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    September 09, 2016

    Reacting to the conviction earlier today of Kem Sokha, the acting head of the opposition Cambodian National Rescue Party, on charges under Article 538 of refusing to appear as a witness, Amnesty International said:

    “Cambodia is in crisis with the government engaging in a campaign of intimidation against peaceful political and civil society activists, using frivolous prosecutions designed to punish, isolate and marginalise any peaceful dissent,” said Josef Benedict, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for South East Asia and the Pacific.

    “Today’s conviction of acting opposition leader Kem Sokha for refusing to appear as a witness is yet another transparent act of political intimidation and the latest development in the ongoing campaign. The government’s appears to believe that violating human rights is a legitimate tool of government, as is compromising the independence of the country’s judiciary and the government’s standing in the international community.”

    September 07, 2016

    The government of Zimbabwe must respect a court ruling overturning the ban on protests in the country, Amnesty International said today, as the High Court issued its verdict allowing public demonstrations.

    “Today’s High court decision is a victory for Zimbabwe’s constitutional principles. It sends a clear message to the authorities that the right to protest, as enshrined in the country’s constitution, cannot just be stripped away by the state on a whim,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Director for Southern Africa.

    “Zimbabwe’s authorities must respect and obey today’s ruling and allow people to assemble and raise their grievances, as long as they are doing it within the confines of the laws that govern public protests.”

    Today’s ruling comes after President Robert Mugabe publicly threatened the country’s judges on 3 September accusing them of being reckless by allowing demonstrations in the country.

    Background

    September 06, 2016

    The Lao authorities should lift all restrictions on journalists and allow them to do their job and move  freely, Amnesty International said today.

    The organization’s call comes as foreign journalists arriving in Laos to cover USA President Barack Obama’s participation in the US-ASEAN Summit from 6-8 September have been told that their articles and broadcasts will have to be approved by a censor before publication.

    Foreign journalists may also be assigned a minder who will trail them for the duration of their stay in Laos.

    “The restrictions imposed on journalists covering the ASEAN summit in Laos amounts to a violation of their right freedom of expression, and the right of the public, both in Lao and globally, to receive information. Journalists should be able to do their job without fear, interference or harassment,” said Rafendi Djamin, Amnesty International’s Director for South East Asia and the Pacific.

    Journalists travelling to Laos have told Amnesty International that they may not be allowed to raise questions on certain human rights issues by the authorities.

    September 06, 2016

    “The attack by an armed group on the aid agency CARE International in Kabul is the deliberate targeting of civilians and constitutes a war crime. The cardinal rule of international humanitarian law is that parties to an armed conflict must never deliberately attack civilians,” said Champa Patel, Amnesty International’s South Asia Director.

    “This is sadly the latest in a series of horrific attacks in the Afghan capital, leading to unlawful killing of civilians. Victims and survivors, including the families of those who have lost their lives and those who have been injured, have a right to justice and reparation. The government has a duty to protect civilians and prevent further such attacks. There must be an independent, impartial, transparent and effective investigation. The perpetrators must be brought to justice in fair trials – without recourse to the death penalty.”

     

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    September 06, 2016

    President Francois Hollande of France must confront Vietnamese authorities over their treatment of one women’s fight for justice when he visits the country this week, Amnesty International said today.

    Amnesty International calls on the French president to raise in particular the case of Ngô Thanh Kiều, a young man who died in police custody in Phú Yên province in 2012. Since his death, his sister Ngô Thị Tuyết and her family have undertaken a brave crusade for justice in the face of physical attacks, death threats and other forms of intimidation.

    Recently, the family found the carcass of a shaved cat flung at their home. It bore a chilling note warning Ngô Thị Tuyết and her family to stop raising her brother’s case or suffer a similar fate.

    “Human rights must not be sacrificed to trade and security deals. President Hollande must use his visit to call on the Vietnamese authorities to meet their human rights obligations under international law,” said Camille Blanc, Chair of Amnesty International France.

    September 05, 2016
    The detention of Ruslan Sokolovsky, a Russian blogger from Yekaterinburg (Urals region) who was sentenced to administrative arrest for two months after posting a video of himself   playing Pokémon Go in a church is a farcical attack on freedom of expression, said Amnesty International.   “The absurdity of the case of the Russian blogger jailed for playing Pokémon Go in a church highlights what happens when authorities hold the freedom of expression in such low regard. Even if Sokolovsky’s behaviour may have been regarded as disrespectful by some, states should not be jailing people simply for offending religious sensibilities,” said John Dalhuisen, Director for Europe and Central Asia at Amnesty International.   Ruslan Sokolovsky was arrested under charges of “preventing the realisation of the right to freedom of conscience and religion and incitement of hatred” on 3 September.   Background
    September 05, 2016

    On September 12, the Federal Court of Appeal in Montreal will hear the latest legal challenge to the massive Site C hydroelectric dam already under construction on Treaty 8 territory in northeast British Columbia.

    First Nations community members from Treaty 8 are setting out today to travel by bus across Canada to focus attention of the importance of this case to the rights of all treaty nations and to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s promised new relationship with First Nations.

    The Justice for the Peace caravan is endorsed by the Assembly of First Nations British Columbia, the First Nations Leadership Summit, and the Union of BC Indian Chiefs.

    September 03, 2016
    The Bangladeshi authorities must immediately release a 22-year-old student activist detained for two Facebook posts criticising the country’s Prime Minister, Amnesty International said today.   Dilip Roy, a student activist at Rajshahi University in western Bangladesh, will be appearing at a bail hearing on 4 September.   “Bangladesh’s authorities should immediately drop this case. By invoking draconian laws to hound critics for Facebook posts, they are not just cracking down on peaceful dissent but courting embarrassment,” said Champa Patel, Amnesty International’s Director for South Asia.   Dilip Roy could face up to 14 years in prison after a student body linked to the government filed a case against him under the country’s Information and Communications Technology Act (ICT) for allegedly making “derogatory remarks” about Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wajid and her ruling Awami League.   Since his arrest on 28 August, Dilip Roy has been detained and was denied bail by the Rajashahi Magistrate Court this week.
    September 03, 2016
    Reacting to the execution on Saturday of Mir Quasem Ali - a key financier of Bangladesh’s Jamaat-e-Islami party, who was found guilty by the country’s International Crimes Tribunal in a flawed trial – Amnesty International said:   “The execution of Mir Quasem Ali, following a trial whose fairness was questioned by the UN, will not deliver justice to the people of Bangladesh. There is no question that the people of Bangladesh deserve justice for crimes committed during the War of Independence, but the death penalty is a human rights violation and will not achieve this. It is a cruel and irreversible punishment that most of the world’s countries have now rid themselves of,” said Champa Patel, Amnesty International’s South Asia Director.

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    For media inquiries, please contact Jacob Kuehn in media relations

    613-744-7667, ext 236

    email: jkuehn@amnesty.ca

    September 02, 2016

    With widespread reports of the death of President Islam Karimov, Uzbekistan’s repressive regime is unlikely to change, said Amnesty International.

    “Islam Karimov’s death marks the end of an era in Uzbekistan, but almost certainly not of the pattern of grave human rights abuses. His successor is likely to come from Karimov’s closest circle, where dissenting minds have never been tolerated,” said Denis Krivosheev, Deputy Director for Europe and Central Asia at Amnesty International.

    “During his 27-year long rule, rights and freedoms were profoundly disregarded, with any dissent brutally crushed, and torture and arbitrary detentions became integral to the country’s justice system. Hundreds died in the Andizhan massacre alone, and the perpetrators were never held to account. Many thousands have ended up in prisons following unfair trials. Any semblance of justice in the country will require deep political changes and a new, principled approach from Uzbekistan’s international partners, something which has been totally lacking in recent years.”

     

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    September 01, 2016

    "Security forces in Gabon must refrain from using excessive force against protesters in the wake of the country’s disputed election result," said Alioune Tine, Amnesty International’s West and Central Africa Director, amid reports that several anti-government demonstrators had been shot and injured on Wednesday afternoon.

    "Such a brutal response violates protesters’ rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, as well as inflaming an already tense situation following the vote.

    “The authorities must instead do everything in their power to allow for peaceful protest, in order to bring much-needed stability and security after the election period.”

    “They must also independently, impartially and efficiently investigate any excessive use of force by security forces, and bring those responsible to justice.

    Background

    The election result announced on Wednesday gave incumbent Gabonese President Ali Bongo Ondimba 49.8 per cent of the vote against 48.23 per cent for his rival, Jean Ping.

    August 31, 2016

    Released Thursday 1 September 2016, 10:00 Tegucigalpa (16:00 GMT)

    An insidious wave of threats, bogus charges, smear campaigns, attacks and killings of environmental and land activists in recent months has made Honduras and Guatemala the most dangerous countries on earth for those protecting natural resources, Amnesty International said in a new report six months after the brutal murder of Indigenous leader Berta Cáceres.

    We defend the land with our blood explores the increasing stigmatization, threats, attacks, killings and lack of justice faced by individuals and communities fighting to protect the environment from large-scale mining, logging and hydroelectrical projects.  

    “Defending human rights is one of the most dangerous professions in Latin America but daring to protect vital natural resources takes these risky jobs to a whole new, potentially lethal level,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International. 

    August 31, 2016

    Major reforms must be undertaken by the authorities in the Australian state of Queensland to protect the rights of Indigenous children from a youth justice system that criminalizes them out of all proportion to the general population, a new Amnesty International report says today.

    The report Heads Held High: Keeping Queensland kids out of detention, strong in culture and community will be launched at Parliament House, Brisbane today.

    “While the Queensland authorities have recognized the need for reform, much more needs to be done. In particular, a shift to supporting Indigenous-led initiatives could make a significant difference to prevent another generation of Indigenous children from being lost behind bars,” said Champa Patel, Amnesty International’s Senior Research Adviser for South East Asia and the Pacific.

    August 30, 2016

    Amnesty International is gravely concerned by the rapid deterioration in the health of Dr. Homa Hoodfar, who has been detained in Iran since June 6. Amnesty International reiterates that it considers Dr. Hoodfar to be a prisoner of conscience, detained with no legal basis, and calls on Iranian authorities to release her immediately and unconditionally.

     “The Iranian authorities must immediately and unconditionally release prisoner of conscience Dr. Homa Hoodfar, whose continued detention in the notorious Evin prison is not only illegal, but is now also seriously affecting her health and placing her in grave danger.” said Alex Neve, Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada.

    August 30, 2016

    As the International Day of the Disappeared is marked around the world, the Laos authorities must promptly, thoroughly and effectively investigate the abduction and suspected enforced disappearance of Sombath Somphone, Amnesty International said today.

    On 15 December 2012, Sombath Somphone, a leading member of Lao civil society, was stopped by traffic police and taken away in a pick-up truck. His whereabouts remain unknown, his family has not been kept informed by the authorities, and there has been no credible investigation into his enforced disappearance.

    “Next week, Barack Obama will become the first US President to visit Laos. He must seize this rare opportunity to raise concerns about the human rights situation in the notoriously closed country, including by asking the authorities, ‘Where is Sombath?’” said T. Kumar, Amnesty International USA’s International Advocacy Director.

    Barack Obama and leaders from across South East Asia will be meeting in Vientiane, the capital of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Laos), to attend the ASEAN summit from 6-8 September 2016.

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