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    November 29, 2018

    In response to Minister Chrystia Freeland’s announcement today that the Canadian government will place sanctions on 17 Saudi nationals believed to be involved in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Amnesty International Human Rights Law and Policy Campaigner, Justin Mohammed, said: 

    November 29, 2018
    Write for Rights also coincides with the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

    Whether they face vitriolic harassment online, intimidation for demanding equal services or death threats for protecting their land, women around the world are increasingly under attack for peacefully advocating for human rights.

    That’s why Amnesty International is focusing this year’s Write for Rights campaign on women who are fearlessly working to improve the lives of those living in vulnerable, marginalized communities.

    Every year, around International Human Rights Day on December 10, Amnesty International supporters across the globe write millions of letters and take action for people whose rights are under attack, in what has become the world’s biggest human rights campaign.

    Write for Rights participants send messages of solidarity to those fighting for human rights. They also send letters to government officials responsible for or complicit in human rights violations, urging them to take action.

    November 29, 2018

    A hot new political drama is airing this week – it’s called the G20 Summit.

    Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is meeting leaders of the world’s largest economic powerhouses to discuss the global economy amid brewing trade tensions, recent high-profile human rights violations and a growing wave of troubling government measures to ban refugees and silence dissent.

    Unfortunately, this is not a new Netflix series. It’s the real-life world stage on which political leaders will meet from November 30 to December 1. Amnesty International will be looking to Trudeau – and his 19 other Summit colleagues – to address these serious human rights issues.

    While any number of concerns could be addressed, Amnesty International is urging Trudeau to make the following crucial recommendations with the leaders of China, India, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States.

    November 29, 2018

    Indigenous communities across Malaysia face relentless harassment, intimidation, arrest, violence and even death as they peacefully resist attempts to force them off land they consider ancestral, a report by Amnesty International reveals today.

    The report, “The Forest Is Our Heartbeat:” The Struggle to Defend Indigenous Land in Malaysia, documents the countless obstacles faced by members of Indigenous communities and those who advocate on their behalf across the country. Amnesty International’s investigation is based on dozens of interviews with Indigenous community members, village heads, local activists, members of civil society organizations, lawyers, academics and journalists across Peninsular Malaysia, as well as Sabah and Sarawak.

    “The government is failing to protect Indigenous peoples’ right to land, which on paper is recognized under Malaysian law,” said Rachel Chhoa-Howard, Malaysia Researcher at Amnesty International. “Indigenous cultures are at risk of disappearing completely, together with Malaysia’s forests.”

    November 29, 2018

    A charge of insulting the national flag against prominent Vietnamese human rights activist Huynh Thuc Vy amounts to an attack on freedom of expression by the authorities and must be dropped, Amnesty International said ahead of her trial on Friday.

    It is rare for the authorities to prosecute a human rights activist for this charge, which carries a maximum penalty of three years’ imprisonment, in a disturbing sign of the intensifying crackdown against peaceful dissent in the country.

    This ludicrous charge must be dropped as it is aimed solely at silencing a dedicated, peaceful human rights activist. This is a politically motivated prosecution, brought by the authorities in response to Huynh Thuc Vy's tireless work to expose human rights violations in Viet Nam and hold the powerful to account; said Nicholas Bequelin, Amnesty International's Regional Director for East and Southeast Asia and the Pacific.

    November 28, 2018

    Amnesty International launched a campaign today urging President-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador to take concrete measures during the first 100 days of his administration to improve the human rights situation in Mexico.

    “The government of President-elect López Obrador has a historic opportunity to build a Mexico in which the human rights of every individual are respected and protected,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.

    “The mistakes of the past cannot keep being repeated. We ask the next government to take decisive, timely and effective measures to improve the human rights situation in Mexico and to demonstrate that the rights of individuals in the country will be at the core of all public policy and government action.”

    November 28, 2018

    Responding to reports that the United Nations “covered up” information implicating senior Congolese military and security officers in the killing of UN investigators Zaida Catalan and Michael Sharp in March 2017, Amnesty International’s Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes Joan Nyanyuki said:

    “These allegations are deeply disturbing. It is beyond belief that the UN may have deliberately buried information that would have been critical for bringing to justice those responsible for the murder of its own investigators.

    “The suggestions of deliberate cover-up for political expediency must be fully investigated by the UN and any UN officials guilty of wrongdoing must be held to account. The UN must also disavow the findings of the Board of Inquiry and reopen the probe into the killings of Zaida Catalan and Michael Sharp – this time independently and impartially.

    “If any high-ranking security officers or government officials bear responsibility for these horrific murders, they must be identified and brought to justice.”

    Background

    November 28, 2018

    Amnesty International is taking legal advice in order to revoke the export licence of Israel-based NSO Group, after it was revealed the cyber firm’s spyware had been used in an attempt to spy on an Amnesty staff member.

    A recent investigation by Haaretz newspaper uncovered the firm’s sophisticated surveillance tool “Pegasus” was offered to authorities in Saudi Arabia last year.

    Two weeks ago, Amnesty International Israel submitted an urgent request to the Israeli Ministry of Defence, demanding that NSO Group's defence export licence be revoked in light of an attempted cyber attack on an Amnesty staff member via NSO's spyware.

    But this week, the Israeli Defence Ministry refused to revoke the firm’s licence, causing Amnesty International to consider seeking legal action.

    “We thoroughly reject this inadequate response. The mountain of evidence and reports on NSO Group and the sale of its spyware to human rights-violating regimes is substantial proof that NSO has gone rogue”, said Molly Malekar, Programs Director of Amnesty International Israel.

    November 27, 2018

    The Burundian authorities should overturn the 32-year sentence handed to human rights defender Germain Rukuki and set him free, according to Amnesty International following his appeal hearing on 26 November.

    “Germain was tried and imprisoned simply because he worked for a human rights organization. The appeal court should quash his sentence and release him immediately and unconditionally,” said Joan Nyanyuki, Amnesty International’s Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.

    “The Burundian government must also release all other prisoners of conscience in the country and allow human rights defenders to do their work without fear of reprisals.”

    Germain Rukuki was arrested on 13 July 2017 in the capital Bujumbura and charged on 1 August 2017. The charges were based on his former affiliation with the anti-torture organization, ACAT-Burundi, which was suspended in the latter part of 2015 and permanently closed in October 2016.

    November 27, 2018

    Unlawful US border policies are leaving thousands of asylum seekers stranded in Mexico, where they are facing threats of deportation to their countries of origin, where they potentially face serious harm, Amnesty International said today following a research mission last week. Conditions could only worsen under a reported deal between both countries that, if agreed, would force asylum-seekers to remain in Mexico while their claims are processed, rather than allow them to enter the United States.

    November 27, 2018

    Amnesty launches global day of action against secretive “Project Dragonfly”

    Google’s plans to launch a censored search app in China could irreparably damage internet users’ trust in the tech company, Amnesty International said today, warning that going ahead with the app would set a dangerous precedent for tech companies enabling rights abuses by governments.

    The organization has launched a global petition calling on Google CEO Sundar Pichai to drop the app, which is codenamed Project Dragonfly and would blacklist search terms like “human rights” and “Tiananmen Crackdown”. Following a public outcry from Google’s own workforce, Amnesty International is reaching out to the company’s staff through protests outside Google offices and targeted messages on LinkedIn calling on them to sign the petition. A spoof promotional video offering Google staff the chance to participate in Project Dragonfly ends with a twist on Google’s motto: “Don’t be evil – unless it’s profitable”. 

    November 26, 2018

    Responding to the news that a court in Chechnya has refused to release human rights defender Oyub Titiev on bail, Natalia Prilutskaya, Amnesty International’s Russia Researcher, said:

    “The decision not to grant bail to Oyub Titiev once again demonstrates the political motivation of the case against him. He has committed no crime, having been jailed on completely fabricated drug charges, and must be released immediately and unconditionally.

    “In today’s hearing, all the defence’s arguments were dismissed without any proper consideration while the court accepted every one of the prosecution’s objections to the bail request.

    “This case is an affront to justice which highlights the Chechen government’s intolerance of opposing views and is further evidence that human rights defenders jailed in Chechnya cannot rely on the tools of justice to help them.”

    Background

    The Shali City Court today rejected Oyub Titiev’s bail request. The judge stated that the defence did not present enough evidence to mitigate the previous grounds for his arrest.

    November 26, 2018

    Responding to news that the detained British student Matthew Hedges has received a pardon in the UAE, Kate Allen, Amnesty International UK’s Director, said:

    “This is a huge relief and goes some way to righting a wrong after Matthew’s grossly unfair trial. Now Matthew needs to be speedily released and allowed to return to the UK.

    “Matthew should never have been jailed after such an unfair process, and he should never have been held in the miserable conditions of solitary confinement. A pardon doesn’t make up for this injustice.

    “Today’s news is a tribute to the tireless efforts of Matthew’s wife Daniela, who has bravely pushed the UK Government into taking action.

    “Matthew’s ordeal is a reminder that the UAE is a deeply repressive country which ruthlessly suppresses free speech and peaceful criticism, and we should spare a thought for Emirati prisoners of conscience like Ahmed Mansoor or Mohammed al-Roken who aren’t getting a pardon today.

    November 23, 2018

    Most European countries still do not recognize in law that sex without consent is rape, Amnesty International said on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, highlighting how flawed legislation and a dangerous culture of victim blaming is perpetuating impunity across Europe.

    In a briefing released today, Amnesty International analyses rape legislation in 31 countries. It found that only 8 of these countries have consent-based definitions of rape, while the vast majority only recognize rape when physical violence, threat or coercion is involved.

    “Although movements like #MeToo have inspired many women to speak out about their experiences, the sad fact is that rape remains hugely underreported in Europe. Women’s fear of not being believed is confirmed time and time again, as we see courageous survivors who do seek justice frequently failed by outdated and harmful definitions of rape in law and treated appallingly by justice officials,” said Anna Błuś, Amnesty International’s Researcher on Western Europe and Women’s Rights.

    November 23, 2018

    Responding to the suicide bomb attack on a crowded marketplace in Pakistan’s northwest province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa that has left at least 25 dead and more than 50 injured, Amnesty International’s Deputy South Asia Director, Omar Waraich, said:

    “This was a horrific attack that shows utter contempt for human life. The attackers deliberately targeted a marketplace full of ordinary people on a busy Friday afternoon. It is a grim reminder of the threat that continues to be posed by armed groups who are prepared to kill large numbers of people to pursue their agenda. Such attacks, which flout fundamental principles of humanity, can never be justified.

    “The Pakistani authorities should hold the suspected perpetrators accountable through fair trials without recourse to the death penalty. Their response to this appalling crime must prioritize justice for the victims and the protection of human rights and avoid perpetuating the cycle of abuses.”

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