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    September 24, 2018

    Companies all over the world are still profiting from the sale of gruesome torture equipment like spiked batons, stun belts and leg irons, Amnesty International said today, as it called on world leaders to join the Global Alliance for Torture-Free Trade, a landmark agreement launched in 2017.

    The Global Alliance’s 58 member states have committed to controlling and restricting exports of goods which can be used for torture or other ill-treatment. Amnesty International’s Secretary General Kumi Naidoo will today address the first ministerial meeting of the Global Alliance at the UN headquarters in New York

    September 24, 2018

    Afghanistan’s human rights defenders who have faced years of attacks and other human rights abuses must be recognized and effectively protected Amnesty International said today, as the global human rights organization unveiled a mural honouring the memory of many brave human rights defenders who have been killed in the country.

    Journalists, students, lawyers, activists, trade unionists and other human rights defenders have faced intimidation, harassment, threats, attacks and have even been killed for doing their legitimate work defending the rights of others. The Afghan authorities must do more to address their security concerns.

    “Afghanistan’s human rights defenders have shown great courage despite the very difficult context in which they live in. Faced with grave threats to their lives and well-being, they continue to speak up against injustice and stand up for the rights of others. It is about time that the Afghan authorities and the international community stands up for their rights as well,” said Samira Hamidi, South Asia Campaigner at Amnesty International.

    September 24, 2018
    An estimated up to one million predominantly Muslim people are held in internment camps in Xinjiang in northwest China Families tell Amnesty of their desperation for news on missing loved ones

    China must end its campaign of systematic repression and shed light on the fate of up to one million predominantly Muslim people arbitrarily detained in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region (XUAR), Amnesty International said in a new briefing published today.

    The past year has seen an intensifying government campaign of mass internment, intrusive surveillance, political indoctrination and forced cultural assimilation against the region’s Uighurs, Kazakhs and other predominantly Muslim ethnic groups. Most of the detainees’ families have been kept in the dark about their loved ones’ fate and are often too frightened to speak out.

    September 23, 2018

    The trial of six human rights defenders and activists - including well-known Zambian musician Pilato – simply for taking part in a peaceful protest against exorbitant government spending on fire trucks is politically-motivated and an affront to justice, said Amnesty International, as their hearing resumes in the Lusaka Magistrate’s Court today.

    The six were charged with disobeying a lawful order after marching on parliament on 29 September 2017 against what they said was the corrupt procurement of 42 fire trucks for US$42 million. The reported cost of the trucks sparked public outcry over alleged misuse of public funds.

    “These activists are facing trial simply for demanding transparency and accountability in public spending. They have committed no crime and should never have been charged in the first place,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for Southern Africa.

    “The Zambian authorities must drop these politically motivated charges against them. The authorities should respect, protect and promote the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly in the country.”

    September 21, 2018

    The next government of Eswatini (formerly Swaziland) must bring an end to the long record of human rights violations that have blighted the country for more than four decades, Amnesty International said today, as people in Africa’s last absolute monarchy head to the polls.

    The Southern African kingdom – which is under the near total control of King Mswati – has a longstanding record of human rights violations, including the routine suppression of the rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly, as well as widespread forced evictions. Swazis will today elect new members of parliament that will form the new government for the next five years.

    “This election represents a golden opportunity for an incoming government to comprehensively address longstanding human rights issues,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for Southern Africa.

    On 8 August 2017, King Mswati approved the Public Order Act, imposing far-reaching restrictions on organizers of public gatherings.

    September 21, 2018

    In response to the ruling of the First Collegiate Court of the Nineteenth District in Tamaulipas in which it was confirmed that there are no legal impediments to the creation of a special investigative commission in the case of the enforced disappearance of the 43 students from Ayotzinapa, Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International, said:

    “This ruling confirms that the main obstacle to the proper investigation of the Ayotzinapa case has been the lack of willingness of the Mexican authorities to uncover the truth of what happened. Amnesty International calls on the Mexican authorities not to prevent or discourage the creation of the special investigative commission”.

    “The special investigative commission represents hope for the students’ families because it could be, subject to certain conditions, a mechanism that helps achieve truth, justice, and reparation in this case”, Guevara-Rosas concluded.

    September 21, 2018

    Amnesty International will be present today in a hearing to review whether the “humanitarian pardon” granted to former President Alberto Fujimori last year violates the obligations of the Peruvian state to investigate, prosecute and punish those responsible for serious human rights violations.

    “We hope that the national courts promptly take advantage of the opportunity presented by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights to review whether the beneficial measure granted to former President Fujimori goes against human rights obligations and has affected the rights of the victims of serious human rights violations to truth, justice and reparation,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.

    The review will be held at the request of the families of the victims of the Barrios Altos and La Cantuta cases before the Preparatory Trial Court of the Supreme Court of Justice, in accordance with the ruling of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights on 15 June on monitoring compliance with the judgments in both cases. Amnesty International will be present to observe the hearing and accompany the families of the victims.

    September 20, 2018

    The deaths of six Palestinians within just 24 hours is a horrific demonstration of the unnecessary or excessive force deployed by Israeli forces against Palestinian civilians in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT), Amnesty International said today.

    Between 10pm on Monday 17 September and 8pm on Tuesday 18 September, Israeli forces killed four Palestinian men in the Gaza Strip using live ammunition . Within the same period, two more died as a result of the actions of Israeli forces in the West Bank, one after being beaten during the process of arrest and another shot dead in a busy street in East Jerusalem.

    “The shocking fact that five Palestinians have been killed by the Israeli authorities and one died in their custody in just 24 hours is a chilling demonstration of the utter disregard for right to life. Several of these incidents appear to involve deliberate and wilful killing of unarmed civilians and may amount to war crimes,” said Saleh Higazi, Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International.

    September 20, 2018

    Responding to the newly enacted Digital Security Act 2018 in Bangladesh which has drawn serious concerns for press freedom and the right to freedom of expression, Amnesty International’s South Asia Campaigner, Saad Hammadi, said:

    “This law imposes dangerous restrictions on freedom of expression. Instead of learning from the lessons of the past, it seeks to repeat them. Given how the authorities have arbitrarily arrested hundreds of people in the past six years under the Information and Communication Technology Act, there are serious concerns that the new Act will be used against people who speak out.”

    “The government’s disregard for editors’ recommendations and the concerns of the general public shows lack of concern for the grave issues regarding the bill that have been raised by civil society. The government must revert its course from this regressive law, that compromises its international commitments; and ensure they fully uphold the right to freedom of expression as protected by international human rights law.”

    Background

    September 20, 2018

    A coalition of women’s rights organizations is calling on women foreign ministers participating in a precedent-setting meeting in Montreal this week to make concrete and accountable commitments during the UN General Assembly to recognize, protect and support increasingly persecuted women human rights defenders around the world.

    In a statement released today, more than 160 women’s rights and civil society organizations warn that women who defend human rights are confronting a global and increasingly “heightened risk of experiencing human rights violations, including forms of gender-based and sexual violence, threats, harassment, and defamation campaigns linked to their status as women.”  In response, and in recognition of the vital contributions made by women human rights defenders in struggles of global significance, the coalition is calling on attendees at the Montreal Summit to commit before the UN General Assembly to:

    September 20, 2018

    Following a decision by Hungary’s Court of Appeal to uphold the conviction of a Syrian man, Ahmed H, for “complicity in act of terror” during clashes with police at the Serbia-Hungary border in September 2015, Eda Seyhan, Amnesty International’s Counter Terrorism Campaigner, said:

    “After three years behind bars, this judgement comes as a blow for Ahmed, his wife and his two young daughters.”

    “Ahmed’s absurd conviction has nothing to do with justice but instead plays into the hands of the Hungarian authorities’ demonization of refugees, migrants and those seeking to protect them.”

    “By blatantly misusing terrorism-related provisions and riding roughshod over the law, this verdict exemplifies the erosion of the rule of law and human rights protections in Hungary.”

    The court today upheld the terrorism charge but reduced the jail sentence from 7 years to 5 years. He will have to stay in prison for a minimum of two-thirds of the 5-year sentence. Since he has already served 3 years in prison, he will be eligible for release in early 2019.

     

    September 20, 2018

    The crackdown on freedom of expression under Egyptian President Abdelfattah al-Sisi has reached alarming new levels unparalleled in Egypt’s recent history, Amnesty International said today as it launched a campaign calling for the unconditional and immediate release of all those who have been detained solely for peacefully expressing their views.

    The campaign, “Egypt, an Open-Air Prison for Critics”, is being launched in response to the unprecedented severity of the crackdown in Egypt, as people around the country increasingly express discontent with the economic and political situation. Amnesty International invites supporters from around the world to show solidarity with those risking their freedom to express their views by writing to the Egyptian government and calling for an end to the persecution.

    “It is currently more dangerous to criticize the government in Egypt than at any time in the country’s recent history. Egyptians living under President al-Sisi are treated as criminals simply for peacefully expressing their opinions,” said Najia Bounaim, Amnesty International’s North Africa Campaigns Director.

    September 19, 2018

    The Zimbabwean authorities must bolster the mandate of the Commission of Inquiry into the country’s post-election killings if victims’ families have any hope of obtaining truth, justice and reparations, Amnesty International said today after the swearing in of the commissioners.

    The organization is also concerned about the independence and impartiality of the Commission, which includes a presidential candidate in the 30 July elections, who has criticized opposition parties challenging the results of the vote, and an academic, who has publicly expressed her support for the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF). Commissioners with strong ties or support of ZANU-PF may compromise the independence and impartiality of the investigation and expose it to external interference. 

    September 19, 2018

    The order by an Istanbul court to remand 24 construction workers and union leaders in prison pending trial is a blatant attempt by the authorities to silence legitimate protest, Amnesty International said today.

    The workers and union leaders were amongst the hundreds of others who had been detained in police custody since 15 September following protests in Istanbul about working conditions at the construction site of a new airport due to open in the city next month. Clashes ensued after the police intervened to end the protest.

    “Rather than stifle legitimate peaceful protest with water cannons, tear gas and detentions, the Turkish authorities must listen to the complaints of the workers and ensure they have a safe and dignified place of work,” said Andrew Gardner, Amnesty International’s Turkey Expert.

    Workers complained of inhumane working and living conditions at the site and lack of workplace safety as well as delays or omissions in receiving their salaries and social security payments.

    September 19, 2018

    The staggering brutality of a recent military offensive in South Sudan – including murder of civilians, systematic rape of women and girls and massive looting and destruction – was fuelled by the authorities’ failure to prosecute or remove suspected war criminals, Amnesty International said in a new report today.

    'Anything that was breathing was killed': War crimes in Leer and Mayendit, South Sudan is based on the testimonies of around 100 civilians who fled an offensive by government forces and allied youth militias in southern Unity State between late April and early July this year. 

    “A key factor in this brutal offensive was the failure to bring to justice those responsible for previous waves of violence targeting civilians in the region,” said Joan Nyanyuki, Regional Director for East Africa at Amnesty International.

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