Archive for the ‘Amnesty International’ Category

Libya: Rule of Law or Rule of Militias?

July 9, 2012 Comments off

Libya: Rule of Law or Rule of Militias?
Source: Amnesty International

Two sisters aged 27 and 32 were stopped by a militia at a checkpoint in February 2012 and forced at gunpoint to a nearby farm. One was suspended from a door for hours, had boiling water poured over her head, and was beaten and stabbed while being accused of supporting the former government of Colonel Mu’ammar al-Gaddafi. The other was also suspended and beaten. The husband of one of them, who was detained at the same time, has disappeared.

This family is among the mounting toll of victims of an increasingly lawless Libya, where the transitional authorities have been unable or unwilling to rein in the hundreds of militias formed during and after the 2011 conflict that ended the rule of Colonel Mu’ammar al-Gaddafi. The militias are now threatening the very future of Libya and casting a shadow over landmark national elections scheduled for July 7, 2012. They are killing people, making arbitrary arrests, torturing detainees and forcibly displacing and terrorizing entire communities, often solely for reasons of revenge. They are also recklessly using machineguns, mortars and other weaponry during tribal and territorial battles, killing and maiming bystanders. They act above the law, committing their crimes without fear of punishment.

Cruel Isolation: Amnesty International’s Concerns about Conditions in Arizona Maximum Security Prisons

April 11, 2012 Comments off
Source:  Amnesty International
This report describes Amnesty International’s concerns relating to the conditions under which prisoners are confined in the Special Management Units (SMU) of Arizona State Prison Complex (ASPC)-Eyman and other maximum custody facilities operated by the Arizona Department of Corrections (ADOC).
More than 2,900 prisoners are held in Arizona’s highest security maximum custody facilities, the majority in the SMUs at ASPC-Eyman. Most are confined alone in windowless cells for 22 to 24 hours a day in conditions of reduced sensory stimulation, with little access to natural light and no work, educational or rehabilitation programs. Prisoners exercise alone in small, enclosed yards and, apart from a minority who have a cell-mate, have no association with other prisoners. Many prisoners spend years in such conditions; some serve out their sentences in solitary confinement before being released directly into the community.
While the Arizona authorities classify maximum security inmates as those posing the highest institutional security risk, Amnesty International’s findings suggest that some prisoners are confined to the units who do not fit this criteria. The organization is further concerned that many of those confined to the units suffer from mental illness or disability and are held in conditions likely to exacerbate their illness or disability. This report focuses mainly on conditions in the SMUs, but also includes information on other isolation units, including the Lumley Unit Special Management Area at the women’s prison at Perryville, and the maximum custody unit at Rincon Minors, a facility for male youths aged 14 to 17 who have been tried and convicted as adults.

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‘I wanted to die’: Syria’s torture survivors speak out

March 25, 2012 Comments off

‘I wanted to die’: Syria’s torture survivors speak out
Source: Amnesty International

A grim catalogue of torture has emerged from former detainees describing their treatment in Syria’s detention centres since the predominantly peaceful protests against President Bashar al-Assad’s government began in March 2011. This report reveals that all the various security forces are routinely torturing and ill-treating detainees held in the context of the protests and unrest, using methods of cruelty mostly used for decades. The torture carried out appears to be part of a widespread and systematic attack against the civilian population as part of Syrian government policy to crush dissent.

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No arms for atrocities or abuses: Commit to an effective Arms Trade Treaty

March 14, 2012 Comments off

No arms for atrocities or abuses: Commit to an effective Arms Trade Treaty
Source: Amnesty International

Each year, the global trade in conventional arms carries an enormous human cost. In July 2012, UN member states will be invited to the UN conference to negotiate an Arms Trade Treaty. Now is the time to ensure that the Treaty contains the highest possible common standards for the import, export and transfer of conventional arms. This briefing documents five personal stories in the context of human rights violations committed or facilitated using conventional arms in law enforcement or military operations.

“We Are Ordered to Crush You”: Expanding Repression of Dissent in Iran

March 12, 2012 Comments off

“We Are Ordered to Crush You”: Expanding Repression of Dissent in Iran
Source: Amnesty International

The net of repression is widening in Iran. The authorities are arresting filmmakers, bloggers, human rights defenders, women’s rights activists, lawyers, students, journalists, political activists, religious and ethnic minorities — simply for speaking out against the government or expressing views with which the authorities do not agree. This report shows the lengths to which the Iranian authorities are prepared to go to isolate people in Iran from the rest of the world, and to try to hide information on human rights violations.

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Fleeing War, Finding Misery: The Plight of the Internally Displaced in Afghanistan

March 11, 2012 Comments off

Fleeing War, Finding Misery: The Plight of the Internally Displaced in Afghanistan
Source: Amnesty International

Conflict affects more Afghans now that at any point in the last decade. The conflict has intensified in many areas, and fighting has spread to parts of the country previously deemed relatively peaceful. The surge in hostilities has many obvious consequences, among them that families and even entire communities flee their homes in search of greater security.

Four hundred people a day are displaced in Afghanistan, on average, bringing the total displaced population to 500,000 by January 2012.

Such internal displacement is on the rise. Conflict-induced internal displacement increased rapidly in the first half of 2011 — the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) estimates that nearly 100,000 people were internally displaced between January and June of that year. The number of displaced persons has increased every year since at least 2008.

Tens of thousands of these displaced individuals have sought shelter in and around Kabul and other Afghan cities. Precise numbers are difficult to determine, but as many as 35,000 displaced persons are now living in slum areas in Kabul alone.

Ukraine must act to deal with endemic police criminality

December 17, 2011 Comments off

Ukraine must act to deal with endemic police criminality
Source: Amnesty International

The Ukrainian authorities must act immediately to deal with endemic police criminality, Amnesty International said today in a new report that reveals widespread torture, extortion, and arbitrary detention.

No evidence of a crime: Paying the price for police impunity in Ukraine, reveals how police are rarely punished for these crimes because of high levels of corruption, non-existent or flawed investigations, harassment and intimidation of complainants, and a low level of prosecutions for such crimes.

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Death Sentences and Executions 2010

December 13, 2011 Comments off
Source:  Amnesty International

At least 23 countries were known to have carried out judicial executions in 2010. This is four more than 2009, when Amnesty International recorded the lowest number of executing countries since the organisation began monitoring death penalty figures.

There were no reported executions in Afghanistan, Indonesia, Mongolia, Pakistan, Saint Kitts and Nevis and United Arab Emirates, although these countries were known to have carried out executions up to 2008 or 2009. However, after a hiatus, Bahrain, Belarus, Equatorial Guinea, the Palestinian Authority, Somalia and Taiwan all carried out at least one execution in 2010. At least 527 executions were carried out in 2010. This figure does not include the thousands of executions that were believed to be carried out in China last year. Last year Amnesty International decided not to publish minimum figures for the use of the death penalty in China, where such statistics are considered to be state secrets. Instead Amnesty International has challenged the Chinese authorities to publish figures for the number of people sentenced to death and executed each year to confirm their claims that there has been a reduction in the use of the death penalty in the country.

Saudi Arabia: Repression in the Name of Security

December 6, 2011 Comments off

Saudi Arabia: Repression in the Name of Security
Source: Amnesty International

Since March 2011 the Saudi Arabian authorities have launched a new wave of repression in the name of security. They have cracked down on demonstrators protesting over human rights violations in the context of calls for reform at home and the uprisings and mass protests in the region. At the same time, they are in the process of creating a new anti-terror law which threatens to exacerbate an already dire situation for freedom of expression, in which any real or perceived dissent is almost instantly suppressed. It would also legalize a number of abusive practices including arbitrary detention, thus consolidating draconian and abusive counter-terrorism measures imposed since 2001 against the backdrop of an extremely weak institutional framework for the protection of human rights. State power in Saudi Arabia rests almost entirely with the King and the ruling Al Saud family. The Constitution gives the King absolute power over government institutions and the affairs of the state, and severely curtails political dissent and freedom of expression.

The country’s 27 million residents have no political institutions independent of government, and political parties and trade unions are not tolerated. The media is severely constrained and those who express dissent face arrest and imprisonment, whether political critics, bloggers or academics. King Abdullah announced on 25 September 2011 that women will have the right to vote and run in municipal elections, the kingdom’s only public poll, from 2015 and be appointed to the Shura Council, a body that advises the monarchy. However, women remain subject to severe discrimination in both law and practice. Women are unable to travel, engage in paid work or higher education, or marry without the permission of a male guardian.

It is against this background that some Saudi Arabians have been insisting publicly that it is time for change and for their human rights to be respected. Many have tried to assert their right to peaceful protest on the streets. Some have demanded political and social reforms; others have called for the release of relatives detained without charge or trial on terrorismrelated grounds. In response, the security forces have arrested hundreds of people for protesting or voicing their opposition to government policies this year. Most have been released without charge; others remain in detention without charge or trial; and others still have been charged with vague security-related and other offences. Amnesty International considers many of those detained to be prisoners of conscience, held solely for peacefully expressing their rights to freedom of expression and assembly.

Arms trade to Middle East and North Africa shows failure of export controls

October 24, 2011 Comments off

Arms trade to Middle East and North Africa shows failure of export controls
Source: Amnesty International

The USA, Russia and European countries supplied large quantities of weapons to repressive governments in the Middle East and North Africa before this year’s uprisings despite having evidence of a substantial risk that they could be used to commit serious human rights violations, Amnesty International said today in a new report.

Arms Transfers To The Middle East And North Africa: Lessons For An Effective Arms Trade Treaty examines arms transfers to Bahrain, Egypt, Libya, Syria and Yemen since 2005.

“These findings highlight the stark failure of existing arms export controls, with all their loopholes, and underline the need for an effective global Arms Trade Treaty that takes full account of the need to uphold human rights,” said Helen Hughes, Amnesty International’s principal arms trade researcher on the report.

“Governments that now say they stand in solidarity with people across the Middle East and North Africa are the very same as those who until recently supplied the weapons, bullets and military and police equipment that were used to kill, injure and arbitrarily detain thousands of peaceful protesters in states such as Tunisia and Egypt and are even now being deployed by security forces in Syria and Yemen.”

The main arms suppliers to the five countries included in the report were Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy, Russia, the UK and the USA.

At least 11 states have provided military assistance or allowed exports of weaponry, munitions and related equipment to Yemen, where some 200 protesters have lost their lives in 2011. These include Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Germany, Italy, the Russian Federation, Turkey, Ukraine, the UK and the USA.

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Thailand: Insurgents must stop war crimes against civilians

October 9, 2011 Comments off

Thailand: Insurgents must stop war crimes against civilians
Source: Amnesty International

Insurgents in the long-running internal armed conflict in southern Thailand must immediately stop their campaign of targeting civilians, Amnesty International urged today in a new report.

“They took nothing but his life”: Unlawful killings in Thailand’s southern insurgency provides details of how insurgents have deliberately attacked “soft targets”: farmers, teachers, students, religious leaders, and civil servants. Many of these attacks constitute war crimes.

Nearly 5,000 people have been killed and thousands more injured in Thailand’s four southern-most provinces, in the nearly eight years since the insurgency there reignited.

“Insurgents in southern Thailand are spreading terror among the civilian population by deliberately targeting people with no role in the conflict —no one is immune from attack,” said Donna Guest, Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific Deputy Director.

“The insurgents must publicly commit to stopping these unlawful killings immediately,” she said.

The report is based on the testimony of 154 interviews with witnesses and survivors, relatives and friends of victims, conducted between October 2010 and July 2011. This testimony provides information about 66 insurgent attacks against civilians in three southern Thai districts: Rangae in Narathiwat province, Yarang in Pattani, and Yaha in Yala.

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Afghanistan 10 years on: Slow progress and failed promises

October 9, 2011 Comments off

Afghanistan 10 years on: Slow progress and failed promises
Source: Amnesty International

Ten years after a US-led military invasion removed the Taleban from Afghanistan, the Afghan government and its international supporters have failed to keep many of the promises they made to the Afghan people, Amnesty International said today.

“Hopes were high in Afghanistan in 2001 following the international intervention but since then human rights gains have been put at risk by corruption, mismanagement and attacks by insurgent groups who have shown systematic contempt for human rights and the laws of war,” said Sam Zarifi, Amnesty International’s Asia Pacific director.

“Today, many Afghans dare to hope for improvements in human rights in their country. The Afghan government and its international supporters must back these hopes with concrete action to defend them.”

An Amnesty International scorecard on the state of human rights in Afghanistan has found some progress in enacting human rights laws, reduction of discrimination against women and access to education and health care.

However, progress on justice and policing, human security and displacement had stagnated or even regressed, Amnesty International found. Afghans living in areas heavily affected by the insurgency have seen a serious deterioration in their conditions.

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Libya: The battle for Libya: Killings, disappearances and torture

September 21, 2011 Comments off

Libya: The battle for Libya: Killings, disappearances and torture
Source: Amnesty International

In mid-February 2011 Libyans called for a “Day of Rage” against the iron-fist rule of Colonel Mu’ammar al-Gaddafi, in power since 1969. The protests were met with lethal force. By early March the uprising had evolved into an armed conflict between forces loyal to Colonel al-Gaddafi and armed protesters coalesced into a loosely structured force led by the newly established National Transitional Council. This report documents serious and widespread human rights violations by al-Gaddafi forces and also abuses committed by the opposition.

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Syria: Deadly detention: Deaths in custody amid popular protest in Syria

September 4, 2011 Comments off

Syria: Deadly detention: Deaths in custody amid popular protest in Syria
Source: Amnesty International

At least 88 people are believed to have died in detention in Syria during five months of bloody repression of pro-reform protests, a new Amnesty International report reveals today.

Deadly detention: Deaths in custody amid popular protest in Syria documents reported deaths in custody between April and mid-August in the wake of sweeping arrests.

The 88 deaths represented a significant escalation in the number of deaths following arrest in Syria. In recent years Amnesty International has typically recorded around five deaths in custody per year in Syria.
“These deaths behind bars are reaching massive proportions, and appear to be an extension of the same brutal disdain for life that we are seeing daily on the streets of Syria,” said Neil Sammonds, Amnesty International’s researcher on Syria.

“The accounts of torture we have received are horrific. We believe the Syrian government to be systematically persecuting its own people on a vast scale.”

The victims recorded in the report were all swept up in arrests after Syrians took to the streets en masse from March this year. All male, the victims include 10 children, some as young as 13.

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Children in Somalia facing war crimes

July 24, 2011 Comments off

Children in Somalia facing war crimes
Source: Amnesty International

The scale of war crimes affecting Somali children, including the systematic recruitment of child soldiers under 15 by armed Islamist groups, has been exposed in a new report by Amnesty International today.

In the line of fire: Somalia’s children under attack reveals the full impact on children of the on-going armed conflict. Children in Somalia are being recruited as child soldiers, denied access to education and killed or injured in indiscriminate attacks carried out in densely populated areas.

“Somalia is not only a humanitarian crisis: it is a human rights crisis and a children’s crisis,” said Michelle Kagari, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Africa.

“As a child in Somalia, you risk death all the time: you can be killed, recruited and sent to the frontline, punished by al-Shabab because you are caught listening to music or ‘wearing the wrong clothes’, be forced to fend for yourself because you have lost your parents or even die because you don’t have access to adequate medical care.

“The humanitarian crisis facing children in Somalia is also the result of al-Shabab denying access to aid in the last couple of years.”

The report analyzes more than 200 testimonies from Somali refugees, children and adults, in Kenya and Djibouti. Many cite the recruitment of children by armed groups as one of the reasons for fleeing southern and central Somalia.

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Amnesty International — Annual Report: China 2011

July 14, 2011 Comments off

Annual Report: China 2011
Source: Amnesty International

The Chinese government responded to a burgeoning civil society by jailing and persecuting people for peacefully expressing their views, holding religious beliefs not sanctioned by the state, advocating for democratic reform and human rights, and defending the rights of others. Popular social media sites remained blocked by China’s internet firewall. The authorities continued to repress Tibetan, Uighur, Mongolian and other ethnic minority populations. On the international stage, China grew more confident and more aggressive in punishing countries whose leaders spoke publicly about its human rights record.

Amnesty International — Annual Report: India 2011

July 14, 2011 Comments off

Annual Report: India 2011
Source: Amnesty International

Ongoing clashes between armed Maoists and state security forces escalated in Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and West Bengal. More than 350 people were killed in bomb attacks in those states and in ethnically motivated attacks in Assam and other states. Protests by Adivasis (Indigenous communities) and other marginalized communities against moves to acquire their lands and natural resources without proper consultation or consent resulted in the suspension of key corporate-led projects. Human rights defenders in these cases were attacked by state or private agents, with politically motivated charges, including sedition, being brought against some. More than 100 people, mostly youth protesters, were killed in the Kashmir valley during protests between June and September. Torture and other ill-treatment, extrajudicial executions, deaths in custody and administrative detentions remained rife. Institutional mechanisms meant to protect human rights and human rights defenders remained weak and judicial processes failed to ensure justice for many victims of past violations and abuses. At least 105 people were sentenced to death but, for the sixth successive year, no executions took place.

Amnesty International — Annual Report: Canada 2011

July 14, 2011 Comments off

Annual Report: Canada 2011
Source: Amnesty International

Indigenous Peoples faced ongoing, systematic violations of their rights. There were fears that proposed new legislation could result in the prolonged detention of asylum-seekers. Concerns about human rights violations associated with counter-terror and security operations persisted.

Amnesty International — Annual Report: United States of America 2011

July 14, 2011 Comments off

Annual Report: United States of America 2011
Source: Amnesty International

Forty-six people were executed during the year, and reports of excessive use of force and cruel prison conditions continued. Scores of men remained in indefinite military detention in Guantánamo as President Obama’s one-year deadline for closure of the facility there came and went. Military commission proceedings were conducted in a handful of cases, and the only Guantánamo detainee so far transferred to the US mainland for prosecution in a federal court was tried and convicted. Hundreds of people remained held in US military custody in the US detention facility on the Bagram airbase in Afghanistan. The US authorities blocked efforts to secure accountability and remedy for crimes under international law committed against detainees previously subjected to the USA’s secret detention and rendition programme.

Lack of justice could fuel new violence in Kyrgyzstan

June 12, 2011 Comments off

Lack of justice could fuel new violence in Kyrgyzstan
Source: Amnesty International

Failure to deliver justice for the killing, rape and torture of civilians could lead to further clashes, Amnesty International warned ahead of the first anniversary of the violence that shook southern parts of Kyrgyzstan.

Four days of violent clashes between ethnic Kyrgyz and ethnic Uzbeks in the Osh and Jalal-Abad areas on 10-14 June 2010 left about 470 people dead, thousands injured and hundreds of thousands displaced.

According to local observers, 74 per cent of those killed were Uzbek and 25 per cent Kyrgyz.

One year on, Amnesty International’s briefing, Still waiting for justice, calls on the Kyrgyzstani authorities to establish the truth about what happened and provide justice for the thousands of victims and their families.

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