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    January 02, 2019

    Bangladesh’s authorities must investigate the ongoing violent attacks on journalists and activists ahead of the country’s 11th parliamentary elections due on 30 December 2018 and immediately release those journalists and activists who have been arrested arbitrarily, Amnesty International said today.

    Condemning the recent attack on journalists and activists, Amnesty International’s South Asia Campaigner, Saad Hammadi said, “The authorities must impartially investigate these attacks and bring the perpetrators to justice. Such incidents are detrimental to a peaceful atmosphere for people to exercise their civil and political rights.”

    At least 12 journalists on duty to cover the elections at a Dhaka constituency came under attack and 16 vehicles carrying them were damaged by a group of 30-35 attackers on 24 December 2018. The guest house where the journalists were resting also came under attack.

    December 31, 2018

    Responding to today’s decision by the Federal Supreme Court in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to uphold the conviction and 10-year prison term of prominent Emirati human rights defender Ahmed Mansoor, Amnesty International’s Middle East Research Director, Lynn Maalouf said:

    “Today’s court decision to uphold Ahmed Mansoor’s conviction and 10-year prison sentence confirms there is no space for free expression in the United Arab Emirates.”

    “Ahmed Mansoor’s only ‘crime’ was to express his peaceful opinions on social media, and it is outrageous that he is being punished with such a heavy prison sentence. This is a final verdict and cannot be appealed. Instead of punishing Ahmed Mansoor for daring to express his opinions, the authorities must ensure his conviction and sentence are quashed and release him immediately and unconditionally.”

    December 26, 2018

    The trial of Chinese human rights lawyer Wang Quanzhang is a cruel charade and he should be immediately and unconditionally released, Amnesty International said.

    Wang is one of the few lawyers still held in detention after the Chinese government’s mass crackdown in 2015, which targeted nearly 250 lawyers and activists. He is on trial at the Tianjin Municipal No.2 Intermediate People’s Court accused of “subverting state power,” which carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

    “This is a sham trial in which Wang Quanzhang is being persecuted only for peacefully defending human rights,” said Doriane Lau, China researcher at Amnesty International.

    “Wang Quanzhang has already been unjustly held for more than three years, during which his family suffered the anguish of not knowing whether he was alive until recently. He must be immediately and unconditionally released.”

    Wang was taken away by police on 3 August 2015. It was only in July 2018 that his family learnt from a trusted lawyer that Wang Quanzhang was alive and being held in Tianjin.

    December 24, 2018

    Amnesty International has credible reports that 37 protesters have been shot dead by the security forces in five days of anti-government demonstrations that have rocked the country.

    “With further protest planned tomorrow, the fact that the security forces are using lethal force so indiscriminately against unarmed protesters is extremely troubling,” said Sarah Jackson,

    Amnesty International’s deputy director for East Africa, the Great Lakes and the Horn.

    “With dozens already dead, the government must rein in this deadly use of force and prevent more unnecessary bloodshed. Instead, of trying to stop people from demonstrating, the authorities should be focusing on ending longstanding repression of human rights and resolving the economic crisis that have collectively precipitated these protests.”

    Background

    For further information see https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2018/12/sudan-shooting-of-protestors-must-be-immediately-investigated/

    December 21, 2018

    In response to the publication of the “Report on the Acts of Violence Occurred Between April 18 and May 30, 2018 in Nicaragua," by the Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts (GIEI-Nicaragua) today, Erika Guevara Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International, said:

    “The damning report by the Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts reveals that the government of President Daniel Ortega has committed crimes against humanity in the context of the crisis that began last April. This report constitutes a detailed investigation of the crimes under international law and human rights violations carried out by state agents under the command of President Ortega, using public institutions and pro-government armed groups to establish a repressive state apparatus, with the intention to kill and persecute those who opposed their policies.”

    December 21, 2018

    In response to security officers opening fire on protestors in Sudan leaving at least nine people dead, five of whom were students, and dozens more injured over the past two days, Seif Magango, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes, said:

    “These killings must stop. Opening fire on unarmed protesters cannot be justified and what is clearly needed now is an independent, efficient investigation into these events. All those responsible for unnecessary or excessive use of force, including those with command responsibility, must be brought to justice. 

    “The government must also immediately and unconditionally release all those arrested for peacefully exercising their right to freedom of expression, association and assembly.

    “It must address the root cause of the rapidly deteriorating economic conditions in the country instead of trying to prevent people from fully exercising their right to protest against the growing hardships they are facing.”

    Background

    December 20, 2018

    Responding to the news that the South Cairo Criminal Court this morning acquitted all 43 defendants in the retrial of Egypt’s notorious “foreign funding” case – also known as Case 173 - Najia Bounaim, Amnesty International’s North Africa Campaigns Director said:

    “Today’s acquittal of all 43 NGO workers in the first ‘foreign funding’ case is a step in the right direction for Egyptian justice. This was a bogus case that targeted human rights defenders simply for doing their legitimate work and should never have happened in the first place.

    “However, today’s ruling only relates to the first phase of the case which investigated the funding of international organizations; the investigation into local Egyptian NGOs is ongoing and dozens of staff are still at risk. 

    “Since the ‘foreign funding’ case was opened Egyptian human rights defenders have been treated as enemies of the state, subjected to an unprecedented crackdown, including asset freezes, travel bans and prosecutions.

    December 20, 2018

    The authorities in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) must immediately and unconditionally release Dr Nasser bin Ghaith, a prisoner of conscience whose health has deteriorated sharply in recent days, said Amnesty International today.

    Dr Nasser bin Ghaith is serving a 10-year sentence for criticizing the UAE in comments posted on Twitter after a grossly unfair politically motivated trial.

    “News that Dr Nasser bin Ghaith’s health has deteriorated sharply leaving him too weak to stand up and causing him to start losing his eyesight, is deeply alarming. He is a prisoner of conscience and should not even be behind bars let alone serving a ludicrous 10-year sentence based on a deeply flawed trial,” said Samah Hadid, Amnesty International’s Middle East Campaigns Director.

    “Instead of prolonging his suffering the Emirati authorities should order his immediate and unconditional release. Until then, they must ensure he is granted any medical care that he requires.”

    December 19, 2018

    The Ugandan authorities must immediately drop charges against radical academic Stella Nyanzi and put a stop to the charade that has seen her spend weeks in jail, Amnesty International said today as her case finally went to trial.

    The charges levelled against Stella Nyanzi under the Computer Misuse Act are in direct contravention of Uganda’s constitution and its international human rights obligations to respect, protect, promote and fulfil the right to freedom of expression.

    “Stella Nyanzi has been repeatedly harassed, arrested and detained, simply for daring to speak out against the government. These latest charges relating to Facebook posts in which she criticized President Yoweri Museveni and First Lady Janet Museveni, are yet another callous attempt to silence her,” said Roland Ebole, Amnesty International’s Uganda researcher.

    “We are calling on the Ugandan authorities to drop these absurd charges and ensure that she is able to enjoy her human rights without any fear of intimidation or arrest.”

    December 19, 2018

    Police in Viet Nam’s capital, Hanoi, shut down a major annual meeting of grassroots groups and non-government organizations (NGOs) this morning in an alarming step-up of the authorities’ repression of civil society, said Amnesty International.

    “This is an absurd and shocking crackdown on a well-established, peaceful event. To use an arcane wartime decree about holding events in public spaces to stop a private gathering at a hotel is clearly unjustified and cynical,” said Minar Pimple, Amnesty International’s Senior Director for Global Operations.

    A coalition of local groups were holding their third annual workshop today at the Hanoi Club Hotel. As in previous years, the meeting aimed to discuss approaches to social issues including public service access, health and gender equality.

    Once the workshop was underway, local police entered the premises and ordered organizers to shut it down. Police accused organizers of violating a wartime law from 1957, Decree 257-TTg, which provides that public authorities must be informed of events at least 24 hours in advance.

    December 18, 2018

    Egyptian authorities must immediately comply with a court decision to release Amal Fathy, a woman human rights defender who was given a two-year sentence in September for posting a video online in which she criticized the Egyptian authorities for failing to tackle sexual harassment.

    A Cairo criminal court today ordered Amal Fathy’s release on probation after accepting her appeal against her pre-trial detention in relation to a separate case, in which she is charged with “belonging to a terrorist group”, “broadcasting ideas calling for terrorist acts” and “publishing fake news”. According to the terms of her probation, Amal will be required to visit a police station a number of times every week. Her next hearing in this case is on 26 December.

    December 18, 2018

    Amnesty International is joining more than 1,500 members of the health care community in calling on the federal government to address a landmark United Nations decision condemning Canada for denying health care access to Ms. Nell Toussaint on the basis of her immigration status.

    This remarkable group of medical professionals – including doctors, nurses, midwives, social workers, psychologists, allied health specialists, public health workers, researchers, educators and students – have signed an open letter urging Canada to review existing laws and policies regarding health care coverage for irregular migrants, and to provide Ms. Toussaint with adequate compensation for the violation of her human rights.

    Amnesty International, one of more than 80 organizations that have signed the letter, welcomes this initiative and urges the government to act without delay to ensure that people with irregular immigration status have access to essential health care services.

    Background:

    December 18, 2018
    Amnesty International and Element AI release largest ever study into online abuse against women

    One in ten tweets mentioning black women politicians and journalists in a sample analyzed by Amnesty International was abusive or problematic, the organization said today, as it released a ground-breaking study into abuse against women on Twitter conducted with Element AI, a global artificial intelligence software product company.

    More than 6,500 volunteers from 150 countries signed up to take part in Troll Patrol, a unique crowdsourcing project designed to process large-scale data about online abuse. Volunteers sorted through 228,000 tweets sent to 778 women politicians and journalists in the UK and USA in 2017.

    Amnesty International and Element AI then used advanced data science and machine learning techniques to extrapolate data about the scale of abuse that women face on Twitter. Element AI calculated that 1.1 million abusive or problematic tweets were sent to the women in the study across the year - or one every 30 seconds on average.

    December 17, 2018

    A plan of action for how to protect and promote the work of human rights defenders will be presented today to the UN General Assembly following a major international summit held at the end of October. This effort to move the international community at the highest level on the need to ensure the effective safety and security of human rights defenders around the world comes at a time when their role is constantly challenged and undermined in blatant contradiction with international obligations and commitments.

    The meeting will take place on 18 December 2018, twenty years on from when the first UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders was created. A representative from the recent Human Rights Defenders World Summit is set to present the outcomes at the UN General Assembly, shining a spotlight on the increasing levels of danger facing activists worldwide. 

    December 17, 2018

    In response to today's ruling by a court in El Salvador in the case of Imelda Cortez, Erika Guevara-Rosas, Amnesty International Director at the Americas, said:

    “It is encouraging to know that Imelda Cortez has finally received justice. The authorities in El Salvador have taken a step in the right direction to protect the human rights of girls and women in what remains one of the most dangerous countries in the world for them.”

    “Amnesty International welcomes the fact that Imelda will be released after being detained for more than a year, but we must not forget the other girls and women who continue to face injustice in El Salvador just because they are women.”

     

    If you would like more information or to arrange an interview, please contact Elizabeth Berton-Hunter, Media Relations 416-363-9933 ext 332 bberton-hunter@amnesty.ca

     

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