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    February 28, 2019

    After learning that Canadian citizen Yasser Albaz has been detained in Cairo’s Tora prison, Amnesty International Canada Secretary General Alex Neve issued the following statement:

    "Amnesty International is deeply concerned about the detention of Canadian citizen Yasser Albaz in Egypt and is calling on the Egyptian authorities to release him. We consider his detention to be arbitrary based on the information that we have received from his family and lawyer, which indicates that the charges against him are unfounded. Yasser Albaz’s detention and brief forced disappearance followed by pre-trial detention without charge and without any lawful, substantiated or well-founded allegations, follows an established pattern that Amnesty International has documented in Egypt. Since December 2017, at least 126 individuals have been detained in similar circumstances. Amnesty International calls on the Egyptian authorities to immediately release Mr. Albaz and reiterates the organization’s earlier calls to release the many Egyptians who have been subjected to arbitrary detention.

    February 28, 2019

    The Tunisian government’s attempts to dissolve Shams, a local association that defends the rights of LGBTI people, are a despicable assault on human rights, said Amnesty International, ahead of a court hearing over the organization’s fate tomorrow.

    Tunisian authorities have launched an appeal to overturn a 2016 court ruling which concluded Shams was not in breach of the law, following previous attempts to shut the organization down. The authorities appealed the decision on the grounds that Shams’ stated goals contradict Tunisia’s religious principles and culture.

    February 28, 2019

    The Hong Kong authorities must not return two sisters to Saudi Arabia where their lives would be in grave danger, Amnesty International said.

    The women, who are aged 18 and 20 and are known as Reem and Rawan, fled Saudi Arabia after suffering repeated beatings by male family members and being treated “like slaves”. They arrived in Hong Kong last September when trying to reach Australia. They were blocked from continuing their journey by Saudi consular agents at Hong Kong International Airport. The sisters subsequently learned that their passports had been revoked, making it impossible for them to extend their visas to remain in Hong Kong.

    The sisters have been allowed to stay in Hong Kong as “tolerated” overstayers. That period of toleration is set to expire on 28 February. Hong Kong authorities could extend the period of toleration, which would allow the women to explore third country resettlement options.

    February 27, 2019

     Leading NGOs in Turkey have come together to call for the dropping of absurd allegations levelled against Osman Kavala and 15 other prominent figures and an end to the escalating crackdown and criminalization of civil society.

    The open letter, signed by the organisations including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and eight other NGOs, calls for an end to the orchestrated campaign of intimidation and judicial harassment of civil society activists in Turkey.

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

    FULL TEXT OF LETTER

    We stand united against efforts to destroy civil society

    February 26, 2019

    Sri Lanka’s President, Maithripala Sirisena, should halt his plans to resume executions after more than four decades to execute at least 13 people for drug-related crimes, Amnesty International said today.

    In an open letter published today, Amnesty International’s Secretary General, Kumi Naidoo, urges President Sirisena to fulfil Sri Lanka’s international commitments, respect the right to life, and shun executions that have been proven to have a unique  deterrent effect on crime.

    “Executions, Mr. President, are not a show of strength but an admission of weakness,” Kumi Naidoo writes in the open letter. “They represent the failure to create a society where the protection of the right to life triumphs over the temptations of vengeance.”

    “For those of us who believe that human life must hold the highest value, taking it away is the lowliest act. We understand this clearly when a person commits murder, but we choose to forget it when the state puts someone to death, inflicting the same pain and loss on others who bear no responsibility for the crime.”

    February 26, 2019

    As efforts to initiate discussion on peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan begins, the latest UNAMA`s 2018 report on “Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict” declares a record high number of civilian casualty in Afghanistan with a staggering number of 10,993 civilian casualties reported in 2018. 

    Responding to the UNAMA`s report, Amnesty International’s South Asia Campaigner Samira Hamidi said:

    “The UNAMA report on civilian casualties in Afghanistan is deeply alarming. It reports 10,993 civilian casualties, including 3,804 civilian deaths and 7,189 injuries. The shocking number of dead and injured civilians in Afghanistan once again demonstrates the need for victims to access justice and reparations, and the need to create an environment of accountability.”

    February 26, 2019

    Report reviews human rights in 19 MENA states during 2018

    International arms trade and lucrative business deals fuel cycle of abuse

    Lack of accountability drives widespread repression and civilian suffering

    Small advances on women’s rights and efforts to tackle past abuses due to civil society campaigns

    The international community’s chilling complacency towards wide-scale human rights violations in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) has emboldened governments to commit appalling violations during 2018 by giving them the sense that they need never fear facing justice, said Amnesty International as it published a review of human rights in the region last year.

    February 25, 2019

    WASHINGTON – As US President Donald Trump is scheduled to meet with his North Korean counterpart Kim Jong-un at a two-day summit on February 27 - 28 to be held in Hanoi, Vietnam, Francisco Bencosme, advocacy manager for Asia Pacific at Amnesty International USA, issued the following statement:

    “Over a year ago, President Trump stood in front of Congress and pledged to challenge North Korea’s human rights record. Since then, President Trump has repeatedly disregarded the human rights of the North Korean people to gain favor with Kim Jung-un. His silence in the face of relentless and grave human rights violations has been deafening.

    “The people of North Korea have endured enforced disappearances, arbitrary detention, forced labor in prison camps, a total absence of press freedom, severe restrictions on freedom of expression and movement, and decades of separation of families. But President Trump has turned his back on them for the sake of a photo-op.

    February 25, 2019

     

    The Sudanese authorities must end measures taken under the state of emergency to violently crush dissent amid ongoing nationwide protests in the country, Amnesty International said.

    Following the declaration of a state of emergency on Friday, the government has deployed large numbers of security forces – including the army – to target protesters.

    Thousands of Sudanese people are again protesting today in various parts of the country. Security officers today invaded the Ahfad University for Women in Omdurman dispersing students with teargas and beatings.

    “The state of emergency is being used by the Sudanese authorities as a justification to flagrantly increase the use of live ammunition and tear gas against protesters, and to torture detainees without any restraint,” said Joan Nyanyuki Amnesty International’s Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.

    February 25, 2019

    An investigative journalist who published a report revealing corruption within the ministry of health in Gaza is facing up to six months in jail, said Amnesty International, ahead of her appeal hearing tomorrow. 

    Hajar Harb, a Palestinian journalist from Gaza, released an investigative report on al-Araby TV  on 25 June 2016 highlighting that the ministry, which is run by the Hamas de-facto administration, was profiting by arranging illegal medical transfers out of the Gaza Strip for people who did not need treatment. She has been charged with a series of offences including defamation and the publication of false news.

    “The prosecution of Hajar Harb is an outrageous assault on media freedom. The authorities in Gaza are blatantly seeking to punish her for exposing corruption within the Hamas administration. The authorities must drop all the charges against her immediately,” said Saleh Higazi, Deputy Middle East and North Africa Director at Amnesty International.

    February 21, 2019

    Responding to the release of a draft law which will act as a legal basis for recognizing same-sex marriage in Taiwan, Annie Huang, Amnesty International Taiwan’s Director, said:

    “This is a huge step forward for marriage equality in Taiwan. The draft law is the first of its kind in Asia to allow same-sex marriage. It sends a strong message to the Taiwanese people and the world that Taiwan chooses love over hate, and equality over discrimination.

    “We welcome the bill proposed by Taiwan’s Executive Yuan. It pursues the equal protection of the freedom of marriage for two persons of the same sex, upholding the principles and spirit as laid out in the Constitutional Court’s ruling on 24 May 2017.

    “There are some areas where this separate law falls short of genuine marriage equality. This will require future reforms to fully align opposite-sex and same-sex marriage in law.”

    Background

    February 21, 2019

    Opposition leader Maurice Kamto will today be summoned by a military court on charges which carry the death penalty, as the Cameroonian authorities intensify their post-election crackdown on critics, Amnesty International said today.

    Kamto, the president of the Cameroon Renaissance Movement (Mouvement pour la Renaissance du Cameroun-MRC) is the first of a group of 131 people arbitrarily arrested last month and charged by the military court with rebellion, hostility against the homeland, incitement to insurrection, offence against the president of the republic,  and destruction of public buildings and goods, to be summoned by an investigating judge. They all face the death penalty which is the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment and a violation of the right to life.

    February 21, 2019
    Two killed during campaign rallies Journalists caught up in violence Pressures on pro-democracy activists

    Authorities in Senegal should take all appropriate measures to ensure that the Presidential election is held in a climate that is free from violence and respects the freedom of all people to express their views, Amnesty International said ahead of Sunday’s presidential polls.

    On 11 February during campaign rallies, two people were killed in the south eastern town of Tambacounda. Many others, including journalists, were injured following violent clashes between supporters of incumbent President Macky Sall who is seeking a second term, and those of El hadj Issa Sall, one of the opposition candidates.

    “It is unacceptable that people are killed during political rallies. Those responsible for these acts must be identified and brought to justice in fair trials,” said François Patuel, Amnesty International’s West Africa researcher.

    February 21, 2019

    The Minister of Homeland Security’s comments that attacks on persons with albinism have not reached crisis levels will only embolden those perpetrating the assaults and are a disturbing reminder of the government’s inaction on the issue, Amnesty International said today.

    Malawi is experiencing a resurgence of attacks against persons with albinism, with two fatalities and three abductions since 31 December 2018. Two of those who were abducted were later rescued by community members, one remains missing.

    “The latest comments from Minister Nicholas Dausi are yet another indication that persons with albinism in Malawi are on their own when it comes to their safety and security,” said Muleya Mwananyanda, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Southern Africa.

    “For years, people with albinism have been living at the mercy of criminal gangs who target them for their body parts. The recent spike in attacks shows that the government, despite amending the Anatomy Act and the Penal Code to ensure stiffer penalties, hasn’t lived up to its commitments on protecting this group.”

    February 21, 2019

    Governments across the world are increasingly attacking non-governmental organizations (NGOs) by creating laws that subject them and their staff to surveillance, nightmarish bureaucratic hurdles and the ever-present threat of imprisonment, Amnesty International said in a new report released today.

    Laws Designed to Silence: The Global Crackdown on Civil Society Organizations reveals the startling number of countries that are using bullying techniques and repressive regulations to prevent NGOs from doing their vital work. The report lists 50 countries worldwide where anti-NGO laws have been implemented or are in the pipeline.

    “We documented how an increasing number of governments are placing unreasonable restrictions and barriers on NGOs, preventing them from carrying out crucial work,” said Kumi Naidoo, Secretary General of Amnesty International.

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