conditions in detention. It is vital therefore that all those detained are held in officially recognized and supervised detention facilities.

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