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    April 24, 2019

    Four leaders of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy Umbrella Movement protests jailed today for their role in the 2014 peaceful protests must be immediately and unconditionally set free and have their convictions overturned, Amnesty International said.

    The pro-democracy activists were given jail terms ranging from eight to 16 months in prison at West Kowloon Magistrates’ Courts.

    Among the eight protesters sentenced were the co-founders of the “Occupy Central” campaign – legal scholar Professor Benny Tai Yiu-ting and sociologist Professor Chan Kin-man, who each received 16 months’ imprisonment. The other two activists jailed are political party leader Raphael Wong and lawmaker Shiu Ka-chun, each sentenced to eight months’ imprisonment.

    April 23, 2019

    South Africa’s post-election government must put human rights at the centre of its policies or risk shackling people to the chains of unemployment, poverty and inequality for decades to come, said Amnesty International South Africa as it published 25 Years On: A Human Rights Manifesto for South Africa today.

    “Although progress has been made since the first free elections 25 years ago, especially in developing a robust Constitution and progressive legislation to promote and protect human rights, compliance and implementation is often lacking. This keeps people bound to the triple burdens of unemployment, poverty and inequality, with escape impossible,” said Kumi Naidoo, Secretary General of Amnesty International.

    “The government-elect as well as all political parties must comply with South Africa’s Constitution as well as domestic and international human rights laws to ensure that the rights of all those in South Africa are upheld.”

    April 23, 2019

    Responding to the decision by Myanmar’s Supreme Court to uphold the conviction and seven year prison sentence of Reuters journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, Nicholas Bequelin Amnesty International’s Regional Director for East and Southeast Asia said:

    “The Supreme Court’s rejection of Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo’s appeal compounds a grave injustice and marks a dark day for press freedom in Myanmar. This case shows the authorities’ resolve to ensure there can be no independent reporting on the military’s atrocities in Rakhine State – even at the cost of debasing the country’s judicial system.

    “Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo are not isolated cases. In recent weeks, we have seen a disturbing surge in the number of people being arrested on politically motivated charges, most of them for criticism of the military.

    “Ahead of the 2020 general election, the international community must put much more pressure on the government to immediately and unconditionally release all prisoners of conscience and amend or repeal the oppressive laws that are being used to curtail freedom of expression.”

    April 18, 2019

    Iranian authorities must stop harassing, arresting and imprisoning women’s rights defenders peacefully protesting against Iran’s degrading and discriminatory forced veiling laws, and release those detained on this basis immediately and unconditionally, said Amnesty International today. 

    The organization has confirmed that two women’s rights defenders, Yasmin Aryani and Monireh Arabshahi, have been detained in the past week and that a third activist, Vida Movahedi, who has been detained since October 2018, was sentenced to one year in prison last month for peacefully protesting against forced veiling.

    Iran’s intelligence and security bodies have also subjected several other women’s rights defenders to threatening telephone calls, warning them that they will be arrested if they continue to campaign against forced veiling. Some have been summoned for questioning and fear imminent arrest.

    April 17, 2019

    Following the attorney general’s decision that individuals who seek asylum after crossing between ports of entry and pass their initial credible fear test will not be eligible for bond and could be detained indefinitely if not released on humanitarian parole, Charanya Krishnaswami, Americas advocacy director for Amnesty International USA, made the following statement:

    “Seeking asylum is a human right, not a crime, and families forced to flee for their lives shouldn’t be treated like criminals. This appalling decision could also force parents to decide to either be locked up with their children indefinitely, or relinquish custody of them for the duration of their approval process, which could take months or years. This is both a heartless punishment against vulnerable people, and a potential back-door way for the administration to  separate families. This decision must be reversed.”  

    April 15, 2019

    Responding to a news report that more than 700 refugees and migrants in Libya were trapped in a detention centre in Qasr bin Ghasher in close proximity to intense armed clashes in Tripoli, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa, Magdalena Mughrabi, said:

    “The Libyan government must immediately release all migrants and refugees from these horrific detention centres where they are held illegally and face appalling abuse and torture. The authorities must do everything to ensure the safety of these men, women and children, left without access to food, water and other essentials amid the escalating violence in and around Tripoli.

    April 15, 2019

    Indonesia’s next government must put human rights at the center of its policies after the serious abuses that have marred the country in recent years, Amnesty International said ahead of polling day on 17 April.

    With nearly 200 million registered voters expected to cast their ballots in Indonesia’s general elections, Amnesty International have published a Human Rights Agenda targeting 7,968 parliamentary candidates and the two presidential candidates.

    “Our agenda puts forward a concrete action plan that the next government and parliament must deliver to improve the human rights situation in Indonesia, after the deteriorating environment experienced by so many people in the past four and half years – especially minorities and other marginalized groups,” said Usman Hamid, Amnesty International Indonesia’s Executive Director. “The next government has an opportunity to turn the tide and prevent Indonesia from squandering the vital human rights progress made since 1998.”

    April 12, 2019

    Update: On 12 April 2019, a Lebanese military court transferred Ziad Itani’s torture complaint to a civilian court. According to article 15 of the Lebanese Code of Criminal Procedure, offenses committed by judicial police officers while performing their duties falls under the jurisdiction of ordinary civilian courts. Lebanon’s anti-torture law specifies that the public prosecutor should refer torture cases to ordinary courts within 48 hours.

    Itani Case Shouldn’t Be Heard by Military Courts

    April 12, 2019

    In response to President Trump’s transgender military ban going into effect, Tarah Demant, director of the gender, sexuality, and identity program at Amnesty International USA, made the following statement:

    “The ban on transgender service members is a shameful step backward. The Trump Administration seems committed to creating policies that are based on bigotry and discrimination. Regarding transgender people in particular, President Trump has stripped away protections for students, employees, and now those serving in the military. The Trump administration is sending a dangerous message globally that the United States is ready and willing to blatantly disregard the human rights of thousands of people.”

    April 12, 2019

    The International Criminal Court’s decision not to authorize an investigation into crimes committed in Afghanistan under international law marks a shocking abandonment of victims and will further weaken the court’s credibility, Amnesty International said today.

    The ICC’s decision comes just days after the United States, which had already issued threats to the court, revoked the chief prosecutor’s visa because the investigation involved crimes committed by USA forces.

    “Afghanistan has been witness to heinous crimes committed with near-absolute impunity, across the country, for more than a decade and a half. The ICC’s decision today is a shocking abandonment of the victims which will weaken the court’s already questionable credibility,” said Biraj Patnaik, South Asia Director at Amnesty International.

    The ICC judges claimed that their decision was influenced by the prospect of investigators having to deal with challenging investigations, a lack of ready state cooperation and budgetary constraints.

    April 11, 2019

    The US government must immediately halt its illegal pushbacks of thousands of asylum seekers at the border with Mexico and instead facilitate their prompt reception and the processing of their cases under US law, said Amnesty International today during a visit to the border.

    “Pushbacks violate international law, and US authorities are forcing thousands of people who are seeking asylum to wait on the Mexican side of the border for months both before and after receiving their requests for protection. The courts are playing a vital role in limiting abuses of power by US authorities, but most of those seeking asylum still lack adequate access to justice and continue to suffer wholesale violations of their rights,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International.

    From 8 to 10 April, Amnesty International monitored the hearings of 28 asylum cases in San Diego, involving 31 adults and 26 children whom US authorities had forcibly returned to Mexico under the “Remain in Mexico” policy since late January. During their hearings, over 40 percent of them proactively expressed their fears of return to Mexico.

    April 11, 2019

    Following the announcement of Julian Assange’s arrest, and request for extradition to the United States, Massimo Moratti, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Research in Europe, said:

    “Amnesty International calls on the UK to refuse to extradite or send in any other manner Julian Assange to the USA where there is a very real risk that he could face human rights violations, including detention conditions that would violate the absolute prohibition of torture and other ill-treatment and an unfair trial followed by possible execution, due to his work with Wikileaks.

    “We are aware of allegations of rape and other sexual violence against Julian Assange, which should be properly investigated in a way that respects the rights of both the complainants and the accused and be brought to justice if there is sufficient evidence against him. If Sweden decides to pursue an extradition of Mr. Assange from the UK, there must be adequate assurances that he would not be extradited or otherwise sent to the USA.”

    April 11, 2019

    TREATY 1 TERRITORY, WINNIPEG, MB – On April 11, 2019, Indigenous women from northern Manitoba and northeastern BC will be hosting a panel discussion on the harmful social impacts of large-scale resource development on the health and wellbeing of Indigenous women, girls, and two-spirit people.

    The public event is being held on the eve of a special hearing being conducted by the Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources. The one-day hearing in Winnipeg has been organized as part of the Committee’s study of Bill C-69, proposed federal impact assessment legislation for resource development projects. Amnesty International will be testifying before the Committee.

    Troubling reports of gender-based violence in communities surrounding resource development projects in northern Manitoba and northeastern BC highlight why it is important to consider the experiences of Indigenous women and girls when planning large-scale resource development projects like hydroelectric dams. 

    Date: Thursday, April 11, 2019

    Location: Ukrainian Labour Temple, 591 Pritchard Ave, Winnipeg, Manitoba

    April 11, 2019

    Responding to the ousting of Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir in a military coup following months of street protests, Amnesty International’s Secretary General Kumi Naidoo said:

    “On this historic day for Sudan, the world must first and foremost recognize the unique courage, creativity and bravery Sudanese people have shown in demanding their rights. Today’s events should also serve as a wake-up call to leaders around the world who think they can get away with denying people their basic rights.

    “But while many Sudanese people will be delighted by the end of Omar al-Bashir’s deeply repressive 30-year rule, we are alarmed by the raft of emergency measures announced today.

    “Sudan’s military authorities should ensure that emergency laws are not used to undermine people’s rights. Instead, they must now consign to history the assault on human rights that marked al-Bashir’s 30 years in power.

    April 11, 2019

    The US is not safe for all refugees. The Canadian government should suspend the US/Canada border pact and allow those in need of refugee protection to access it in Canada.

    Amnesty International is deeply concerned that the US government, at the request of the Canadian government, is considering altering an agreement that would make it more likely that refugees seeking asylum in Canada would be returned to the United States. This week, the Canadian government also introduced a bill that includes provisions that would bar individuals from making a refugee claim in Canada if they have made a prior asylum claim in certain countries, particularly the United States.

    The request to renegotiate concerns a possible expansion of the Safe Third Country Agreement (STCA) between the two countries, which currently applies only at official ports of entry along the U.S.-Canada border. It requires individuals who arrive in Canada or the US to request protection in the first country in which they arrive. There are only limited exceptions.

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