Responding to news that outspoken feminist academic Stella Nyanzi has been released on bail after four weeks in prison, Sarah Jackson, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes, said:
“It is a great relief that Stella Nyanzi is no longer behind bars, as she should never have been arrested in the first place. The government’s attempt to prosecute her for speaking out for the rights of Uganda’s women and girls, is an affront to freedom of expression.
“The authorities must now let common sense prevail by immediately and unconditionally dropping all the charges against her. The continuation of this farcical case blatantly violates Uganda’s constitution, and its regional and international human rights obligations.”
Nyanzi appeared in court in the capital Kampala this morning looking in need of medical care.
The charges against her under the Computer Misuse Act of 2011 are based on her social media statements, including one where she referred to President Yoweri Museveni as “a pair of buttocks”. She denies any wrongdoing.
The release of Xie Yang on bail does not represent a break in China’s relentless crackdown against human rights lawyers, Amnesty International said today.
Xie Yang was tried in Changsha City Intermediate People’s Court in southern China on 8 May for “inciting subversion of state power” and “disrupting court order” and apparently released on bail even though a verdict has not been announced.
“This unusual sequence of events does nothing to alleviate the concerns about torture in this case,” said Patrick Poon, China Researcher at Amnesty International. “While it is a relief that Xie Yang is no longer in detention, it doesn’t diminish the fact that he should never have been arrested in the first place.”
“While on bail, Xie Yang is likely to experience constant surveillance and severe restrictions to his freedom of movement as we have witnessed in other such cases,” said Patrick Poon. “Such tactics appear to be the authorities’ modus operandi against those defending human rights.”
The court announced the trial would be broadcast on Weibo, a Chinese social media platform, only approximately 20 minutes before it began.
Children born with sex characteristics that do not fit with female or male norms risk being subjected to a range of unnecessary, invasive and traumatizing medical procedures in violation of their human rights, said Amnesty International in a report launched today.
Using case studies in Denmark and Germany, ‘First, Do No Harm’ shows how outdated gender stereotypes are resulting in non-emergency, invasive and irreversible surgical interventions on children who are intersex – the term commonly used for individuals with variations of sex characteristics such as chromosomes, genitals and reproductive organs.
“These so-called ‘normalising’ procedures are being carried out without full knowledge of the potentially harmful long-term effects they are having on children,” said Laura Carter, researcher on sexual orientation and gender identity at Amnesty International.
The conviction and imprisonment of Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, better known as “Ahok”, will tarnish Indonesia’s reputation for tolerance, Amnesty International said today.
"This verdict demonstrates the inherent injustice of Indonesia's blasphemy law, which should be repealed immediately," said Champa Patel, Amnesty International's Director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific.
"Despite protests of his innocence and evidence that his words were manipulated for political purposes, he has been sentenced to two years in jail. The verdict will tarnish Indonesia's reputation as a tolerant nation."
Amnesty International calls the Indonesian authorities to repeal blasphemy laws, including Articles 156 and 156(a) of the Criminal Code that have been used to prosecute and imprison people may be imprisoned for “defamation” of religion for as long as five years simply because they have peacefully exercised their right to freedom of expression or to freedom of thought, conscience or religion, which are protected under international human rights law.
The Legislative Assembly of El Salvador has a historic opportunity to reject the criminalization of abortion and protect the health and lives of millions of women throughout the country, said Amnesty International in light of a debate which could result in the first steps being taken towards the end of criminalization of abortion in the country.
“The total ban on abortion is, quite simply, a form of torture which puts the lives of millions of women and girls at risk every day,” said Erika Guevara Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.
Abortion has been criminalized in all circumstances in El Salvador since 1998, even when the pregnancy is the result of rape, incest, or where the life of the pregnant woman or girl is at risk. Many women and girls have lost their lives or been imprisoned due to the total abortion ban.
The continuing rise in abductions at the hands of militias highlights how the absence of the rule of law in Libya is fuelling chaos and lawlessness and leaving civilians in the country living in fear, said Amnesty International today. Kidnappings of civilians by militias, often for ransom, have risen sharply since 2014, particularly in the west of the country, where hundreds have gone missing and abductions have become a feature of daily life.
Among the latest victims to go missing is Tripoli University professor Dr. Salem Mohamed Beitelmal, who was abducted over two weeks ago not far from his home in the area of Siyyad on the outskirts of Tripoli. His whereabouts remain unknown and his family have had no contact with him since his abduction.
Over 20 leading organizations ask government to enact panel recommendations on freedom of speech for charities and income tax law reform
Authorities in Brazil are increasingly turning a blind eye to a deepening human rights crisis of their own making, Amnesty International said in a report to the United Nations Human Rights Council ahead of a review of the country on 5 May.
Since Brazil last faced scrutiny at the UN’s Universal Periodic Review in 2012, a spike in violence has seen killings by the police in Rio de Janeiro nearly doubled to 182 in the first two months of 2017, as well as soaring rates of killings and other human rights violations elsewhere in the country.
“Since the last review at the United Nations, Brazil has not taken enough steps to tackle the shocking levels of human rights violations across the country, including soaring police homicide rates that leave hundreds of people dead every year,” said Jurema Werneck, Executive Director at Amnesty International Brazil.
The ruling of the Supreme Court of Peru marking the end of the trial for land invasion against the human rights defender Máxima Acuña Atalaya is a landmark decision for environmental defenders in the country, Amnesty International said today.
After almost five years of proceedings in relation to unfounded criminal charges of land invasion, the Supreme Court of Justice ruled that there was no reason to pursue the groundless trial of the defender for land invasion.
“Many environmental defenders in Peru have been criminalized through the use of groundless criminal proceedings which seek to prevent them from carrying out their legitimate work to defend human rights, by exhausting their physical and emotional strength and their limited resources, in addition to publicly portraying them as criminals,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.
It is fundamental that the authorities take effective measures to stop the use of the criminal justice system to intimidate and harass human rights defenders.”
Today, World Press Freedom Day, Amnesty International called on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in an open letter to make "a personal, public call" for Saudi authorities to immediately release Raif Bedawi who, on June 17th, will have spent 5 years unjustly imprisoned in Saudi Arabia.
Mr. Badawi has been sentenced to a ten-year prison term, a prohibitive one million riyal fine, and a ten-year travel ban. He was also sentenced to a cruel punishment of 1,000 lashes, to be meted out 50 at a time in public flogging sessions. Amnesty International considers Badawi to be a prisoner of conscience, targeted because of his blogging and because he established a website that encouraged open discussion about issues related to human rights, equality and other important social issues.
Top journalists, cartoonists and world-renowned artists have joined a campaign to demand the release of more than 120 journalists jailed in Turkey following last summer’s coup attempt and an end to the ruthless crackdown on freedom of expression in the country.
The campaign, which has attracted 250,000 supporters since February, will see protests in cities around the world timed to coincide with World Press Freedom Day and the publication of an Amnesty International briefing, Journalism is not a crime: Crackdown on media freedom.
“A large swathe of Turkey’s independent journalists are languishing behind bars, held for months on end without trial, or facing prosecution on the basis of vague anti-terrorism laws,” said Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s Secretary General.
“Today our thoughts are with all journalists who are imprisoned or facing threats and reprisals, but our particular focus is on Turkey where free expression is being ruthlessly muzzled. We call on Turkey’s authorities to immediately and unconditionally release all journalists jailed simply for doing their job.”
The Tunisian government must demonstrate its commitment to human rights by accepting recommendations on combating torture, ending discrimination and protecting women and girls from sexual and gender based violence, said Amnesty International.
The Tunisian government received recommendations from more than 50 states at the country’s third Universal Periodic Review by the UN Human Rights Council today.
Tunisia has made some progress on opening up political and civil space and some legislative reforms have been introduced, the security sector has remained largely unchanged and in recent years there has been a resurgence of violations committed with impunity,” said Heba Morayef, North Africa Research Director at Amnesty International.
The Bangladeshi government has not only failed to protect dissenting voices or hold accountable the armed groups that threaten them, it has also stifled freedom of expression through a slew of repressive tactics and new laws, according to a new Amnesty International report published today.
The report, Caught between fear and repression: Attacks on freedom of expression in Bangladesh, documents how armed groups have thrived in a climate of impunity, carrying out a high-profile spate of killings of secular bloggers with few consequences. In four years, only a single case has resulted in convictions.
Activists also regularly receive death threats, forcing some of them to leave the country for their own safety, while the authorities have refused to offer them protection.
Over the last year, the Bangladeshi government has also intensified its crackdown on public debate and criticism, harassing media workers, interfering with their work, and bringing criminal charges against them under draconian laws.