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    April 21, 2018

    (AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS) - Athlete and inspiring activist Colin Kaepernick has been honoured with Amnesty International’s Ambassador of Conscience Award for 2018, the human rights organization announced today.

    The award was officially presented at a ceremony in Amsterdam, Netherlands, on 21 April 2018, to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the opening of Amnesty International’s national section in the country.

    “The Ambassador of Conscience award celebrates the spirit of activism and exceptional courage, as embodied by Colin Kaepernick. He is an athlete who is now widely recognised for his activism because of his refusal to ignore or accept racial discrimination,” said Salil Shetty, Secretary General of Amnesty International.

    “Just like the Ambassadors of Conscience before him, Colin Kaepernick chooses to speak out and inspire others despite the professional and personal risks. When high profile people choose to take a stand for human rights, it emboldens many others in their struggles against injustice. Colin Kaepernick’s commitment is all the more remarkable because of the alarming levels of vitriol it has attracted from those in power.”

    April 21, 2018

    Amnesty International welcomes the return home today of Canadian Citizen Bashir Makhtal following his release from prison in Ethiopia on April 18, where he had been unjustly imprisoned for more than 11 years.

    “Bashir’s long-overdue release is a triumph of human rights following an 11-year saga of grave injustice,” said Alex Neve, Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada. “On behalf of the thousands of Amnesty International supporters who have campaigned for justice on his behalf, we wish Bashir a warm welcome home to Canada. Our thoughts are with him and his family as they reunite after such a long and indescribably difficult ordeal.”

    April 20, 2018

    Responding to the caning of several people – including unmarried couples, punished for showing affection in public, and two women sex workers – in Aceh on Friday, Amnesty International Indonesia Executive Director Usman Hamid said:

    “Caning is an inhuman and degrading form of punishment that may amount to torture which should never be used in any circumstances. The Aceh authorities’ decision to cane unmarried couples, whose only ‘crime’ was showing affection in public, in front of hundreds of spectators, is an act of utmost cruelty.

    “Since January of this year, a total of 47 people have now been caned in public in Aceh, and the list is only getting longer. The provincial administration of Aceh must immediately remove this abhorrent form of punishment from its law books.

    “It is also high time for the international community to press Indonesia to provide a safer environment for everyone in Aceh. The situation risks deteriorating rapidly unless the local administration is pushed to take its obligations to respect human rights seriously.”

    Background

    April 20, 2018

    Responding to the 30-year jail sentence handed to Mohammed Jabateh, a former Liberian war lord known as “Jungle Jabbah” now living in the US, for immigration fraud and perjury due to failure to disclose his involvement in human rights abuses during the Liberian civil war, Amnesty International’s West Africa Researcher Sabrina Mahtani said:

    “While Mohammed Jabateh was not convicted of the crimes he is allegedly responsible for under international law, this is nevertheless the first case to provide some justice for victims of Liberia’s civil war. Such prosecutions send a strong signal that the US does not have to be a safe haven for human rights abusers.

    April 17, 2018

    Responding to a violent crackdown by Nigerian police on members of Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) protesting the detention of their leader in Abuja, Osai Ojigho Director Amnesty International Nigeria said:

    “This was a needless resort to violence by Nigerian police against a group of unarmed protestors. The IMN members gathered in Abuja were perfectly within their rights in demanding the release of their leader from a detention described by a federal court as both unlawful and unconstitutional.

    “Although there were reports that stones were thrown by some protestors, there is no excuse for the use of live bullets, water cannon and tear gas. These were highly reckless tactics that could easily have resulted in fatalities. Nigerian authorities must adhere to the rule of law and respect the right to peaceful protest when policing these events.

    April 17, 2018

    In response to Senator Corker’s proposed authorization for use of military force (AUMF) intended to replace the 2001 and 2002 authorizations, Daphne Eviatar, director of Security with Human Rights for Amnesty International USA, made the following statement:

    “Since 2001, the U.S. has been operating as if the world is a permanent battlefield, at the costs of thousands of lives, including large numbers of civilians. Despite this, President Trump has reportedly expanded authority for air strikes outside of war zones, and expressed shockingly callous disregard for civilian casualties. The last thing President Trump needs is a renewed open-ended authorization that gives him a blank check to perpetuate endless war, which is exactly what this proposed bill represents.

    April 17, 2018
    Report reveals collective punishment of women and children for being related, however distantly, to men linked to IS or fleeing IS strongholds Women and children in camps across Iraq deprived of food, water and other essentials and prevented from returning home Women subjected to rape and sexual exploitation

    Iraqi women and children with perceived ties to the armed group calling itself the Islamic State (IS) are being denied humanitarian aid and prevented from returning to their homes, with an alarming number of women subjected to sexual violence, Amnesty International said in a new report published today.

    April 17, 2018

    In an Open Letter, Amnesty International Canada is calling on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to take “direct and personal” action to ensure justice is served for Canadian citizen Abousfian Abdelrazik, after the federal government abruptly refused to pursue mediated negotiations toward settlement of his case.

    Negotiations were set to begin last month to provide redress for Canada’s role in the grave human rights violations Abdelrazik endured in Sudan from 2003-2009, including torture, unlawful detention and forced exile, when Abdelrazik’s legal team was suddenly notified of the government’s withdrawal. Amnesty is calling on the Prime Minister to order that decision to be reversed so that long-overdue steps toward an apology and redress can and will go forward without further delay.

    April 16, 2018

    Responding to news that inspectors from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) have still not been granted access by the Syrian authorities to the site in Douma where 75 people were killed last week following a suspected chemical weapons attack by government forces, Sherine Tadros, Head of Amnesty International’s UN Office in New York said:

    “The OPCW team must be granted full and unfettered access to the site in Douma without further delay. Their investigation is crucial in uncovering the exact circumstances behind the appalling images that united the world in horror this month. Every day that passes without access makes it harder for them to collect and analyse vital evidence.

    “The use of chemical weapons against civilians is prohibited by international law and the Chemical Weapons Convention, to which Syria is a party. Deliberately targeting civilians with this illegal weapon is a war crime.

    April 16, 2018

    The end of Raúl Castro’s mandate as president of Cuba, expected to come on 19 April, presents a historic opportunity to overhaul the state of human rights in Cuba, Amnesty International said today, as it published a roadmap for how the new administration can improve the nation’s human rights record: Transform confrontation into dialogue.

    “This is an opportune moment to engage in essential and constructive dialogue about Cuba’s future. The new president must seize this chance to build on Cuba’s human rights progress in areas like access to healthcare and education, by addressing the nation’s historical human rights challenges, particularly the ongoing restrictions on the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.

    April 13, 2018

    Brazilian authorities must prioritize solving the killing of human rights defender Marielle Franco and her driver, Anderson Gomes, and bring all those responsible to justice, Amnesty International said today on the one-month anniversary of her assassination.

    “Society needs to know who killed Marielle and why. Every day that this case remains unsolved the level of risk and uncertainty surrounding human rights defenders grows worse,” said Jurema Werneck, executive director at Amnesty International Brazil.

    “If the State fails to bring the culprits to justice it sends a message that human rights defenders can be killed with impunity. The authorities must make clear that this is not the case and move swiftly to investigate those who killed Marielle and those who ordered her death.”

    April 13, 2018

    Amnesty International Canada is proud to announce that Ashley Hyshka has won its annual Youth Media Award. Her story “No More Stolen Sisters”, won the national award and was published on February 15, 2018 in "The Runner," a student-owned newspaper with Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) in Surrey, B.C. She is the third national youth media award winner and the first to be awarded from British Columbia.

    "Stolen Sisters examines the plight of missing and murdered indigenous women and girls in B.C., and the institutional errors that may have contributed to some of their deaths. The author has personalized the piece in compelling fashion with interlinked profiles of a frustrated cop and Lorelei Williams, whose family has known only violence,” said Rick MacInnes-Rae, renowned former journalist and volunteer Amnesty Media Award judge. "The story is harrowing in addressing the frequent errors made by police when confronted with probable causes for actions they subsequently did not take. Had some of the leads been followed, it seems clear some of the tragic history might not have occurred."

    April 13, 2018

    Following the killing of Doris Valenzuela, Colombian human rights defender, in Murcia, Spain, on 11 April, Erika Guevara Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International, said:

    “It is with great sadness that we received the terrible news of the death of the brave human rights defender Doris Valenzuela, who was forced to leave Colombia due to a lack of guarantees for her and her family’s safety, and who sadly died in Spain as a result of gender-based violence.

    “It is unacceptable that women defenders continue to suffer double violence: for being activists and for being women, with that violence often coming from those closest to them. It is imperative that the Colombian state guarantee effective protection of women human rights defenders through differentiated measures with a gender perspective, so that cases like that of Doris do not happen again.”

    April 13, 2018

    In reaction to media reports about the existence of audio recordings featuring members of criminal organizations in Mexico and the United States potentially involved in the forced disappearance of 43 students from Ayotzinapa in September 2014, Erika Guevara Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International, said:

    The revelation that the attack on the students and other individuals could have been orchestrated from the United States by members of organized crime should compel the Mexican authorities to finally abandon their discredited theory on the case and commit to a serious and prompt investigation into the events, including into all authorities who could have been involved in this horrific crime. It is time that the Attorney General’s Office revise its investigation and collect all the evidence available”.

    April 11, 2018

    Amnesty International Canada is calling on the BC government to avoid unjustified criminalization of individuals defying an injunction against protests in the proximity of two worksites on the proposed route of Kinder-Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.

    According to media reports, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Kenneth Affleck has called on the BC Attorney General to take over prosecution of pipeline protesters.

    Individuals arrested for allegedly defying the current injunction currently face prosecution as a civil action. Justice Affleck, who issued the injunction against the protests, has reportedly called for criminal prosecution.

    “We share Justice Affleck’s concerns that an important public policy issue -- how to respond to individuals who deliberately violate the protest injunction – should not be determined solely by whether or not a private corporation pursues enforcement. However, unnecessary criminalization of protesters is quite simply not the answer,” said Alex Neve, Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada.

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