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    September 26, 2016


    Amnesty International welcomes the release of Dr. Homa Hoodfar from Iranian prison after more than three and a half months of arbitrary detention on baseless charges with extremely limited access to her lawyer and family. Amnesty International considered Dr. Hoodfar to have been a prisoner of conscience detained on trumped-up national security-related charges which which solely stemmed from her work on women’s rights issues. The organization lobbied Iranian authorities to release her immediately and unconditionally with a petition which garnered over 50,000 signatures. She was imprisoned in solitary confinement in a section of Tehran’s Evin Prison which is under the control of the Revolutionary Guards. During this period, grave concerns were raised about her health and lack of access to adequate medical care. 

     

    “We are overjoyed by Dr. Hoodfar’s release from prison in Iran.”

    - Alex Neve, Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada. 

     

    September 26, 2016

    The shooting to death of a prominent journalist outside a court in Amman yesterday is an alarming attack on freedom of expression, said Amnesty International.

    Nahed Hattar was in court to face charges of “offending religion” and “inflaming religious feelings” under the country’s strict blasphemy laws, after he shared a satirical cartoon deemed to be offensive to Islam. His family warned he had received a number of death threats since his arrest in August.

    “This deplorable murder of a journalist in broad daylight sends an alarming message about the state of freedom of expression in Jordan today.  By using strict blasphemy laws to prosecute a person for peacefully exercising their right to freedom of expression the Jordanian authorities are fuelling a climate in which violent threats against people whose views are deemed offensive by others are allowed to flourish,” said Philip Luther, Research and Advocacy Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International.

    September 26, 2016

    Pakistan’s authorities must not execute Imdad Ali, a death row prisoner with a history of mental illness, Amnesty International said today.

    “With this warrant to execute Imdad Ali, Pakistan is clearly in breach of international human rights standards that protect people with mental illnesses and ensure that they are never subject to this cruel and irreversible punishment,” said Champa Patel, Amnesty International’s South Asia Director.

    Imdad Ali was convicted of the murder of a religious teacher in 2002. In 2012, he was diagnosed a suffering from “paranoid schizophrenia,” a condition the doctor who examined him described as “a chronic and disabling psychiatric illness.”

    Dr. Naeemullah Leghari, the head of psychiatry at Nishtar Hospital in the central Pakistani city of Multan, added that Imdad Ali’s illness “impairs the person’s rational thinking and decision-making capabilities.”

    September 23, 2016

    A prison disciplinary board has sentenced Chelsea Manning, who is currently serving a 35-year sentence at the United States Penitentiary in Leavenworth, to 14 days in solitary confinement following her suicide attempt in July.

    She was found guilty of the charge of “conduct which threatens” for attempting to harm herself. Following is a statement from Justin Mazzola, researcher with Amnesty International USA:

    “Chelsea Manning is already serving an exorbitant sentence, and this latest conviction is just more cruel and inhumane punishment from the government. It is unconscionable that instead of giving her the medical help she needs, the government has put her in solitary confinement.

    “In addition to the cruelty of isolating someone who has just attempted suicide, this punishment will be reflected in Manning’s disciplinary records and could prevent her from being paroled.

    “Manning’s previous treatment in prison before her trial and this most recent conviction pose serious risks to her mental health. We urge the government to give her the support she needs and to commute her sentence.”

    September 23, 2016

    As the trial begins today of Ahmed H., a Syrian man charged with committing an “act of terror” during clashes with Hungarian border guards on the Serb-Hungarian border last year, an Amnesty International team is in court and available for interviews. Amnesty International’s Balkans researcher, Todor Gordos said today:

    “The use of anti-terror powers to target an asylum seeker involved in clashes on the border is an absurd and chilling demonstration of Hungary’s sledgehammer response to the refugee crisis.”

    “I witnessed the alleged “mass attack” by migrants at the Roszke border and what we documented were chaotic and desperate scenes, sporadic acts of violence and the excessive use of force by police and border guards.”

    ·         Spokespeople on the ground and available for interview

    *************

    For media inquiries, please contact Jacob Kuehn // 613-744-7667, ext 236 // email: jkuehn@amnesty.ca 

    September 22, 2016

    In response to a Bahraini court’s decision today to uphold the dissolution of the country’s main opposition political group, Al-Wefaq, Amnesty International’s Research and Advocacy Director, Philip Luther said:

    “The decision to uphold the dissolution of Al-Wefaq is a flagrant attack on freedom of expression and association and a brazen attempt to suppress criticism of the government in Bahrain.

    “The Bahraini authorities have not presented any credible evidence that Al-Wefaq is anything but a peaceful opposition movement which has been seeking reform in the country in the face of increasing government repression.

    “In the absence of independent institutions to scrutinize the government and hold authorities to account, peaceful opposition movements are particularly important. Silencing critical voices encourages further human rights violations and abuse of power.”

    Background

    September 22, 2016
    (Nairobi, September 22, 2016) – Sudanese authorities have yet to provide justice to victims of a violent crackdown on anti-austerity protesters in Khartoum in September 2013, the African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies (ACJPS), Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch said today.   “Although it seems like Sudan has succeeded in sweeping the horrific violence of September 2013 under the carpet, victims’ families still demand justice,” said Mosaad Mohamed Ali, Executive director at ACJPS “The UN Human Rights Council, currently holding a session on Sudan, should press Sudan to hold those responsible to account for the appalling bloodshed on the streets of Khartoum and other towns, and provide meaningful justice to victims of killings, assaults and other abuses.”   Sudanese authorities responded with a violent crackdown to large-scale protests that swept the country following the announcement of austerity measures on September 22, 2013, with security forces and armed men allied to them using live ammunition, tear gas and batons.  
    September 22, 2016

    Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto’s cynical response to the enforced disappearance of 43 students in the state of Guerrero two years ago illustrates the Mexican government’s ongoing reckless approach to human rights, Amnesty International said.

    “The Ayotzinapa tragedy has exposed how President Peña Nieto’s administration will stop at nothing to cover up human rights violations taking place under their watch in Mexico,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International. 

    “From failing to stop the attack against the students, to preventing international efforts to uncover the truth, to brushing off any complaints over the way this investigation has been handled, authorities in Mexico have done all they can to obstruct justice and protect their image.”

    The 43 students from the Raúl Isidro Burgos Rural Teacher Training College were forcibly forcibly disappeared on the night of 26 September 2014 after they were arrested by municipal police while preparing to participate in a demonstration in Mexico City to commemorate the 2 October 1968 massacre of students. 

    September 21, 2016

    A Nigerian police unit set up to combat violent crime has instead been systematically torturing detainees in its custody as a means of extracting confessions and lucrative bribes, Amnesty International said in a report published on 21 September 2016.

    In Nigeria: You have signed your death warrant, former detainees told Amnesty International they had been subjected to horrific torture methods, including hanging, starvation, beatings, shootings and mock executions, at the hands of corrupt officers from the feared Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).

    “A police unit created to protect the people has instead become a danger to society, torturing its victims with complete impunity while fomenting a toxic climate of fear and corruption,” said Damian Ugwu, Amnesty International’s Nigeria researcher.

    September 21, 2016

    Kashmiri human rights activist Khurram Parvez has been detained a second time, after a court ordered his release from administrative detention on Tuesday.

    “Detaining a person right after he is released, without any intention to charge him or bring him to trial, amounts to using a revolving door of persecution,” said Aakar Patel, Executive Director, Amnesty International India.

    “This kind of arbitrary use of the law suggests that the Jammu and Kashmir police are determined to lock up Khurram Parvez at any cost.”

    The activist was first arrested on 16 September and placed in administrative detention in a jail in Kupwara, over 100 kilometres from his home in Srinagar, for allegedly posing an imminent threat of ‘breach of peace’. The detention order was based on a police report which claimed that policemen had seen Khurram Parvez on 15 September standing outside a mosque inciting people to shout slogans and march towards a government building. His wife has denied the claim, saying that they were at her parents’ house in another part of the city at the time.

    September 21, 2016

    Responding to news that the government of Turkey has postponed the visit of Juan E. Méndez, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture, John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Director for Europe said:

    “The postponement this visit is a setback for those concerned about human rights in Turkey. Following the failed coup, credible evidence emerged that detainees were being subjected to beatings and torture in official and unofficial detention centres. There have also been allegations of severe overcrowding and poor conditions in many places of detention across the country.”

    “Whilst official statements that Turkey has a policy of zero tolerance policy toward torture are welcome, these need to be backed up with greater transparency. Despite pledges by the Turkish authorities to allow independent international monitors to visit all detainees in the places they are being held, so far only one body - the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) - has been granted such access.”

    September 20, 2016

    The authorities in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) must show restraint in their handling of protests to ensure that they do not inflame tensions in the country, and conduct thorough, prompt, impartial and transparent investigations into killings and violence that took place at opposition rallies in Kinshasa yesterday, Amnesty International said today.

    The government has said 17 people, including three police officers, were killed at rallies held to demand that the electoral commission announce the date of the next presidential election, while the opposition parties put the death toll at more than 50 protesters. Credible civil society reports mention 25 deaths, including the three police officers.

    “Yesterday’s unlawful killings are just the latest example of the worrying crackdown on the opposition since it became apparent that presidential elections might not be held on time. The authorities must ensure that those suspected of being responsible are brought to justice,” said Christian Rumu, Amnesty International’s Country Campaigner for the DRC.

    September 20, 2016

    Reacting to the Bangkok South Criminal Court’s guilty verdict against Andy Hall, a British migrant rights worker, Amnesty International said:

    “Today’s verdict is an appalling end to a trial that never should have started. Thailand needs to take seriously its obligation to protect human rights activists rather than allowing its legal system to be hijacked by companies seeking to silence those exposing abusive practices,” said Champa Patel, Amnesty International’s Senior Research Adviser for South East Asia and the Pacific.

    “Sadly, the case against Andy Hall is just the one of many in which human rights defenders face criminal defamation charges for their crucial work supporting vulnerable individuals and communities. Criminal defamation provisions are being used to silence people who do a public service by uncovering injustice. Thailand’s authorities need to take a hard look at the ways in which the legal system often undermines justice instead of promoting it.”

    Background

    September 20, 2016

    Last night’s attack on a UN/Syrian Arab Red Crescent aid convoy, intended for 78,000 people in Aleppo, is a flagrant violation of the most fundamental principles of international humanitarian law, Amnesty International said.

    Witnesses in Syria have told the organization that the convoy, along with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent warehouse where it had docked, were bombed intensively for two hours on Monday evening, heightening the suspicion that Syrian government forces deliberately targeted the relief operation.

    “A sustained attack on a humanitarian convoy and workers, horrific enough in any circumstances, will in this case also have a disastrous impact not only on those desperate civilians for whom the assistance was intended, but for life-saving humanitarian operations throughout Syria,” said Philip Luther, Research and Advocacy Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International.

    September 16, 2016

    In reaction to the High Court of Swaziland today declaring sections of the 1938 Sedition and Subversive Activities Act (SSA Act) and the 2008 Suppression of Terrorism Act (STA) unconstitutional, Amnesty International said.

    “The court ruling is a victory for human rights, especially for freedom of expression and association,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for Southern Africa.

    “For far too long, the Swazi authorities have used these oppressive laws to silence opponents of the government.”

    “Today’s landmark judgement, although a positive step forward, is a painful reminder of the injustices that have been meted out by the Swazi authorities through the use of these laws in the past.”

    Background

    Freedom of expression is protected in the Swazi Constitution, as well as in the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights – international instruments that Swaziland is a party to.

    Sedition and Subversive Activities Act (SSA Act)

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