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    April 13, 2017

    The US state of Arkansas must halt the execution of eight death row prisoners, seven of whom are due to be killed in an 11-day period this month, Amnesty International said today, highlighting legal concerns and the fact that two of the men facing death have serious mental disabilities.

    Arkansas has not put anyone to death for more than a decade, but plans to execute two men per day on 17, 20 and 24 April, and one man on 27 April, because its supply of the controversial execution drug midazolam will expire at the end of the month.

    “The close scheduling of these executions is unprecedented in modern US history. Just four months after the USA recorded its lowest execution total for a quarter of a century, Arkansas is preparing to buck this positive trend in a shameful race to beat a drug expiration date,” said Erika Guevara Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.

    April 13, 2017

    Celebrated global music artist and activist Alicia Keys and the inspirational movement of Indigenous Peoples fighting for their rights in Canada have been honoured with Amnesty International’s Ambassador of Conscience Award for 2017, the human rights organization announced today.

    The award will be officially presented at a ceremony in Montréal, Canada, on May 27.

    Accepting the award recognizing the Indigenous rights movement of Canada will be six individuals representing the strength and diversity of the movement, which has bravely fought to end discrimination and ensure the safety and well-being of Indigenous families and communities. They are Cindy Blackstock, Delilah Saunders, Melanie Morrison, Senator Murray Sinclair, Melissa Mollen Dupuis and Widia Larivière.

    “The Ambassador of Conscience Award is Amnesty International’s highest honour, celebrating those who have shown exceptional leadership and courage in championing human rights,” said Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s Secretary General.

    April 12, 2017

    The decision of the Peruvian Supreme Court to postpone the ruling on the case against human rights defender Máxima Acuña is the latest attempt by the authorities to obstruct her legitimate work to defend the environment, said Amnesty International.

    The Peruvian Supreme Court was due to issue a decision today on the spurious charges of land invasion against Máxima Acuña Atalaya. The ruling was postponed until 3 May after the tribunal informed that some of the judges had not had enough time to reach a decision.

    “The case against Máxima is a cowardly attempt by the authorities in Peru to stop her activism to defend human rights and the environment and send a message to other activists,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International

    “Effectively forcing her to travel all the way to Lima at her own expense just to be told that the hearing was postponed looks like yet another trick to continue to punish her and her family.”

    “Instead of continuing to harass Máxima and her family with baseless accusations, authorities in Peru must ensure human rights defenders can carry out their work without fear of reprisals.”

    April 12, 2017

    Responding to a government warning that anyone who follows, contacts, or shares posts online with three prominent critics - historian Somsak Jeamteerasakul, journalist and author Andrew MacGregor Marshall, and former diplomat Pavin Chachavalpongpun - will be prosecuted under the Computer Crimes Act, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific Josef Benedict said:

    “The Thai authorities have plunged to fresh depths in restricting people’s freedoms of expression. After imprisoning people for what they say both online and offline, and hounding critics into exile, they want to cut people off from each other altogether.

    “The move doesn’t reveal strength, but a weakness and fear of criticism. In its determination to silence all dissent, the Thai authorities are resorting to extreme measures that brazenly flout international human rights law.

    “In March, the UN Human Rights Committee raised concerns about the severe and arbitrary restrictions on freedom of expression, including the Computer Crimes Act. Rather than drawing lessons from the criticism, they are pressing ahead with their repressive tactics.”

     

    April 12, 2017

    In response to announcements by the European Commission on priority actions on child migrant’s protection Iverna McGowan, Amnesty International’s Head of European Institutions Office said:

     

    “Whilst the Commission’s efforts to increase protection for child refugees are welcome and much needed, they do not address the underlying flaws in the EU’s approach to migration that are putting children at risk in the first place.

     

    “Just last month the European Commission pushed for allowing detention of children in EU countries which currently prohibit it. The failure to row back on this policy lays bare the Commission’s incoherent approach to the most vulnerable.

     

    “The lack of safe and legal routes forces minors on dangerous journeys exposing them to violence, exploitation and injury. Children stranded on the Greek islands are living in appalling conditions without access to health care, education or proper housing.”

     

    April 11, 2017

    Though recent developments in Syria are bound to dominate US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s first official visit to Moscow this week, he must also use the opportunity to highlight the dire human rights situation inside Russia, Amnesty International said today.

    Secretary Tillerson is due to meet his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov on 11-12 April.

    “Both the USA and Russia must accept their share of the blame for the international community’s failure to broker an end to the bloodbath in Syria, and in particular we urge both governments to use this week’s meeting to work towards an end to the longstanding paralysis of the UN Security Council,” said Sergei Nikitin, Director of Amnesty International’s Moscow office.

    “However, during his visit Secretary Tillerson must also raise the issue of Russia’s wide-ranging denial of human rights at home. The Russian authorities are responsible for a staggering list of human rights violations, from the de facto ban on Jehovah’s Witnesses and the incarceration of peaceful protesters to the failure to effectively investigate the campaign of abduction, torture and killing of gay men in Chechnya.”

    April 10, 2017

    Under strict embargo until 00:01 BST (07.01 HKT/ 23:01 GMT) 11 April 2017

     1,032 executions worldwide in 2016, down 37% from 2015 (1,634)  Iran, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Pakistan join China as world’s top five executioners USA not among top five for first time since 2006, with lowest number of executions since 1991  China investigation discredits claims of openness  Viet Nam state killing spree revealed

    China's horrifying use of the death penalty remains one of the country’s deadly secrets, as the authorities continue to execute thousands of people each year, Amnesty International said in its 2016 global review of the death penalty published today.

    A new in-depth investigation by Amnesty International, also published today, shows that the Chinese authorities enforce an elaborate secrecy system to obscure the shocking scale of executions in the country, despite repeated claims it is making progress towards judicial transparency.

    April 10, 2017

    Emergency measures included in a declaration of a state of emergency by President Abdelfattah al-Sissi in the aftermath of three deplorable church bombings in Egypt will do little to resolve the root causes of sectarian attacks against Copts in Egypt and are likely to lead to a further deterioration in human rights, Amnesty International said today.

    The Islamic State armed group (IS) claimed responsibility for the synchronized bombings in Tanta and another two in Alexandria which targeted Palm Sunday church services and left at least 44 dead.

    “The deadly church attacks demonstrate an appalling disregard for human life and must be utterly condemned. Nothing can justify a horrifying attack on ordinary citizens attending a place of worship,” said Najia Bounaim, North Africa Campaigns Director at Amnesty International.

    “It is the duty of the Egyptian authorities to protect the lives and safety of its population, but the solution is not to continue and intensify curtailing what little freedoms remain in Egypt. Addressing sectarian violence requires genuine political will to end impunity and provide protection.

    April 10, 2017

    In an Open Letter, Amnesty International Canada has called on all candidates in British Columbia’s upcoming provincial election to commit to addressing crucial gaps in oversight, accountability, and service delivery that jeopardize the safety, health and well-being of many British Columbians and thus undermine their human rights.

    “As a wealthy province in a wealthy country, British Columbia should be setting a positive example for the rest of the world that human rights can and will be safeguarded and upheld in every government decision,” says Alex Neve, Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada. “The recommendations we’ve placed before candidates provide for practical and effective measures toward realizing that objective.”

    April 07, 2017

    In response to United States airstrikes on a Syrian army airbase in Homs, three days after a chemical weapons attack that killed more than 80 civilians in Idlib province, Margaret Huang, Executive Director of Amnesty International USA, said:

    “US forces must strictly adhere to their obligations under international humanitarian law and take all possible measures to protect the civilian population when carrying out military action, including by refraining from using internationally banned-weapons such as cluster munitions.

    “Recent airstrikes by the US-led coalition in Iraq and Syria have killed hundreds of civilians, many of whom were women and children trapped inside their houses. 

    “The United Nations Security Council has been unable to protect civilians in Syria for the past six years. It has emboldened all parties to the conflict in Syria to commit appalling crimes with impunity.

    “It is imperative for member states to adopt a resolution that would ensure an investigation on the ground into the chemical attack that took place in Khan Sheikhoun and that would facilitate bringing perpetrators of such crimes to justice.”

    April 05, 2017
    The brutal torture of two journalists who were abducted en route to Jebel Marra, in Sudan’s Darfur region, is not only a grave affront to press freedom, but also proof that the Sudanese authorities have something to hide in the embattled region, said Amnesty International today ahead of the airing of a film detailing their harrowing six-week ordeal.   Phil Cox, a British national, and Daoud Hari, a Darfuri translator and author, had been commissioned by the UK’s Channel4 TV to investigate reports by Amnesty International that Sudanese security forces had used chemical weapons against civilians in Jebel Marra between January and August 2016.  
    April 05, 2017

    Evidence gathered is suggesting a nerve agent was used in an air-launched chemical attack which killed more than 70 and injured hundreds of civilians in Khan Sheikhoun in Syria’s northern province of Idleb, Amnesty International revealed as the UN Security Council meets for an emergency meeting in New York this morning.

    The organization is urging the Security Council to immediately adopt a resolution that will enforce the prohibition of chemical weapons attacks and facilitate bringing the perpetrators of these crimes to justice.

    “Security Council members, and in particular Russia and China, have displayed callous disregard for human life in Syria by repeatedly failing to pass resolutions that would allow for punitive measures to be taken against those committing war crimes and other serious violations in Syria,” said Anna Neistat, Senior Director of Research at Amnesty International.

    April 05, 2017
    Any absence of human rights from the agenda of the first meeting between President Donald Trump and President Xi Jinping, due to take place in Florida on Thursday and Friday, would risk emboldening governments across the globe to pursue divisive, toxic and dehumanizing politics, Amnesty International said today.   “As two of the most powerful leaders in the world today, what President Trump and President Xi say and do on human rights reverberates far beyond their two borders. This meeting comes as both presidents are rolling back human rights protections, impacting millions of people in China, the US and across the globe. From refugees turned away at the US border to human rights lawyers languishing in Chinese prisons, the consequences of their contempt for human rights are devastating,” said Salil Shetty, Secretary General of Amnesty International.  
    April 04, 2017

    Released 00:01 BST on 05 April 2017

    A major corporation responsible for running the Australian government’s refugee “processing” centre on Nauru is making millions of dollars from a system that amounts to torture of refugees and people seeking asylum, Amnesty International said today.

    A new briefing, ‘Treasure I$land’, exposes how Spanish multinational Ferrovial and its Australian subsidiary Broadspectrum are complicit in, and reaping vast profits from, Australia’s cruel and secretive refugee “processing” system on the Pacific island.

    “The Australian government has created an island of despair for refugees and people seeking asylum on Nauru, but an island of profit for companies making millions of dollars from a system so deliberately and inherently cruel and abusive it amounts to torture,” said Lucy Graham, Amnesty International’s Researcher on Business and Human Rights.

    “By knowingly enabling the continuation of this system, which is specifically designed to cause suffering and deter people from travelling to Australia by boat to seek asylum, Broadspectrum and Ferrovial are unequivocally complicit in this abuse.”

    April 03, 2017

    The King of Bahrain ratified a constitutional amendment today that paves the way for military trials of civilians, in yet another example of Bahrain’s efforts to dismantle access to justice and fair trial, said Amnesty International.

    “This constitutional amendment is a disaster for the future of fair trials and justice in Bahrain. It is part of a broader pattern where the government uses the courts to crackdown on all forms of opposition at the expense of human rights,” said Lynn Maalouf, head of research at Amnesty International’s regional office in Beirut.

    “Instead of moving to correct its shameful history of unfair trials and impunity for violations, authorities in Bahrain have decided to further undermine faith in the independence and fairness of the courts and of the justice system as a whole.”   

    Amnesty International is alarmed by the vaguely worded amendment which could be used to try, before a military court, any critic deemed to be a threat to Bahrain’s national security or its “independence, sovereignty or integrity”, including – as has been the case in the past – peaceful activists prosecuted on trumped-up charges.

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