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    September 19, 2018

    Ahead of tomorrow’s appeal court decision in the case against Ahmed H, a Syrian man sentenced to seven years in prison following clashes with Hungarian border police in 2015, Amnesty International delivered a petition demanding his release and signed by more than 100,000 people, to the Ministry of Justice.

    Marking the third anniversary of Ahmed’s detention on charges of being “complicit in an act of terror”, a 15-metre high animation was also beamed onto the side of the Ministry in the historic centre of Budapest.

    “The trial of Ahmed H is a test case for Hungary’s so-called ‘illiberal democracy’ and exposes the way in which migrants and refugees are vilified, counter-terrorism laws are misused and the authorities ride roughshod over human rights,” said Eda Seyhan, Amnesty International’s Counter-Terrorism Campaigner.

    “Just days after the European Parliament voted to take action against the Orbán government for its flagrant abuses of human rights, this case provides Hungary with an opportunity to demonstrate its willingness to change its path.”

    September 18, 2018

    Following the ruling of the Guatemalan Constitutional Court ordering President Jimmy Morales and high-ranking immigration officials to allow the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG by its initials in Spanish) entry to the country, Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International, said:

    “The International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala is an unprecedented initiative in the region in the fight against corruption and impunity, which continue to plague the region and lead to human rights violations being committed. In hindering the work of the CICIG the government is putting the sustainability and operations of institutions at all levels at great risk, affecting the state’s ability to fully guarantee the Guatemalan people’s right to exercise their human rights.

    “The Guatemalan Constitutional Court’s order is clear. High-ranking public officials, including the president, must comply with the ruling allowing the re-entry of the CICIG Commissioner, Iván Velásquez. Failure to do so would lead to autocracy and disregard for rule of law in the country.”

    September 18, 2018

    More than one year after the United Nations' top anti-racism body raised serious concerns in its review of Canada’s track record, the Trudeau government has missed a key reporting deadline and has failed entirely to make any progress in implementing most of the recommendations that the Committee had prioritized for urgent action, warns Amnesty International Canada.

    “It is deeply concerning that not only has Canada missed a key deadline to report back on four urgent recommendations prioritized by the Committee, but little or nothing has been done to address these glaringly discriminatory areas of Canadian policy and practice highlighted by the Committee over a year ago. This includes continued construction of the Site C dam despite brazen violations of Indigenous rights; failure to ensure justice and accountability for the Mount Polley mining disaster; and continued refusal to suspend the Safe Third Country Agreement, jeopardizing the rights of refugees,” said Alex Neve, Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada.     

    September 18, 2018

    Amnesty International is deeply disappointed by the adjournment of Abousfian Abdelrazik’s civil case against the federal government in which he is seeking remedy for Canada’s role in grave human rights abuses he endured while detained in Sudan from 2003-2006 and for obstruction of his return to Canada until 2009. The adjournment was granted following an indication, on the eve of the opening of the long-anticipated 8-week trial, that the government is making an application under Section 38 of the Canada Evidence Act, for documents which the government itself has already released to be reviewed for national security concerns.  

    Notably Federal Court Justice St. Louis agrees to grant the adjournment “reluctantly” and orders the government to immediately pay the costs of Mr. Abdelrazik’s legal team in preparing for trial, costs that she concludes have been “thrown away as a result of the adjournment”.

    September 18, 2018

    GENEVA (18 September 2018) – The Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar on Tuesday released the full 440-page account of the findings of its 15-month examination of the situation in three states in Myanmar. The report also makes dozens of recommendations, including to the United Nations and the international community and to the Government of Myanmar. It reiterates the Fact-Finding Mission’s call for the investigation and prosecution of Myanmar’s Commander-in-Chief, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, and his top military leaders for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

    “Peace will not be achieved while the Tatmadaw remains above the law,” Marzuki Darusman, chair of the Fact-Finding Mission stated. “The Tatmadaw is the greatest impediment to Myanmar’s development as a modern democratic nation. The Commander-in-Chief of the Tatmadaw, Min Aung Hlaing, and all the current leadership must be replaced, and a complete restructuring must be undertaken to place the Tatmadaw under full civilian control. Myanmar’s democratic transition depends on it.”

    September 18, 2018

    Responding to news that 24 Yemenis from the Baha’i faith - including eight women and a child – are facing charges that could result in death sentences by the Huthi-controlled Specialized Criminal Court in Sana’a, Lynn Maalouf, Amnesty International’s Middle East Director of Research, said:

    “Once again, we are seeing trumped up charges and flagrantly unfair proceedings used to persecute Yemeni Baha’is for their faith. And it is particularly abhorrent that some of these men and women could face the death penalty for their conscientiously held beliefs and peaceful activities.

    “The group, which includes a teenage girl, were charged with various serious offences including espionage for foreign states, some of which can carry the death penalty. The Huthi authorities should drop these bogus charges, release those who are arbitrarily detained and end their abuse of the justice system to punish freedom of belief and persecute political critics, journalists, activists, Baha’is and other minorities.”

    Background

    September 18, 2018

    Reacting to news that U.S. President Donald Trump plans to set the refugee admissions number to 30,000 for Fiscal year 2019, Ryan Mace, Grassroots Advocacy and Refugee Specialist at Amnesty International USA said:

    "The Trump administration is abandoning this country's promise to refugees.

    "Today's announcement demonstrates another undeniable political attack against people who have been forced to flee their homes.

    "This is the lowest goal in the history of the program, and compounded by this administration's history of creating road block after road block for refugees to arrive, this must be perceived as an all-out attack against our country's ability to resettle refugees both now and in the future.

    "There is absolutely no excuse for not accepting more refugees in the coming year."

    "We urge Congress to make clear their opposition to this, especially as they finalize FY19 appropriations."

    Background:

    September 17, 2018

    The Ethiopian authorities must thoroughly and effectively investigate the violent dispersal of demonstrators by police in Addis Ababa today in which five people were shot dead, Amnesty International said. Today’s deaths follow a weekend of ethnic clashes in which more than 58 people were killed.

    The demonstrators had taken to the streets of the Ethiopian capital to protest government inaction over ethnically motivated clashes that also wounded and displaced dozens of people. It was the latest incident in a spate of ethnic unrest that has killed hundreds of people and forced 1.5 million more to flee their homes in the past year.

    “There is no excuse for the use of lethal force against people who are peacefully protesting. The authorities must leave no stone unturned to identify and bring to justice those suspected to be responsible for these senseless deaths. The first step is to order an investigation into the conduct of the police force,” said Joan Nyanyuki, Amnesty International’s Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.

    September 17, 2018

    Amnesty International will observe the trial of eight people accused of the 2016 murder of Honduran human rights defender Berta Cáceres, beginning next Monday, 17 September at the Supreme Court of Justice in Tegucigalpa.

    “It’s crucial that the Honduran authorities ensure that this trial meets international standards of fairness and that justice prevails in one of the most emblematic crimes in the nation’s recent history,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.

    “In a country plagued by threats and attacks against land and environmental human rights defenders, Honduras’ justice system can set an important precedent by upholding Berta’s family’s rights to truth, justice and reparation, and by showing that the killing of human rights defenders will not go unpunished.”

    A representative of Amnesty International, Kathy Price, will attend the trial from 17 to 19 September, while other members of the organization will monitor the proceedings remotely and in person throughout the remainder of the trial. Price will be available for interviews in person, on Skype or by phone.

    September 17, 2018

    The Venezuelan state is using lethal force with intent to kill against the most vulnerable and socially excluded people in the country. It is violating their rights and treating them like criminals because of the circumstances in which they live, when it should be implementing preventive crime control policies that are in line with international human rights standards, said Amnesty International in a report published today.

    “The government of President Maduro should guarantee the right to life, instead of taking the lives of the country's young people. All young people living in poverty should have equal opportunities for their future, and not live with the fear that the police or military see them as enemies that must be eradicated,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.

    September 14, 2018

    The Syrian government, backed by Russia, has intensified unlawful attacks on civilians in Idlib using internationally banned cluster munitions and unguided barrel bombs in a prelude to a widely anticipated military offensive, Amnesty International said today.

    At least 13 attacks were reported to have taken place between 7 and 10 September in the southern part of Idlib governorate. The bombardments, which targeted the villages of al-Tah, Jerjanaz, al-Habeet, Hass, Abadeen as well as the outskirts of Khan Sheikhoun, killed 14 civilians and injured 35 more.

    “The Syrian government has routinely used banned cluster munitions and barrel bombs across Syria to inflict terrible harm and suffering on civilians. Now, they have started duplicating these horrific tactics in Idlib and we don’t have any reason to believe that they will stop,” said Diana Semaan, Amnesty International’s Syria researcher.

    September 13, 2018

    Responding to comments by Myanmar's State Counsellor, Aung San Suu Kyi, at the World Economic Forum in Hanoi today defending the conviction of Reuters journalists Wa Lone, and Kyaw Soe Oo, Minar Pimple, Amnesty International’s Senior Director of Global Operations, said:

    “This is a disgraceful attempt by Aung San Suu Kyi to defend the indefensible. To say that this case had ‘nothing to do with freedom of expression’ and that Wa Lone, and Kyaw Soe Oo ‘were not jailed for being journalists’ is a deluded misrepresentation of the facts.

    “These two men were convicted under a draconian, colonial-era law that was deliberately misused to halt their investigations into the appalling atrocities that took place in Rakhine State. From start to finish, the case was nothing more than a brazen attack on freedom of expression and independent journalism in Myanmar

    September 13, 2018

    The Zimbabwean authorities must urgently take measures to stop and address the cholera epidemic that has so far claimed 20 lives, Amnesty International said after the government today declared the outbreak a national disaster. 

    Initial cases of cholera were reported in Gweru and Harare last month and the capital is now the worst affected area, with more than 15 people confirmed to have died of the infectious disease. The country’s 2008 cholera outbreak, which claimed the lives of more than 4,300 people, was the largest ever recorded in Zimbabwe. Unless urgent action is taken the death toll of this current epidemic is also likely to be significant.

    “The current cholera epidemic is a terrible consequence of Zimbabwe’s failure to invest in and manage both its basic water and sanitation infrastructure and its health care system. It is appalling that in 2018, people are still dying of such a preventable disease,” said Jessica Pwiti, Executive Director of Amnesty International Zimbabwe.

    September 13, 2018

    Message of support from Kumi Naidoo, Amnesty International Secretary General

    Ghana has lost one of its finest sons, Africa has lost a giant, and the world has lost a moral compass. This is a time of grieving not only for those who knew him well, but for countless people across the world whose lives were touched by the life he so exceptionally led. As a fellow African and a leader working for peace and justice, I count myself privileged to be among their number.

    First and foremost, I would like to share my deepest condolences with his wife Nane and the rest of the Annan family. But I would also like to pay this tribute to Kofi Annan from the perspective of civil society and the struggles in which we are engaged – struggles which were engraved on his heart throughout his life.

    September 12, 2018

    Amnesty International today condemned the Ontario government’s tabling of legislation, Bill 31, The Efficient Local Government Act, which invokes the “notwithstanding clause” in section 33 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

    “No government in Canada should take the contemptuous step of disregard for the Charter of Rights that the notwithstanding clause offers them,” said Alex Neve, Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada. “To do so in a case involving the fundamental freedom of expression in a context in which core principles around elections and the underpinnings of our democracy are at stake is particularly disgraceful. This invocation of section 33 by Premier Ford’s government should be withdrawn immediately. Questions about the interpretation and application of the Charter should be pursued through appeals and left to judges to determine.”

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