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    March 19, 2019
    His passport and phone are confiscated   He was sent back home handcuffed and put on a military plane At least three unidentified individuals seen moving around his house doing surveillance

    Authorities in Equatorial Guinea should immediately return a passport and phone to a prominent human rights activist who was banned from leaving the country and then handcuffed, put on a military plane and sent back to his home town, Amnesty International said today, with a call to guarantee his safety and freedom of movement.

    Alfredo Okenve was arrested on 15 March after having been banned from receiving in the capital Malabo the “Franco-German prize for human rights” for his work. 

    “This ban shows how determined the authorities are in restricting Alfredo Okenve’s ability to do his legitimate work in Equatorial Guinea even when he is due to receive an award for his courageous work to defend and promote human rights,” said Marta Colomer, Amnesty International’s Senior Campaigner for West Africa.

    March 18, 2019
    Amnesty worker in Gaza interrogated and ill-treated by security forces

    Hamas security forces’ violent crackdown against peaceful Palestinian protesters, activists, human rights workers – including an Amnesty International worker - and local journalists must be immediately halted and investigated, said Amnesty International.

    Hundreds of protesters have been subjected to beatings, arbitrary arrest and detentions, and torture and other forms of ill-treatment since 14 March, when Palestinians took to the streets across the Gaza Strip to protest against the rising cost of living and deteriorating economic conditions under the Hamas de facto administration.

    March 18, 2019
    Major stunt lights-up Athens landmark Spokespeople available in Lesvos as situation on islands remains critical

    European leaders were sent a clear message last night when a huge “Refugees Welcome” sign was projected on to the side of the Acropolis.

    The stunt, organized by Amnesty International, is intended to draw attention to the suffering of refugees trapped on the Greek Islands by the EU-Turkey deal, which marks its third anniversary today.

    “Three years after the EU-Turkey deal was implemented, it is vital that this call for humanity is seen not just across Athens, but across the whole of Europe,” said Fotis Filippou, Campaigns Director for Europe at Amnesty International.

    “The situation facing thousands of migrants and refugees on the islands is a scar on the conscience of Europe. Anyone looking up at the Acropolis can see thousands of years of civilisation. Anyone who looking towards the refugee camps on the Greek islands will see that our leaders have learnt nothing.

    March 18, 2019

    Following today’s decision by the Shali City Court in Chechnya to sentence human rights defender and prisoner of conscience, Oyub Tititev, to four years in penal colony, Amnesty International’s Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia, Marie Struthers said:

    “The four-year prison sentence slapped on Oyub Tititev is an affront to human rights, reason, and justice. By pronouncing him guilty, despite all the evidence to the contrary, the court has demonstrated how deeply flawed the Russian justice system is. The court has revealed itself to be little more than a tool that the regional authorities have used to silence one of the last human rights defenders working in Chechnya.

    “When this sham trial started, the human rights community called on the Russian authorities to transfer proceedings out of Chechnya, pointing out that the court will be under pressure from the regional authorities and unable to try Oyub fairly and reach an independent decision. By failing to do so, the Russian federal authorities proved to be accomplices in this gross injustice and in the violation of Oyub Titiev’s human rights.

    March 15, 2019

    Responding to news that a court in Rostov-on-Don, Southern Russia, has extended until 17 June the house arrest of Anastasia Shevchenko, prisoner of conscience and former coordinator with Otkrytaya Rossiya (Open Russia), a pro-democracy and human rights movement, Amnesty International’s Eastern Europe and Central Asia Director, Marie Struthers, said:

    “The criminal case against Anastasia Shevchenko is profoundly flawed, and by forging ahead with it regardless, the Russian authorities are creating an abhorrent precedent. Anastasia has lost her freedom and yet she has not committed any recognizable criminal offence. The authorities are casting their net ever more widely, with another former Otkrytaya Rossiya’s employee, Maksim Vernikov, now also facing criminal proceedings. We call on Russia to stop this increasingly ugly persecution.

    “The Russian authorities must drop all charges against Anastasia Shevchenko and Maksim Vernikov, and repeal the ludicrous ‘undesirable organizations’ law which is blatantly being used to target human rights defenders.”

    Background

    March 15, 2019

    Responding to reports that the U.S. will restrict visas for International Criminal Court personnel looking into the U.S. military personnel actions in Afghanistan, Daniel Balson, Advocacy Director at Amnesty International USA stated:

    “This announcement is the latest attack on international justice and international institutions by an administration hellbent on rolling back human rights protections.

    “While victims’ rights should be the very top priority of the United States government, throwing roadblocks in front of the ICC’s investigation undermines justice not only for abuses committed in Afghanistan, but also for the millions of victims and survivors throughout the world who have experienced the most serious crimes under international law.

    “The ICC prosecutes the most serious crimes under international law, including genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. Impeding the work of ICC investigators disrupts its vital function and demands impunity for the White House's own policies. In doing so, it risks setting a dangerous precedent.

    March 15, 2019

    A deeply flawed draft state of emergency law currently being discussed in parliament could grant Tunisian authorities sweeping powers to ban demonstrations and strikes, suspend activities of NGOs, impose arbitrary restrictions on movement of individuals and carry out unwarranted searches of properties based on vague national security grounds, said Amnesty International. A parliamentary debate on the proposed law has started and is expected to go to a vote in the coming weeks.

    The organization is calling on Tunisia’s parliament not to adopt the new bill unless fundamental changes are made to bring it in line with international law and the country’s own constitution.

    “Tunisia has operated under a continuous state of emergency for more than three years. What should be an exceptional temporary state has become the new normal. Tunisia’s authorities should be urgently working to restore full respect for the rule of law – not approving a repressive draft law that will further endanger human rights,” said Magdalena Mughrabi, Deputy Middle East and North Africa Director at Amnesty International.

    March 14, 2019

    Amnesty International welcomes today’s signing into law of the bill ratifying the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) without reservations by the President of Kyrgyzstan, Sooronbay Jeenbekov. The bill will enter into force in ten days after publication.

    “The ratification of the Convention paves the road to the effective inclusion of 180,000 people living with disabilities in the social and economic life of Kyrgyzstan,” said Anna Kirey, Deputy Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia at Amnesty International.

    “It should be a priority for the government of Kyrgyzstan to guarantee that persons with disabilities are involved in all decision-making processes, including relevant working groups and committees. The Convention’s implementation will demand combined approaches to policy and advocacy from persons with disabilities and their organizations.   

    March 14, 2019

    Following last night’s presidential pardon of about 700 people, including many detained solely for expressing their political views or participating in peaceful protests over the period 1 January 2015 to 31 December 2018, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes Sarah Jackson said:

    “President Tshisekedi’s decision to pardon prisoners of conscience and other people arbitrarily detained is to be applauded as a crucial first step towards restoration of human rights in the country. It must now be followed by their immediate and unconditional release from prison.

    “While their release will fulfil a promise he made to free political activists [from the opposition] in his first 100 days in office, his administration must now go further and guarantee that no one else is arrested, detained or prosecuted simply for expressing their opinions or for peacefully exercising their human rights.

    March 14, 2019

    The announcement today that the mandatory death penalty will be abolished for 11 offences should be considered Malaysia’s first step towards total abolition of the death penalty.

    “The government has sadly reneged on its earlier commitment to abolish the death penalty in totality, but we urge the government to keep its promise to abolish the death penalty once and for all at the soonest opportunity,” Amnesty International Malaysia Executive Director Shamini Darshni Kaliemuthu said today. 

    On 13 March 2019, Deputy Minister in charge of Law Mohamed Hanipa Maidin announced to Parliament that the Government is proposing to introduce sentencing discretion for 11 offences under the Penal Code and Firearms (Increased Penalties) Act 1971, which currently carry the mandatory death penalty. The change would leave the imposition of the death penalty at the hands of judges.

    March 14, 2019

    Speaking to Amnesty is not a crime

    The prosecution of 11 women activists before a Criminal Court in Riyadh for their human rights work and contact with international organizations is an appalling escalation of the Saudi authorities’ crackdown on peaceful activism, Amnesty International said today.

    Some of the women were charged with promoting women’s rights and calling for the end of the male guardianship system. The women were also charged with contacting international organizations, foreign media and other activists, including their contact with Amnesty International

    “The charges against the activists are the latest example of the Saudi authorities abusing legislation and the justice system to silence peaceful activists and deter them from working on the human rights situation in the country. This trial is yet another stain on the Saudi authorities’ appalling human rights record, and shows how empty the government’s claims of reform really are,” said Samah Hadid, Amnesty International’s Middle East Campaigns Director.

    March 13, 2019
    Governments are playing truant on climate action, warns Amnesty chief Kumi Naidoo

    Amnesty International today warned that the failure of governments to tackle climate change could amount to the greatest inter-generational human rights violation in history, as it welcomes a global day of school strikes against climate change planned for Friday 15 March by young people.

    “Amnesty International stands with all children and young people who are organizing and taking part in school strikes for climate action. This is an important social justice movement that is mobilizing thousands of people to peacefully call on governments to stop climate change,” said Kumi Naidoo, Amnesty International’s Secretary General.

    “It is unfortunate that children have to sacrifice days of learning in school to demand that adults do the right thing. However, they know the consequences of the current shameful inaction both for themselves and future generations. This should be a moment for stark self-reflection by our political class.

    March 12, 2019

    One year after Lebanese actor Ziad Itani was released from detention, he is no closer to getting justice for the appalling torture he was subjected to in prison, Amnesty International said today.

    On 13 March 2018 a military court acquitted Ziad Itani of charges of spying for Israel and released him. He had spent three and a half months in detention, on the basis of trumped-up charges. During the trial, Itani reported being held in solitary confinement, subjected to torture and other ill-treatment while in detention, and denied access to legal counsel. The Military court failed to act on these reports.

    In mid-November 2018, Itani filed a civil lawsuit against officers and civilian assistants, but the State Prosecutor referred the case to the Military Prosecutor, even though both international and domestic law would require such reports to be investigated within the civilian criminal justice system.

    March 12, 2019

    Luis Carlos Díaz, a Venezuelan journalist and defender of digital rights and freedom of expression, was arrested in Caracas on the afternoon of Monday, 11 March, by the Bolivarian Intelligence Service (SEBIN) and accused of alleged “cyber-crimes”.

    “Luis Carlos Díaz has been detained solely because of his widely respected work covering the Venezuelan people’s demands to live in dignity in their country and for his denunciations of the authorities’ response to the serious human rights crisis that they are experiencing. He is a prisoner of conscience and we demand his immediate and unconditional release,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International.

    Last weekend, senior officials under the command of Nicolás Maduro accused Luis Carlos Díaz of being part of a “conspiracy” that led to a power outage that has affected the country for more than five days, presenting a manipulated video where they used past statements he had made about internet service outages as if he were talking about the current power cuts.

    March 12, 2019

    Responding to reports that Brazilian police have arrested two men in Rio de Janeiro over the killing of human rights defender Marielle Franco and her driver Anderson Gomes on 14 March 2018, Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International, said:

    “This week marks one year since Marielle Franco was brutally killed, in an attack which devastated the many communities whose rights she fought to defend. Marielle’s killing was a blatant attempt to silence a brave human rights defender, who had devoted her life to advocating for women, LGBTI people and black youth in Rio favelas.”

    “These arrests are the first sign of progress in an investigation that has barely moved in the year since the killings. We are calling for the Brazilian authorities to ensure that investigations are independent and impartial, and to bring all those responsible, including those who ordered the crime, to justice in fair trials.”

    “There is no better way to honour Marielle Franco’s amazing legacy than by committing to protect human rights defenders and ensuring they can safely continue their vital work.”

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