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    December 01, 2016

    The UN Security Council has failed Syrians. In almost six years of conflict, close to half a million people have been killed and eleven million have been forced to leave their homes. Most recently, the Syrian and Russian governments and their allies have carried out unlawful attacks on eastern Aleppo with scant regard for some 250,000 civilians trapped there. Armed opposition groups have also fired mortars and other projectiles into civilian neighbourhoods of western Aleppo, though according to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, “indiscriminate airstrikes across the eastern part of the city by Government forces and their allies are responsible for the overwhelming majority of civilian casualties.” Efforts to stop these atrocities and hold those responsible to account have been blocked repeatedly by Russia, which continues to misuse its veto power in the Security Council.

    December 01, 2016

    In response to the news that access to Doha News, Qatar’s leading independent English language daily news site has been blocked to internet users inside the country, James Lynch, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Global Issues said:

    “This is an alarming setback for freedom of expression in the country. Deliberately blocking people in Qatar from accessing a legitimate news website would be an outright attack on media freedom.

     “As the nation that founded the Al Jazeera media network and which hosts a centre dedicated to promoting global media freedom, Qatar should be at the forefront of those championing freedom of the press.

    December 01, 2016

    Saudi Arabian human rights defender, Issa al-Hamid, who received a nine year prison term for his work promoting human rights, had his sentence increased today to 11 years in prison, followed by a travel ban of equal duration as well as a fine of 100,000 Saudi Riyals (around 27,000 US Dollars) following an appeal.

    Responding to today’s court ruling by the counter-terror court in Riyadh, Samah Hadid, Deputy Director for Campaigns at Amnesty International’s Beirut regional office said:

    “Today’s ruling by the Saudi Arabian counter-terror court is yet another demonstration of the authorities’ continuous ruthless and relentless crackdown on human rights defenders. The appeal presented an important opportunity to correct a deeply flawed ruling. Instead, the authorities chose to proceed with their unabated persecution of human rights defenders by increasing an already unfounded sentence.

    December 01, 2016

    The ratification of the peace agreement marks the beginning of a new and hopeful chapter in Colombia’s history, but the real hard work starts now, Amnesty International said today.

    Last night, Congress ratified a revised version of the peace agreement between the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) after the original deal was rejected by a referendum on 2 October.

    The ratification paves the way for the FARC to begin to demobilize and disarm in a process to be implemented over six months.

    The revised agreement offers more clarity on a number of issues, such as on how the sanctions imposed on those responsible for crimes under international law will work. It also forces the FARC to hand over their assets, which could boost the right of victims to reparation. But the agreement remains flawed in terms of guarantees on victims’ rights.

    December 01, 2016

    A case before the Supreme Court today provides a crucial opportunity to bring Canadian law into line with international human rights standards and global precedents protecting the sacred sites of Indigenous peoples.

    “The Charter protection of religious freedom is a vital part of the framework of human rights protection in Canada,” said Alex Neve, Secretary General of Amnesty International. “However that Charter guarantee would be hollow if Canadian law fails to provide adequate protection for the sacred sites necessary to the practice of First Nations, Metis and Inuit religions and spiritual beliefs.”

    The Ktunaxa people, a First Nation in the BC interior, are fighting the planned development of a ski resort that the Ktunaxa says will degrade and deny them access to an area they consider to be of vital importance because they believe it is the home of the Great Bear spirit.

    November 30, 2016

    An appalling decision by a Court in Brazil to archive the case of the killing of a 10-year-old boy during a military police operation in a favela in Rio de Janeiro risks letting security forces go unpunished, Amnesty International said.

    Eduardo de Jesus Ferreira, was shot in the head by military police officers during a police operation in Alemão complex, one of Rio de Janeiro’s largest favelas, on 2 April 2015.

    The police investigation concluded that police officers were responsible for the shot that killed Eduardo but the officers claimed they acted in self-defense and in response to a gunfight with armed criminals. However, Eduardo’s family, neighbours and witnesses reported that no confrontation or shooting was taking place at the time of the killing.

    The Public Prosecutor's Office can appeal the decision to archive the case.

    “If Eduardo’s tragic murder goes unpunished, it will send a message that it is ok for police to execute people,” said Renata Neder, Human Rights Advisor at Amnesty International Brazil.

    November 30, 2016

    In response to the sentencing of Ahmed H, to 10 years in prison on terrorism charges for his involvement in clashes with Hungarian border guards at a Serbia-Hungary border crossing last year, Gauri van Gulik, Amnesty International’s Deputy Europe Director who attended the court hearing said: 

    “This verdict is based on a blatant misuse of anti-terror laws and reflects a disturbing confluence of two dangerous trends: the misuse of terrorism related offenses and the appalling treatment of refugees and migrants.”

    “A father, who was trying to help his elderly Syrian parents reach safety now faces 10 years in prison. Throwing stones and entering a country irregularly does not constitute terrorism and cannot justify this draconian ruling. Ahmed H’s terrorism verdict should be quashed on appeal."

    ++++++++++

    For more media inquiries, contact Jacob Kuehn, Media Relations

    613-744-7667 ext 236 // jkuehn@amnesty.ca

    November 30, 2016

    As many as three of the four men on death row in the Belarusian capital Minsk have been executed in a shameful purge since 5 November, Amnesty International revealed today after confirming with local activists.

    Hard on the heels of this news the organization is launching a new online petition and video aimed at stamping out the use of the death penalty in Belarus – the last country in Europe and the former Soviet Union to still carry out executions.

    “Purging death row of its prisoners is an appalling measure for any country to take. But it is additionally shameful in Belarus, where executions are typically shrouded in secrecy and carried out at a moment’s notice,” said Aisha Jung, Campaigner on Belarus at Amnesty International, who recently returned from Minsk.

    “This sudden spike in executions is especially surprising in Belarus, the death penalty’s final frontier in Europe, since many believed the country was on track to eliminate capital punishment for good.”

    November 29, 2016

    ●       Unilever, Nestlé, Procter & Gamble among nine household names contributing to labour abuse

    The world’s most popular food and household companies are selling food, cosmetics and other everyday staples containing palm oil tainted by shocking human rights abuses in Indonesia, with children as young as eight working in hazardous conditions, said Amnesty International in a new report published today.

    The report, The great palm oil scandal: Labour abuses behind big brand names, investigates palm oil plantations in Indonesia run by the world’s biggest palm oil grower, Singapore-based agri-business Wilmar, tracings palm oil to nine global firms: AFAMSA, ADM, Colgate-Palmolive, Elevance, Kellogg’s, Nestlé, Procter & Gamble, Reckitt Benckiser and Unilever.

    November 29, 2016

    Released  29 November 2016 9:00 AM ET Clyde River Solidarity Network 1

    29 November 2016 (Ottawa) – Canada’s highest court will hear a defining case on Indigenous rights tomorrow when the Inuit community of Clyde River argues against the controversial
    approval of a five-year seismic testing project off the coast of their Baffin Island home.

    Jerry Natanine, former mayor of Clyde River, said “I’m grateful for this opportunity to have our voices heard before the Supreme Court today to show that this is truly a fight for our way of life. Inuit were not adequately consulted and do not consent to seismic testing in our waters.”

    November 28, 2016

    Syrian government forces who have captured parts of eastern Aleppo city in recent days must ensure that civilians living in these areas are allowed to move freely and are protected from revenge attacks including arbitrary detention, torture, enforced disappearance or harassment, said Amnesty International today.

    Yesterday Syrian government forces took control of two neighborhoods in eastern Aleppo, Jabal Badro and Maskaen Hanano, where at least 100 families are currently living. Many who remain in eastern Aleppo city told Amnesty International that they fear acts of revenge by government forces.

    “Syrian government forces have repeatedly launched unlawful attacks on Aleppo city displaying a callous disregard for the safety of civilians living in parts of the city controlled by armed opposition groups,” said Samah Hadid, Deputy Director for Campaigns at Amnesty International’s Beirut Regional office. 

    November 27, 2016

    “The arrest of Zunar is an outrage. The charge of sedition against him must be dropped immediately and he must be unconditionally released from detention. What we are seeing is the choking of dissent in Malaysia, where repressive laws are being used to silence and punish peaceful voices under the guise of national security,” said Josef Benedict, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific.

    “Zunar’s arrest comes as Maria Chin Abdullah, the chair of the Bersih movement, unjustifiably remains in solitary confinement. She was arrested under repressive national security laws on 18 November, a day before thousands of activists took to the streets to peacefully demand electoral reforms and an end to corruption. Maria Chin Abdullah and all other prisoners of conscience should be released immediately and unconditionally.”

    Background

    November 26, 2016

    In response to the news of the violent arrest of women’s rights activist and anti-death penalty campaigner Atena Daemi today by Revolutionary Guards, Philip Luther Amnesty International’s Research and Advocacy Director for the Middle East and North Africa said:

    “This is an extremely distressing turn of events and we fear that Atena may be at risk of torture or other ill-treatment. She is being targeted by the Iranian authorities simply for her peaceful activism, in particular speaking out against the use of the death penalty and supporting women’s rights. She should be immediately and unconditionally released.”

    Amnesty International considers Atena Daemi to be a prisoner of conscience. For more information see https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/mde13/3777/2016/en/

    Iran: Further information: Activist released on bail, awaits appeal outcome: Atena Daemi. By Amnesty International, 5 April 2016, Index number: MDE 13/3777/2016

     

    November 26, 2016

    Fidel Castro’s achievements in improving access to public services for millions of Cubans were tempered by a systemic repression of basic freedoms during his time in power, Amnesty International said following the death of the former Cuban leader.

    "There are few more polarizing political figures than Fidel Castro, a progressive but deeply flawed leader," said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.

    After his accession to power following the 1959 revolution in Cuba, Castro oversaw dramatic improvements in access to human rights such as health and housing. This was accompanied by an unprecedented drive to improve literacy rates across the country.

    "Access to public services such as health and education for Cubans were substantially improved by the Cuban revolution and for this, his leadership must be applauded. However, despite these achievements in areas of social policy, Fidel Castro’s forty nine year reign was characterised by a ruthless suppression of freedom of expression,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas.

    November 25, 2016

    Ahead of the season finale of the Formula 1 Grand Prix in Abu Dhabi this weekend, Amnesty International’s Middle East Deputy Director of Campaigns, Samah Hadid, said:

    “This weekend, as sports fans around the world turn their eyes to Abu Dhabi, the capital of the UAE, which is hosting the season finale of the Formula 1 Grand Prix, the country’s appalling human rights record continues to escape scrutiny.

    “Do spectators know that behind the glamorous façade, people are being arrested and tortured for voicing criticism of the government? Or that enforced disappearances go unchecked, with families often going months without knowledge of their loved ones’ whereabouts? Or that over 60 political prisoners remain behind bars following unfair trials?

    “The show of fast cars and celebrities is nothing more than a distraction from an ongoing human rights crisis. The UAE authorities should also be devoting their attention to releasing prisoners of conscience and by repealing harsh laws that criminalize peaceful freedom of expression.

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