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    April 27, 2020

    Amnesty International is disappointed in Canada’s decision to renew a measure banning refugee claimants from crossing into Canada from the US. Some claimants seeking to enter Canada have already been turned back to an uncertain fate in the US, potentially in violation of Canada’s international legal obligations under the Refugee Convention and the Convention Against Torture.

    The federal government has introduced some positive exceptions to the general ban it introduced last month. People crossing at land ports of entry who were exempt under the Safe Third Country Agreement will now be permitted to make their claims in Canada, as will US citizens, stateless persons and minors regardless of how they arrive. However, Amnesty International maintains that the measure puts some refugee claimants in danger and is out of step with public health measures.

    April 27, 2020

    Honourable John Horgan                                              Deputy Commissioner Jennifer Strachan

    Premier of British Columbia                                         Royal Canadian Mounted Police

    Parliament Buildings                                                       “E” Division

    April 24, 2020

    Responding to news of the death of Dr Abdullah al-Hamid, a prisoner of conscience who passed away while in detention in Saudi Arabia, Lynn Maalouf, Amnesty International’s Middle East Research Director, said:

    “We are devastated to learn of Dr Abdullah al-Hamid’s passing while he remained in detention for his peaceful activism.

    “Dr al-Hamid was a fearless champion for human rights in Saudi Arabia, who was determined to build a better world for all. Our thoughts are with his family and friends, who for the past eight years had been deprived of his presence as a result of the state’s inhumane repression.

    “As a prominent human rights campaigner, Dr al-Hamid’s important work continues to resonate throughout the region. He, and all other prisoners of conscience in Saudi Arabia, should never have been in jail in the first place.

    “We again call on the Saudi Arabian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release all those still imprisoned solely for peacefully exercising their human rights.”

    Dr Abdullah al-Hamid

    April 24, 2020

    The multinational US-based company Amazon must ensure its workers across the globe receive adequate health and safety protection during the COVID-19 pandemic, Amnesty International said, as hundreds of US Amazon workers prepare to call in sick on Friday in protest over labour issues.

    Worker organizations report that hundreds of Amazon warehouse workers in the USA have already stayed home from work this week, citing concerns including a lack of health protection at warehouses.

    Amnesty International also called on the e-commerce giant to protect the rights of workers who speak out, amid allegations that staff have been fired after voicing safety concerns.

    “We stand in solidarity with Amazon workers who are speaking up for their rights. Amazon warehouse and delivery workers are risking their lives in the midst of a pandemic to deliver essential goods to all of us,” said Joe Westby, Researcher at Amnesty International.

    April 23, 2020

    Amnesty International sent an open letter today to the Undersecretary of Prevention and the Promotion of Health, Dr Hugo López-Gatell Ramírez, the maximum authority on the response to COVID-19 in the country, to express its concerns about the lack of protection of the health of migrants and people in need of international protection in Mexico.

    “Dr. Lopez-Gatell has been very clear that the best way to protect oneself from contracting COVID-19 is through social distancing; likewise, the Ministry of the Interior has publicly stated that the migrant population is among the most vulnerable. However, the lack of a strong response from the National Migration Institute to protect the lives and health of people in migration detention is extremely alarming," said Erika Guevara Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International.

    April 21, 2020
    Saudi Arabia, Iraq, South Sudan, and Yemen bucked a global trend with spikes in executions Global executions fell by 5%, hitting a 10-year low

    Saudi Arabia executed a record number of people in 2019, despite an overall decline in executions worldwide, Amnesty International said in its 2019 global review of the death penalty published today. The Saudi authorities put 184 people to death last year, the highest number Amnesty has ever recorded in a single year in the country.

    Meanwhile the number of executions doubled in Iraq, and Iran retained its place as the world’s second most prolific executioner after China, where the exact number of people put to death remains a state secret. However these states are bucking a global trend which saw global executions decrease for the fourth consecutive year to at least 657 in 2019 from at least 690 in 2018 -- the lowest recorded figure of the past decade.

    April 21, 2020

    Responding to plans announced by U.S. President Donald J. Trump to sign an executive order “to temporarily suspend immigration into the United States”, Joanne Lin, the national advocacy director of Amnesty International USA, said:

    “While the scope of Trump’s new proposed policy is unclear, the message it sends is: the President is manipulating a pandemic to further the bigotry and xenophobia that have been hallmarks of his presidency from day one.

    "We are one country and there is no way we could address the spread of COVID-19 without the unending efforts of immigrants providing healthcare and home aid, staffing grocery stores, and producing food, whose work has been deemed essential while they are simultaneously struggling to access to care, support, and services.

    April 17, 2020

    In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, Colombia must urgently take appropriate measures to guarantee the rights of Indigenous Peoples, including their rights to health, water and food, Amnesty International said today. These measures must be coordinated with each Indigenous community, respecting their right to autonomy.

    In the context of the health emergency declared because of COVID-19 and the “State of Economic, Social and Ecological Emergency” throughout the country, President Iván Duque stated that the authorities would deliver food and money to the most vulnerable people. The Ministry of the Interior is responsible for the delivery of food to Indigenous, Black, Raizal, Palenquero, Afro-Colombian and Roma communities; Community Action Boards; community leaders; and human rights defenders.

    However, three weeks after the quarantine was imposed, Indigenous communities in the departments of Casanare, Vichada and Meta informed Amnesty International that they have received no support from government authorities, despite their strict compliance with the isolation measures.

    April 17, 2020

    The Saudi Arabian authorities must immediately release Dr Abdullah al-Hamid, a prisoner of conscience who remains detained despite being in coma and in critical condition, Amnesty International said today.

    Dr Abdullah al-Hamid, a prominent human rights campaigner serving an 11-year sentence for his peaceful activism, suffered a stroke on 9 April and is currently in a coma in the intensive care unit at al-Shumaisi Hospital in Riyadh.

    “It is heartbreakingly cruel that Dr Abdullah al-Hamid remains in detention, even while in a coma,” said Lynn Maalouf, Amnesty International’s Middle East Research Director.

    “Dr al-Hamid, and all other prisoners of conscience in Saudi Arabia, should never have been in jail in the first place. All those imprisoned solely for peacefully exercising their human rights must be immediately and unconditionally released.

    “Older prisoners and those with existing health conditions who are at high risk of contracting COVID-19 should also be immediately considered for release or alternatives to detention. All those still awaiting trial should also be released.”

    April 17, 2020

    OTTAWA – Amnesty International is pleased to announce the winners of the 25th annual Amnesty International Canada Media Awards:

    Long-Form Audio: Justin Ling, Jennifer Fowler, Erin Byrnes and Cesil Fernandes, CBC Podcasts, Uncover: The Village

    Mixed Media: Jillian Kestler-D’Amours and Megan O’Toole, Al Jazeera (freelance), Nations Divided: Mapping Canada's Pipeline Battle

    Long-Form Text: Shree Paradkar, Toronto Star, These Girls Were Powerless, Living On The Edge Of Society, But One School Is Turning Them Into Heroes, Feminists, And Resisters

    April 16, 2020

    People’s rights are being violated by governments in Europe and Central Asia, who are cracking down on protests and seeking to erode the independence of the judiciary to avoid accountability, Amnesty International said today as it published its annual review of human rights in the region.

    The organization praised those brave people who took to the streets to defend their own and others’ rights but warned that governments continue to perpetrate human rights violations with impunity across the region.

    “In 2019, people in Europe and Central Asia were threatened, intimidated, prosecuted, subjected to excessive use of force by police, and suffered discrimination. However, the grassroots mobilization of courageous people who dared to stand up and hold states accountable provides a ray of hope for the future,” said Marie Struthers, Europe Director at Amnesty International.

    Independence of the judiciary under threat

    April 15, 2020

    OTTAWA – A total of 301 organizations, academics and former politicians from across the country are calling on all levels of government in Canada to take urgent steps to strengthen human rights oversight amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

    A total of 157 organizations and 144 individuals – including Indigenous organizations, civil society groups, unions, academics and former politicians– are urging federal, provincial, territorial and municipal governments to adopt robust oversight measures to strengthen human rights protection and guard against potential human rights violations during the current public health crisis.

    April 15, 2020

    Responding to US President Donald Trump’s announcement that the United States will halt funding to the World Health Organization (WHO) pending the administration’s review of the organization’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International said:

    “In trying to distract from criticisms of his own administration's response, President Trump is undermining global efforts to protect people from one of the worst health crises in over a century.”

    “This crisis can only be solved through collective effort. COVID-19 does not respect borders, and Trump’s withdrawal will harm the United States as well as other countries fighting the virus. While other world leaders are pledging more support to the WHO, President Trump’s proposal to slash their resources at this moment of crisis will undermine efforts to save lives and halt the spread of the virus. The WHO cannot do its job if it is held hostage to the whims of powerful states, and other countries must do all they can to ensure this reckless decision does not hamper the fight against COVID-19.”

    April 15, 2020

    It is vital that the responses of governments in the Americas to the COVID-19 pandemic take into consideration the specific risks that women and girls in the region face in the current crisis and include differentiated measures to ensure that the pandemic does not increase exisiting inequality and vulnerability in the region, said Amnesty International, Women's Link Worldwide and the International Planned Parenthood Federation/Western Hemisphere Region (IPPF/WHR) today.

    The organizations published a report today with a series of recommendations to governments in the region that acts as a roadmap for government and other public authorities at a national and local level in terms of their human rights obligations to protect the rights of women and girls during the pandemic.

    April 09, 2020

    Responding to a Hong Kong appeal court ruling that partially reinstates the government’s mask ban, Director of Amnesty International Hong Kong Man-Kei Tam said:

    “Today’s ruling means Hong Kong’s repressive mask ban is only partially revoked. Authorities will be able to target people for wearing masks in any protest that is not ‘authorized’. In the past few months, we have seen police imposing excessive restrictions on freedom of assembly, cracking down on entirely peaceful protests and declaring them unlawful.

    “At a time when the vast majority of Hong Kongers wear masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the idea of maintaining this ban is absurd, not to mention a potential threat to public health.

    “Today’s ruling also revives the Emergency Regulations Ordinance (ERO), which essentially provides a blank cheque for the government to restrict human rights without any conditions or safeguards.

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