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    February 11, 2021

    Ahead of tomorrow’s deadline for the US to submit their appeal against the UK decision not to extradite Julian Assange, Amnesty International USA have added their voice to a letter sent to the US Department of Justice calling on President Biden to drop charges against the Wikileaks founder. The letter states:

    “We, the undersigned press freedom, civil liberties, and international human rights advocacy organizations, write today to share our profound concern about the ongoing criminal and extradition proceedings relating to Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks, under the Espionage Act and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

    While our organizations have different perspectives on Mr Assange and his organization, we share the view that the government’s indictment of him poses a grave threat to press freedom both in the United States and abroad. We urge you to drop the appeal of the decision by Judge Vanessa Baraitser of the Westminster Magistrates’ Court to reject the Trump administration’s extradition request.

    February 11, 2021

    The Saudi Arabian Specialized Criminal Court has commuted the death sentences of Ali al-Nimr, Abdullah al-Zaher and Dawood al-Marhoon, who were arrested as teenagers and convicted after unfair trials, and re-sentenced them to 10-year prison terms inclusive of time served, meaning that they could be released in 2022. Responding to the news, Amnesty International’s Deputy

    Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa, Lynn Maalouf said:

    “The news that these young men will not face execution no doubt comes as an immense relief for them and their families after several agonizing years on death row.

    “All three young men were convicted following grossly unfair trials based on so-called ‘confessions’ extracted through torture. They spent prime years of their lives suffering the dire consequences of an unfair trial, and what must have been a painful ordeal separated from their loved ones for nearly 10 years.

    “Use of the death penalty for offences committed by people under 18 years of age at the time of the offence is a flagrant violation of international human rights law.

    February 10, 2021

    Responding to the news that the Saudi Arabian human rights defender and University of British Columbia graduate Loujain al-Hathloul was released from prison earlier today, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa, Lynn Maalouf said:

    “Loujain al-Hathloul’s release after a harrowing ordeal in prison in Saudi Arabia — lasting nearly three years — is an incredible relief, but long overdue.

    “Nothing can make up for the cruel treatment she has suffered, nor the injustice of her imprisonment. During her time in prison she was tortured and sexually harassed, held in solitary confinement and was denied access to her family for months at a time. Saudi Arabia’s authorities must ensure those responsible for her torture and other ill-treatment are brought to justice. They must also ensure she is not subjected to any further punitive measures such as a travel ban.

    February 08, 2021

    During the COVID-19 lockdowns imposed by Southern African countries, some homes across the region became enclaves of cruelty, rape and violence for women and girls trapped with abusive family members and nowhere to report or escape the danger, Amnesty International said today in a new briefing.

    Harmful gender stereotypes embedded in social and cultural norms, which suggest that women must always submit to men or that a man who beats his wife does so because he loves her, have fueled the rise in violence against women and girls in Madagascar, Mozambique, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe. As one activist in Mozambique said: “Girls are taught that husbands only beat their wives when they love them.”

    Amnesty International also found in its briefing, “Treated like furniture: Gender-based violence and COVID-19 response in Southern Africa”, that women and girls who dare to report violence and abuse risk social rejection for failing to conform to gender roles -- and when they do speak out, their complaints are not taken seriously by authorities.

    February 07, 2021

    Amnesty International experts on Belarus are available to offer insight into the solidarity campaign 

    The Belarusian authorities are resorting to threats, harassment and prosecution of children in an increasingly desperate attempt to suppress dissent, Amnesty International said ahead of the six-month anniversary on 9 February of the start of protests in the country. 

    Some children are facing years in prison, while others live in fear that their parents will be imprisoned, or that they will be placed in state care, Amnesty International revealed. The violent crushing of freedom of expression and peaceful assembly in the country is behind the organization’s #StandWithBelarus campaign. 

    “In their brutal crackdown on dissent, the authorities’ treatment of children has been completely unacceptable. Some have ended up in arbitrary detention and are facing trumped-up criminal charges, much like adults,” says Aisha Jung, Amnesty International’s Senior Campaigner on Belarus. 

    February 04, 2021

    Responding to an announcement today from the Biden administration that the United States will cease support to the Saudi/UAE-led coalition engaged in Yemen, Philippe Nassif, the advocacy director for the Middle East and North Africa said:

    “As the conflict in Yemen enters its seventh year, it is vital for the United States to commit to prioritizing the safety of civilians in the country. Central to these efforts will be stopping the flow of arms from the United States into situations where they will be used to commit war crimes and grave human rights violations. Halting the sale of precision guided munitions is the first big step. The human tragedy of United States arms sales is immense pain and suffering inflicted on civilians in Yemen that must not be continued to be swept aside, and crimes committed with arms sold by the United States must be investigated.

    “Paveway guided missiles were found by Amnesty International to have been used to commit war crimes in Yemen. All arms sales to the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia should be blocked lest they be used to commit further war crimes in Yemen."

    February 04, 2021

    Ensuring clean and green battery supply chains must be a priority for businesses and governments during the post-pandemic recovery, Amnesty International said today. The organization has published a set of principles for ensuring that lithium-ion batteries, which power electric vehicles and many electronic devices, and which are essential for tackling climate change, are not linked to human rights abuses or environmental harm. 

    February 02, 2021

    A court in Moscow has sentenced opposition activist and Kremlin critic Aleksei Navalny to two years and eight months in prison, amid a brutal crackdown on peaceful protests which saw at least 5,021 people detained on 31 January alone. The Simonovsky District Court granted a motion put forward by the Federal Penitentiary Service to replace Aleksei Navalny’s suspended sentence with jail time, and he will be held at a penal colony.

    “In their vendetta against Aleksei Navalny and his supporters, the Russian authorities have shredded any remaining veneer of justice and respect for human rights. The politically motivated sentencing of Alexei Navalny shows the true face of the Russian authorities, who seem intent on locking up anyone who dares to speak out against their abuses and repression of human rights,” said Natalya Zviagina, Amnesty International’s Moscow Office Director.

    February 02, 2021

    Ahead of the UN Security Council’s emergency closed meeting on Myanmar today, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director of Advocacy Sherine Tadros said: 

    “What we are witnessing in Myanmar didn’t just suddenly happen. You cannot leave perpetrators of grave crimes under international law on the loose and then act surprised when they trample human rights again. 

    “Yesterday, an emboldened military took years of international inaction as a quiet signal that they could oust the civilian government and embark on a spree of baseless arrests without any real consequences. 

    February 01, 2021

    Responding to the arrest of State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and others amid reports that a military coup is underway in Myanmar, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for Campaigns, Ming Yu Hah, said:

    “The arrest of Aung San Suu Kyi, senior officials and other political figures is extremely alarming. Unless those detained can be charged with a recognizable criminal offence under international law, they must be immediately released.

    “The Myanmar military must clarify on what legal basis they have been detained. They must also guarantee that the rights of those arrested are fully respected, including against ill-treatment, and that they have access to lawyers of their own choice and to their family. They must confirm their whereabouts and grant them access to medical care.

    “This is an ominous moment for people in Myanmar, and threatens a severe worsening of military repression and impunity. The concurrent arrests of prominent political activists and human rights defenders sends a chilling message that the military authorities will not tolerate any dissent amid today’s unfolding events.

    February 01, 2021

    Amnesty International today published new evidence of the misuse of tear gas by security forces in several countries in the second half of 2020, including during protests around the election in Uganda, the Black Lives Matter movement in the USA, and in the repression of protesters in Lebanon.

    The organization’s interactive website Tear Gas: An Investigation has now been updated to include new cases of police committing human rights violations against peaceful protesters around the world.

    Since first launching the site in June 2020, Amnesty International has verified recent incidents of tear gas misuse in several countries, including France, Guatemala, India, Mali, Nigeria, Peru, Serbia and Tunisia.

    “The ongoing misuse of tear gas by police forces around the world is reckless and dangerous, often injuring and sometimes even killing peaceful protesters,” said Patrick Wilcken, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Global Issues Programme.

    January 31, 2021

    All peaceful protesters detained today in Moscow and other Russian cities must be released immediately and unconditionally, and all instances of unlawful use of force by police promptly and effectively investigated, Amnesty International said. Today’s arrests and violent dispersals were the latest crackdown by Russian authorities on overwhelmingly peaceful protesters demanding the release of Alexei Navalny. 

    “Russian authorities have arrested so many people in recent weeks that detention centres in Moscow have run out of space, and peaceful protesters are being held in deportation facilities. Trying to lock up every critic in the country is a losing game – the Russian authorities should instead recognize how much the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and expression mean to a growing number of Russians, and allow people to express their opinions without fear of retaliation. 

    January 29, 2021

    Reacting to the mounting reports of searches and arrests in Russia of prominent political and civil activists associated with imprisoned Aleksei Navalny, Natalia Zviagina, Amnesty International’s Moscow Office Director, said: 

    “The crackdown on dissent in Russia has become increasingly brutal – and desperate – even compared to vicious reprisals in recent years. The authorities appear shamelessly bent on violating human rights by silencing their critics. In the last few days, the authorities have detained a young mother, raided the home of a prominent journalist’s elderly parents, and opened criminal prosecutions on dubious grounds, such as the violation of sanitary regulations by demonstrators.  

    “This wave of reprisals is obviously aimed at repressing growing popular dissent in Russia. It is a cowardly attempt to prevent further planned peaceful protests against the prosecution of prisoner of conscience Aleksei Navalny, and the allegations of top-level corruption in Russia which he unearthed.” 

    January 28, 2021

    Following the publication by the Polish Constitutional Tribunal of the ruling invalidating the constitutionality of access to abortion on the ground of “severe and irreversible foetal defect or incurable illness that threatens the foetus’ life”, Esther Major, Senior Research Adviser at Amnesty International, said:

    “Today is a terrible day for women and girls in Poland. This harmful ruling roll back on pregnant people's sexual and reproductive rights and puts their health at risk.

    “This dangerous ruling is the latest in a coordinated and systematic wave of attacks on women’s human rights by Polish lawmakers. Legal prohibitions on abortion do not prevent abortion or reduce the rates of abortion. Instead, they serve only to damage women’s health by pushing abortions underground or forcing women to travel to foreign countries to access abortion care they need and to which they have a right.

    “We stand in solidarity with women and girls in Poland and share in their outrage at this cruel decision.”

    For more information or to arrange an interview contact:

    January 28, 2021

    OTTAWA – Thousands of people have joined a group of Sixties Scoop survivors in signing a petition urging Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to formally apologize for the racist child welfare policies that separated more than 20,000 children from their families.

    Colleen Hele Cardinal and Elaine Kicknosway, co-founders of the Sixties Scoop Network, launched the e-petition calling for a national apology for the decades-long harmful practice of “scooping up” Indigenous children and adopting them out to mostly white families. The petition, which was presented in the House of Commons today, has garnered 4,862 signatures.

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