The international community must not be duped by surface-level efforts to smooth out Azerbaijan’s human rights record, which remains dire, said Amnesty International in a report published today, ahead of this week’s inaugural Formula 1 Grand Prix of Europe race in Baku.
“The arrival of the world’s premier racing series in Baku must not steer attention away from the government onslaught on civil society,” said Denis Krivosheev, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Europe and Central Asia.
“Behind the glitz lies an everyday reality in which authorities have shut down NGOs and arrested or harassed their leaders.”
Since the beginning of 2016, faced with falling oil revenues and rising international pressure, the Azerbaijani authorities have released several dozen prisoners. Among those released are twelve prisoners of conscience, including award-winning investigative journalist Khadija Ismayilova.
The Indonesian central government should allow dozens of Sri Lankan Tamil asylum seekers, including a pregnant woman and nine children, who have reached the coast of Lhoknga, Aceh, to disembark and meet UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) officials, Amnesty International said today.
“These people have endured a long and difficult journey already. Now that they have reached land in Aceh, they should be allowed to disembark and meet UNHCR officials,” said Josef Benedict, Amnesty International’s Director of Campaigns for South East Asia and the Pacific.
The organization fears that the Indonesian authorities may push the boat - reportedly carrying 44 people - back into international waters.
The Aceh fishermen discovered the boat off the coast of Aceh province on 11 June. They subsequently reported the boat to the Indonesian navy who have not allowed the boat to disembark and the people on it to apply for asylum, arguing the asylum-seekers lack the proper documentation.
The allegations that have come forward through an anonymous letter from members of the Canadian Military Police and reported today in La Presse, regarding the Canadian military’s detention policy and practices in Afghanistan are gravely concerning. For years, Amnesty International called for a halt to the handover of detainees to Afghan authorities because of concerns about torture. The organization has repeatedly called for transparent investigations into the potential complicity of Canadian forces in serious human rights violations committed by Afghan forces following the transfers. Today’s revelations, if true, underscore the urgent need for a Commission of Inquiry in order to ascertain the full facts of what occurred and identify the reforms needed to ensure these circumstances do not arise again.
Released 00:01 GMT Tuesday 14 June 2016
The EU’s plans to cooperate more closely with Libya on migration risk fuelling the rampant ill-treatment and indefinite detention in horrifying conditions of thousands of refugees and migrants, said Amnesty International.
Last month the EU announced plans to extend its anti-smuggling naval mission in the Mediterranean, Operation Sophia, for another year and to train, build up the capacity of and share information with the Libyan coastguard following a request by the new Libyan government. However, testimonies gathered during visits to Sicily and Puglia in May 2016 reveal shocking abuses by the Libyan coastguard and at immigration detention centres in Libya.
Amnesty International spoke to 90 people who survived the treacherous sea crossing from Libya to Italy, including at least 20 refugees and migrants who described shootings and beatings while being picked up by the coastguard or harrowing torture and other ill-treatment at detention centres. In one case, the Libyan coastguard abandoned a boat leaving some 120 people on board instead of rescuing them.
The Israeli military today renewed for six months the detention of Palestinian circus performer Mohammad Faisal Abu Sakha, who has been held without charge since his arrest in December 2015, in a case that exemplifies the authorities’ arbitrary and repressive use of administrative detention, said Amnesty International.
Mohammad Abu Sakha performs as a clown and teaches at the Palestinian Circus School in Birzeit, near Ramallah, where he specializes in working with children with learning difficulties.
“The arbitrary detention of Mohammad Abu Sakha is yet another shameful example of the Israeli authorities’ abusive use of administrative detention. He has already spent more than six months behind bars without being charged or allowed to stand trial - he has been denied even the slightest semblance of justice,” said Philip Luther, Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Amnesty International.
“The Israeli authorities must either charge Mohammad Abu Sakha with a genuine criminal offence or order his release. For decades, Israel has relied upon administrative detention, in many cases as an alternative to bringing
Malawian officials must live up to their promises to end violence against people with albinism and tackle discrimination against this group, Amnesty International said on International Albinism Awareness Day.
During a series of meetings with senior government officials, including President Arthur Peter Mutharika, on 7 June, Amnesty International secured commitments to not only address the spate of killings of people with albinism but also to tackle the root causes of discrimination.
“Recognition by the Malawian authorities at the highest level that people with albinism not only experience daily discrimination but also live in constant fear of attacks is an important step in addressing the problem,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for Southern Africa.
“Malawian police need more resources and must conduct thorough and effective investigations to bring the abductions and killings to an end. Visible policing in rural areas coupled with an effective public education campaigns can contribute significantly in arresting the problem.”
The Venezuelan authorities’ stubborn denial over the country’s current humanitarian crisis, coupled with their refusal to ask for international aid, are putting the lives and rights of millions of people at serious risk, Amnesty International said as it concluded a visit to the country.
An Amnesty International delegation spoke to public officials, NGOs, human rights defenders, lawyers and survivors of human rights violations in Caracas, Guarenas and the state of Táchira, on the border with Colombia. People spoke of the chronic lack of essential food staples and medicines as the country faces one of the worst economic crises in decades.
“Stubborn politics are seriously affecting millions of lives. The lethal combination of severe food and medicine shortages coupled with sky-high crime rates, persistent human rights violations and ill-conceived policies that focus on trying to keep people quiet instead of responding to their desperate calls for help are a recipe for an epic catastrophe,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.
An on-the-ground investigation by Amnesty International has confirmed that the Nigerian army gunned down unarmed people ahead of last month’s planned pro-Biafran commemoration events in Onitsha, Anambra state.
Evidence gathered from eyewitnesses, morgues and hospitals confirms that between 29-30 May 2016, the Nigerian military opened fire on members of the Indigenous people of Biafra (IPOB), supporters and bystanders at three locations in the town.
“Opening fire on peaceful IPOB supporters and bystanders who clearly posed no threat to anyone is an outrageous use of unnecessary and excessive force and resulted in multiple deaths and injuries. In one incident one person was shot dead after the authorities burst in on them while they slept,” said M.K. Ibrahim, Country Director of Amnesty International Nigeria.
“These shootings, some of which may amount to extra judicial executions, must be urgently and independently investigated and anyone suspected of criminal responsibility must be brought to justice.”
Canadian-Iranian citizen Dr. Homa Hoodfar, who was arrested in Iran on June 6 in relation to her peaceful professional work, must be immediately and unconditionally released. Amnesty International considers her to be a prisoner of conscience. The organization calls on the Government of Canada to take all possible diplomatic measures to ensure her immediate release and safe return to Canada.
The deadly attack on civilians at a Tel Aviv shopping and restaurant complex last night displayed a stark contempt for human life, Amnesty International said.
Two Palestinian gunmen opened fire at the Sarona market in Tel Aviv on Wednesday evening, killing four civilians and injuring others. Several of those wounded were still hospitalized on Thursday morning. Israeli forces apprehended the attackers, wounding one of them.
“This heinous attack flouted fundamental principles of humanity,” said Philip Luther, Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Amnesty International.
“There can be never be any justification for deliberately attacking civilians.”
No group has claimed responsibility for the killings, but the Hamas movement welcomed the attack and warned of more “surprises” for Israel.
“Celebration and coded threats are a reprehensible response to the deaths of civilians,” said Philip Luther.
Failed responses to the sharp increase in hate crimes across Germany – including attacks on shelters for asylum-seekers – expose the need to urgently step up protection and launch an independent inquiry into possible bias within the country’s law enforcement agencies, said Amnesty International in a report released today.
The report, Living in insecurity: How Germany is failing victims of hate crimes, details how 16 times as many crimes were reported against asylum shelters in 2015 (1,031) as in 2013 (63). More generally, racist violent crimes against racial, ethnic and religious minorities increased by 87% from 693 crimes in 2013 to 1,295 crimes in 2015.
“With hate crimes on the rise in Germany, long-standing and well-documented shortcomings in the response of law enforcement agencies to racist violence must be addressed,” said Marco Perolini, Amnesty International’s EU Researcher.
Signed by many human rights experts, parliamentarians and other eminent Canadians, an Open Letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was just released by the Rideau Institute, further to their earlier report, entitled: Torture of Afghan Detainees: Canada’s Alleged Complicity and the Need for a Public Inquiry, (Omar Sabry, September, 2015, Rideau Institute and Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives publishers).
This Open Letter comes just days before the Government of Canada must formally respond in writing to e-70 (Afghanistan), an electronic petition to Parliament calling on the Government of Canada “to establish an independent judicial commission of inquiry to investigate the facts with respect to policies, practices, legal and other opinions, decisions, and conduct of Canadian government actors, including Ministers and senior officials, concerning Afghan detainees throughout Canada's involvements in Afghanistan from 2001”.
The shooting of students peacefully protesting in Port Moresby, the capital of Papua New Guinea, is a disgraceful attack on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and expression, Amnesty International said today.
The organisation has received information that there are 38 people injured, including four in critical condition. Three people are still being assessed in emergency.
“The shooting of students peacefully protesting is reminiscent of the worst excesses of repressive regimes in the region,” said Rafendi Djamin, Amnesty International’s Director for South East Asia and the Pacific.
“Papua New Guinea’s authorities must establish a prompt, impartial and independent investigation to determine who is responsible for the unnecessary and excessive use of force.”
The Papua New Guinea police opened fire today on a group of students at Papua New Guinea University who were peacefully protesting against the alleged corruption of Prime Minister Peter O’Neill.
Several eye-witnesses have come forward to say they saw students beaten and shot at, including one case where a student was shot in the head.
A judge´s decision to acquit mother of two Yecenia Armenta Graciano and release her from prison today in northern Mexico brings an end to four long years of injustice, said Amnesty International.
Yecenia Armenta Graciano was arbitrarily detained by Sinaloa state investigative police on 10 July 2012 and beaten, near-aspyxiated and raped during 15 hours of torture until she was forced to “confess” to involvement in the murder of her husband.
“The incredible cruelty of the torture that Yecenia suffered is part of the daily customs of Mexico´s police who routinely present illegal evidence in criminal investigations all over the country. Her release today provides a small glimmer of hope for those unjustly detained in prisons all over the country,” said Erika Guevara Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.