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    December 14, 2018

    Reacting to news that Bill C-47 has been passed by Parliament and received Royal Assent, Amnesty International today welcomed this important step towards accession to the UN Arms Trade Treaty, but reminded the government that significant reforms to Canada’s arms control regime are still urgently needed in order to fully comply with the object and purpose of the treaty.

    Bill C-47 enacts important changes to Canada’s Export and Import Permits Act consistent with provisions in the Arms Trade Treaty, which prohibit the transfer of arms to another country when they would be used to commit genocide, crimes against humanity or war crimes. 

    December 14, 2018

    In response to reports that a 7-year-old Guatemalan girl has died of dehydration and exhaustion after being taken into Border Patrol Custody, Amnesty International tactical campaigns manager Ashley Houghton issued this statement:

    “What wouldn’t you do to save your family’s life? This child’s father made a dangerous journey spanning almost 2,000 miles in hopes of ensuring safety and security for himself and his daughter. When ports of entry are all but closed, forcing asylum seekers to wait for weeks just to seek protection, families will be forced into taking more dangerous routes to reach the United States.

    “This was not the first death at the southern border and sadly, it will not be the last. Children seeking protection should never be detained. There must be a thorough and transparent investigation into the circumstances around her death.

    December 13, 2018

    The United Nations must carry out a thorough investigation into UN peacekeeping troops’ response to a recent attack that killed as many as 100 civilians in a displaced persons camp in the Central African Republic, Amnesty International said today in a new report.

    According to multiple eyewitnesses, UN peacekeepers did not engage an attack by an armed group but instead retreated in an armoured vehicle to their central base, leaving thousands of civilians unprotected at the camp in Alindao on 15 November.

    An immediate and impartial inquiry must focus, in particular, on whether the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) failed in its duty to protect the lives of more than 18,000 people residing at the site.

    “Scores of civilians at the displaced persons camp in Alindao were massacred after the UN peacekeepers charged with protecting them failed to take action to fend off their armed attackers,” said Joanne Mariner, Senior Crisis Response Adviser at Amnesty International.

    December 13, 2018

    In response to the decree by Nicaragua’s National Assembly cancelling the legal registration of the Nicaraguan Centre for Human Rights (CENIDH) today, Erika Guevara Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International, said:

    “Attacking the Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights (CENIDH) and cancelling its legal registration, is another repressive maneuver by President Daniel Ortega to try to cover up the serious human rights violations that his government has committed. Those who denounce the atrocities committed by his government are being punished in Nicaragua. President Ortega is wrong if he believes he will be able to evade justice by trying to silence CENIDH.”

    “It’s extremely alarming that organizations with the trajectory and legitimacy of CENIDH are being persecuted. By cancelling their registration, the government leaves the people of Nicaragua defenseless, preventing organizations from representing victims or fighting for their demands for justice and accountability. Today is a very sad day for the defence of human rights in the region.”

    More information:

    December 13, 2018

     ·   At least four deaths during protests in less than a week, including three by firearm

    ·   Verified video confirms the location where a 12-year-old boy was shot dead

    ·   New cyber criminality law unduly restricts freedom of expression

    Deadly protests violence in Togo hit the country ahead of contested parliamentary elections on 20 December, Amnesty International said today, as it urged the authorities to properly investigate and sanction all those responsible of a series of deaths which occurred during protests over the past week. 

    At least four people have been killed in protest-related violence since 8 December, including a 12-year-old boy who was shot in the head. Clashes between protesters and security forces have been reported around the country. Many protesters were injured by gunshot wounds in the capital Lomé and the northern city of Sokodé. Protesters also burned tyres and erected barricades in the street. Four members of the security forces were injured. 

    December 13, 2018

    Responding to news that the warring parties in Yemen have agreed to a ceasefire for the port city of Hodeidah, Lynn Maalouf, Amnesty International’s Middle East Director of Research said:

    “Today’s announcement of a ceasefire agreement in Hodeidah brings hope to millions of civilians who are heavily dependent on the port for access to essential goods and humanitarian aid.

    “The conflict has had a devastating impact in terms of interrupting vital supplies in and around Hodeidah. Both parties to the conflict have deliberately impeded humanitarian assistance in violation of international humanitarian law. They must now provide prompt and unhindered access to UN agencies and humanitarian organizations to deliver food, fuel, medicines and medical supplies to civilians in desperate need across Yemen.

    “We call on the international community to strengthen the UN’s efforts to end gross violations of international law committed by all parties to the conflict and ensure justice and reparation for victims.”

    Background

    December 13, 2018

    As Tunisia’s Truth and Dignity Commission (IVD) nears the end of its mandate, the government must commit to implementing its recommendations in order to ensure that perpetrators of historic human rights violations are brought to justice, victims receive reparation and measures are taken to stop such crimes being repeated, said Amnesty International.

    On 14 and 15 December, after four and a half years, the IVD - which has investigated more than 62,000 cases of human rights violations dating back six decades - is due to deliver its main findings and recommendations at a conference with key stakeholders from government and civil society. Its final report will be delivered by the end of the year. A final IVD public hearing about propaganda and media manipulation before Tunisia’s 2011 uprising is also scheduled for 14 December. 

    December 13, 2018

    Update

    Between 7 and 10 December 2018 in various media articles, South Sudan’s government denied Amnesty International’s findings about the use of the death penalty. In one article, government spokesperson Ateny Wek Ateny said that no one had been executed in South Sudan since 2011 and that the government had put a moratorium on the death penalty since 2013. In the same article, he however said “If you kill a person, you will be executed.” In another article, Ateny said “the South Sudan government cannot carry out executions because it has signed the international charter.” In response to Amnesty’s finding that a person who had been a child at the time of the crime was amongst the seven people executed in 2018, Ateny said that "the culture of South Sudan cannot accept it."

    December 11, 2018

    Amnesty International is urging the Malian authorities not to vote in a new law which may allow the perpetrators of killings, torture and other atrocities to escape justice.

    On 13 December Mali’s National Assembly will examine the ''National Understanding Act'' (Loi d’entente nationale) which has vaguely worded provisions.

    The law could lead to “abandoning the prosecution of those involved in an armed rebellion if they have no blood on their hands,” according to the statement to the Nation made by Mali President on 31 December 2017.

    “Members of the security forces responsible for human rights violations and members of the armed groups who perpetrated horrendous human rights abuses may never be brought to justice if the draft passes into law,” said Samira Daoud, Amnesty International’s West and Central Africa Deputy Director.

    December 11, 2018
    Spokespeople available for interview in London and Washington DC Edward Snowden signs civil society open letter to Google New video available here

    US lawmakers must press Google CEO Sundar Pichai on the company’s disturbing plans for a censored search app in China, Amnesty International said ahead of Pichai’s appearance before Congress.

    Pichai is due to testify in Congress over allegations of political bias in Google’s search algorithm. The tech giant also faces questions over its prototype search engine for the Chinese market codenamed Project Dragonfly which would blacklist search terms like “human rights” and facilitate Chinese authorities in targeting dissidents online.  

    “Sundar Pichai has some serious questions to answer tomorrow. How can Google square Project Dragonfly with its own human rights commitments? Does Google care more about profits than people? Will Google listen to the outcry of protest from its own workforce over its China plans?” said Joe Westby, Technology and Human Rights Researcher at Amnesty International.

    December 11, 2018
    Legacy of IS scorched-earth tactics still devastates rural communities Sabotage of irrigation wells and other destruction amounts to war crimes Across Iraq, vast destruction deters hundreds of thousands from returning to rural areas

    As part of its brutal campaign against northern Iraq’s Yezidi minority, the armed group calling itself Islamic State (IS) committed war crimes and crimes against humanity when it sabotaged irrigation wells and destroyed other farming infrastructure, Amnesty International said in a new report today.

    A year after Iraq’s government declared military victory over IS, Dead Land: Islamic State’s Deliberate Destruction of Iraq’s Farmland details how the armed group also burnt orchards, looted livestock and machinery and laid landmines in farming areas.

    December 10, 2018
    ‘This whole case will send a shiver down the spine of anyone who cares about the right to protest in our country’ - Kate Allen

    Following guilty verdicts today in the case of 15 people tried in relation to their attempt to prevent what they believed was the unlawful deportation of a group of people at Stansted Airport last year, Amnesty International has reiterated its strong concern over the decision to charge the human rights defenders with a terrorism-related offence.

    The 15 people - known as the “Stansted 15” - took non-violent direct action at Stansted in March 2017 to prevent the deportation of 60 people on a charter flight bound for Ghana and Nigeria.

    The Stansted 15’s actions prevented the flight from leaving. Of the 60 individuals due to have been deported, ten are currently pursuing asylum claims in the UK, and at least one has since been granted permission to remain in the UK.

    December 09, 2018
    Amnesty publishes review of human rights in 2018

    Women activists around the world have been at the forefront of the battle for human rights in 2018, Amnesty International said today as it launched its review on the state of human rights over the past year.

    The human rights group also warns that the actions of “tough guy” world leaders pushing misogynistic, xenophobic and homophobic policies has placed freedoms and rights that were won long ago in fresh jeopardy.

    “In 2018, we witnessed many of these self-proclaimed ‘tough guy’ leaders trying to undermine the very principle of equality – the bedrock of human rights law. They think their policies make them tough, but they amount to little more than bully tactics trying to demonize and persecute already marginalized and vulnerable communities,” said Kumi Naidoo, Secretary General of Amnesty International.

    “But it is women activists who have offered the most powerful vision this year of how to fight back against these repressive leaders.”

    December 07, 2018

    Amnesty International welcomes the release today of the Concluding Observations of the UN Committee Against Torture, following last month’s review of Canada’s record of compliance with the United Nations Convention against Torture, the first such review since 2012.

    December 07, 2018

    Responding to news from MSF and SOS Mediterranée that the Aquarius search and rescue vessel has been forced to end operations, Amnesty International’s Secretary General said:

    “Today, we received some very sad news. Médecins Sans Frontières and its partner SOS Méditerranée have been forced to terminate operations by the search and rescue ship, Aquarius.

    “Over the last two years the Aquarius and her crew have rescued nearly 30,000 people in the Mediterranean. Yet, more than 2,100 people have drowned this year. The vast majority were fleeing violence, torture and arbitrary detention in Libya.

    “During this time, not only have European governments failed to provide search and rescue capacity, they have instead supported the Libyan coastguard to return people to Libya, and actively obstructed life-saving activities like Aquarius was carrying out.

    “In doing this, European leaders have shown where their true priorities lie: the closure of the central Mediterranean route for refugees and migrants, even at the cost of a soaring death toll at sea.

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