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    December 20, 2018

    Responding to the news that the South Cairo Criminal Court this morning acquitted all 43 defendants in the retrial of Egypt’s notorious “foreign funding” case – also known as Case 173 - Najia Bounaim, Amnesty International’s North Africa Campaigns Director said:

    “Today’s acquittal of all 43 NGO workers in the first ‘foreign funding’ case is a step in the right direction for Egyptian justice. This was a bogus case that targeted human rights defenders simply for doing their legitimate work and should never have happened in the first place.

    “However, today’s ruling only relates to the first phase of the case which investigated the funding of international organizations; the investigation into local Egyptian NGOs is ongoing and dozens of staff are still at risk. 

    “Since the ‘foreign funding’ case was opened Egyptian human rights defenders have been treated as enemies of the state, subjected to an unprecedented crackdown, including asset freezes, travel bans and prosecutions.

    December 20, 2018

    The authorities in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) must immediately and unconditionally release Dr Nasser bin Ghaith, a prisoner of conscience whose health has deteriorated sharply in recent days, said Amnesty International today.

    Dr Nasser bin Ghaith is serving a 10-year sentence for criticizing the UAE in comments posted on Twitter after a grossly unfair politically motivated trial.

    “News that Dr Nasser bin Ghaith’s health has deteriorated sharply leaving him too weak to stand up and causing him to start losing his eyesight, is deeply alarming. He is a prisoner of conscience and should not even be behind bars let alone serving a ludicrous 10-year sentence based on a deeply flawed trial,” said Samah Hadid, Amnesty International’s Middle East Campaigns Director.

    “Instead of prolonging his suffering the Emirati authorities should order his immediate and unconditional release. Until then, they must ensure he is granted any medical care that he requires.”

    December 19, 2018

    The Ugandan authorities must immediately drop charges against radical academic Stella Nyanzi and put a stop to the charade that has seen her spend weeks in jail, Amnesty International said today as her case finally went to trial.

    The charges levelled against Stella Nyanzi under the Computer Misuse Act are in direct contravention of Uganda’s constitution and its international human rights obligations to respect, protect, promote and fulfil the right to freedom of expression.

    “Stella Nyanzi has been repeatedly harassed, arrested and detained, simply for daring to speak out against the government. These latest charges relating to Facebook posts in which she criticized President Yoweri Museveni and First Lady Janet Museveni, are yet another callous attempt to silence her,” said Roland Ebole, Amnesty International’s Uganda researcher.

    “We are calling on the Ugandan authorities to drop these absurd charges and ensure that she is able to enjoy her human rights without any fear of intimidation or arrest.”

    December 19, 2018

    Police in Viet Nam’s capital, Hanoi, shut down a major annual meeting of grassroots groups and non-government organizations (NGOs) this morning in an alarming step-up of the authorities’ repression of civil society, said Amnesty International.

    “This is an absurd and shocking crackdown on a well-established, peaceful event. To use an arcane wartime decree about holding events in public spaces to stop a private gathering at a hotel is clearly unjustified and cynical,” said Minar Pimple, Amnesty International’s Senior Director for Global Operations.

    A coalition of local groups were holding their third annual workshop today at the Hanoi Club Hotel. As in previous years, the meeting aimed to discuss approaches to social issues including public service access, health and gender equality.

    Once the workshop was underway, local police entered the premises and ordered organizers to shut it down. Police accused organizers of violating a wartime law from 1957, Decree 257-TTg, which provides that public authorities must be informed of events at least 24 hours in advance.

    December 18, 2018

    Egyptian authorities must immediately comply with a court decision to release Amal Fathy, a woman human rights defender who was given a two-year sentence in September for posting a video online in which she criticized the Egyptian authorities for failing to tackle sexual harassment.

    A Cairo criminal court today ordered Amal Fathy’s release on probation after accepting her appeal against her pre-trial detention in relation to a separate case, in which she is charged with “belonging to a terrorist group”, “broadcasting ideas calling for terrorist acts” and “publishing fake news”. According to the terms of her probation, Amal will be required to visit a police station a number of times every week. Her next hearing in this case is on 26 December.

    December 18, 2018

    Amnesty International is joining more than 1,500 members of the health care community in calling on the federal government to address a landmark United Nations decision condemning Canada for denying health care access to Ms. Nell Toussaint on the basis of her immigration status.

    This remarkable group of medical professionals – including doctors, nurses, midwives, social workers, psychologists, allied health specialists, public health workers, researchers, educators and students – have signed an open letter urging Canada to review existing laws and policies regarding health care coverage for irregular migrants, and to provide Ms. Toussaint with adequate compensation for the violation of her human rights.

    Amnesty International, one of more than 80 organizations that have signed the letter, welcomes this initiative and urges the government to act without delay to ensure that people with irregular immigration status have access to essential health care services.

    Background:

    December 18, 2018
    Amnesty International and Element AI release largest ever study into online abuse against women

    One in ten tweets mentioning black women politicians and journalists in a sample analyzed by Amnesty International was abusive or problematic, the organization said today, as it released a ground-breaking study into abuse against women on Twitter conducted with Element AI, a global artificial intelligence software product company.

    More than 6,500 volunteers from 150 countries signed up to take part in Troll Patrol, a unique crowdsourcing project designed to process large-scale data about online abuse. Volunteers sorted through 228,000 tweets sent to 778 women politicians and journalists in the UK and USA in 2017.

    Amnesty International and Element AI then used advanced data science and machine learning techniques to extrapolate data about the scale of abuse that women face on Twitter. Element AI calculated that 1.1 million abusive or problematic tweets were sent to the women in the study across the year - or one every 30 seconds on average.

    December 17, 2018

    A plan of action for how to protect and promote the work of human rights defenders will be presented today to the UN General Assembly following a major international summit held at the end of October. This effort to move the international community at the highest level on the need to ensure the effective safety and security of human rights defenders around the world comes at a time when their role is constantly challenged and undermined in blatant contradiction with international obligations and commitments.

    The meeting will take place on 18 December 2018, twenty years on from when the first UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders was created. A representative from the recent Human Rights Defenders World Summit is set to present the outcomes at the UN General Assembly, shining a spotlight on the increasing levels of danger facing activists worldwide. 

    December 17, 2018

    In response to today's ruling by a court in El Salvador in the case of Imelda Cortez, Erika Guevara-Rosas, Amnesty International Director at the Americas, said:

    “It is encouraging to know that Imelda Cortez has finally received justice. The authorities in El Salvador have taken a step in the right direction to protect the human rights of girls and women in what remains one of the most dangerous countries in the world for them.”

    “Amnesty International welcomes the fact that Imelda will be released after being detained for more than a year, but we must not forget the other girls and women who continue to face injustice in El Salvador just because they are women.”

     

    If you would like more information or to arrange an interview, please contact Elizabeth Berton-Hunter, Media Relations 416-363-9933 ext 332 bberton-hunter@amnesty.ca

     

    December 17, 2018
    Amnesty International will be monitoring the protests

    The police must rein in unnecessary and excessive force, including the use of tear gas, against peaceful protesters, Amnesty International said today ahead of further demonstrations planned tonight in Budapest.

    “Demonstrators are expected to descend onto Budapest’s streets tonight for a sixth night of anti-government protests. Last night we witnessed displays of unnecessary and excessive force against peaceful protesters that included the use of tear gas. This must not be repeated again. The police must use force only when strictly necessary and only when all other means to contain the violence have failed," said Massimo Moratti, Deputy Director for Europe at Amnesty International.

    December 17, 2018

     “Going ahead with Project Dragonfly would represent a massive capitulation on human rights by one of the world’s most powerful companies” – Kumi Naidoo

    Responding to media reports that Google is planning to shut down Project Dragonfly, its controversial censored search app for China, Kumi Naidoo, Amnesty International’s Secretary General, said:

    “Media reports that Google is shelving Dragonfly follow intense criticism of the project from human rights groups and Google’s own staff. 

    “We would welcome a decision by Google to drop Dragonfly and abandon its plans to cooperate in large-scale censorship and surveillance by the Chinese government.

    “Going ahead with Project Dragonfly would represent a massive capitulation on human rights by one of the world’s most powerful companies.

    “It’s worrying that these reports suggest that Project Dragonfly has been shelved due to discrepancies over internal process, rather than over human rights concerns.

    December 17, 2018

    Amnesty International Canada is pleased to announce the six winners of the 24th annual Media Awards for 2018:

    Print Long Form:  Stephanie Nolen, “Colombia's peace deal brings a new season of fear”, The Globe and Mail, June 17, 2018

    Print Short Form: Nathan VanderKlippe, "‘It is about Xi as the leader of the world’: Former detainees recount abuse in Chinese re-education centres", The Globe and Mail, July 3, 2018

    Video: Holly Moore, “The Cure was Worse”, APTN Investigates, October 27, 2018

    December 17, 2018

    After a record number of UN member states today supported at the final vote a key UN General Assembly resolution calling for a moratorium on executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty, Amnesty International’s Death Penalty Expert Chiara Sangiorgio said:

    “The fact that more countries than ever before have voted to end executions shows that global abolition of the death penalty is becoming an inevitable reality. A death penalty-free world is closer than ever.

    “This vote sends yet another important signal that more and more countries are willing to take steps to end this cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment once and for all.

    “The result also shows the increasing isolation of the 35 countries that voted against the resolution. Those countries still retaining the death penalty should immediately establish a moratorium on executions as a first step towards full abolition.”

    Background

    December 16, 2018
    At least 3,641 people killed between 2016 and 2018, most of them this year Failure of security forces allows some attacks to last for days Authorities’ failure to investigate attacks fuels further bloodshed

    The Nigerian authorities’ failure to investigate communal clashes and bring perpetrators to justice has fuelled a bloody escalation in the conflict between farmers and herders across the country, resulting in at least 3,641 deaths in the past three years and the displacement of thousands more, Amnesty International revealed today.

    In a new report, “Harvest of Death: Three Years of Bloody Clashes Between Farmers and Herders”, Amnesty International found that 57 per cent of the 3,641 recorded deaths occurred in 2018. Security forces were often positioned close to the attacks, which lasted hours and sometimes days, yet were slow to act. In some cases, security forces had prior warning of an imminent raid but did nothing to stop or prevent the killings, looting and burning of homes.

    December 14, 2018

    Responding to the Nigerian army’s suspension of UNICEF from operations in northeast Nigeria over allegations of spying and collaborating with Boko Haram, Osai Ojigho, Director of Amnesty International Nigeria, said:

    “Amnesty International strongly condemns attempts by the Nigerian army to demonize UNICEF’s lifesaving work in the northeast of the country, where the Boko Haram conflict has created one of the deadliest humanitarian disasters in the world. We see the suspension of UNICEF as part of a wider drive to intimidate international humanitarian and human rights organizations who are working to save lives in this devastating conflict.

    “The Nigerian army has accused UNICEF of ‘aiding Boko Haram’ – an absurd charge. The suspension of UNICEF will in fact deprive those whose lives have been devastated by the Boko Haram conflict from receiving much-needed humanitarian assistance.

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