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    April 19, 2017

    The unending spiral of violence and repression during the protests in Venezuela is submerging the country in a crisis that will be hard to come back from, threatening the lives and security of the Venezuelan population, Amnesty International said following reports of at least two deaths and several people injured and detained during the protests around the country today.

    The Venezuelan authorities confirmed that Paola Ramírez, 23 years old, and Carlos Moreno, 17 years old, were shot dead in San Cristóbal, Táchira and Caracas respectively.

    “Stepping out into the street when protests are taking place in Venezuela should not be a death sentence,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.

    “The tragic combination of growing violence, uncontrolled repression, and lack of action on the part of the authorities to guarantee freedom of expression and justice is a toxic mix that does nothing more than perpetuate violence.”

    April 19, 2017

    A set of legislative amendments approved by the Egyptian parliament last week in the name of security will sanction mass arbitrary arrests, enable indefinite detention without charge or trial and will severely undermine fair trial guarantees, Amnesty International said in a statement published today. The amendments were rushed through parliament after last week’s deadly bombings of three Coptic churches in Egypt that left 44 people dead and more than 100 injured.

    “If adopted, the proposed legislative amendments would pose an even greater threat to civil liberties by weakening the few remaining protections in the criminal justice system. The amendments give the security forces carte blanche to commit grave violations in the name of combatting terrorism. They would also sanction mass arbitrary arrests, indefinite detention as well as giving courts powers to flout fair trial rights,” said Najia Bounaim, Amnesty’s campaigns director for North Africa.

    April 18, 2017

    The UN must prioritize human rights monitoring for the situation in Moroccan-controlled Western Sahara and Sahrawi refugee camps across the border in Tindouf, Algeria, Amnesty International urged ahead of a Security Council vote next week on 27 April to renew the mandate of its peacekeeping presence in the area.

    The UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) does not currently have a mandate to document or report on the human rights situation despite the fact that abuses continue to be committed by both the Moroccan authorities and the Polisario Front, a Sahrawi pro-independence movement, which administers Sahrawi refugee camps near Tindouf, southern Algeria.

    April 18, 2017

    The Iranian authorities must urgently stop the imminent execution of two long-time death row prisoners who were children at the time of their arrest, Amnesty International said today.

    One of the men, Mehdi Bahlouli, is due to be executed tomorrow morning in Karaj’s Raja’i Shahr Prison, after more than 15 years on death row. He was sentenced to death by a criminal court in Tehran in November 2001 for fatally stabbing a man during a fight. He was 17 at the time of the crime.

    The execution of the second man, Peyman Barandah, is scheduled to take place just three weeks later, on 10 May, in Shiraz Central Prison, Fars Province. He was arrested at the age of 16 and spent nearly five years on death row, after being convicted in August 2012, also for stabbing a teenager to death during a fight.

    “Carrying out the executions of these two young men would be an outrageous breach of international human rights law that would cement Iran’s position as one of the world’s top executors of juvenile offenders,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Research and Advocacy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

    April 17, 2017

    NEW YORK – The Supreme Court will not hear a case brought by more than two dozen families who have been ordered deported without having their full cases heard by an immigration judge. The families fled horrific violence and human rights abuses in Central America. Many of the families have been held for more than a year in immigration detention facilities, most recently in Berks County, Pennsylvania. The denial by the Supreme Court could result in the families being deported imminently.

    “These families cannot be sent back to certain danger. The United States has an international obligation to grant asylum seekers a fair hearing. They must not be deported, or detained any longer, and must have their full cases heard by an immigration judge,” said Margaret Huang, executive director of Amnesty International USA. “Families fleeing danger who pose no threat to anyone else should not be treated like criminals. They deserve justice.”

     

    April 15, 2017

    NEW YORK – An Arkansas judge has temporarily blocked six executions from taking place after the company that manufactured the drugs to be used in the executions filed a complaint that the drug was not meant to be used for lethal injection.

    A state Supreme Court judge had previously halted the execution of a seventh man earlier in the day, and an eighth execution was put on hold earlier. Arkansas had originally scheduled eight executions in the span of 10 days because their lethal injection supply was set to expire at the end of the month.

    “The people of the United States have spoken out against this horrific conveyer belt of death and we are relieved that the judge has temporarily stopped these executions. We continue to call on Governor Hutchinson to use his executive authority to permanently stop this assembly line of death,” said James Clark, senior campaigner with Amnesty International USA. “The fight will not be over until this cruel and inhumane punishment is abolished once and for all.”

    April 13, 2017

    Israel’s decades-long policy of detaining Palestinians from the occupied West Bank and Gaza in prisons inside Israel and depriving them of regular family visits is not only cruel but also a blatant violation of international law, said Amnesty International, ahead of a mass prisoner’s hunger strike beginning next week to mark Palestinian Prisoner’s Day on 17 April.

    Testimonies gathered by the organization from family members and Palestinian prisoners detained in the Israeli prison system shed light on the suffering endured by families who in some cases have been deprived from seeing their detained relatives for many years.

    “Israel’s ruthless policy of holding Palestinian prisoners arrested in the Occupied Palestinian Territories in prisons inside Israel is a flagrant violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention. It is unlawful and cruel and the consequences for the imprisoned person and their loved ones, who are often deprived from seeing them for months, and at times for years on end, can be devastating,” said Magdalena Mughrabi, Deputy Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International.

    April 13, 2017

    The sentencing of a lawyer to 10 years in prison for a Facebook post exposes the abuse of Egypt’s new counterterrorism law to silence government critics, said Amnesty International.

    On 12 April a court in Alexandria sentenced lawyer Mohamed Ramadan to 10 years in prison, followed by five years under house arrest and a five year ban on using the internet. He was convicted on a series of vaguely worded national security charges including insulting the President, misusing social media platforms and incitement to violence under the country’s draconian counterterrorism law.

    “It is utterly shocking that the Egyptian authorities have imposed such a heavy sentence against someone who was exercising his right to freedom of expression. Posting a comment on Facebook is not a criminal offence – no one should face imprisonment for expressing their views, even if others consider their comments offensive,” said Najia Bounaim, Amnesty International’s campaigns director for North Africa.

    April 13, 2017

    Nigerian authorities must ramp up efforts to secure the release of the remaining Chibok girls and thousands of others abducted across the northeast by Boko Haram, said Amnesty International on the third anniversary of the armed group’s chilling abduction of 276 Chibok schoolgirls.

    “Boko Haram continues to abduct women, girls and young men who are often then subjected to horrific abuses, including rape, beatings and being forced into suicide bombing missions. Sadly, many such abductions go unnoticed and unreported by the media. This has left many parents and relatives without any hope of being reunited with their loved ones,” said Interim Country Director Amnesty International Nigeria, Makmid Kamara.

    “These appalling abductions and other attacks, some of which constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity, are carried out by Boko Haram on an almost daily basis. They must stop. Today we remember and lend solidarity to the families of the Chibok girls as well as the thousands of other women, girls and men abducted, killed or displaced by Boko Haram.”

    April 13, 2017

    The US state of Arkansas must halt the execution of eight death row prisoners, seven of whom are due to be killed in an 11-day period this month, Amnesty International said today, highlighting legal concerns and the fact that two of the men facing death have serious mental disabilities.

    Arkansas has not put anyone to death for more than a decade, but plans to execute two men per day on 17, 20 and 24 April, and one man on 27 April, because its supply of the controversial execution drug midazolam will expire at the end of the month.

    “The close scheduling of these executions is unprecedented in modern US history. Just four months after the USA recorded its lowest execution total for a quarter of a century, Arkansas is preparing to buck this positive trend in a shameful race to beat a drug expiration date,” said Erika Guevara Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.

    April 13, 2017

    Celebrated global music artist and activist Alicia Keys and the inspirational movement of Indigenous Peoples fighting for their rights in Canada have been honoured with Amnesty International’s Ambassador of Conscience Award for 2017, the human rights organization announced today.

    The award will be officially presented at a ceremony in Montréal, Canada, on May 27.

    Accepting the award recognizing the Indigenous rights movement of Canada will be six individuals representing the strength and diversity of the movement, which has bravely fought to end discrimination and ensure the safety and well-being of Indigenous families and communities. They are Cindy Blackstock, Delilah Saunders, Melanie Morrison, Senator Murray Sinclair, Melissa Mollen Dupuis and Widia Larivière.

    “The Ambassador of Conscience Award is Amnesty International’s highest honour, celebrating those who have shown exceptional leadership and courage in championing human rights,” said Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s Secretary General.

    April 12, 2017

    The decision of the Peruvian Supreme Court to postpone the ruling on the case against human rights defender Máxima Acuña is the latest attempt by the authorities to obstruct her legitimate work to defend the environment, said Amnesty International.

    The Peruvian Supreme Court was due to issue a decision today on the spurious charges of land invasion against Máxima Acuña Atalaya. The ruling was postponed until 3 May after the tribunal informed that some of the judges had not had enough time to reach a decision.

    “The case against Máxima is a cowardly attempt by the authorities in Peru to stop her activism to defend human rights and the environment and send a message to other activists,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International

    “Effectively forcing her to travel all the way to Lima at her own expense just to be told that the hearing was postponed looks like yet another trick to continue to punish her and her family.”

    “Instead of continuing to harass Máxima and her family with baseless accusations, authorities in Peru must ensure human rights defenders can carry out their work without fear of reprisals.”

    April 12, 2017

    Responding to a government warning that anyone who follows, contacts, or shares posts online with three prominent critics - historian Somsak Jeamteerasakul, journalist and author Andrew MacGregor Marshall, and former diplomat Pavin Chachavalpongpun - will be prosecuted under the Computer Crimes Act, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific Josef Benedict said:

    “The Thai authorities have plunged to fresh depths in restricting people’s freedoms of expression. After imprisoning people for what they say both online and offline, and hounding critics into exile, they want to cut people off from each other altogether.

    “The move doesn’t reveal strength, but a weakness and fear of criticism. In its determination to silence all dissent, the Thai authorities are resorting to extreme measures that brazenly flout international human rights law.

    “In March, the UN Human Rights Committee raised concerns about the severe and arbitrary restrictions on freedom of expression, including the Computer Crimes Act. Rather than drawing lessons from the criticism, they are pressing ahead with their repressive tactics.”

     

    April 12, 2017

    In response to announcements by the European Commission on priority actions on child migrant’s protection Iverna McGowan, Amnesty International’s Head of European Institutions Office said:

     

    “Whilst the Commission’s efforts to increase protection for child refugees are welcome and much needed, they do not address the underlying flaws in the EU’s approach to migration that are putting children at risk in the first place.

     

    “Just last month the European Commission pushed for allowing detention of children in EU countries which currently prohibit it. The failure to row back on this policy lays bare the Commission’s incoherent approach to the most vulnerable.

     

    “The lack of safe and legal routes forces minors on dangerous journeys exposing them to violence, exploitation and injury. Children stranded on the Greek islands are living in appalling conditions without access to health care, education or proper housing.”

     

    April 11, 2017

    Though recent developments in Syria are bound to dominate US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s first official visit to Moscow this week, he must also use the opportunity to highlight the dire human rights situation inside Russia, Amnesty International said today.

    Secretary Tillerson is due to meet his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov on 11-12 April.

    “Both the USA and Russia must accept their share of the blame for the international community’s failure to broker an end to the bloodbath in Syria, and in particular we urge both governments to use this week’s meeting to work towards an end to the longstanding paralysis of the UN Security Council,” said Sergei Nikitin, Director of Amnesty International’s Moscow office.

    “However, during his visit Secretary Tillerson must also raise the issue of Russia’s wide-ranging denial of human rights at home. The Russian authorities are responsible for a staggering list of human rights violations, from the de facto ban on Jehovah’s Witnesses and the incarceration of peaceful protesters to the failure to effectively investigate the campaign of abduction, torture and killing of gay men in Chechnya.”

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