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    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.

    March 21, 2018

    Responding to today’s release of 101 of the schoolgirls abducted from a school in Dapchi, northern Nigeria by the armed group Boko Haram last month, Amnesty International’s Nigeria Director Osai Ojigho said:

    “For the abducted girls who have been returned, and their families, this is a day of huge relief.

    “But despite this positive development, four girls from Dapchi are still being held by Boko Haram. Boko Haram must immediately release these girls and all other abductees – including some of the Chibok girls - and end the spate of abductions of civilians which amount to war crimes.

    “Moreover, the 101 released girls are currently being held in the government’s custody, further prolonging their ordeal.

    “The authorities must immediately release them, and ensure that they are able to return to their families or be provided with an alternative safe option if they so-choose. The authorities must also ensure the girls have access to comprehensive support, including confidential counselling and medical care.

    March 20, 2018
    On the day Twitter celebrates 12 years since the first tweet, Amnesty launches a new campaign challenging the company’s failure to prevent online violence and abuse against women Despite a pledge to be more accountable in its efforts to improve the “health” of conversation on its platform, Twitter refuses to disclose meaningful information on how it is handling reports of abuse and violence

    Twitter’s recent claim to “stand with women around the world” rings hollow in light of the multi-billion-dollar social media platform’s longstanding failure to protect women users from violence and abuse, said Amnesty International today as it published new research into women’s experiences on the platform.

    The new report, #ToxicTwitter: Violence and abuse against women online, shows that the company is failing to respect the human rights of women because of its inadequate and ineffective response to violence and abuse. It includes a series of concrete recommendations for how Twitter can become a safer place for women.

    March 20, 2018

    European Court of Human Rights maintains its 1978 judgement

    “This is a very disappointing outcome, for the men and their families” - Grainne Teggart

    Amnesty International is disappointed at the European Court of Human Rights’ ruling refusing to revise its 1978 conclusion that the treatment to which the United Kingdom subjected the 14 ‘hooded men’ in Northern Ireland did not amount to torture. It is important to note that today’s Court ruling is not a statement that the ‘five techniques’ do not constitute torture as it is legally defined today.

    In its 1978 landmark Ireland v UK judgement, in a case taken against the UK by the Irish Government, the Court had found that the UK violated the men’s rights to be free from inhuman and degrading treatment, but that the treatment the men suffered did not amount to torture.

    Today, the Court found that the information known to the UK Government at the time about the long-term effects of the ill-treatment, which the Irish Government brought to Court’s attention in this revision request, would not have decisively impacted on the Court back in 1978.

    March 20, 2018

    Following long-awaited landmark rulings today by the European Court of Human Rights which found that journalist Mehmet Altan and columnist Şahin Alpay’s rights to liberty and security, and freedom of expression, had been violated, Amnesty International’s Europe Director, Gauri van Gulik said:

    “Today’s rulings are a resounding vindication for these two journalists and a damning indictment of Turkey’s justice system. That Mehmet Altan and Şahin Alpay were kept in jail on pre-trial detention for almost 20 months is not only unjust but also unlawful.

    “This ruling cements what was already common knowledge: that they – like more than one hundred other journalists in Turkey - were imprisoned simply for doing their important journalistic work.

    “Starting with Mehmet Altan, the doors of Turkey’s prisons must now be flung open allowing journalists, activists and human rights defenders including Amnesty International’s chair, Taner Kılıç, to walk free.”

    Background

    March 20, 2018

    Responding to the news that China’s legislature today passed the Supervision Law, Amnesty International’s East Asia Regional Director Nicholas Bequelin said:

    “The Supervision Law is a systemic threat to human rights in China. It places tens of millions of people at the mercy of a secretive and virtually unaccountable system that is above the law. It by-passes judicial institutions by establishing a parallel system solely run by the Chinese Communist Party with no outside checks and balances.

    “The law eviscerates China’s legal system. It allows for arbitrary and prolonged incommunicado detention without any meaningful oversight and increases the risks of torture and forced ‘confessions’.

    “Under the new system, supervision bodies can detain and interrogate Communist Party members or public sector personnel - virtually anyone working directly or indirectly for the government. Judges, academics and personnel of state-owned enterprises could all face up to six months detention without charge or legal process, and without guaranteed access to lawyers or their families being told.”

    Background

    March 20, 2018

    Responding to an initiative announced by President Donald Trump on the use of the death penalty as a means to address the opioid crisis, Amnesty International’s Senior Program Officer for Criminal Justice, Kristina Roth stated:

    “We are deeply concerned about the administration’s plans to address the United States opioid crisis, by ramping up the use of the death penalty. The death penalty is the ultimate denial of human rights. All people have the right to life, and we all have the right to be free from cruel, inhuman, or degrading punishment. These are human rights that people have, regardless of whether they have been convicted of crimes. The death penalty is never an appropriate option in any circumstance, let alone when responding to a public health crisis.

    “There is no evidence that the death penalty has a unique deterrent effect, improves public safety, or reduces drug-related harm. The death penalty will not lower the alarming number of deaths related to the use of opioids. What we need are more humane, effective and evidence-based policies, to better protect public health and human rights.

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