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    February 21, 2019

    The Minister of Homeland Security’s comments that attacks on persons with albinism have not reached crisis levels will only embolden those perpetrating the assaults and are a disturbing reminder of the government’s inaction on the issue, Amnesty International said today.

    Malawi is experiencing a resurgence of attacks against persons with albinism, with two fatalities and three abductions since 31 December 2018. Two of those who were abducted were later rescued by community members, one remains missing.

    “The latest comments from Minister Nicholas Dausi are yet another indication that persons with albinism in Malawi are on their own when it comes to their safety and security,” said Muleya Mwananyanda, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Southern Africa.

    “For years, people with albinism have been living at the mercy of criminal gangs who target them for their body parts. The recent spike in attacks shows that the government, despite amending the Anatomy Act and the Penal Code to ensure stiffer penalties, hasn’t lived up to its commitments on protecting this group.”

    February 21, 2019

    Governments across the world are increasingly attacking non-governmental organizations (NGOs) by creating laws that subject them and their staff to surveillance, nightmarish bureaucratic hurdles and the ever-present threat of imprisonment, Amnesty International said in a new report released today.

    Laws Designed to Silence: The Global Crackdown on Civil Society Organizations reveals the startling number of countries that are using bullying techniques and repressive regulations to prevent NGOs from doing their vital work. The report lists 50 countries worldwide where anti-NGO laws have been implemented or are in the pipeline.

    “We documented how an increasing number of governments are placing unreasonable restrictions and barriers on NGOs, preventing them from carrying out crucial work,” said Kumi Naidoo, Secretary General of Amnesty International.

    February 20, 2019

    In response to news that an indictment has been sent to the court setting out the case against Osman Kavala and 15 civil society figures for “attempting to overthrow the government”, Amnesty International’s Andrew Gardner said:

    “These outlandish allegations are an attempt to rewrite history and to silence some of Turkey’s most prominent civil society figures who now face the prospect of being tried by Turkey’s deeply flawed justice system.”

    “Almost six years after the Gezi Park protests saw tens of thousands of people peacefully protesting against state repression, this indictment - if accepted by the court - could see the accused facing a lifetime behind bars without the possibility of parole.”

    “The Gezi protests were overwhelmingly peaceful with people simply exercising their rights. They were met by arbitrary and abusive force by police. It should be the authorities’ denial of these rights and the police violence against peaceful protestors that should be examined by the courts, not these 16 civil society figures who have not committed any crime.

    February 20, 2019

    Venezuelan security forces under the command of Nicolás Maduro executed and used excessive force against people, and arbitrarily detained hundreds of others, including teenagers, in an escalation of their policy of repression as a means of controlling the people of Venezuela and particularly to punish residents of impoverished neighborhoods that decided to protest between 21 and 25 January 2019, said Amnesty International today.

    “The authorities under Nicolás Maduro are trying to use fear and punishment to impose a repulsive strategy of social control against those who demand change. His government is attacking the most impoverished people that it claims to defend, but instead it murders, detains and threatens them,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International.

    Venezuela has suffered a major crisis of massive human rights violations for years, with shortages of food, medicines, hyperinflation, violence and political repression forcing more than three million people to flee the country since 2015.

    February 20, 2019

    Responding to the news that Egyptian authorities have today executed nine men convicted after a grossly unfair trial for the 2015 killing of the country’s former Public Prosecutor, Najia Bounaim, Amnesty International’s North Africa Campaigns Director said:

    “By carrying out the executions of these nine men today Egypt has demonstrated an absolute disregard for the right to life.

    “Those responsible for the attack that killed Egypt’s former public prosecutor deserve to be punished but executing men who were convicted in trials marred by torture allegations is not justice but a testament to the magnitude of injustice in the country.

    “These executions are a stark demonstration of the government’s increasing use of the death penalty, bringing the total number of death sentences implemented in the past three weeks to 15. Egyptian authorities must urgently halt this bloody execution spree which has seen them repeatedly putting people to death after grossly unfair trials in recent weeks. 

    February 19, 2019

    The human rights crisis that has engulfed Venezuela for the past few years has shattered the lives of millions of people. Here’s what you need to know:

    1 - EXCESSIVE USE OF FORCE

    Much of the current unrest in Venezuela can be traced back to 29 March 2017, when the Supreme Court of Justice - backed by President Nicolás Maduro - moved to take over the National Assembly, where the opposition holds a majority. This triggered protests that were repressed by the Maduro administration with the unlawful and disproportionate use of force. Between April and July 2017, more than 120 people were killed, around 1,958 were injured and more than 5,000 were detained amid mass protests.

    2 - MASS PROTESTS

    In 2018 there were 12,715 protests across the country, according to the Venezuelan Observatory of Social Conflict. These have continued in 2019 after President of the National Assembly Juan Guaidó called for mass demonstrations against Maduro.

    February 19, 2019

    Novalpina Capital, the private equity firm that has supported NSO Group management to acquire the company from Francisco Partners, must immediately disclose how it plans to prevent further human rights abuses by NSO Group, which has been linked to several chilling attacks on human rights defenders, Amnesty International said today.

    In an open letter released today, the organization and six other NGOs urged Novalpina to publicly commit to accountability for NSO Group’s past spyware abuses, including the targeting of an Amnesty International employee and the alleged targeting of Jamal Khashoggi.

    Danna Ingleton, Deputy Director of Amnesty Tech, said:

    February 19, 2019

    Egyptian authorities must immediately halt the execution of nine prisoners whom Amnesty International has learned could be put to death as soon as tomorrow morning. The men were convicted after an unfair trial over the 2015 killing of Egypt’s former public prosecutor, and have been moved from their prison cells to the appeals prison in preparation for their executions. During the trial some of the defendants said they were forcibly disappeared and tortured to confessing to the crime.

    Najia Bounaim, Amnesty International’s North Africa Campaigns Director said:

    “Time is running out to save the lives of these nine men. The Egyptian authorities have an opportunity to do the right thing by immediately halting any plans to carry out these executions.

    “There is no doubt that those involved in deadly attacks must be prosecuted and held accountable for their actions but executing prisoners or convicting people based on confessions extracted through torture is not justice.

    February 19, 2019

    Individuals born with sex characteristics that vary from female or male “norms” face barriers to accessing appropriate healthcare, risking lifelong physical and psychological damage, Amnesty International said today. In a new report, “No Shame in Diversity”, the organization uses case studies in Iceland to show how the lack of rights-based healthcare protocols mean that people born with variations of sex characteristics – who sometimes describe themselves as ‘intersex’ - face stigma and discrimination and are often subjected to harmful surgery. 

    A Bill that could help stop this – the Bill on Act on Sexual and Gender Autonomy – is expected to come before the Icelandic Parliament at the end of February but it lacks essential protections for children. In particular, it includes no provisions to end “normalising” non-emergency, invasive and irreversible surgeries on children born with variations of sex characteristics.

    February 19, 2019

    Permit Peaceful Expressions of Dissent

    Somaliland authorities should immediately and unconditionally release from arbitrary detention Abdirahman Ibrahim Adan, a poet also known as “Abdirahman Abees,” Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International said today.

    Abdirahman, a popular Somaliland poet and British dual citizen, has been held at the central prison in Hargeisa, the capital of Somaliland, for over a month, solely for the peaceful exercise of his right to freedom of expression.

    Police officers arrested him on January 12, 2019 as he was having lunch at Hargeisa’s Lake Assal Hotel. The day before, he had recited a poem at the Mansoor Hotel that highlighted various human rights concerns in detention in Somaliland such as police brutality, arbitrary detention, and degrading treatment of prisoners.

    According to Abdirahman’s lawyers, he was formally charged on February 18 under Article 269 of the Somaliland penal code for “insulting the police and the government”. On February 19, they appointed a judge and set an initial hearing date of February 21, 2019.

    February 19, 2019

    Responding to today’s arrest of one of the leaders of the #ArewaMeToo movement, Maryam Aiwasu, who is pursuing justice for victims of sexual violence in Nigeria, Osai Ojigho Director Amnesty International said:

    “Authorities must immediately and unconditionally release Maryam Aiwasu who has done nothing more than speaking up for women’s rights. Her arrest appears to be an attempt to intimidate and harass both her and other women supporting #ArewaMeToo – a movement seeking justice for victims of sexual violence in Nigeria.

    “While arresting Maryam, the police attempted to gain access to her laptop and mobile phone by force; this is clearly an effort to access the sensitive evidence she and other human rights defenders have been gathering to seek justice for victims of sexual violence.

    February 19, 2019

    Responding to the decision of a Turkish first instance appeals court to uphold the conviction of journalists and executives from the Cumhuriyet newspaper, Amnesty International’s Turkey Strategy and Research Manager, Andrew Gardner said:

    “Today’s ruling to send the former Cumhuriyet staff back to prison exposes yet again the way in which politically motivated trials and unsound court decisions are simply rubber stamped by an equally biased appeals process.

    “The prosecution of scores of journalists and other media workers is an ongoing affront to press freedom and to justice. By using the courts to increase their stranglehold on the media, the authorities have once again displayed the ugly side of Turkey’s broken judicial system. This should ring alarm bells for anyone who cares about freedom of expression.”

    For more information please contact Elizabeth Berton-Hunter, Media Relations 416-363-9933 ext 332 bberton-hunter@amnesty.ca

    Background

    February 19, 2019

    In response to President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s statement that the government will deal with those suspected to be behind the national ‘stay-away’ protests, including non-governmental organizations, trade union leaders, opposition leaders, doctors and lawyers, Muleya Mwananyanda, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for Southern Africa said:

    “President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s unfortunate comments are deeply troubling and unwarranted. Coming off the heels of Amnesty International’s expose of a systematic targeting of dissent during the national ‘stay-away’ period, they affirm that his government used security forces, including military personnel, to brutalize people who were protesting. This latest threat is a sinister hint that the situation could become even worse.

    “If his government wants to build an inclusive country that is based on respect for human rights, President Mnangagwa should accommodate differing views, whether they please his government or not.”

    Background

    February 15, 2019

    Grave Concern Detainees Have Been Tortured, Killed

    Equatorial Guinea named a French anti-corruption lawyer in an arrest warrant against 16 people, in apparent retaliation for his involvement in a money laundering trial against the president’s eldest son, nine human rights and anti-corruption groups said today.

    The warrant accuses the 16 targets of laundering money and helping to finance “terrorism and the proliferation of arms trafficking in Central Africa.”

    Named in the warrant are also people already in police custody accused of participating in a December 2017 coup attempt. They have been unable to communicate with their families or lawyers since their arrest, raising serious concern about their risk of torture and other ill treatment and in some cases their right to life, the organizations said.

    February 15, 2019

    Egyptian authorities are flagrantly violating international law by denying family visits to scores of detainees, Amnesty International said today. The organization has examined an official document which confirms there is an open-ended ban on family visits in a number of sections at two major prison complexes in Cairo and Alexandria.

    Amnesty International has also recorded at least 61 cases of people who were prevented from receiving family visits for protracted periods – in some cases for up to two years -  at Tora prison in Cairo and Borg al-Arab in Alexandria. The total number of detainees barred from receiving family visits at these two prisons is likely to be much higher.

    “Egypt’s arbitrary and unlawful restrictions on family visits are depriving scores of detainees of their rights to keep in touch with family members, and often also of the chance to receive medication, food or clothing from their loved ones during their detention,” said Najia Bounaim, Amnesty International’s North Africa Campaigns Director.

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