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    August 20, 2020

    Amnesty International demands that the Russian authorities fully investigate the circumstances of the unexpected and critical deterioration of the health of opposition leader Aleksei Navalny and allow him to immediately be diagnosed by and receive treatment from doctors that his family trusts. The politician was hospitalized and placed in intensive care in Omsk (Siberia) on his way from Tomsk to Moscow. 

    “The administration of the hospital must provide full access to information about his treatment to his family and doctors of his or their choice. There have already been reports that his chosen doctor was not allowed to see the test results and was not informed of the course of treatment. In light of assumptions about possible poisoning, this only adds to suspicions,” said Natalia Zvyagina, Director of Amnesty International's Moscow office. 

    August 18, 2020

    As the daily number of COVID-19 cases reported in Venezuela has accelerated at the quickest rate yet in recent weeks, authorities are failing to take action to protect the population and, in particular, the doctors, nurses and hospital and clinic workers who are being sorely hit, and even jailing those who speak out about their dire labour conditions, said Amnesty International today.     

    “The Venezuelan authorities are either in denial about the number of health workers to have died from COVID-19, or they do not have accurate information about the precarious conditions in hospitals and the dire need for better protection of staff and patients alike. Either way, the government is being utterly irresponsible,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International.

    “While the Nicolás Maduro government has called on the population to applaud health workers in recent weeks, what they really need is not clapping, but concrete government action to procure the resources they need to work in safety, and allow their voices to be heard without reprisals.”

    July 29, 2020

    Almost 2,000 Yezidi children who have returned to their families after being held captive by the armed group calling itself Islamic State (IS) are facing a physical and mental health crisis, Amnesty International warned in a new report published today (30 July). 

    The report, Legacy of Terror: The Plight of Yezidi Child Survivors of ISIS, also addresses the urgent need to end the enforced separation of women and their children born of sexual violence by IS members.

    Between 2014 and 2017, IS committed war crimes, crimes against humanity, and what the UN describes as genocide against the Yezidi community in Iraq.

    The 56-page report reveals the extensive challenges now faced by the estimated 1,992 children who have returned to their families after being abducted, tortured, forced to fight, raped and subjected to numerous other horrendous human rights abuses by IS.

    July 27, 2020

    Responding to news that 26 Rohingya refugees previously feared drowned off the resort island of Langkawi, Malaysia, have been found alive on the island of Rebak Besar following a search yesterday, Rachel Chhoa-Howard, Amnesty International’s Malaysia Researcher said: 

    “While this story has had a happy ending, such potential tragedies could be avoided if Malaysian and Thai authorities allowed Rohingya refugees to disembark from boats instead of callously pushing them back out to sea.  

    “The situation of remaining Rohingya refugees still stranded at sea for months is desperate. ASEAN governments must immediately launch co-ordinated search and rescue missions for remaining survivors; allow all boats carrying refugees and migrants to land safely in the nearest country; and meet their humanitarian needs. Unless this happens, more lives will inevitably be lost.”  

    Background  

    July 23, 2020

    The decision of Colombia’s Ministry of Defense to begin ground-spraying operations in coca plantations in some areas of the country could result in human rights violations in the campesino farming communities that depend on coca for their livelihoods, Amnesty International said today. Moreover, beginning a process of forced eradication of crops could exacerbate the situations of conflict in the country, leaving rural communities in an even more dangerous situation, particularly for social leaders in the country. 

    “Operations to forcibly eradicate coca crops in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic are a death sentence for rural communities,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International. “Spraying illicit crops does not only mean robbing rural communities of their only livelihood amid the pandemic, but it could also destroy legal crops, an importance source of food. In addition, these operations expose a population with limited access to health services to contagion.”

    July 22, 2020

    The Canadian Council for Refugees (CCR), Amnesty International (AI) and The Canadian Council of Churches (CCC) welcomed today’s Federal Court of Canada ruling that sending refugee claimants back to the US under the Safe Third Country Agreement violates the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

    “We asked the Court to look at the impact of the Safe Third Country Agreement on women, men and children who can’t find safety in the U.S. and to assess the legality of Canada sending them back to detention and potential deportation to persecution,” said Dorota Blumczynska, CCR President. “The Court could hardly fail to be moved by the testimonies of the appalling experiences of people in the US immigration detention system, after Canada closed the doors on them. Their experiences show us – and convinced the Court – that the U.S. cannot be considered a safe country for refugees.”

    July 17, 2020

    Speaking to the UN Security Council today, UNHCR Special Envoy Angelina Jolie cited an upcoming Amnesty International report on Yezidi child survivors of the armed group calling itself the Islamic State (IS) in Iraq.

    Highlighting the lack of services available for child survivors of sexual violence and other violations, and calling for an urgent increase in international funding and dedicated services for children, Angelina Jolie’s remarks cited Amnesty International’s research:

    “Many children were murdered, but nearly 2,000 have returned. Many suffer from post-traumatic stress, anxiety and depression.

    “They experience flashbacks and recurrent nightmares that are typical for children who have experienced trauma and abuse.

    “Many of the children witnessed the murder of their relatives, and the rape of their mothers.”

    She added: “If we are not able to live up to our promise of a survivor-centred approach for Yezidi children, who make up just one relatively small group of survivors, then how many more children and young adults are suffering in silence at the global level?”

    July 16, 2020

    Amnesty International is calling on G20 leaders meeting this week to take unprecedented steps towards tackling the global inequalities which are fueling the COVID-19 and climate crises – two of the greatest threats to human rights of our time.

    G20 Finance Ministers convening on 18-19 July should commit to cancelling the debt of the world’s poorest countries, scaling up investments in health and social protections, and phasing out fossil fuels, to ensure a just and sustainable recovery from the pandemic. 

    “COVID-19 has exposed the glaring inequalities that exist in our world. If we are to build resilience to future crises, we need to make long-term structural changes that will require courage and leadership from G20 countries,” said Julie Verhaar, Amnesty International’s Acting Secretary General.

    “The flawed priorities of the rich and powerful have led us to a state of global emergency. G20 countries must break with the past by investing in people and human rights, leading the way to a just, sustainable and inclusive recovery.”

    Debt cancellation 

    July 16, 2020

    Bernardo Caal Xol, a Q'eqchi' Maya Indigenous leader and Guatemalan human rights defender, is a prisoner of conscience who has been wrongfully imprisoned for more than two years, Amnesty International said today.  

    Since 2015, Bernardo Caal has defended the rights of the communities of Santa María Cahabón, who have been affected by the construction of the OXEC hydroelectric plant on the Oxec and Cahabón rivers in the northern department of Alta Verapaz. He filed a series of injunctions against the project and in 2017 the high courts acknowledged that the right to free, prior, and informed consultation of the Indigenous communities was violated.

    In retaliation, Bernardo Caal was accused of carrying out alleged acts of violence against employees of NETZONE SA, an OXEC contractor, on 15 October 2015. On 9 November 2018, a court sentenced him to seven years and four months in prison for the crimes of unlawful detention with aggravating circumstances and aggravated robbery. 

    July 15, 2020
    Government data shows steep rise in illegal commercial cattle ranching in protected areas of Brazil’s Amazon Illegal commercial cattle ranching drives land seizures, violence and threats against Indigenous peoples and traditional residents of Reserves JBS urged to implement effective monitoring system by end of 2020

    Cattle illegally grazed in protected areas of Brazil’s Amazon rainforest have entered the supply chain of the world’s largest meat-packer, JBS, Amnesty International said today in a 70-page report, From forest to farmland.

    July 13, 2020

    OTTAWA – Today, on the anniversary of the death of Liu Xiaobo, human rights groups commemorated the incredible life of the Nobel Laureate, writer, philosopher, and lifelong advocate for human rights in China.

    Amnesty International, the Toronto Association for Democracy in China, and the Alliance Canada Hong Kong laid a commemorative wreath on the Liu Xiaobo Empty Chair Memorial, which sits in Ottawa on the front lawn of the Canadian offices of Amnesty International.

    “We must honour Liu Xiaobo’s legacy and remember that his fight for a free, democratic China is far from over,” said Cheuk Kwan, of the Toronto Association for Democracy in China (TADC). “This small gesture of remembrance serves to remind us that his spirit will never fade, even as we witness the horrifying deterioration of human-rights in Hong Kong.”

    On June 30, almost two weeks before the anniversary of Liu Xiaobo’s death, Chinese authorities approved the passage of the national security law, banning all individuals, institutions, and organizations in Hong Kong from “engaging in activities that endanger national security”.

    July 12, 2020

    Governments must be held accountable for the deaths of health and essential workers who they have failed to protect from COVID-19, Amnesty International said today, as it released a new report documenting the experiences of health workers around the world. The organization’s analysis of available data has revealed that more than 3000 health workers are known to have died from COVID-19 worldwide - a figure which is likely to be a significant underestimate. 

    Alarmingly, Amnesty International documented cases where health workers who raise safety concerns in the context of the COVID-19 response have faced retaliation, ranging from arrest and detention to threats and dismissal. 

    “With the COVID-19 pandemic still accelerating around the world, we are urging governments to start taking health and essential workers’ lives seriously. Countries yet to see the worst of the pandemic must not repeat the mistakes of governments whose failure to protect workers’ rights has had devastating consequences,” said Sanhita Ambast, Amnesty International’s Researcher and Advisor on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

    July 10, 2020

    Ahead of the 25th anniversary of the massacre in Srebrenica when more than 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys were killed by the Bosnian Serb Army in what was a designated UN “safe area”, Amnesty International’s Balkans Researcher Jelena Sesar said:

    “As the world remembers those who lost their lives in Srebrenica and shows solidarity with survivors, it is wholly unacceptable that families of more than 1,000 victims are still searching for their remains. The truth about the fate of their loved ones has been buried for a quarter of a century making it hard for them to find peace or some measure of closure.

    “This sombre anniversary also marks 25 years of struggle to secure justice, truth and reparation for survivors, including victims of wartime rape and sexual violence. While many perpetrators, including Ratko Mladic and Radovan Karadzic, have been brought to justice, survivors are still facing insurmountable obstacles to obtaining truth, justice and remedy for their suffering.

    July 08, 2020
    Group of 77 privacy, human rights and civil liberties advocates call on Public Safety Minister Bill Blair to act

    July 8, 2020, Ottawa – The Canadian government must enact an immediate ban on the use of facial recognition surveillance for all federal law enforcement and intelligence agencies, says a group of 31 Canadian and international organizations and 46 individuals active in protecting privacy, human rights and civil liberties. The call came in an open letter sent this morning to Public Safety Minister Bill Blair.

    “Facial recognition surveillance is invasive and inaccurate. This unregulated technology poses a threat to the fundamental rights of people in Canada,” said Tim McSorley, National Coordinator of the Ottawa-based International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group (ICLMG), which, along with OpenMedia, initiated the campaign. 

    July 08, 2020
    Airstrikes kill civilians, including children Arbitrary detention and torture in crackdown on insurgents Residents unprotected against COVID-19 amid internet blackout

    Amnesty International has collected new evidence showing that indiscriminate airstrikes by the Myanmar military have killed civilians, including children, amid worsening armed conflict in the country’s Rakhine and Chin States.

    These attacks and other serious human rights violations by the Myanmar military, also known as the Tatmadaw, are taking place in townships where internet has been cut off for more than a year. Residents have been in the dark over the threat from COVID-19 and deprived of information about humanitarian assistance. Rakhine State has been largely spared a major COVID-19 outbreak, although cases were on the rise in June.

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