http://www.amnesty.org/en/news/all/rss en Israel: Lift ‘ludicrous’ restrictions on whistleblower Vanunu decade after release http://www.amnesty.org/en/news/israel-lift-ludicrous-restrictions-whistleblower-vanunu-decade-after-release-2014-04-16 <div class="field field-type-text field-field-headline"> <div class="field-label">Headline Title:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Israel: Lift ‘ludicrous’ restrictions on whistleblower Vanunu decade after release </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-date field-field-date"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <span class="date-display-single">16 April 2014</span> </div> </div> </div> <p>Ten years after serving a full sentence for his revelations to the press about Israel’s nuclear weapons programme, Mordechai Vanunu still faces severe restrictions that arbitrarily infringe on his freedom of movement, expression and association, said Amnesty International.</p><p>T<span>he former nuclear technician served an 18-year-prison sentence, the first 11 years of which were in solitary confinement, for disclosing information to journalists about Israel’s nuclear arsenal during the 1980s.</span></p><p><span>Since his release in 2004, renewable military orders, have placed Mordechai Vanunu under police supervision. Among other things, he is banned from leaving the country and participating in internet chats. He must also seek permission to communicate with any foreign nationals, including journalists.</span></p><p><span>“The authorities’ continued punishment of Mordechai Vanunu appears to be purely vindictive. &nbsp; The government’s arguments that these severe restrictions are necessary for national security are ludicrous,” said Avner Gidron, Senior Policy Adviser at Amnesty International.</span></p><p><span>Israeli officials claim that restricting Mordechai Vanunu’s freedom is necessary to prevent him from divulging further secrets about Israel’s nuclear programme. He has, however, repeatedly stated that he revealed all he knew about Israel’s nuclear arsenal in 1986 and that he has no further information. He and his lawyers have also pointed out that the information he had at the time of his imprisonment has now long been in the public domain and is about 30 years out of date.</span></p><p><span>“The restrictions on Mordechai Vanunu are arbitrary, unnecessary and have no grounds in international law. The continuing restrictions on his liberty have placed a severe strain on his mental and physical health and should immediately be lifted,” said Avner Gidron.</span></p><p><span>Amnesty International is calling on the Israeli authorities to allow Mordechai Vanunu to leave the country if he wishes, and to allow him to exercise his rights to freedom of movement, association and expression while in Israel.</span></p><p><span>Last December, following an appeal by his lawyer, the High Court of Justice upheld the restrictions imposed by the Ministry of Interior on Mordechai Vanunu, which prevent him from leaving Israel, and ban him from entering a consulate or embassy or coming with 500 meters of international borders, border passages, harbours or airports. &nbsp;And they upheld the requirement that he seek permission before contacting foreign nationals. The current restrictions, which are due for renewal in May 2014, should be lifted immediately.</span></p><p><span>Mordechai Vanunu is a former technician at Israel's nuclear plant near the southern town of Dimona. He revealed details of the country's nuclear arsenal to the British newspaper, The Sunday Times, in 1986. He was abducted by Israeli secret service (Mossad) agents in Italy on 30 September 1986 and secretly taken to Israel. He was tried and sentenced to 18 years' imprisonment.</span></p><p><span>In May 2010 he was imprisoned for a second time following his release, for three months, after being convicted of breaching his restrictions by speaking to foreigners and attempting to attend Christmas Mass in Bethlehem. Amnesty International adopted him as a prisoner of conscience. He was held for 11 weeks under harsh conditions in solitary confinement in Ayalon Prison near Ramle in central Israel, in a special unit for dangerous prisoners and was able to leave his cell for only one hour every day. The prison authorities said they decided to place him there in order to protect him from attacks from other inmates.</span></p><p><span>The restrictions he has been subjected to since 2004 are not parole restrictions since Mordechai Vanunu served his full sentence. They are arbitrary and contrary to Israel’s obligations under international law, particularly the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which prohibits arbitrary interference in the rights to freedom of movement, freedom of expression and freedom of association and protects individuals from being punished again for the same offence.</span></p><p><span>Mordechai Vanunu had been previously held by Israel in solitary confinement for 11 years from 1986 in conditions that Amnesty International at the time called cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.&nbsp;</span></p><div class="field field-type-text field-field-strapline"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Ten years after serving a full sentence for his revelations to the press about Israel’s nuclear weapons programme, Mordechai Vanunu still faces severe restrictions that arbitrarily infringe on his freedom of movement, expression and association.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-photo"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_photo" width="620" height="620" alt="" src="http://www.amnesty.org/sites/impact.amnesty.org/files/105086_Mordechai_Vanunu.jpg?1397641724" /> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-nodereference field-field-medianode"> <div class="field-label">Media Node:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/en/node/46707">Israel</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-location field-field-storylocation"> <div class="field-label">Story Location:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="location vcard"><div class="adr"> <span class="fn"></span> <div class="country-name">Israel</div> <span class="geo"><abbr class="latitude" title="32.575419">32° 34' 31.5084" N</abbr>, <abbr class="longitude" title="35.333030">35° 19' 58.908" E</abbr></span> </div> <div class="map-link"> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> <fieldset class="content-multigroup-group-quotestory"><fieldset class="content-multigroup-wrapper content-multigroup-0"><div class="field field-type-text field-field-quote"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="field-quote-begin">&#8220;</div><blockquote>The authorities’ continued punishment of Mordechai Vanunu appears to be purely vindictive. The government’s arguments that these severe restrictions are necessary for national security are ludicrous. </blockquote><div class="field-quote-end">&#8221;</div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-storyfullname"> <div class="field-label">Source:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Avner Gidron, Senior Policy Adviser at Amnesty International. </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> </fieldset> <fieldset class="content-multigroup-group-relatedlinks"><fieldset class="content-multigroup-wrapper content-multigroup-0"><div class="field field-type-link field-field-url"> <div class="field-label">URL:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/MDE15/024/2010/en">Israel: End arbitrary restrictions on Vanunu</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-url-description"> <div class="field-label">Description:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Document, 11 October 2010. </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <fieldset class="content-multigroup-wrapper content-multigroup-1"><div class="field field-type-link field-field-url"> <div class="field-label">URL:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="http://www.amnesty.org/en/news-and-updates/israeli-nuclear-whistleblower-returned-solitary-confinement-2010-06-18">Israeli nuclear whistleblower returned to solitary confinement</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-url-description"> <div class="field-label">Description:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> News Story, 18 June 2010. </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <fieldset class="content-multigroup-wrapper content-multigroup-2"><div class="field field-type-link field-field-url"> <div class="field-label">URL:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/MDE15/013/2010/en">Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories: Mordechai Vanunu - Prisoner of conscience: Medical action</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-url-description"> <div class="field-label">Description:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Urgent Action, 9 July 2010. </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <fieldset class="content-multigroup-wrapper content-multigroup-3"><div class="field field-type-link field-field-url"> <div class="field-label">URL:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/MDE15/019/2010/en">Israel/Occupied Palestinian Territories: Further information: Mordechai Vanunu is released from prison: </a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-url-description"> <div class="field-label">Description:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Urgent Action, 12 August 2010. </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <fieldset class="content-multigroup-wrapper content-multigroup-4"><div class="field field-type-link field-field-url"> <div class="field-label">URL:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/MDE15/046/1991/en">Israel and the Occupied Territories: Mordechai Vanunu: Solitary confinement as cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-url-description"> <div class="field-label">Description:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Document, 30 September 1991. </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> </fieldset> Activists Israel and Occupied Palestinian Territories Wed, 16 Apr 2014 09:52:53 +0000 Amnesty International 46710 at http://www.amnesty.org Saudi Arabia jails lawyer and human rights activist in ongoing crackdown on dissent http://www.amnesty.org/en/news/saudi-arabia-waleed-abu-al-khair-2014-04-16 <div class="field field-type-text field-field-headline"> <div class="field-label">Headline Title:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Saudi Arabia jails lawyer in ongoing crackdown on dissent </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-date field-field-date"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <span class="date-display-single">16 April 2014</span> </div> </div> </div> <p>Saudi Arabia must immediately release prominent human rights activist and lawyer Waleed Abu al-Khair, who was arrested following his fifth hearing at the Specialized Criminal Court on Tuesday and taken to al-Ha’ir prison without an explanation, said Amnesty International.</p><p><span>Waleed Abu al-Khair was detained in connection with his human rights work. He is now facing charges almost identical ones he was convicted of by another criminal court back in October 2013.</span></p><p><span>“Authorities in Saudi Arabia are clearly punishing Waleed Abu al-Khair for his work protecting and defending human rights. He is a prisoner of conscience and must be released immediately and unconditionally,” said Said Boumedouha Deputy Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Amnesty International.</span></p><p><span>“Waleed Abu al-Khair’s detention is a worrying example of how Saudi Arabian authorities are abusing the justice system to silence peaceful dissent. Nobody should be jailed for peacefully exercising the right to freedom of expression.”</span></p><p><span>Waleed Abu al-Khair is among a dozen prominent activists who were all sentenced in 2013 to long prison terms based on trumped-up charges that the authorities resorted to after failing to silence them by other means, including the threat of prosecution and other extra-judicial means of intimidation.</span></p><p><span>He was brought before the Specialized Criminal Court in Riyadh on 6 October 2013, on charges that included, among other things, “breaking allegiance to and disobeying the ruler”, “disrespecting the authorities”, “offending the judiciary”, “inciting international organisations against the Kingdom” and “founding an unlicensed organization”.</span></p><p><span>Three weeks later, on 29 October 2013another criminal court in Jeddah sentenced him to three months in prison on similar charges related to ridiculing or offending the Saudi Arabian judiciary. The Court of Appeal upheld his conviction and sentence on 6 February 2014. In both court cases, evidence for all charges against Waleed Abu al-Khair seem to be based on his signing of a petition that criticized the heavy-handedness of the Saudi Arabian authorities in dealing with 16 reformists.</span></p><p><span>Waleed Abu al-Khair, head of the Saudi Arabia Monitor of Human Rights, an independent human rights organization founded in 2008, has faced persecution from the Saudi Arabian state before and has been banned from traveling since March 2012.</span></p><p><span>"Independent activists in Saudi Arabia who dare to peacefully voice their opinions are forced to pay a heavy price. Waleed Abu al-Khair is the latest in a long list of human rights activists who have been harassed, intimidated and imprisoned by the authorities in recent months" said Said Boumedouha.</span></p><p><span>Speaking earlier this year, Waleed Abu al-Khair told Amnesty International that he, like other activists, had often been pressured to stop their work.</span></p><p><span>“This is a campaign that affects all human right defenders in Saudi Arabia, the option is either for the activist to sign a pledge to stop his activism and apologize, or to bear the heavy consequences for refusing to do so: prison, travel ban and deprivation of livelihood,” he said.</span></p><p><span>Despite continued pressure, he has refused to renege on his human rights work.</span></p><p><span>“I am pleased with what I did, and until now, despite all the harassment, I do not regret my choices. I am still on the right path. If you have a goal to live for, things become easier. My goals are justice, rights, freedom of expression and to be able to stand up and say that the regime is unfair,” he told Amnesty International.</span></p><p><span>Waleed Abu al-Khair has represented many victims of human rights violations. Amongst his former clients is <a href="http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/MDE23/026/2013/en">Raif Badawi</a>, a well-known Saudi Arabian blogger who was sentenced in July 2013 to seven years in prison and 600 lashes. One of the charges levelled against Raif Badawi was insulting religious authorities by creating and managing a website.</span></p><div class="field field-type-text field-field-strapline"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Saudi Arabia must immediately release human rights activist and lawyer Waleed Abu al-Khair, who was arrested following his fifth hearing at the Specialized Criminal Court on Tuesday and taken to al-Ha’ir prison without an explanation.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-photo"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_photo" width="560" height="400" alt="" src="http://www.amnesty.org/sites/impact.amnesty.org/files/141903_Waleed_Abu_al-Khair.jpg?1397666802" /> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-nodereference field-field-medianode"> <div class="field-label">Media Node:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/en/node/46720">Saudi Arabia</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-twittertag"> <div class="field-label">Twitter Tag:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> SaudiArabia </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-location field-field-storylocation"> <div class="field-label">Story Location:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="location vcard"><div class="adr"> <span class="fn"></span> <div class="country-name">Saudi Arabia</div> <span class="geo"><abbr class="latitude" title="25.053043">25° 3' 10.9548" N</abbr>, <abbr class="longitude" title="44.123093">44° 7' 23.1348" E</abbr></span> </div> <div class="map-link"> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> <fieldset class="content-multigroup-group-quotestory"><fieldset class="content-multigroup-wrapper content-multigroup-0"><div class="field field-type-text field-field-quote"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="field-quote-begin">&#8220;</div><blockquote>Authorities in Saudi Arabia are clearly punishing Waleed Abu al-Khair for his work protecting and defending human rights. He is a prisoner of conscience and must be released immediately and unconditionally. </blockquote><div class="field-quote-end">&#8221;</div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-storyfullname"> <div class="field-label">Source:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Boumedouha Deputy Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Amnesty International. </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> </fieldset> <fieldset class="content-multigroup-group-relatedlinks"><fieldset class="content-multigroup-wrapper content-multigroup-0"><div class="field field-type-link field-field-url"> <div class="field-label">URL:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="http://www.amnesty.org/en/news/saudi-arabian-human-rights-lawyer-sentenced-prison-demanding-reforms-2013-10-29">Saudi Arabian human rights lawyer sentenced to prison for demanding reforms</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-url-description"> <div class="field-label">Description:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> News Story, 29 October 2013. </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <fieldset class="content-multigroup-wrapper content-multigroup-1"><div class="field field-type-link field-field-url"> <div class="field-label">URL:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="http://www.amnesty.org/en/news/saudi-arabia-empty-promises-crackdown-intensifies-2013-10-18">Saudi Arabia: Empty promises as crackdown intensifies</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-url-description"> <div class="field-label">Description:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> News Story/Report, 21 October 2013. </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> </fieldset> Activists Saudi Arabia Wed, 16 Apr 2014 16:48:30 +0000 Amnesty International 46721 at http://www.amnesty.org Libya: Trial of former al-Gaddafi officials by video link a farce http://www.amnesty.org/en/news/libya-trial-former-al-gaddafi-officials-video-link-farce-2014-04-14 <div class="field field-type-text field-field-headline"> <div class="field-label">Headline Title:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Libya: Trial of former al-Gaddafi officials by video link a farce </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-date field-field-date"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <span class="date-display-single">14 April 2014</span> </div> </div> </div> <p>The trial of former Libyan officials, including Saif al-Islam al-Gaddafi, risks descending into a farce after the court ordered today that he and six other defendants be tried via video link, said Amnesty International.</p><p><span>On 23 March, a day before the last hearing in this case, two amendments were made to Libya’s Code of Criminal Procedure to allow hearings via video link.</span></p><p><span>The trials by video link will infringe all the seven defendants’ rights to a fair trial. The impact on Saif al-Islam’s case is of particular concern as he remains held in a secret location in Zintan by a militia that has repeatedly refused to hand him over to state custody in Tripoli. The other six defendants are held in Misratah in prisons under the control of the Ministries of Justice and Defence.</span></p><p><span>“Allowing Saif al-Islam al-Gaddafi to appear by videoconference seriously undermines his right to a fair trial. Saif al-Islam is not in state custody and changes to the Code of Criminal Procedure and today’s court decision are simply about giving a gloss of legality to the stand-off between militias and the central authorities. The bottom line is that Saif al-Islam al-Gaddafi, like hundreds of other detainees, remains held in an unofficial place of detention,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.</span></p><p><span>Saif al-Islam al-Gaddafi is on trial in Libya along with 36 other former Libyan officials, including the former Chief of Military Intelligence Abdallah al-Senussi. They are facing a string of charges related to crimes committed during the 2011 uprising and armed conflict. Saif al-Islam al-Gaddafi is also wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) on two counts of crimes against humanity; murder and persecution.</span></p><p><span>“How can the Libyan authorities claim that Saif al-Islam al-Gaddafi will receive a fair trial when they cannot even ensure that he is physically present to face such serious accusations that may result in the death penalty? The court’s decision only reinforces that he must be handed over to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in line with the court’s decision issued nearly a year ago,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui.</span></p><p><span>Saif al-Islam al-Gaddafi remains held in a secret location without any regular contact with the outside world and his appearance by video link at court hearings undermine his right to be present at his own trial. Furthermore it would at best offer a glimpse into his detention and is not indicative of his overall treatment in detention and during his transfer to and from the court. &nbsp;A trial under such circumstances could also impede his communication with his lawyer and affect his ability to prepare and present an effective defence.</span></p><p><span>The trial was adjourned to 27 April to allow enough time to make the necessary technical arrangements.</span></p><p><span>“The authorities appears to have amended laws to permit trial appearances by video link simply because they are unable to secure Saif al-Islam’s transfer into state custody. It shows how little control the state has over him,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui.</span></p><p><span>In certain circumstances, including under the ICC rules of procedure, parts of a trial may be conducted by video link. While this should be the exception, such provisions may be permissible for example for security reasons at the defendant’s request, or where the accused has made it impossible to continue with a trial in his presence. However, where the accused is in unofficial custody and the court cannot enforce its authority over him, presence by video link is merely providing an illusion of legality.</span></p><p><span>The General Prosecutor has stated that Saif al-Islam could not be transferred from Zintan to Tripoli for security reasons, and that he refused to be transferred to Tripoli out of fear for his own life. However, Amnesty International believes that this argument cannot be made while Saif al-Islam al Gaddafi remains in militia’s custody and vulnerable to duress.</span></p><p><span>Failing to transfer the other six defendants in Misratah to the court in Tripoli will also needlessly impact their right to a fair trial.&nbsp;</span></p><p><span>Amnesty International recognizes the numerous security challenges faced by the Libyan authorities in the post-conflict period. The organization has expressed concern about attacks and abductions of detainees being transferred. However, while the judicial police remains weak, the authorities should focus on rebuilding institutions and improving security.</span></p><p><span>“Instead of changing the law to adapt it to current security and political challenges, the Libyan authorities should be seeking to expedite the process of taking over detention facilities from militias,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui.</span></p><p><span>Fair trials are essential to address impunity and achieve truth and justice for victims of human rights abuses and international crimes perpetrated during the conflict.</span></p><p><span>“It is hard to imagine how a fair trial can be conducted in a climate where witnesses are scared to testify, lawyers are scared to plead, prosecutors and judges are threatened, trials are held inside prison complexes or via video link allegedly to address security concerns, and the state is unable to take over detainees from militias,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui.</span></p><p><span>Amnesty International is also concerned about fair trial rights of all other defendants in the case. Lawyers told the organization that they were not given sufficient time to review evidence and prepare the defence in the pre-trial stage of the proceedings. Some reported intimidation and harassment. Threats have been common in Libya since the end of the 2011 conflict, especially in sensitive cases.&nbsp;</span></p><p><span>Abdallah al-Senussi continues to be held without access to legal counsel. His family have been unable to find a lawyer willing to represent him since he was extradited from Mauritania in 2012. Under Libyan law, the court will have to appoint a lawyer to represent him for the case to go ahead.</span></p><p><span><strong>Background</strong>&nbsp;</span></p><p>Saif al-Islam al-Gaddafi is the main defendant among 37 former officials, including the former Chief of Military Intelligence Abdallah al-Senussi, former Prime Minister al-Baghdadi al-Mahmoudi, former Head of the Revolutionary Guard Mansour Daw, former Head of the External Security Agency Abu Zeid Dorda and others.</p><p><span>The numerous charges relate mainly to the command responsibility of Saif al-Islam and other former officials and their alleged incitement to, or ordering of crimes perpetrated during the conflict. Some carry the death penalty. Only 23 defendants in the case appeared today at the Criminal Department of the Tripoli Appeals Court located in the compound of al-Hadba Corrections and Rehabilitation Institution in Tripoli, a high-security prison nominally under the Ministry of Justice. Expecting an adjournment, most lawyers did not attend the hearing.</span></p><p><span>Amnesty International met with Saif al-Islam in September 2013 at the militia compound in Zintan, but was not able to speak to him in private or visit his place of detention. The organization remains concerned about his prolonged isolation and the potential detrimental effects it may have on his health, wellbeing, and his access to a fair trial. Visits to Saif al-Islam by independent national and international organizations which must be authorized by the General Prosecution, remain extremely rare and are very difficult to organize. Regular independent monitoring of places of detention is one the main safeguards against torture.</span></p><p><strong><span>Amended articles undermining right to a fair trial&nbsp;</span></strong></p><p>On 23 March, the General National Congress (GNC) adopted amendments to articles 241 and 243 of the Code of Criminal Procedure regulating the right to public hearings and the defendant’s presence in court, two fundamental principles of fair trial guarantees under international human rights law.</p><p><span>Under the amended version of Article 241, a hearing is considered public as long as it is broadcast to the public via satellite channels, screens and other means of communication.</span></p><p><span>Under the amended version of Article 243, the court may use modern means of communication to connect the defendant to the courtroom whenever there is concern for his safety or fear that he may escape. This procedure is also applicable to witnesses, experts and prosecutors. It allows the trial of more than one defendant in more than one courtroom.&nbsp;</span></p><div class="field field-type-text field-field-strapline"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The trial of former Libyan officials, including Saif al-Islam al-Gaddafi, risks descending into a farce after the court ordered today that he and six other defendants be tried via video link.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-photo"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_photo" width="620" height="620" alt="" src="http://www.amnesty.org/sites/impact.amnesty.org/files/191223_CROPPED_VERSION.jpg?1397496714" /> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-nodereference field-field-medianode"> <div class="field-label">Media Node:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/en/node/46691">Libya</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-location field-field-storylocation"> <div class="field-label">Story Location:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="location vcard"><div class="adr"> <span class="fn"></span> <div class="country-name">Libya</div> <span class="geo"><abbr class="latitude" title="27.545467">27° 32' 43.6812" N</abbr>, <abbr class="longitude" title="13.888717">13° 53' 19.3812" E</abbr></span> </div> <div class="map-link"> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> <fieldset class="content-multigroup-group-quotestory"><fieldset class="content-multigroup-wrapper content-multigroup-0"><div class="field field-type-text field-field-quote"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="field-quote-begin">&#8220;</div><blockquote>Allowing Saif al-Islam al-Gaddafi to appear by videoconference seriously undermines his right to a fair trial. Saif al-Islam is not in state custody and changes to the Code of Criminal Procedure and today’s court decision are simply about giving a gloss of legality to the stand-off between militias and the central authorities. </blockquote><div class="field-quote-end">&#8221;</div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-storyfullname"> <div class="field-label">Source:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa. </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> </fieldset> <fieldset class="content-multigroup-group-relatedlinks"><fieldset class="content-multigroup-wrapper content-multigroup-0"><div class="field field-type-link field-field-url"> <div class="field-label">URL:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="http://www.amnesty.org/en/news/libya-must-surrender-saif-al-islam-al-gaddafi-international-criminal-court-2013-09-18">Libya must surrender Saif al-Islam al-Gaddafi to International Criminal Court</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-url-description"> <div class="field-label">Description:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> News Story, 18 September 2013. </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> </fieldset> Libya Trials And Legal Systems Mon, 14 Apr 2014 17:33:42 +0000 Amnesty International 46693 at http://www.amnesty.org Algeria: Pre-election clampdown exposes ‘gaping holes’ in human rights record http://www.amnesty.org/en/news/algeria-pre-election-clampdown-exposes-gaping-holes-human-rights-record-2014-04-14 <div class="field field-type-text field-field-headline"> <div class="field-label">Headline Title:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Algeria: Pre-election clampdown exposes ‘gaping holes’ in human rights record </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-date field-field-date"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <span class="date-display-single">14 April 2014</span> </div> </div> </div> <p>&nbsp;</p><p>Mounting curbs on freedom of expression in the run-up to Algeria’s upcoming elections underscore disturbing shortcomings in the country’s overall human rights record, said Amnesty International in a<a href="http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/MDE28/004/2014/en"> new briefing </a>published today.&nbsp;</p><p>Moves to silence critics and quash social unrest are at the forefront of a number of human rights concerns highlighted by the organization ahead of Algeria’s presidential elections on 17 April, when President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, in power since 1999, is controversially seeking a fourth term. Other challenges include shortcomings in laws that facilitate torture and ill-treatment, and fail to adequately protect women from gender-based violence as well as prevailing impunity for past abuses. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>“Algerian authorities’ strategy has been to nip in the bud any attempt to challenge them or their record. With the upcoming elections, they are up scaling the clampdown and showing they will not tolerate public criticism at any level”, said Nicola Duckworth, Amnesty International’s Senior Director of Research.&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;“There appears to be a concerted effort by the Algerian authorities to seize control of the narrative in the run-up to the elections by tightening their stranglehold on freedom of expression. A lack of open debate and restrictions on the right to criticize or protest to express social grievances or political demands cast doubt over the upcoming elections.”&nbsp;</p><p>Several foreign journalists have yet to be granted visas to cover the elections and international human rights groups such as Amnesty International have been withheld visas to the country for years.&nbsp;</p><p>The state of emergency was lifted in Algeria in 2011, yet restrictions continue to be imposed on freedom of expression, association and assembly. Although it is an oil-rich country, social and economic unrest fuelled by corruption, the rising costs of living, high unemployment and lack of access to housing has continued. The Algerian authorities have largely responded to such protests by forcibly dispersing them, as well as harassing and arresting demonstrators and trade union activists.&nbsp;</p><p>Despite a ban on demonstrations in Algiers, following an initial crackdown in early March the authorities have not forcibly dispersed peaceful protests in the capital which were held under heavy security.&nbsp;</p><p>However, the authorities continue to target Algerians, including journalists who stray from the official, pro-Bouteflika narrative. In one harrowing recent example, the wife of a journalist who had covered opposition protests was assaulted by three individuals in plain clothes believed to be members of the security forces. They reportedly threatened her at gunpoint and demanded that her husband stop criticizing the authorities on Facebook, before scalding her with hot water.&nbsp;</p><p>Last month security forces raided Al-Atlas TV, a private TV station which had criticised the authorities in its broadcasts. It was shut down and forced off air on 12 March 2014. Under current laws, only state-sanctioned media are fully licensed, with private channels granted temporary licenses that can be revoked with little warning.&nbsp;</p><p>“Attacking a private television station simply because it dared to broadcast a different view is a reprehensible attack on freedom of expression,” said Nicola Duckworth.&nbsp;</p><p>A 2012 law regulating associations places further restrictions on those wishing to register an independent organization and tightens regulations on foreign funding under the guise of protecting national values or morality. A number of associations that have been critical of government policy, including those seeking to combat corruption and sexual violence, or those demanding truth and justice about enforced disappearances, have yet to be registered. Amnesty International Algeria, which has been legally registered in Algeria since 1991, has most recently been denied the necessary authorization to organize its annual general assembly.&nbsp;</p><p>“As well as a crackdown on civil society, Algeria’s authorities have also failed to implement UN recommendations to close loopholes in existing laws that facilitate torture and ill-treatment. Safeguards against torture in Algerian law are currently woefully inadequate. This is compounded by a dire record of impunity when it comes to violations by the state, a tragic legacy of the country’s bloody internal conflict,” said Nicola Duckworth.&nbsp;</p><p>The hostage crisis at Algeria’s Amenas gas plant in January 2013, in which more than 40 workers and 29 hostage-takers were killed, put a spotlight on the security threats faced by the country as well as the abysmal record of the security forces. Algerian security forces have committed grave abuses including torture, enforced disappearance, extrajudicial executions and secret detention, in the name of fighting terrorism. However the track record of Algeria’s security forces has been disregarded in security cooperation with the USA, France and the UK.&nbsp;</p><p>Wide reforms are also still needed to end discrimination and violence against women and to address migrants’ rights. In addition, a series of amnesty measures granting immunity to perpetrators of a catalogue of appalling abuses from Algeria’s past have only served to entrench impunity.&nbsp;</p><p>“Despite repeated promises of reforms, these gaping holes in Algeria’s human rights record persist, even in areas trumpeted by the authorities as successes. Discrimination and violence against women remain rife,” said Nicola Duckworth.&nbsp;</p><div class="field field-type-text field-field-strapline"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Mounting curbs on freedom of expression in the run-up to Algeria’s upcoming elections underscore disturbing shortcomings in the country’s overall human rights record, said Amnesty International in a new briefing published today.&nbsp;</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-photo"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_photo" width="620" height="620" alt="" src="http://www.amnesty.org/sites/impact.amnesty.org/files/191212_Algeria_demonstration (1).jpg?1397235437" /> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-nodereference field-field-medianode"> <div class="field-label">Media Node:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/en/node/46627">Algeria demos</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-onpagesummary"> <div class="field-label">At a Glance:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <ul><li>Freedom of expression, association and assembly under threat with restrictions on protests, private TV station taken off air and NGOs in legal limbo</li><li>International human rights groups and UN human rights experts barred</li><li>Independent trade unions harassed amid social tensions and employment protests</li><li>Laws fail to protect women from gender-based violence and criminal suspects from torture</li><li>Failure to tackle pervasive impunity&nbsp;</li></ul> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-ai-index-number"> <div class="field-label">Amnesty International Index Number:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> MDE28/004/2014 </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-location field-field-storylocation"> <div class="field-label">Story Location:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="location vcard"><div class="adr"> <span class="fn"></span> <div class="country-name">Algeria</div> <span class="geo"><abbr class="latitude" title="32.758638">32° 45' 31.0968" N</abbr>, <abbr class="longitude" title="5.932617">5° 55' 57.4212" E</abbr></span> </div> <div class="map-link"> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> <fieldset class="content-multigroup-group-quotestory"><fieldset class="content-multigroup-wrapper content-multigroup-0"><div class="field field-type-text field-field-quote"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="field-quote-begin">&#8220;</div><blockquote>Algerian authorities’ strategy has been to nip in the bud any attempt to challenge them or their record. With the upcoming elections, they are up scaling the clampdown and showing they will not tolerate public criticism at any level </blockquote><div class="field-quote-end">&#8221;</div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-storyfullname"> <div class="field-label">Source:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Nicola Duckworth, Amnesty International’s Senior Director of Research </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-date field-field-date-popup"> <div class="field-label">Date:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <span class="date-display-single">Mon, 14/04/2014</span> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> </fieldset> <fieldset class="content-multigroup-group-relatedlinks"><fieldset class="content-multigroup-wrapper content-multigroup-0"><div class="field field-type-link field-field-url"> <div class="field-label">URL:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/MDE28/004/2014/en">Algeria: Key human rights concerns ahead of presidential elections</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-url-description"> <div class="field-label">Description:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Briefing, 14 April 2014 </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> </fieldset> Activists Algeria Freedom Of Expression Impunity MENA unrest Fri, 11 Apr 2014 16:58:50 +0000 Amnesty International 46628 at http://www.amnesty.org Viet Nam: Prisoners of conscience released but dozens remain jailed http://www.amnesty.org/en/news/viet-nam-prisoners-conscience-released-dozens-remain-jailed-2014-04-14 <div class="field field-type-text field-field-headline"> <div class="field-label">Headline Title:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Viet Nam: Prisoners of conscience released but dozens remain jailed </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-date field-field-date"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <span class="date-display-single">14 April 2014</span> </div> </div> </div> <p>The early release in Viet Nam of several prisoners of conscience is welcome, but serves to highlight the situation of at least 70 others who remain jailed for peacefully expressing their opinions, Amnesty International said today.</p><p><span>Nguyen Tien Trung, Vi Duc Hoi and Cu Huy Ha Vu have all been released over the past week.</span></p><p><span>“We are delighted that these men are out of prison but they should never have been locked-up in the first place,” said Rupert Abbott, Amnesty International’s Deputy Asia-Pacific Director.</span></p><p><span>“The releases are a step in the right direction for freedom of expression and we hope that they reflect a shift in Viet Nam’s commitment to respecting human rights.”</span></p><p><span>Amnesty International has documented the cases of 75 individuals who have been imprisoned after being tried and convicted for the peaceful exercise of their right to freedom of expression, and raised some of these cases in a recent visit to Viet Nam.</span></p><p><span>The cases, including the three men released, were included in the report <a href="http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/ASA41/007/2013/en"><em>Silenced Voices: Prisoners of Conscience in Viet Nam</em></a>. The document charts the harsh conditions faced by prisoners of conscience, many of whom suffer unfair trials, degrading treatment and ill-treatment in detention.</span></p><p><strong><span>Nguyen Tien Trung</span></strong></p><p>The most recent release came over the weekend, when Nguyen Tien Trung, aged 30, was freed after more than four years in prison. The IT engineer, blogger and pro-democracy activist had been found guilty in 2010 of attempting to “overthrow the people’s administration”.</p><p><span>The charges were brought after Nguyen Tien Trung and some friends set up an activist group while studying abroad in France. The group, called “The Assembly of Vietnamese Youth for Democracy”, was founded to encourage young Vietnamese people in the country and abroad to call for political reform and democracy.</span></p><p><span>At his trial the judges deliberated for only 15 minutes before returning with the final decision. It then took 45 minutes for the judges to read the judgment, strongly suggesting that it had been prepared in advance of the hearing. He was sentenced to seven years in prison followed by three years under house arrest.</span></p><p><span>Nguyen Tien Trung was not due for release until January 2017 and his release on Saturday came as a surprise to campaigners and his family.. His co-defendant Tran Huynh Duy Thuc, who Amnesty International also considers a prisoner of conscience, is still serving a 16-year sentence.</span></p><p><strong><span>Vi Duc Hoi</span></strong></p><p>Vi Duc Hoi, 56, was released on Friday 11 April, nearly a year-and-a-half earlier than expected.</p><p><span>Vi Duc Hoi is a writer and former member of Viet Nam’s ruling Communist Party. He was expelled from the party in 2007 for calling for democratic reform and then arrested in 2010 and jailed for eight years for using the internet to promote democracy. This sentence was reduced to five years on appeal.</span></p><p><strong><span>Cu Huy Ha Vu</span></strong></p><p>Last week, one of Vietnam’s most famous dissidents, human rights lawyer Cu Huy Ha Vu, 56, was released, three years into a seven-year prison sentence. He immediately travelled to the US, where he will live in voluntary exile.</p><p><strong><span>Dinh Dang Dinh</span></strong></p><p>However, jubilation over those released is marred by the tragic death of another prisoner of conscience, <a href="http://www.amnesty.org/en/news/death-activist-dinh-dang-dinh-should-be-wake-call-viet-nam-2014-04-04">Dinh Dang Dinh</a>, earlier this month. The 50-year old activist was unjustly jailed in 2011 after starting a petition against a mining project. He was diagnosed with stomach cancer while in prison and was only released a month before his death.</p><p><span>Amnesty International is calling on Viet Nam’s government to free all those who remain imprisoned for speaking out.</span></p><p><span>“The authorities should build on this positive step by immediately and unconditionally releasing all prisoners of conscience who still languish in prison simply for peacefully expressing their opinion,” said Rupert Abbott.</span></p><div class="field field-type-text field-field-strapline"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The early release in Viet Nam of several prisoners of conscience is welcome, but serves to highlight the situation of at least 70 others who remain jailed for peacefully expressing their opinions.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-photo"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_photo" width="620" height="620" alt="" src="http://www.amnesty.org/sites/impact.amnesty.org/files/183337_Nguyen_Tien_Trung_a_prisoner_of_conscience_serving_a_seven-year_sentence.jpg?1397485994" /> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-nodereference field-field-medianode"> <div class="field-label">Media Node:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/en/node/46687">Viet nam</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-twittertag"> <div class="field-label">Twitter Tag:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Vietnam </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-location field-field-storylocation"> <div class="field-label">Story Location:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="location vcard"><div class="adr"> <span class="fn"></span> <div class="country-name">Vietnam</div> <span class="geo"><abbr class="latitude" title="13.274950">13° 16' 29.82" N</abbr>, <abbr class="longitude" title="108.107470">108° 6' 26.892" E</abbr></span> </div> <div class="map-link"> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> <fieldset class="content-multigroup-group-quotestory"><fieldset class="content-multigroup-wrapper content-multigroup-0"><div class="field field-type-text field-field-quote"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="field-quote-begin">&#8220;</div><blockquote>We are delighted that these men are out of prison but they should never have been locked-up in the first place. </blockquote><div class="field-quote-end">&#8221;</div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-storyfullname"> <div class="field-label">Source:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Rupert Abbott, Amnesty International’s Deputy Asia-Pacific Director. </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> </fieldset> <fieldset class="content-multigroup-group-relatedlinks"><fieldset class="content-multigroup-wrapper content-multigroup-0"><div class="field field-type-link field-field-url"> <div class="field-label">URL:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="http://www.amnesty.org/en/news/death-activist-dinh-dang-dinh-should-be-wake-call-viet-nam-2014-04-04">Death of activist Dinh Dang Dinh should be ‘wake-up call’ for Viet Nam</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-url-description"> <div class="field-label">Description:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> News Story, 4 April 2014. </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <fieldset class="content-multigroup-wrapper content-multigroup-1"><div class="field field-type-link field-field-url"> <div class="field-label">URL:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/ASA41/007/2013/en">Silenced Voices: Prisoners of Conscience in Viet Nam</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-url-description"> <div class="field-label">Description:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Report, 7 November 2013. </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> </fieldset> Activists Freedom Of Expression Prisoners Of Conscience Viet Nam Mon, 14 Apr 2014 14:37:39 +0000 Amnesty International 46688 at http://www.amnesty.org Nigeria: Fears grow for man forcibly disappeared after tweeting photos http://www.amnesty.org/en/news/nigeria-fears-grow-man-who-went-missing-after-tweeting-photos-2014-04-11 <div class="field field-type-text field-field-headline"> <div class="field-label">Headline Title:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Nigeria: Fears grow for man forcibly disappeared after tweeting photos </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-date field-field-date"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <span class="date-display-single">11 April 2014</span> </div> </div> </div> <p>There are mounting fears over the fate of &nbsp;a man who went missing 11 days ago after tweeting pictures of an attempted jail break in Abuja, Amnesty International said today as joined a twitter action on his behalf.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>The man, identified by family members as Yusuf Siyaka Onimisi, has not been seen or heard from since 30 March after tweeting developments and images of fighting between Nigerian security forces and detainees trying to escape from the State Security Service (SSS) headquarters. He was reportedly working at an electrical sub-station within the nearby presidential compound when the fighting, which left 21 detainees dead, erupted.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>“Nigerian security forces should immediately disclose the whereabouts and legal status of Yusuf Siyaka Onimisi. If he is in detention, Nigerian authorities must either charge him with a recognizably criminal offence or release him immediately,” said Netsanet Belay, Research and Advocacy Director for Africa at Amnesty International.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>Yusuf Siyaka Onimisi’s whereabouts are still unknown but witnesses reported that he was arrested by plainclothes armed men outside his office, raising fears the authorities have subjected him to an enforced disappearance, putting him at increased risk of torture or extrajudicial execution. The SSS has so far neither confirmed nor denied that they are detaining him.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>Amnesty International spoke to Sanusi Onimisi, the missing man’s brother, who said Yusuf is the eldest of five siblings and had been working as a qualified electrical engineer.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>"He has been arrested for 11 days without any information being given to the family. If the government treats people like this, who are the terrorists? Who is the threat? The family has been kept in darkness. If you are holding him or if there is to be a sentence of death, then tell the family,” said Sanusi Onimisi.&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>Amnesty International has joined a twitter action launched by local activists, using the hashtag #FreeCiaxon, calling on the SSS to release Yusuf Siyaka Onimisi.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>The SSS has launched an investigation into the attempted jailbreak in Abuja and alleges that the detainees were suspected Boko Haram members. However, the government has not yet given a full account of the incident.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>In a report released in late March, the organization documented the Nigerian security forces’ alleged extrajudicial executions of more than 600 escaped detainees from Giwa Barracks, a military detention centre in Maiduguri.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><div class="field field-type-text field-field-strapline"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>There are mounting fears over the fate of &nbsp;a man who went missing 11 days ago after tweeting pictures of an attempted jail break in Abuja, Amnesty International said today as joined a twitter action on his behalf.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-photo"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_photo" width="620" height="620" alt="" src="http://www.amnesty.org/sites/impact.amnesty.org/files/191200_Yusuf_Siyaka_Onimisi (1).jpg?1397227845" /> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-nodereference field-field-medianode"> <div class="field-label">Media Node:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/en/node/46619">Yusuf Siyaka Onimisi</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-twittertag"> <div class="field-label">Twitter Tag:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> FreeCiaxon </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-location field-field-storylocation"> <div class="field-label">Story Location:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="location vcard"><div class="adr"> <span class="fn"></span> <div class="country-name">Nigeria</div> <span class="geo"><abbr class="latitude" title="9.792431">9° 47' 32.7516" N</abbr>, <abbr class="longitude" title="4.306641">4° 18' 23.9076" E</abbr></span> </div> <div class="map-link"> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> <fieldset class="content-multigroup-group-quotestory"><fieldset class="content-multigroup-wrapper content-multigroup-0"><div class="field field-type-text field-field-quote"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="field-quote-begin">&#8220;</div><blockquote>Nigerian security forces should immediately disclose the whereabouts and legal status of Yusuf Siyaka Onimisi. If he is in detention, the Nigerian authorities must either charge him with a recognizable criminal offence or release him immediately. </blockquote><div class="field-quote-end">&#8221;</div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-storyfullname"> <div class="field-label">Source:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Netsanet Belay, Research and Advocacy Director for Africa at Amnesty International. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-date field-field-date-popup"> <div class="field-label">Date:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <span class="date-display-single">Fri, 11/04/2014</span> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <fieldset class="content-multigroup-wrapper content-multigroup-1"><div class="field field-type-text field-field-quote"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="field-quote-begin">&#8220;</div><blockquote>He has been arrested for 11 days without any information being given to the family. If the government treats people like this, who are the terrorists? Who is the threat? The family has been kept in darkness. If you are holding him or if there is to be a sentence of death, then tell the family. </blockquote><div class="field-quote-end">&#8221;</div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-storyfullname"> <div class="field-label">Source:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Sanusi Onimisi, brother of the disappeared man </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-date field-field-date-popup"> <div class="field-label">Date:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <span class="date-display-single">Fri, 11/04/2014</span> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> </fieldset> <fieldset class="content-multigroup-group-relatedlinks"><fieldset class="content-multigroup-wrapper content-multigroup-0"><div class="field field-type-link field-field-url"> <div class="field-label">URL:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="http://www.amnesty.org/en/news/nigeria-war-crimes-and-crimes-against-humanity-violence-escalates-north-east-2014-03-31">Nigeria: War crimes and crimes against humanity as violence escalates in north-east</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-url-description"> <div class="field-label">Description:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> News story, 31 March 2014 </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <fieldset class="content-multigroup-wrapper content-multigroup-1"><div class="field field-type-link field-field-url"> <div class="field-label">URL:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/asset/AFR44/004/2014/en/543f7ac9-6889-4f02-bf5a-d73832e04229/afr440042014en.pdf">Nigeria: More than 1,500 killed in armed conflict in north-eastern Nigeria in early 2014</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-url-description"> <div class="field-label">Description:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Report, 31 March 2014 </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> </fieldset> Activists Detention Disappearances And Abductions Freedom Of Expression Nigeria Fri, 11 Apr 2014 14:53:17 +0000 Amnesty International 46621 at http://www.amnesty.org Kenya: Somalis trapped in ‘catch-22’ amid crackdown on refugees http://www.amnesty.org/en/news/kenya-somalis-placed-catch-22-amid-crackdown-refugees-2014-04-11 <div class="field field-type-text field-field-headline"> <div class="field-label">Headline Title:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Kenya: Somalis trapped in ‘catch-22’ amid crackdown on refugees </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-date field-field-date"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <span class="date-display-single">11 April 2014</span> </div> </div> </div> <p>Somali refugees and asylum-seekers living in Kenya are being trapped in a catch-22 situation by the government’s counter-terrorism crackdown, Amnesty International said as thousands of Somalis continued to be rounded up by security forces in Nairobi.</p><p>Registration of Somali refugees in Kenya has been largely halted since 2011, preventing many who should qualify for refugee status from obtaining papers. Without these they could be returned to Somalia, where they may be at risk of human rights abuses.</p><p>“Thousands of unregistered Somali refugees and asylum-seekers are in an impossible situation: they face arrest and deportation because they are not registered, but it is extremely difficult for them to register,” said Michelle Kagari, Deputy Regional Director of Amnesty International’s Africa Programme. &nbsp;</p><p>“The Kenyan government is punishing refugees and asylum-seekers for being in a legal limbo that it has created, while showing no consideration for their human rights.”</p><p>Somali refugees told Amnesty International they had faced intimidation, beatings and unlawful detention at the hands of security forces conducting house-to-house searches in predominantly Somali neighbourhoods over the past week.</p><p>Ahmed, 26, who was taken from his home to the Kasarani football stadium to have his papers checked on 7 April, said: “They came to my house in the middle of the night and demanded my papers. My ID had expired. They said ‘this is not real ID’ so they beat and kicked me and then took me to Kasarani.”&nbsp;</p><p>Unregistered asylum-seekers are at particular risk, though people with valid papers have also been arbitrarily detained, threatened and mistreated.</p><p>Mohamed, who was arrested on 6 April near Eastleigh, a predominantly Somali area of Nairobi, told Amnesty International: “Four policemen stopped me and asked for my ID. I showed them my refugee card; they said it meant nothing. They demanded 35,000 KSh ($400 US) from me. When I didn’t have it, they told me I was al-Shabab and forced me to go with them.”&nbsp;</p><p>He was detained at the Kasarani stadium, where many refugees have been taken for screening, before being moved to a police station overnight. The following day he was released along with 47 others, but he now has no ID.&nbsp;</p><p>“When they brought us back to Eastleigh they didn’t give me my refugee mandate back. They told me to come back the next day to Kasarani, but when I went I was told to come back another time,” he said.</p><p>Refugees and asylum-seekers without IDs are at high risk of arrest and detention. Though Mohamed is legally in Kenya, he is unable to move around freely for fear of arrest.</p><p>&nbsp;“I didn’t sleep last night. Now I don’t have an ID, if they arrest me right now, I have nothing to show,” he said. &nbsp;</p><p><strong>Anti-terror operation</strong></p><p>The Kenyan government has been carrying out a large-scale anti-terror operation called <em>Rudisha Usalama</em> (“restore peace”) since 2 April, arresting more than 4,000 people throughout the country, mainly from the Somali community.&nbsp;</p><p>“Such blanket arrests are discriminatory and arbitrary. Marginalizing entire communities is not the way to deal with insecurity, and may well cause further insecurity,” Michelle Kagari said.&nbsp;</p><p>The government crackdown on refugees has escalated since Kenya’s Secretary of Interior, Ole Lenku, issued a directive on 26 March ordering all refugees to move to run-down and overcrowded camps in northern Kenya.&nbsp;</p><p>This followed a similar government directive in December 2012, which was quashed by Kenya’s High Court in July 2013.</p><p>The Court said relocation to the camps would violate refugees’ dignity and freedom of movement and risks indirectly forcing them back to Somalia. The Court also ruled that the Kenyan government had not proved that the move would help protect national security.</p><p>The current crackdown is not only in breach of the High Court judgement, but has also been implemented unlawfully.&nbsp;</p><p>Ibrahim, a Somali elder in Eastleigh, told Amnesty International: “The way they’re treating people is forcing people to go back to Somalia.”</p><p>Amnesty International’s report published in February, <em>No Place Like Home: Returns and Relocations of Somalia’s Displaced</em>, documented how widespread intimidation and lack of respect for human rights are forcing Somali refugees out of Kenya.</p><p>On 9 April, the Somali embassy in Nairobi said that Kenya had deported 82 Somalis to Mogadishu. More are expected to be deported in the coming days.&nbsp;</p><p>“These deportations to a volatile security situation in Somalia may well amount to refoulement,” said Michelle Kagari.&nbsp;</p><p>“Forcibly returning people to places where their lives or freedoms are at risk would violate international refugee law, which Kenya is bound to respect.”</p><div class="field field-type-text field-field-strapline"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Somali refugees and asylum-seekers living in Kenya are being trapped in a catch-22 situation by the government’s counter-terrorism crackdown, Amnesty International said.&nbsp;</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-photo"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_photo" width="620" height="620" alt="" src="http://www.amnesty.org/sites/impact.amnesty.org/files/191202_KENYA-SOMALIA-UNREST-POLICE-RIGHTS (1).jpg?1397230268" /> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-nodereference field-field-medianode"> <div class="field-label">Media Node:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/en/node/46623">kenya</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-twittertag"> <div class="field-label">Twitter Tag:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> kenya </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-location field-field-storylocation"> <div class="field-label">Story Location:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="location vcard"><div class="adr"> <span class="fn"></span> <div class="country-name">United Kingdom</div> <span class="geo"><abbr class="latitude" title="-1.403363">1° 24' 12.1068" S</abbr>, <abbr class="longitude" title="38.759766">38° 45' 35.1576" E</abbr></span> </div> <div class="map-link"> <div class="location map-link">See map: <a href="http://maps.google.co.uk?q=%2C+%2C+%2C+uk">Google Maps</a></div></div> </div> </div> </div> </div> <fieldset class="content-multigroup-group-quotestory"><fieldset class="content-multigroup-wrapper content-multigroup-0"><div class="field field-type-text field-field-quote"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="field-quote-begin">&#8220;</div><blockquote>The Kenyan government is punishing refugees and asylum-seekers for being in a legal limbo that it has created.</blockquote><div class="field-quote-end">&#8221;</div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-storyfullname"> <div class="field-label">Source:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Amnesty International&#039;s Michelle Kagari </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> </fieldset> Kenya Refugees, Displaced People And Migrants Somalia Fri, 11 Apr 2014 15:33:47 +0000 Amnesty International 46624 at http://www.amnesty.org Egyptian president must reject flawed anti-terrorism laws http://www.amnesty.org/en/news/egyptian-president-must-reject-flawed-anti-terrorism-laws-2014-04-09 <div class="field field-type-text field-field-headline"> <div class="field-label">Headline Title:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Egyptian president must reject flawed anti-terrorism laws </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-date field-field-date"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <span class="date-display-single">11 April 2014</span> </div> </div> </div> <p>New counter-terrorism legislation set to be approved by Egypt’s president is deeply flawed and must be scrapped or fundamentally revised, Amnesty International said.</p><p>Two draft anti-terror laws, which were sent to interim president Adly Mansour on 3 April and could be signed off at any time, would give the Egyptian authorities increased powers to muzzle freedom of expression and imprison opponents and critics.</p><p>“These deeply flawed draft laws can be abused because they include an increasingly broad and vague definition of terrorism,” warned Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Deputy Director Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui.&nbsp;</p><p>“This draft legislation also violates the right to free expression, undermines safeguards against torture and arbitrary detention, and expands the scope of application of the death penalty.”</p><p>Egypt has seen a rise in deadly armed attacks, mainly targeting government buildings, army checkpoints and other security institutions and personnel, since the removal of Mohamed Morsi from the presidency on 3 July 2013, particularly in the restive North Sinai region.&nbsp;</p><p>“The Egyptian government has a duty to prevent, investigate and punish violent attacks, but in doing so it must abide by its obligations under international law,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui.&nbsp;</p><p>In the draft laws sent to Interim President Adly Mansour, the existing definition of terrorism is expanded to include actions aimed at “damaging national unity, natural resources, monuments… hindering the work of judicial bodies… regional and international bodies in Egypt, and diplomatic and consular missions”.&nbsp;</p><p>It is also extended to “any behaviour or preparation with the purpose of damaging communications, or information systems, or financial and banking systems, or the national economy”.</p><p>“The problem with these vaguely worded ‘terrorist offences’ is that they potentially allow the authorities to bring a terrorism case against virtually any peaceful activist,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui.</p><p>“The definition of terrorism potentially criminalizes strikes and peaceful demonstrations in schools, universities and those emanating from mosques, under the pretext that such legitimate activities harm national unity, hamper the work of national institutions and damage the economy.”</p><p>Many marches since the “25 January Revolution” are organized following prayers, including those by supporters of the deposed president Mohamed Morsi.</p><p>&nbsp;The draft legislation widens the scope for use of the death penalty, imposing it even where “terrorist” acts committed do not cause loss of life. This includes the crimes of founding, managing or administering a terrorist group.&nbsp;</p><p>“Rather than reducing the number of capital crimes, the Egyptian authorities are expanding them to include crimes which do not cause a loss of life. &nbsp;Disturbingly, this could feasibly lead to even more mass death sentences,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui.</p><p><strong>Repressive new laws</strong></p><p>Another proposed change is to allow security forces to hold detainees for longer – 72 hours, which could be extended for another seven days – in breach of international law and Egypt’s recently adopted constitution, which states anyone arrested should be referred to a prosecutor within 24 hours. &nbsp;</p><p>The period after arrest is the time detainees are most vulnerable to torture and other ill-treatment, Amnesty International’s research has shown.&nbsp;</p><p>The draft laws also do not explicitly state that “confessions” extracted under torture must be excluded from evidence.</p><p>The laws impose penalties of up to three years’ imprisonment for insulting verbally a public employee, member of the security forces or any person in charge of a public service while performing their duty - in violation of the right to freedom of expression.</p><p>A further law change gives the authorities more powers to check bank accounts and monitor phone calls of persons or associations without the approval of an independent authority, such as the judiciary. This could be routinely used to crack down on personal freedoms and civil society organizations.</p><p>Meanwhile, the proposed laws are silent on the state’s duty to recognize and respect the human rights of victims of terrorist acts, such as Coptic Christians and other minority groups.</p><p>The draft laws also give the president the power to declare a state of emergency without seeking the approval of parliament.&nbsp;</p><p>This is a worrying echo of Hosni Mubarak’s rule, during which people were held without charge or trial - sometimes for decades - under Egypt’s emergency law.&nbsp;</p><p>“The draconian nature of this legislation, which flouts Egypt’s obligations, suggests that it will pave the way to further clamp down on civil society and government opponents and critics, rather than tackling the threat of terrorism,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui.</p><p>“The government should change course and adopt an approach that respects human rights and the rule of law.”</p><div class="field field-type-text field-field-strapline"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>New counter-terrorism legislation set to be approved by Egypt’s president is deeply flawed and must be scrapped or fundamentally revised, Amnesty International said.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-photo"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_photo" width="620" height="620" alt="" src="http://www.amnesty.org/sites/impact.amnesty.org/files/165163_Crowds_gather_on_Tahrir_to_oppose_President_Morsi (1).jpg?1397052836" /> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-nodereference field-field-medianode"> <div class="field-label">Media Node:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/en/node/46552">egipto</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-twittertag"> <div class="field-label">Twitter Tag:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> egypt </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-location field-field-storylocation"> <div class="field-label">Story Location:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="location vcard"><div class="adr"> <span class="fn"></span> <div class="country-name">United Kingdom</div> <span class="geo"><abbr class="latitude" title="28.772474">28° 46' 20.9064" N</abbr>, <abbr class="longitude" title="30.761719">30° 45' 42.1884" E</abbr></span> </div> <div class="map-link"> <div class="location map-link">See map: <a href="http://maps.google.co.uk?q=%2C+%2C+%2C+uk">Google Maps</a></div></div> </div> </div> </div> </div> <fieldset class="content-multigroup-group-quotestory"><fieldset class="content-multigroup-wrapper content-multigroup-0"><div class="field field-type-text field-field-quote"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="field-quote-begin">&#8220;</div><blockquote>The problem with these vaguely worded ‘terrorist offences’ is that they potentially allow the authorities to bring a terrorism case against virtually any peaceful activist.</blockquote><div class="field-quote-end">&#8221;</div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-storyfullname"> <div class="field-label">Source:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Amnesty International&#039;s Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> </fieldset> Egypt Freedom Of Expression Wed, 09 Apr 2014 14:17:14 +0000 Amnesty International 46582 at http://www.amnesty.org UN peacekeeping force in Western Sahara must monitor human rights http://www.amnesty.org/en/news/western-sahara-un-security-council-2014-04-10 <div class="field field-type-text field-field-headline"> <div class="field-label">Headline Title:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> UN peacekeeping force in Western Sahara must monitor human rights </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-date field-field-date"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <span class="date-display-single">11 April 2014</span> </div> </div> </div> <p>&nbsp;</p><p>The UN Security Council must expand the mandate of its peacekeeping force in Western Sahara to include sustained human rights monitoring, said Amnesty International, amid clampdowns on peaceful protests and reports of activists tortured in custody during the past year.&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>In a report to the Security Council UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called for independent, impartial and sustained human rights monitoring in the territory and Sahrawi refugee camps in southern Algeria.&nbsp;</p><p>“Extending the peacekeeping force’s mandate to include human rights would shed much-needed light on violations and abuses that would otherwise go unreported and provide an independent and impartial account on disputed allegations of human rights violations,” said Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s Secretary General, in New York.&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>“In the absence of an independent, impartial, comprehensive and sustained human rights monitoring, parties are allowed to trade accusations of rights abuses which fuel the tension as violations go unaddressed.&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>“A continued clampdown has left human rights defenders powerless to effectively document rampant violations in Western Sahara. Maintaining a peacekeeping force with a limited mandate is no longer an option.”&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>The UN Security Council is due to extend the mandate of the UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) at the end of April 2014. It is the only modern UN peacekeeping operation without a human rights component.&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>In the year since the mandate was last renewed, the Moroccan authorities have continued to stifle dissent, placing restrictions on freedom of expression, peaceful protests and civil society. Peaceful demonstrations are routinely banned or violently dispersed. Amnesty International has documented cases of activists and protesters being tortured and otherwise ill-treated in police custody following demonstrations calling for MINURSO to adopt a human rights mandate in 2014.&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>Human rights defenders and activists in Western Sahara also face numerous restrictions on their work, including harassment and relentless surveillance by security forces, while authorities continue to obstruct the registration of local human rights associations.&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>“If Morocco wishes to prove it is serious about respecting its international obligations, it must end the harassment or intimidation of activists and stop blocking independent human rights monitoring by both local groups and the UN,” said Salil Shetty.&nbsp;</p><p>Given the political sensitivities surrounding the unresolved dispute over the territory annexed by Morocco in 1975, impartial and sustained monitoring by MINURSO could be crucial. On 8 November 2010, violence erupted as Moroccan security forces forcibly dismantled of a peaceful protest camp in Gdim Izik, near Laayoune, leaving 11 members of the Moroccan security forces and two Sahrawis dead. Moroccan authorities failed to independently and impartially investigate the events. Twenty-five Sahrawi civilians were later convicted by a military court for their alleged role in the violence and given heavy prison terms, including nine life sentences. The prisoners also spent two years in pre-trial detention during which they reported being tortured and otherwise ill-treated, before being unfairly convicted on the basis of forced “confessions”.&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>An expanded MINURSO mandate could also help ensure an independent investigation is carried out into the deaths of 11 Sahrawis forcibly disappeared in 1976. Their remains were discovered and exhumed last year by an independent forensic team whose findings suggest the 11 were extrajudicially executed by Moroccan armed forces at the time.&nbsp;</p><p>“MINURSO could play a valuable role in preserving forensic evidence and paving the way for independent and impartial investigations into incidents such as enforced disappearances,” said Salil Shetty.&nbsp;</p><p>The Polisario Front, for its part, has also failed to take steps to end impunity for those accused of committing human rights abuses in the 1970s and 1980s in the camps under its control, where no independent human rights organizations currently operate.&nbsp;</p><p>Establishing an independent and impartial human rights monitoring body could also contribute to helping the Polisario Front and the Moroccan authorities overcome their mutual mistrust fuelled by allegations of human rights abuses and help build an environment conducive to fruitful political negotiations.&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><strong>Background&nbsp;</strong></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>The United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) was established in 1991 in the territory annexed by Morocco in 1975 as well as Sahrawi refugee camps in Tindouf in south-western Algeria. Its mandate has been to monitor a ceasefire between the Moroccan armed forces and the Polisario Front, as well as to implement a referendum to determine Western Sahara’s final status.&nbsp;</p><div class="field field-type-text field-field-strapline"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The UN Security Council must expand the mandate of its peacekeeping force in Western Sahara to include sustained human rights monitoring, said Amnesty International, amid clampdowns on peaceful protests and reports of activists tortured in custody during the past year.&nbsp;</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-photo"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_photo" width="620" height="620" alt="" src="http://www.amnesty.org/sites/impact.amnesty.org/files/176197_Arms_Trade_Treaty_signing_ceremony_New_York_USA_3rd_June_2013 (1).jpg?1397136047" /> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-nodereference field-field-medianode"> <div class="field-label">Media Node:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/en/node/46600">ws</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-twittertag"> <div class="field-label">Twitter Tag:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> morocco </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-location field-field-storylocation"> <div class="field-label">Story Location:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="location vcard"><div class="adr"> <span class="fn"></span> <div class="country-name">United Kingdom</div> <span class="geo"><abbr class="latitude" title="21.458181">21° 27' 29.4516" N</abbr>, <abbr class="longitude" title="-15.380859">15° 22' 51.0924" W</abbr></span> </div> <div class="map-link"> <div class="location map-link">See map: <a href="http://maps.google.co.uk?q=%2C+%2C+%2C+uk">Google Maps</a></div></div> </div> </div> </div> </div> <fieldset class="content-multigroup-group-quotestory"><fieldset class="content-multigroup-wrapper content-multigroup-0"><div class="field field-type-text field-field-quote"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="field-quote-begin">&#8220;</div><blockquote>Extending the peacekeeping force’s mandate to include human rights would shed much-needed light on violations and abuses that would otherwise go unreported and provide an independent and impartial account on disputed allegations of human rights violations </blockquote><div class="field-quote-end">&#8221;</div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-storyfullname"> <div class="field-label">Source:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s Secretary General, in New York </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-date field-field-date-popup"> <div class="field-label">Date:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <span class="date-display-single">Fri, 11/04/2014</span> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> </fieldset> Morocco United Nations Thu, 10 Apr 2014 13:22:46 +0000 Amnesty International 46601 at http://www.amnesty.org China: Rejection of detained activist’s appeal makes a “mockery of justice” http://www.amnesty.org/en/news/china-rejection-detained-activist-s-appeal-makes-mockery-justice-2014-04-11 <div class="field field-type-date field-field-date"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <span class="date-display-single">11 April 2014</span> </div> </div> </div> <p>A Chinese court’s decision to reject an appeal by prominent activist Xu Zhiyong and uphold his four year jail sentence is an affront to justice, said Amnesty International.</p><p>A court in Beijing on Friday rejected Xu Zhiyong’s appeal against his conviction in January for “gathering a crowd to disturb order in a public place.”</p><p>“Today’s ruling makes a mockery of justice as the decision was a foregone conclusion. The shock would have been if the appeals court had overturned the guilty verdict. &nbsp;Instead of upholding freedom of expression and assembly, the court opted yet again to trample all over these fundamental rights,” said William Nee, China Researcher at Amnesty International.</p><p>“Xu Zhiyong is a prisoner of conscience and he should be released immediately and unconditionally. The authorities must end this merciless persecution of all those associated with the New Citizens Movement.”</p><p>The trial of two other activists linked to the New Citizens Movement began on Tuesday before being postponed after their lawyers walked out of the court in protest at what they perceived as unfair proceedings.&nbsp;</p><p>Ding Jiaxi and Li Wei were also charged with "gathering a crowd to disturb public order in a public space". Another activist, Zhao Changqing was tried on Thursday on the same charge.</p><p>Background&nbsp;</p><p>Dozens of people linked to the New Citizens Movement – however tenuously – have been detained over the past year. Several of these activists have already been prosecuted simply for exercising their rights to assembly and free speech.</p><p>A highly regarded legal scholar, Xu Zhiyong, wrote an article in May 2012 titled China Needs a New Citizens Movement, which is credited with spurring a loose network of activists who aim to promote government transparency and expose corruption.</p><p>Suggested activities for “New Citizens” include: practicing “New Citizen Responsibility” by rejecting corruption and by doing good for society; participating in civic life by holding meetings to discuss the political situation; helping the weak; and uniting to share and coordinate work.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><div class="field field-type-text field-field-strapline"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>A Chinese court’s decision to reject an appeal by prominent activist Xu Zhiyong and uphold his four year jail sentence is an affront to justice.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-photo"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_photo" width="300" height="224" alt="" src="http://www.amnesty.org/sites/impact.amnesty.org/files/186699_Xu_Zhiyong_left_and_Teng_Biao_1.jpg?1397187456" /> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-nodereference field-field-medianode"> <div class="field-label">Media Node:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/en/node/46613">Xu Zhiyong </a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-twittertag"> <div class="field-label">Twitter Tag:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> newcitizensmovement </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-location field-field-storylocation"> <div class="field-label">Story Location:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="location vcard"><div class="adr"> <span class="fn"></span> <div class="country-name">China</div> </div> <div class="map-link"> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> <fieldset class="content-multigroup-group-quotestory"><fieldset class="content-multigroup-wrapper content-multigroup-0"><div class="field field-type-text field-field-quote"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="field-quote-begin">&#8220;</div><blockquote>Instead of upholding freedom of expression and assembly, the court opted yet again to trample all over these fundamental rights.</blockquote><div class="field-quote-end">&#8221;</div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-storyfullname"> <div class="field-label">Source:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> William Nee, China Researcher at Amnesty International. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-date field-field-date-popup"> <div class="field-label">Date:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <span class="date-display-single">Fri, 11/04/2014</span> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> </fieldset> <fieldset class="content-multigroup-group-relatedlinks"><fieldset class="content-multigroup-wrapper content-multigroup-0"><div class="field field-type-link field-field-url"> <div class="field-label">URL:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="http://www.amnesty.org/en/news/china-xu-zhiyong-four-year-jail-sentence-shameful-2014-01-26">China: Xu Zhiyong four year jail sentence “shameful</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-url-description"> <div class="field-label">Description:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> News story, 26 January 2014 </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <fieldset class="content-multigroup-wrapper content-multigroup-1"><div class="field field-type-link field-field-url"> <div class="field-label">URL:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="http://www.amnesty.org/en/news/china-hypocritical-crackdown-anti-corruption-campaigners-2014-01-21">China: Hypocritical crackdown on anti-corruption campaigners</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-url-description"> <div class="field-label">Description:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> News story, 24 January 2014 </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> </fieldset> China Fri, 11 Apr 2014 03:40:17 +0000 Amnesty International 46612 at http://www.amnesty.org Egypt must end 'vindictive' detention of Al Jazeera journalists http://www.amnesty.org/en/news/egypt-s-must-end-vindictive-detention-al-jazeera-journalists-2014-04-09 <div class="field field-type-text field-field-headline"> <div class="field-label">Headline Title:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Egypt must end &#039;vindictive&#039; detention of Al Jazeera journalists </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-date field-field-date"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <span class="date-display-single">09 April 2014</span> </div> </div> </div> <p>Egypt’s continued detention of three Al Jazeera journalists charged with falsifying news and involvement with the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood movement is “vindictive”, Amnesty International said ahead of the trio’s latest trial hearing.</p><p>Al Jazeera English staff Mohamed Fahmy, Peter Greste and Baher Mohamed, along with five Egyptian students, stand accused of belonging to or assisting a banned terrorist organization -, in reference to the Muslim Brotherhood. Their trial resumes on 10 April.</p><p>“What the Egyptian authorities are doing is vindictive persecution of journalists for merely doing their jobs,” said Amnesty International’s Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Middle East and North Africa Programme Deputy Director.&nbsp;</p><p>“So far, the Prosecution has failed to produce any convincing evidence and the journalists appear to be pawns in the hands of the authorities in their ongoing dispute with Qatar. The truth is that Mohamed Fahmy, Peter Greste and Baher Mohamed are prisoners of conscience who must be released immediately and unconditionally.”</p><p>The men have been detained since 29 December 2013, when security forces arrested Mohamed Fahmy and Peter Greste at the Marriott Hotel in Cairo and Baher Mohamed at his home.&nbsp;</p><p>The five Egyptian students were arrested two days later.&nbsp;</p><p>At their last hearing on 31 March, the judge ordered forensic experts to examine three of the students, after they alleged security forces had beaten them during their arrest.</p><p>The authorities are also denying Mohamed Fahmy adequate medical treatment for a shoulder injury sustained in the days before his arrest.&nbsp;</p><p>The journalist has a fractured bone in his arm and his condition has worsened considerably due to lack of adequate medical care and the poor prison conditions he has endured, including over a month spent in the maximum-security Scorpion Prison after his arrest.</p><p>“This trial is nothing more than posturing by the authorities to gain public support,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui.</p><p>“This farce must end and the charges against the three men must be dropped.”</p><p><strong>Media crackdown</strong></p><p>The trial has come amid a crackdown by the Egyptian authorities on the Al Jazeera network, as well as other media seen as supporting the Muslim Brotherhood and ousted president Mohamed Morsi.</p><p>It has also played out against the backdrop of worsening relations between Egypt and Qatar, where Al Jazeera is based.</p><p>Security forces filmed the arrest of Mohamed Fahmy and Peter Greste and the video was later screened on Egyptian television, apparently in an attempt to smear the men.&nbsp;</p><p>The arrests sparked an international outcry from media organizations, as well as a statement by the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on 31 January, which expressed concern over what it called “the systematic targeting of Al Jazeera staff” and the wider situation facing journalists and other media workers in Egypt.</p><p>In March 2014, Egypt’s president wrote to the families of Mohamed Fahmy and Peter Greste, stating he will spare no effort to quickly resolve the situation. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>“Interim President Adly Mansour is presiding over a campaign of intimidation against journalists and activists, who are being targeted just for challenging the authorities’ narrative on their reporting. These arbitrary restrictions on expression violate Egypt’s obligations under international human rights law,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui.</p><p>However, there is little sign of an end to the men’s ordeal. The judge hearing the case has denied the men bail.&nbsp;</p><p>In the nine months since Mohamed Morsi’s ousting, Al Jazeera has reported a number of incidents where security forces have arrested its staff or raided its offices.&nbsp;</p><p>The authorities are continuing to detain Al Jazeera Arabic journalist Abdullah al-Shami, arrested on 14 August 2013. He has been on hunger strike since mid-January 2014. The journalist has faced harassment by the security forces, both during his arrest for his work and in detention. &nbsp;</p><p>An administrative court banned Al Jazeera’s Egyptian channel, Mubasher Misr, on 3 September 2013, along with three other channels seen as supporting Mohamed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood.</p><p>The authorities are also continuing a wider crackdown on dissent, targeting both the Muslim Brotherhood and its supporters as well as other opposition activists critical of the authorities.</p><div class="field field-type-text field-field-strapline"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Egypt’s continued detention of three Al Jazeera journalists charged with falsifying news and involvement with the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood movement is “vindictive", said Amnesty International.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-photo"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_photo" width="620" height="620" alt="" src="http://www.amnesty.org/sites/impact.amnesty.org/files/188610_FreeAJStaff (1)_0.jpg?1397063118" /> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-nodereference field-field-medianode"> <div class="field-label">Media Node:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/en/node/46583">ajaz</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-twittertag"> <div class="field-label">Twitter Tag:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> egypt </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-location field-field-storylocation"> <div class="field-label">Story Location:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="location vcard"><div class="adr"> <span class="fn"></span> <div class="country-name">United Kingdom</div> <span class="geo"><abbr class="latitude" title="27.999252">27° 59' 57.3072" N</abbr>, <abbr class="longitude" title="30.585938">30° 35' 9.3768" E</abbr></span> </div> <div class="map-link"> <div class="location map-link">See map: <a href="http://maps.google.co.uk?q=%2C+%2C+%2C+uk">Google Maps</a></div></div> </div> </div> </div> </div> <fieldset class="content-multigroup-group-quotestory"><fieldset class="content-multigroup-wrapper content-multigroup-0"><div class="field field-type-text field-field-quote"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="field-quote-begin">&#8220;</div><blockquote>Interim President Adly Mansour is presiding over a campaign of intimidation against journalists and activists, who are being targeted just for challenging the authorities’ narrative.</blockquote><div class="field-quote-end">&#8221;</div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-storyfullname"> <div class="field-label">Source:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Amnesty International&#039;s Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> </fieldset> <fieldset class="content-multigroup-group-relatedlinks"><fieldset class="content-multigroup-wrapper content-multigroup-0"><div class="field field-type-link field-field-url"> <div class="field-label">URL:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="http://livewire.amnesty.org/2014/03/05/journalism-is-not-a-crime/">Journalism is not a crime</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-url-description"> <div class="field-label">Description:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Blog, 5 March 2014 </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <fieldset class="content-multigroup-wrapper content-multigroup-1"><div class="field field-type-link field-field-url"> <div class="field-label">URL:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="http://www.amnesty.org/en/news/egypt-end-military-trial-journalists-2014-02-25">Egypt: End military trial of journalists </a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-url-description"> <div class="field-label">Description:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> News story, 25 February 2014 </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <fieldset class="content-multigroup-wrapper content-multigroup-2"><div class="field field-type-link field-field-url"> <div class="field-label">URL:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="http://www.amnesty.org/en/news/egypt-al-jazeera-english-journalists-referred-trial-2014-01-29">Grave risk to media freedom in Egypt as journalists face ‘terror charges’ </a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-url-description"> <div class="field-label">Description:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> News story, 29 January 2014 </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> </fieldset> Egypt Freedom Of Expression Wed, 09 Apr 2014 17:05:50 +0000 Amnesty International 46588 at http://www.amnesty.org Amnesty International releases Manual to fight injustice http://www.amnesty.org/en/news/amnesty-international-releases-manual-fight-injustice-2014-04-09 <div class="field field-type-text field-field-headline"> <div class="field-label">Headline Title:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Amnesty International releases Manual to fight injustice </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-date field-field-date"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <span class="date-display-single">09 April 2014</span> </div> </div> </div> <p>A new resource to arm lawyers, defendants and the judiciary with the tools to fight against unfair trials and injustice is published by Amnesty International today.</p><p>A practical guide on the internationally agreed standards for fair criminal proceedings, the second edition of the <a href="http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/POL30/002/2014/en"><em>Fair Trial Manual</em> </a>is the first update in more than 15 years.</p><p>“The <em>Fair Trial Manual</em> is essential reading for anyone having to battle against injustice,” said Michael Bochenek, Senior Director of International Law and Policy at Amnesty International.</p><p>“It provides practical guidance on which corners prosecutors must never try to cut. In extreme cases, it can also help to expose politically motivated show trials for what they really are. Even in the most oppressive states, where the judiciary is little more than a puppet for political masters, highlighting abuses can and does achieve results.”</p><p>The Manual will be used by a wide range of people assessing the fairness of an individual criminal case or criminal justice system. These include:</p><ul><li>lawyers and judges acting in criminal proceedings</li><li>trial observers, legislators and human rights educators</li><li>human rights monitors working to assist efforts to re-establish the rule of law and in complex post-conflict situations</li></ul><p>Political prisoners have also used the <em>Fair Trial Manual</em> to represent themselves in court—as a ‘DIY defence guide’. Albin Kurti was arrested in Kosovo in 2007 during a protest which he helped to organize. He spent five months in prison, and another five months under house arrest. With the Manual as a guide, he was able to secure his own release. &nbsp;</p><p>“Amnesty’s <em>Fair Trial Manual</em>…helped me to identify the political character of my trial… as well as teaching me how to defend myself. The <em>Fair Trial Manual</em> helped me to reveal and resist the injustice of my trial,” said <a href="http://livewire.amnesty.org/2014/04/09/the-power-of-insistence/">Albin Kurti</a>, former political prisoner, leader of VETËVENDOSJE! (Self-Determination!) party, and deputy in the Kosovo Assembly.&nbsp;</p><p>The second edition of the Manual, published by popular demand, reflects the significant changes to the global legal and political context since the first edition. Many new standards have been adopted, for example, on women deprived of their liberty and the right to access legal aid. It also reflects the growing recognition that fairness includes regard for the rights of victims and that many fair trial rights apply at all times and in all circumstances, even during states of emergency and armed conflicts.&nbsp;</p><p>The Manual includes dedicated chapters on death penalty cases, trials in armed conflict and fair trial rights of children.&nbsp;</p><p>“Criminal trials are a litmus test for a state’s respect for human rights. No matter what the crime, unfair trials deny justice for everyone involved: the accused, the victim, and the public,” said Jill Heine, international human rights lawyer and lead author of the Amnesty International Fair Trial Manual.&nbsp;</p><p>“We hope that people who use the Fair Trial Manual will be empowered to advocate around the world for fair trials and fair justice systems.”</p><p>The first Fair Trial Manual was published in 1998 principally to support Amnesty International staff and members. However, it was so enthusiastically received around the world that it was soon in large demand and published in 15 languages.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>Endorsements</strong></p><p>Endorsements for the first and second editions of the Manual include:</p><ul><li><strong>“It is a must for anyone involved in examining how well a criminal trial or criminal justice system meets international standards of fairness. Frankly it is an invaluable toolbox for any criminal lawyer in practice, from beginner to seasoned professional… I intend to keep my Manual by my side.”&nbsp;</strong><em>Keir Starmer, QC, former Director of Public Prosecutions in the UK&nbsp;</em></li><li><strong>“When I found the Fair Trial Manual, I felt like I had struck gold. It explains the multitude of legal standards in a comprehensive, straightforward and accessible way.”</strong>&nbsp;<em>Dr Vivienne O’Connor, US Institute of Peace</em></li><li><strong>“The Manual has proved to be a very valuable source to have for checking issues ‘on the go’ within a short period of time, and as a reference in practical situations including trial observation.”&nbsp;</strong><em>Mervat Rishmawi, Human rights consultant</em></li><li><strong>“This is an important reference guide for me and my fellow judges.”&nbsp;</strong><em>Mohamed Tarawneh, Supreme Court Judge, Jordan</em></li><li><strong>“I have little doubt that this revised Manual will be extensively used by human rights practitioners and activists in their day-to-day work.”&nbsp;</strong><em>Kishali Pinto-Jayawardena, Human rights lawyer and senior legal analyst, Sri Lanka &nbsp; &nbsp;</em></li></ul><div class="field field-type-text field-field-strapline"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>A new resource to arm lawyers, defendants and the judiciary with the tools to fight against unfair trials and injustice is published by Amnesty International today.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-photo"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_photo" width="620" height="620" alt="" src="http://www.amnesty.org/sites/impact.amnesty.org/files/189526_Amnesty_staff_Belen_Bueso_Rios_and_Kafia_Abdurahman_Omar_looking_at_a_copy_of_the_new_Fair_Trial_Manual_FTM_2014_taken_to_be_used_for_promoting_this_new_publication_on_Amnesty.jpg?1396870082" /> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-nodereference field-field-medianode"> <div class="field-label">Media Node:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/en/node/46494">Fair trials manual</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-onpagesummary"> <div class="field-label">At a Glance:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <ul><li>The&nbsp;<a href="http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/POL30/002/2014/en"><em>Fair Trial Manual</em></a>&nbsp;is essential reading for anyone having to battle against injustice</li><li>It provides practical guidance on which corners prosecutors must never try to cut</li><li>It can also help to expose politically motivated show trials for what they really are</li><li>This is the first update to the Manual in 15 years</li><li>The first Manual was released in&nbsp;1998, and has been translated into 15 languages</li></ul> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-ai-index-number"> <div class="field-label">Amnesty International Index Number:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> POL30/002/2014/ </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-twittertag"> <div class="field-label">Twitter Tag:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> FairTrials </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-location field-field-storylocation"> <div class="field-label">Story Location:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="location vcard"><div class="adr"> <span class="fn"></span> <div class="country-name">United Kingdom</div> <span class="geo"><abbr class="latitude" title="51.476358">51° 28' 34.8888" N</abbr>, <abbr class="longitude" title="-0.267792">0° 16' 4.0512" W</abbr></span> </div> <div class="map-link"> <div class="location map-link">See map: <a href="http://maps.google.co.uk?q=%2C+%2C+%2C+uk">Google Maps</a></div></div> </div> </div> </div> </div> <fieldset class="content-multigroup-group-quotestory"><fieldset class="content-multigroup-wrapper content-multigroup-0"><div class="field field-type-text field-field-quote"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="field-quote-begin">&#8220;</div><blockquote>The Fair Trial Manual is essential reading for anyone having to battle against injustice </blockquote><div class="field-quote-end">&#8221;</div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-storyfullname"> <div class="field-label">Source:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Michael Bochenek, Senior Director of International Law and Policy at Amnesty International </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-date field-field-date-popup"> <div class="field-label">Date:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <span class="date-display-single">Wed, 09/04/2014</span> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <fieldset class="content-multigroup-wrapper content-multigroup-1"><div class="field field-type-text field-field-quote"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="field-quote-begin">&#8220;</div><blockquote>Amnesty’s Fair Trial Manual…helped me to identify the political character of my trial… as well as teaching me how to defend myself. The Fair Trial Manual helped me to reveal and resist the injustice of my trial</blockquote><div class="field-quote-end">&#8221;</div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-storyfullname"> <div class="field-label">Source:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Albin Kurti, former political prisoner, leader of VETËVENDOSJE! (Self-Determination!) party, and deputy in the Kosovo Assembly </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-date field-field-date-popup"> <div class="field-label">Date:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <span class="date-display-single">Wed, 09/04/2014</span> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> </fieldset> <fieldset class="content-multigroup-group-relatedlinks"><fieldset class="content-multigroup-wrapper content-multigroup-0"><div class="field field-type-link field-field-url"> <div class="field-label">URL:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/POL30/002/2014/en">Fair Trial Manual</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-url-description"> <div class="field-label">Description:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Download a free copy of the Manual </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <fieldset class="content-multigroup-wrapper content-multigroup-1"><div class="field field-type-link field-field-url"> <div class="field-label">URL:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="http://livewire.amnesty.org/2014/04/09/the-power-of-insistence/">The power of insistence</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-url-description"> <div class="field-label">Description:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Blog, 9 April 2014 </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> </fieldset> Activists Trials And Legal Systems UK Mon, 07 Apr 2014 11:53:01 +0000 Amnesty International 46499 at http://www.amnesty.org Q&A: The Central African Republic’s human rights crisis http://www.amnesty.org/en/news/qa-central-african-republic-s-human-rights-crisis-2014-04-09 <div class="field field-type-text field-field-headline"> <div class="field-label">Headline Title:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Q&amp;A: The Central African Republic’s human rights crisis </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-date field-field-date"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <span class="date-display-single">09 April 2014</span> </div> </div> </div> <p><em><strong>Background</strong></em></p> <p>The Seleka militia (meaning “alliance” in Sango, the national language) was responsible for widespread and systematic human rights abuses in the Central African Republic (CAR) over the course of 2013. After a murderous rampage that started in the north-east, the Seleka spread out across the country, seizing the capital Bangui and ousting then-President François Bozizé in March 2013. Over the following 10 months, Seleka forces killed countless civilians, burned numerous villages, and looted thousands of homes. (See Amnesty International, <a href="http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/AFR19/003/2013/en"><em>CAR: Human rights crisis spiralling out of control</em></a>, AFR 19/003/2013.)</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The arbitrary and abusive nature of the Seleka’s rule helped give rise to the current high level of sectarian hostility. The majority of the country’s population is Christian, as was former President Bozizé. Seleka leader Michel Djotodia, who served as the country’s transitional president until 10 January 2014, is Muslim, as are most members of the Seleka forces.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Seleka abuses spurred the emergence of the loosely organized “anti-balaka” militia (“machete proof” in Sango), made up of Christians and animists opposed to Seleka rule. In the last four months of 2013, anti-balaka fighters carried out horrific attacks on Muslim communities, particularly in CAR’s northwest, including on many villages around the town of Bossangoa.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>A <a href="https://www.amnesty.org/en/news/escalating-bloodshed-and-reported-revenge-killings-central-african-republic-2013-12-05">daring 5 December 2013 anti-balaka attack on Bangui </a>led to an explosion of violence, tearing whatever was left of the country’s social fabric. After the Seleka forces managed to repel the anti-balaka offensive they carried out an extensive series of reprisal attacks against Christians in the city. Although the Seleka in some cases claimed to be pursuing anti-balaka militants, they did not make a meaningful effort to distinguish between militants and non-militants, killing between 800 to 1,200 people, primarily civilian men.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>French military forces with a UN mandate began their deployment in CAR during the early December violence, joining a small African-led peacekeeping force that was already deployed there. They are due to be joined in the near future by up to 1,000 European Union troops, which will hand over to a larger UN peacekeeping mission in September 2014.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em><strong>How has the situation in CAR evolved since January 2014?</strong></em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The situation in CAR changed significantly after the resignation of President Michel Djotodia on 10 January 2014, and the election of a new interim president, Catherine Samba Panza soon after.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>As soon as Djotodia left office, Seleka forces began to withdraw from their outposts across the country. In town after town, when the Seleka left, the anti-balaka militia moved in and launched violent attacks against the Muslim minority. Because international peacekeeping forces were extremely slow to deploy across the country, the field was open to the anti-balaka to assert their power and authority. They killed many hundreds of Muslim civilians, sometimes in large-scale massacres, looted Muslim homes and shops, and burned and destroyed mosques. Among their victims were women and young children; in some cases entire families were killed. Their stated goal was to rid the country of Muslims forever.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Anti-balaka fighters are now the main perpetrators of violence, especially in Bangui and in the western third of the country. Seleka forces that retreated to the north also continue to commit serious human rights abuses in the territory under their control. There is currently no functioning justice system in CAR, with little or no possibility of police investigations, court proceedings, and incarceration, resulting in total impunity for human rights violations.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Recent months have witnessed massive ethnic cleansing: a forced exodus of tens of thousands of Muslim civilians to neighbouring Chad, Cameroon and Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Much of this newly-created refugee population is living in makeshift camps where conditions are dire.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The few thousand Muslims who remain in the capital and the western part of the country (where they used to represent about 15 percent of the population) are nearly all displaced. Many are taking refuge in churches, and most are waiting for evacuation, fearing attacks by anti-balaka fighters.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>There are still more than 650,000 internally displaced people inside CAR. Thousands of houses have been looted and burnt, leaving many people – Christians and Muslims alike – without a home to return to.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em><strong>Is it a religious conflict?</strong></em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Civilians are being targeted along religious lines, but not because of their religious beliefs or practices. Although different religious communities lived peacefully together for generations, intermarrying and living in mixed neighbourhoods, mistrust and even hatred now separates many members of different religious communities. Religion is viewed as a critical indicator of one’s loyalties to the country’s different armed groups.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Not all Christians and Muslims have embraced sectarian hatred. Indeed, many Muslim civilians have been protected by their Christian neighbours, or have sought – and found – protection in churches and Catholic missions. In addition, some Christians, especially women who married Muslim men, have been threatened and harmed by the anti-balaka militia.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Amnesty International has characterized the forced expulsion of Muslims from CAR as “ethnic cleansing”. (See<a href="https://s3-eu-west-1.amazonaws.com/alfrescotemporary/AI_CAR+report_Feb2014.pdf"><em> CAR: Ethnic cleansing and sectarian killings in the Central African Republic</em></a>, AFR 19/004/2014.) Although the term does not have a formal definition under international law, a UN Commission of Experts has defined it as a “purposeful policy designed by one ethnic or religious group to remove by violent and terror-inspiring means the civilian population of another ethnic or religious group from certain geographic areas.” &nbsp;The anti-balaka militia groups each operate under a local command but with the common objective of ridding the country of its Muslim population. These acts can constitute crimes against humanity and war crimes.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em><strong>How are the new transitional authorities dealing with armed groups?</strong></em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The new government, led by President Catherine Samba-Panza, includes some representatives of the Seleka and anti-balaka militias. Negotiations are ongoing between the government and militia leaders. This has led to various splits among both armed groups, especially on the question of disarmament.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>About 8,000 Seleka fighters are still cantoned (but not yet disarmed) in military camps in Bangui and are expecting to benefit from a Disarmament Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) process. While some anti-balaka are willing to disarm if they benefit from a similar package as the Seleka, radical leaders of both armed groups have told their members to keep fighting. The phenomenon is similar with the former army (Forces Armées Centrafricaines or FACA), dispersed since the departure of President Bozizé. Along with former police and gendarmerie forces, some ex-FACA agreed to reintegrate their positions under the supervision of international peacekeepers in Bangui. However others gathered in the north to form a new armed group called Renewal and Justice (RJ) and are recruiting anti-balaka fighters. RJ now controls a huge territory along the border with Cameroon and Chad.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Several areas of the capital Bangui have increasingly come under the control of the anti-balaka militias, who have (especially since 22 March 2014) launched repeated attacks on civilians and African Union-led peacekeepers of the International Support Mission to Central Africa (MISCA). The rest of the country generally remains out of control, as the government has no authority outside Bangui and relies on international peacekeepers. Some Seleka members who fled Bangui have regrouped in towns where peacekeepers are not present, especially in the country’s north-east, where they continue to commit atrocities, and have not shown any willingness to disarm. Others have fled the country, mainly to Chad, raising serious questions about whether they will ever be brought to justice.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em><strong>What happens to people fleeing the CAR?</strong></em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Tens of thousands of people forced to flee the violence in the CAR are now facing another humanitarian catastrophe in neighbouring countries including Chad, Cameroon and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. With the rainy season, the already desperate situation will quickly deteriorate unless shelter, food and medical facilities are urgently made available for them.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>During a <a href="http://www.amnesty.org/en/news/chadcar-new-humanitarian-crisis-those-fleeing-violence-car-2014-03-05">mission to Chad conducted in early March 2014</a>, Amnesty International delegates found thousands of people from CAR who had been neglected by the Chadian authorities and humanitarian agencies, many suffering from severe malnutrition and with no shelter other than the shade of trees. Most of the camps where these people stay are too close to the border, contributing to increasing insecurity and vulnerability of refugees.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em><strong>How involved is the international community?</strong></em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In December 2013, the UN Security Council authorized the deployment of international forces, now comprising around 6,000 African Union peacekeepers (MISCA) and 2,000 French troops (Sangaris). Yet these forces failed to deploy swiftly outside Bangui to protect civilians. On 1 April, the European Union <a href="http://www.amnesty.org/en/news/eu-and-african-leaders-must-not-fail-people-central-african-republic-2014-04-02">launched a military operation</a> of up to 1,000 troops (EUFOR-RCA) to be deployed in Bangui soon, to allow the redeployment of international troops already present there to go to other provinces. &nbsp;EUFOR RCA is intended as a “bridging mission” until a UN peacekeeping operation of around 12,000 troops and police can deploy in the CAR, which is expected by 15 September 2014.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em><strong>What is Amnesty International calling for?</strong></em></p> <p>We are calling on the international community:</p> <ul> <li>To provide MISCA and other international peacekeeping forces with sufficient resources to enhance their capacity to rapidly deploy in all regions of the country in order to protect civilians effectively, especially in and around IDP sites and remote towns where Muslims are still present.</li> <li>To immediately start contingency preparations and planning for the transformation of MISCA into a United Nations peacekeeping operation, as requested by Security Council resolution 2127 (2013).</li> <li>To ensure smooth coordination among all military forces present in CAR, including the MISCA, French forces (Sangaris), and EUFOR RCA.</li> <li>To accelerate the disarmament process and ensure that no state is supporting in any way or providing arms to militias active in CAR, as prohibited by the UN arms embargo (resolution 2127 – 2013).</li> <li>To expedite the effective deployment and coordinate the activities of the various human rights monitors, including the international Commission of Inquiry, in order to help identify the perpetrators of human rights violations, including crimes under international law, and ensure that they are held accountable.</li> <li>To ensure the prompt reconstitution of the judiciary and other justice bodies, including courts, prisons, and prosecutorial agencies.</li> <li>To ensure that refugees who flee to neighbouring countries are identified and receive appropriate protection through an effective cooperation between the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and the national authorities of Chad, Cameroon and the DRC.</li> </ul> <p><a href="https://aiusa.maps.arcgis.com/apps/MapTour/index.html?appid=8b33b0c56d194f64a6179b2931fb72c2&amp;webmap=2c83844656164fc486c793c877180401"><img src="http://www.amnesty.org/sites/impact.amnesty.org/files/188832_Small_image_for_CAR_story_map%20(1).jpg" alt="CAR story map" title="Life in the midst of horror" width="500" height="376" /></a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong><a href="https://campaigns.amnesty.org/campaigns/conflict-in-car#3">Take action</a><a href="https://campaigns.amnesty.org/campaigns/conflict-in-car#3"></a></strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-strapline"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>An overview of the human rights crisis of historic proportions facing the people of the Central African Republic.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-photo"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_photo" width="620" height="620" alt="" src="http://www.amnesty.org/sites/impact.amnesty.org/files/189158_A_girl_sits_at_the_back_of_a_truck_as_she_prepares_to_flee_sectarian_violence_in_Bouar (1).jpg?1397054458" /> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-nodereference field-field-medianode"> <div class="field-label">Media Node:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/en/node/46584">CAR Q&amp;A</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/en/multimedia/video/ethnic-cleansing-central-african-republic-">Ethnic cleansing in the Central African Republic</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-twittertag"> <div class="field-label">Twitter Tag:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CARcrisis </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-location field-field-storylocation"> <div class="field-label">Story Location:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="location vcard"><div class="adr"> <span class="fn"></span> <div class="country-name">Central African Republic</div> <span class="geo"><abbr class="latitude" title="5.658079">5° 39' 29.0844" N</abbr>, <abbr class="longitude" title="19.577637">19° 34' 39.4932" E</abbr></span> </div> <div class="map-link"> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> <fieldset class="content-multigroup-group-quotestory"><fieldset class="content-multigroup-wrapper content-multigroup-0"><div class="field field-type-text field-field-quote"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="field-quote-begin">&#8220;</div><blockquote>The Central African Republic is gripped by a human rights and humanitarian crisis of historic proportions. By failing to respond more robustly and urgently, the international community has shown a callous disregard for the country’s embattled civilians, abandoning them in their moment of need. </blockquote><div class="field-quote-end">&#8221;</div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-storyfullname"> <div class="field-label">Source:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Christian Mukosa, Central Africa Researcher at Amnesty International </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> </fieldset> <fieldset class="content-multigroup-group-relatedlinks"><fieldset class="content-multigroup-wrapper content-multigroup-0"><div class="field field-type-link field-field-url"> <div class="field-label">URL:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="http://www.amnesty.org/en/news/eu-and-african-leaders-must-not-fail-people-central-african-republic-2014-04-02">EU and African leaders must not fail the people of Central African Republic</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-url-description"> <div class="field-label">Description:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> News story, 2 April 2014 </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <fieldset class="content-multigroup-wrapper content-multigroup-1"><div class="field field-type-link field-field-url"> <div class="field-label">URL:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="https://campaigns.amnesty.org/campaigns/conflict-in-car">The time is up: Protect civilians in the Central African Republic</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-url-description"> <div class="field-label">Description:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Story map/action </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <fieldset class="content-multigroup-wrapper content-multigroup-2"><div class="field field-type-link field-field-url"> <div class="field-label">URL:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="http://www.amnesty.org/en/news/car-urgent-deployment-eu-peacekeepers-needed-quell-fresh-violence-2014-03-26">CAR: Urgent deployment of EU troops needed to quell fresh violence</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-url-description"> <div class="field-label">Description:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> News story, 26 March 2014 </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <fieldset class="content-multigroup-wrapper content-multigroup-3"><div class="field field-type-link field-field-url"> <div class="field-label">URL:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="http://www.amnesty.org/en/news/central-african-republic-ethnic-cleansing-sectarian-violence-2014-02-12">Central African Republic: Ethnic cleansing and sectarian killings</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-url-description"> <div class="field-label">Description:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> News story/report, 12 February 2014 </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <fieldset class="content-multigroup-wrapper content-multigroup-4"><div class="field field-type-link field-field-url"> <div class="field-label">URL:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="http://www.amnesty.org/en/news/central-african-republic-war-crimes-and-crimes-against-humanity-bangui-2013-12-19">Central African Republic: War crimes and crimes against humanity in Bangui</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-url-description"> <div class="field-label">Description:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> News story/briefing, 19 December 2013 </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> </fieldset> Armed Conflict Armed Groups Central African Republic Crimes Against Humanity And War Crimes Extrajudicial Executions And Other Unlawful Killings Refugees, Displaced People And Migrants Trials And Legal Systems United Nations Wed, 09 Apr 2014 14:42:44 +0000 Amnesty International 46585 at http://www.amnesty.org Q&A: The Central African Republic’s human rights crisis http://www.amnesty.org/en/news/qa-central-african-republic-s-human-rights-crisis-2014-04-09 <div class="field field-type-text field-field-headline"> <div class="field-label">Headline Title:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Q&amp;A: The Central African Republic’s human rights crisis </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-date field-field-date"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <span class="date-display-single">09 April 2014</span> </div> </div> </div> <p><em><strong>Background</strong></em></p> <p>The Seleka militia (meaning “alliance” in Sango, the national language) was responsible for widespread and systematic human rights abuses in the Central African Republic (CAR) over the course of 2013. After a murderous rampage that started in the north-east, the Seleka spread out across the country, seizing the capital Bangui and ousting then-President François Bozizé in March 2013. Over the following 10 months, Seleka forces killed countless civilians, burned numerous villages, and looted thousands of homes. (See Amnesty International, <a href="http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/AFR19/003/2013/en"><em>CAR: Human rights crisis spiralling out of control</em></a>, AFR 19/003/2013.)</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The arbitrary and abusive nature of the Seleka’s rule helped give rise to the current high level of sectarian hostility. The majority of the country’s population is Christian, as was former President Bozizé. Seleka leader Michel Djotodia, who served as the country’s transitional president until 10 January 2014, is Muslim, as are most members of the Seleka forces.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Seleka abuses spurred the emergence of the loosely organized “anti-balaka” militia (“machete proof” in Sango), made up of Christians and animists opposed to Seleka rule. In the last four months of 2013, anti-balaka fighters carried out horrific attacks on Muslim communities, particularly in CAR’s northwest, including on many villages around the town of Bossangoa.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>A <a href="https://www.amnesty.org/en/news/escalating-bloodshed-and-reported-revenge-killings-central-african-republic-2013-12-05">daring 5 December 2013 anti-balaka attack on Bangui </a>led to an explosion of violence, tearing whatever was left of the country’s social fabric. After the Seleka forces managed to repel the anti-balaka offensive they carried out an extensive series of reprisal attacks against Christians in the city. Although the Seleka in some cases claimed to be pursuing anti-balaka militants, they did not make a meaningful effort to distinguish between militants and non-militants, killing between 800 to 1,200 people, primarily civilian men.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>French military forces with a UN mandate began their deployment in CAR during the early December violence, joining a small African-led peacekeeping force that was already deployed there. They are due to be joined in the near future by up to 1,000 European Union troops, which will hand over to a larger UN peacekeeping mission in September 2014.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em><strong>How has the situation in CAR evolved since January 2014?</strong></em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The situation in CAR changed significantly after the resignation of President Michel Djotodia on 10 January 2014, and the election of a new interim president, Catherine Samba Panza soon after.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>As soon as Djotodia left office, Seleka forces began to withdraw from their outposts across the country. In town after town, when the Seleka left, the anti-balaka militia moved in and launched violent attacks against the Muslim minority. Because international peacekeeping forces were extremely slow to deploy across the country, the field was open to the anti-balaka to assert their power and authority. They killed many hundreds of Muslim civilians, sometimes in large-scale massacres, looted Muslim homes and shops, and burned and destroyed mosques. Among their victims were women and young children; in some cases entire families were killed. Their stated goal was to rid the country of Muslims forever.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Anti-balaka fighters are now the main perpetrators of violence, especially in Bangui and in the western third of the country. Seleka forces that retreated to the north also continue to commit serious human rights abuses in the territory under their control. There is currently no functioning justice system in CAR, with little or no possibility of police investigations, court proceedings, and incarceration, resulting in total impunity for human rights violations.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Recent months have witnessed massive ethnic cleansing: a forced exodus of tens of thousands of Muslim civilians to neighbouring Chad, Cameroon and Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Much of this newly-created refugee population is living in makeshift camps where conditions are dire.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The few thousand Muslims who remain in the capital and the western part of the country (where they used to represent about 15 percent of the population) are nearly all displaced. Many are taking refuge in churches, and most are waiting for evacuation, fearing attacks by anti-balaka fighters.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>There are still more than 650,000 internally displaced people inside CAR. Thousands of houses have been looted and burnt, leaving many people – Christians and Muslims alike – without a home to return to.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em><strong>Is it a religious conflict?</strong></em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Civilians are being targeted along religious lines, but not because of their religious beliefs or practices. Although different religious communities lived peacefully together for generations, intermarrying and living in mixed neighbourhoods, mistrust and even hatred now separates many members of different religious communities. Religion is viewed as a critical indicator of one’s loyalties to the country’s different armed groups.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Not all Christians and Muslims have embraced sectarian hatred. Indeed, many Muslim civilians have been protected by their Christian neighbours, or have sought – and found – protection in churches and Catholic missions. In addition, some Christians, especially women who married Muslim men, have been threatened and harmed by the anti-balaka militia.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Amnesty International has characterized the forced expulsion of Muslims from CAR as “ethnic cleansing”. (See<a href="https://s3-eu-west-1.amazonaws.com/alfrescotemporary/AI_CAR+report_Feb2014.pdf"><em> CAR: Ethnic cleansing and sectarian killings in the Central African Republic</em></a>, AFR 19/004/2014.) Although the term does not have a formal definition under international law, a UN Commission of Experts has defined it as a “purposeful policy designed by one ethnic or religious group to remove by violent and terror-inspiring means the civilian population of another ethnic or religious group from certain geographic areas.” &nbsp;The anti-balaka militia groups each operate under a local command but with the common objective of ridding the country of its Muslim population. These acts can constitute crimes against humanity and war crimes.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em><strong>How are the new transitional authorities dealing with armed groups?</strong></em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The new government, led by President Catherine Samba-Panza, includes some representatives of the Seleka and anti-balaka militias. Negotiations are ongoing between the government and militia leaders. This has led to various splits among both armed groups, especially on the question of disarmament.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>About 8,000 Seleka fighters are still cantoned (but not yet disarmed) in military camps in Bangui and are expecting to benefit from a Disarmament Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) process. While some anti-balaka are willing to disarm if they benefit from a similar package as the Seleka, radical leaders of both armed groups have told their members to keep fighting. The phenomenon is similar with the former army (Forces Armées Centrafricaines or FACA), dispersed since the departure of President Bozizé. Along with former police and gendarmerie forces, some ex-FACA agreed to reintegrate their positions under the supervision of international peacekeepers in Bangui. However others gathered in the north to form a new armed group called Renewal and Justice (RJ) and are recruiting anti-balaka fighters. RJ now controls a huge territory along the border with Cameroon and Chad.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Several areas of the capital Bangui have increasingly come under the control of the anti-balaka militias, who have (especially since 22 March 2014) launched repeated attacks on civilians and African Union-led peacekeepers of the International Support Mission to Central Africa (MISCA). The rest of the country generally remains out of control, as the government has no authority outside Bangui and relies on international peacekeepers. Some Seleka members who fled Bangui have regrouped in towns where peacekeepers are not present, especially in the country’s north-east, where they continue to commit atrocities, and have not shown any willingness to disarm. Others have fled the country, mainly to Chad, raising serious questions about whether they will ever be brought to justice.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em><strong>What happens to people fleeing the CAR?</strong></em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Tens of thousands of people forced to flee the violence in the CAR are now facing another humanitarian catastrophe in neighbouring countries including Chad, Cameroon and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. With the rainy season, the already desperate situation will quickly deteriorate unless shelter, food and medical facilities are urgently made available for them.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>During a <a href="http://www.amnesty.org/en/news/chadcar-new-humanitarian-crisis-those-fleeing-violence-car-2014-03-05">mission to Chad conducted in early March 2014</a>, Amnesty International delegates found thousands of people from CAR who had been neglected by the Chadian authorities and humanitarian agencies, many suffering from severe malnutrition and with no shelter other than the shade of trees. Most of the camps where these people stay are too close to the border, contributing to increasing insecurity and vulnerability of refugees.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em><strong>How involved is the international community?</strong></em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In December 2013, the UN Security Council authorized the deployment of international forces, now comprising around 6,000 African Union peacekeepers (MISCA) and 2,000 French troops (Sangaris). Yet these forces failed to deploy swiftly outside Bangui to protect civilians. On 1 April, the European Union <a href="http://www.amnesty.org/en/news/eu-and-african-leaders-must-not-fail-people-central-african-republic-2014-04-02">launched a military operation</a> of up to 1,000 troops (EUFOR-RCA) to be deployed in Bangui soon, to allow the redeployment of international troops already present there to go to other provinces. &nbsp;EUFOR RCA is intended as a “bridging mission” until a UN peacekeeping operation of around 12,000 troops and police can deploy in the CAR, which is expected by 15 September 2014.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em><strong>What is Amnesty International calling for?</strong></em></p> <p>We are calling on the international community:</p> <ul> <li>To provide MISCA and other international peacekeeping forces with sufficient resources to enhance their capacity to rapidly deploy in all regions of the country in order to protect civilians effectively, especially in and around IDP sites and remote towns where Muslims are still present.</li> <li>To immediately start contingency preparations and planning for the transformation of MISCA into a United Nations peacekeeping operation, as requested by Security Council resolution 2127 (2013).</li> <li>To ensure smooth coordination among all military forces present in CAR, including the MISCA, French forces (Sangaris), and EUFOR RCA.</li> <li>To accelerate the disarmament process and ensure that no state is supporting in any way or providing arms to militias active in CAR, as prohibited by the UN arms embargo (resolution 2127 – 2013).</li> <li>To expedite the effective deployment and coordinate the activities of the various human rights monitors, including the international Commission of Inquiry, in order to help identify the perpetrators of human rights violations, including crimes under international law, and ensure that they are held accountable.</li> <li>To ensure the prompt reconstitution of the judiciary and other justice bodies, including courts, prisons, and prosecutorial agencies.</li> <li>To ensure that refugees who flee to neighbouring countries are identified and receive appropriate protection through an effective cooperation between the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and the national authorities of Chad, Cameroon and the DRC.</li> </ul> <p><a href="https://aiusa.maps.arcgis.com/apps/MapTour/index.html?appid=8b33b0c56d194f64a6179b2931fb72c2&amp;webmap=2c83844656164fc486c793c877180401"><img src="http://www.amnesty.org/sites/impact.amnesty.org/files/188832_Small_image_for_CAR_story_map%20(1).jpg" alt="CAR story map" title="Life in the midst of horror" width="500" height="376" /></a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong><a href="https://campaigns.amnesty.org/campaigns/conflict-in-car#3">Take action</a><a href="https://campaigns.amnesty.org/campaigns/conflict-in-car#3"></a></strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-strapline"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>An overview of the human rights crisis of historic proportions facing the people of the Central African Republic.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-photo"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_photo" width="620" height="620" alt="" src="http://www.amnesty.org/sites/impact.amnesty.org/files/189158_A_girl_sits_at_the_back_of_a_truck_as_she_prepares_to_flee_sectarian_violence_in_Bouar (1).jpg?1397054458" /> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-nodereference field-field-medianode"> <div class="field-label">Media Node:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/en/node/46584">CAR Q&amp;A</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/en/multimedia/video/ethnic-cleansing-central-african-republic-">Ethnic cleansing in the Central African Republic</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-twittertag"> <div class="field-label">Twitter Tag:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CARcrisis </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-location field-field-storylocation"> <div class="field-label">Story Location:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="location vcard"><div class="adr"> <span class="fn"></span> <div class="country-name">Central African Republic</div> <span class="geo"><abbr class="latitude" title="5.658079">5° 39' 29.0844" N</abbr>, <abbr class="longitude" title="19.577637">19° 34' 39.4932" E</abbr></span> </div> <div class="map-link"> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> <fieldset class="content-multigroup-group-quotestory"><fieldset class="content-multigroup-wrapper content-multigroup-0"><div class="field field-type-text field-field-quote"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="field-quote-begin">&#8220;</div><blockquote>The Central African Republic is gripped by a human rights and humanitarian crisis of historic proportions. By failing to respond more robustly and urgently, the international community has shown a callous disregard for the country’s embattled civilians, abandoning them in their moment of need. </blockquote><div class="field-quote-end">&#8221;</div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-storyfullname"> <div class="field-label">Source:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Christian Mukosa, Central Africa Researcher at Amnesty International </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> </fieldset> <fieldset class="content-multigroup-group-relatedlinks"><fieldset class="content-multigroup-wrapper content-multigroup-0"><div class="field field-type-link field-field-url"> <div class="field-label">URL:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="http://www.amnesty.org/en/news/eu-and-african-leaders-must-not-fail-people-central-african-republic-2014-04-02">EU and African leaders must not fail the people of Central African Republic</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-url-description"> <div class="field-label">Description:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> News story, 2 April 2014 </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <fieldset class="content-multigroup-wrapper content-multigroup-1"><div class="field field-type-link field-field-url"> <div class="field-label">URL:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="https://campaigns.amnesty.org/campaigns/conflict-in-car">The time is up: Protect civilians in the Central African Republic</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-url-description"> <div class="field-label">Description:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Story map/action </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <fieldset class="content-multigroup-wrapper content-multigroup-2"><div class="field field-type-link field-field-url"> <div class="field-label">URL:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="http://www.amnesty.org/en/news/car-urgent-deployment-eu-peacekeepers-needed-quell-fresh-violence-2014-03-26">CAR: Urgent deployment of EU troops needed to quell fresh violence</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-url-description"> <div class="field-label">Description:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> News story, 26 March 2014 </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <fieldset class="content-multigroup-wrapper content-multigroup-3"><div class="field field-type-link field-field-url"> <div class="field-label">URL:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="http://www.amnesty.org/en/news/central-african-republic-ethnic-cleansing-sectarian-violence-2014-02-12">Central African Republic: Ethnic cleansing and sectarian killings</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-url-description"> <div class="field-label">Description:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> News story/report, 12 February 2014 </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <fieldset class="content-multigroup-wrapper content-multigroup-4"><div class="field field-type-link field-field-url"> <div class="field-label">URL:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="http://www.amnesty.org/en/news/central-african-republic-war-crimes-and-crimes-against-humanity-bangui-2013-12-19">Central African Republic: War crimes and crimes against humanity in Bangui</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-url-description"> <div class="field-label">Description:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> News story/briefing, 19 December 2013 </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> </fieldset> Armed Conflict Armed Groups Central African Republic Crimes Against Humanity And War Crimes Extrajudicial Executions And Other Unlawful Killings Refugees, Displaced People And Migrants Trials And Legal Systems United Nations Wed, 09 Apr 2014 14:42:44 +0000 Amnesty International 46585 at http://www.amnesty.org USA: Texas Governor must stop execution of Mexican man with mental disability http://www.amnesty.org/en/news/usa-texas-governor-must-stop-execution-mexican-man-mental-disability-2014-04-08 <div class="field field-type-text field-field-headline"> <div class="field-label">Headline Title:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> USA: Texas Governor must stop execution of Mexican man with mental disability </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-date field-field-date"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <span class="date-display-single">08 April 2014</span> </div> </div> </div> <p>Texas Governor Rick Perry must stop Wednesday’s execution of Ramiro Hernández Llanas, a Mexican national with a mental disability, Amnesty International said today.&nbsp;</p><p>The state has relied upon racial stereotyping and the views of discredited “expertise” to secure this death sentence – now due to be carried out shortly after 6pm, local time, on 9 April.&nbsp;</p><p>After the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles denied clemency for Ramiro Hernández Llanas on Monday, his final hope for mercy is a reprieve from the state governor.&nbsp;</p><p>“This case cries out for Governor Perry to use his power of reprieve. He must recognise that the state has relied upon shoddy ‘expert’ testimony to get Ramiro Hernández Llanas to the death chamber,” said Rob Freer, Amnesty International’s researcher on the USA.&nbsp;</p><p>At the 2000 trial, the prosecution turned to the testimony of a discredited psychiatrist, Dr James Grigson, to rebut the opinions of mental health experts retained by the defence. Grigson, who had never examined the defendant, declared that Ramiro Hernández Llanas would likely commit future acts of criminal violence because he was a sociopath who lacked a conscience. Persuading the jury that the defendant will be a “future danger” to society, even in prison, is a prerequisite for a death sentence in Texas.&nbsp;</p><p>“Testimony like Dr Grigson’s has been discredited over the years as ‘junk science’, and he himself was reprimanded and then expelled from the American Psychiatric Association because of his resort to such unscientific testimony in capital trials,” said Rob Freer.&nbsp;</p><p>“Given what came next – psychiatric testimony tainted by racial stereotyping – this case stands out starkly as another Texas injustice about to be turned into permanence in the lethal injection chamber.”&nbsp;</p><p>Another psychiatrist, Dr Richard Coons, was presented by the state at a 2008 hearing to rebut a defence expert’s finding that Ramiro Hernández Llanas has ‘mental retardation’ – which would render his execution illegal under a 2002 US Supreme Court ruling.&nbsp;</p><p>Dr Coons never met the prisoner or anyone who knew him, does not speak Spanish, and claimed that the prisoner’s criminal conduct was appropriate for his “cultural group”.&nbsp;</p><p>“It is a fundamental principle of international law that everyone is equal before the law and has the right to criminal proceedings free from racial or other discrimination,” said Rob Freer.&nbsp;</p><p>“While we believe that the death penalty never equates with justice, surely even proponents of judicial killing should see the injustice of a death sentence secured after the presentation of such tainted testimony.”&nbsp;</p><p>The Mexican government filed a brief in the US Supreme Court in January condemning the “defamatory stereotyping of the functional abilities of persons raised in Mr Hernandez’s low socio-economic, Mexican culture”.&nbsp;</p><p>The American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, founded in 1876, together with The Arc of the United States, the USA’s largest community-based organization working with people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, also urged the Court to intervene. It refused to do so.&nbsp;</p><p>Last week the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights issued “precautionary measures”, calling on the USA not to go ahead with the execution so that the Commission could have time to consider a petition before it. Today, the Commission stressed that for the USA to allow the execution to go ahead in these circumstances would “seriously contravenes its international legal obligations”.&nbsp;</p><p>“Texas is no stranger to injustice when it comes to the death penalty,” said Rob Freer.&nbsp;</p><p>“Here it is again, about to carry out a death sentence secured with highly questionable testimony against someone whose mental disability calls the constitutionality of his execution into serious question. Governor Perry must act as a matter of urgency.”&nbsp;</p><p><strong>Background information&nbsp;</strong></p><p>Ramiro Hernández Llanas was sentenced to death in February 2000 for the murder of his employer, Glen Lich, who was bludgeoned to death at his ranch in Kerr County on 14 October 1997.&nbsp;</p><p>Ramiro Hernández Llanas was born into a childhood of abuse and severe poverty in Mexico, with his family living in a cardboard shack next to a rubbish dump on which they would scavenge. In tests conducted over the past decade, Ramiro Hernández Llanas has been assessed as having an IQ in the 50s or 60s. He suffers from severe adaptive functioning deficits across a range of skill areas including linguistic, academic, conceptual, social, work and domestic.&nbsp;</p><p>There have been 15 executions in the USA this year, five of them in Texas. Since judicial killing resumed in the USA in 1977 under revised capital statutes, there have been 1,374 executions nationwide. Texas accounts for 513 of these executions; 274 of them have occurred during Governor Perry’s time in office.&nbsp;</p><div class="field field-type-text field-field-strapline"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Rick Perry must stop Wednesday’s execution of Ramiro Hernández Llanas, a Mexican national with a mental disability.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-photo"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_photo" width="620" height="620" alt="" src="http://www.amnesty.org/sites/impact.amnesty.org/files/190925_MEXICO-US-JUSTICE-EXECUTION (1).jpg?1396976175" /> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-nodereference field-field-medianode"> <div class="field-label">Media Node:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/en/node/46554">texas</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-twittertag"> <div class="field-label">Twitter Tag:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> deathpenalty </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-location field-field-storylocation"> <div class="field-label">Story Location:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="location vcard"><div class="adr"> <span class="fn"></span> <div class="country-name">United Kingdom</div> <span class="geo"><abbr class="latitude" title="37.304645">37° 18' 16.722" N</abbr>, <abbr class="longitude" title="-102.304688">102° 18' 16.8768" W</abbr></span> </div> <div class="map-link"> <div class="location map-link">See map: <a href="http://maps.google.co.uk?q=%2C+%2C+%2C+uk">Google Maps</a></div></div> </div> </div> </div> </div> <fieldset class="content-multigroup-group-quotestory"><fieldset class="content-multigroup-wrapper content-multigroup-0"><div class="field field-type-text field-field-quote"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="field-quote-begin">&#8220;</div><blockquote>Rick Perry must recognise that the state has relied upon shoddy ‘expert’ testimony to get Ramiro Hernández Llanas to the death chamber.</blockquote><div class="field-quote-end">&#8221;</div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-storyfullname"> <div class="field-label">Source:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Amnesty International’s Rob Freer </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> </fieldset> Death Penalty USA Tue, 08 Apr 2014 17:03:39 +0000 Amnesty International 46555 at http://www.amnesty.org Roma in Europe: Demanding justice and protection in the face of violence http://www.amnesty.org/en/news/roma-europe-demanding-justice-and-protection-face-violence-2014-04-08 <div class="field field-type-text field-field-headline"> <div class="field-label">Headline Title:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Roma in Europe: Demanding justice and protection in the face of violence </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-date field-field-date"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <span class="date-display-single">08 April 2014</span> </div> </div> </div> <p>European states are failing to curb and in some cases even fuelling discrimination, intimidation and violence against Roma, Amnesty International said on International Roma Day on 8 April.</p><p>“There has been a marked rise in the frequency of anti-Roma violence in Europe in the last few years. The response to this alarming phenomenon has been woefully inadequate. It is unacceptable that in modern-day Europe some Roma communities live under the constant threat of violence and pogrom-like attacks,” said John Dalhuisen, Europe and Central Asia Programme Director.</p><p>“All too often European leaders have pandered to the prejudices fuelling anti-Roma violence by branding Roma as anti-social and unwelcome. While generally condemning the most blatant examples of anti-Roma violence, authorities have been reluctant to acknowledge its extent and slow to combat it. For its part, the European Union has been reluctant to challenge member states on the systemic discrimination of Roma that is all too evident.”</p><p>Amnesty International’s report, <a href="http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/EUR01/007/2014/en"><em>We ask for justice”: Europe’s failure to protect Roma from racist violence</em></a>, examines hate motivated violence and harassment perpetrated against Roma by officials and ordinary citizens in the Czech Republic, France and Greece, illustrating the organization’s concerns across the continent.</p><p>“On many occasions law enforcement agencies are failing to prevent racist attacks and ensure that hate motives are properly investigated and perpetrators brought to justice. The fact that racist attitudes remain entrenched in many police forces is more often denied than addressed," said John Dalhuisen.</p><p>Governments across Europe fail the Roma in multiple ways. Discrimination, forced evictions, segregation and sub-standard education are the norm in many countries.</p><p>“The European Union has legislative arsenal at its disposal to ensure that discriminatory violence, and discrimination more generally, are addressed. However, the European Commission, which is responsible for overseeing the application of EU laws in the member states, has to date failed to take clear and decisive action to address discrimination and violence against Roma in member states,” said john Dalhuisen.</p><p>Amnesty International calls on national governments and the European Union to commit, visibly and wholeheartedly, to eradicating the scourge of anti-Roma discrimination, intolerance and violence across the region.</p><p><strong>Czech Republic</strong>&nbsp;</p><p>Throughout the summer and autumn of 2013, Czech far-right groups staged series of anti-Roma protests in dozens of towns and cities across the country. The protests meant systematic harrasmant of Romani communities.</p><p>Between June and October 2013, far-right extremists joined by the local residents held regular marches through the city of Èeské Budìjovice to a housing estate following a conflict at a children’s playground between Roma and non-Roma adults.</p><p>Štefan, a Romani man told Amnesty International: “Some people do not realize that [during the demonstrations, the Roma] have to stay at one place, that children… are afraid. This lasts the whole day and leaves trauma... Nobody deserves to experience something like this. People experienced this during the war and I think that in the year 2013, in the 21st century, we don’t have to experience it again.”</p><p><strong>France</strong>&nbsp;</p><p>Having fled discrimination in their countries, many of the 20,000 Roma in France live in informal settlements where they rarely have access to basic services, such as water and sanitation. They are often forcibly evicted from their shelters, harassed by the police or other citizens and sometimes attacked.</p><p>On the evening of 22 November 2011, the police went to the informal settlement next to the church of St. Martin d’Arenc in Marseille with the aim of forcibly evicting the 10 Roma families who lived there. They allegedly sprayed tear gas inside the tents where children were sleeping and then destroyed the tents and other personal belongings.</p><p>R. was beaten up by the police. He said: “I wanted to run away but I couldn’t see anything, I just saw a gate in front of me, I tried to reach out to it but as soon as I approached it, I just had the feeling that my leg broke and then I don’t remember anything else. R. underwent surgery for a fractured thighbone and spent six months in a rehabilitation centre.</p><p>Roma migrants in Marseille do not generally report cases of harassment and violence because of lack of trust in the police or fear of further victimization. S., a Roma social worker who used to live in an informal settlement, said: “Roma people are really scared of the police; I usually take kids to the hospital for medical treatments and they are afraid whenever they see the police on our way”.</p><p><strong>Greece</strong>&nbsp;</p><p>The estimated 250,000 to 350,000 Roma living in Greece have been at the receiving end of discriminatory treatment for generations.</p><p>During 2012 and 2013 a series of pogrom-like attacks against a Roma community took place in Etoliko, a village in western Greece.</p><p>Irini told Amnesty International her experience of an attack on 4 January 2013 when approximately 70 individuals threw Molotov cocktails, stones and wooden planks at their homes: “When I saw them coming, I grabbed my children and locked us up in the house. My children were crying, screaming… I was frightened. Looking out of the window I knew most of them, we grew up together. They threw a glass bottle from the window and set the house on fire.”</p><p>Six houses and four cars were firebombed or damaged by the attackers that day. Several Roma told Amnesty International that they felt betrayed by the police. One said: “I could see just two policemen from inside the house… They were just staring and asking people to stop. They did nothing more than this”.</p><div class="field field-type-text field-field-strapline"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>European states are failing to curb and in some cases even fuelling discrimination, intimidation and violence against Roma, Amnesty International said on International Roma Day on 8 April.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-photo"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_photo" width="620" height="620" alt="" src="http://www.amnesty.org/sites/impact.amnesty.org/files/189020_Roma.jpg?1396366299" /> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-nodereference field-field-medianode"> <div class="field-label">Media Node:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/en/node/46388">Roma Main story</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/en/multimedia/video/roma-video--0">Roma video updated</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-onpagesummary"> <div class="field-label">At a Glance:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><strong>Angry mobs, racism and abuse: Life for Roma in Europe</strong></p><p><a href="http://www.amnesty.org/en/news/czech-republic-maybe-what-it-was-during-hitler-s-era-2014-04-08">Czech Republic: “Maybe this is what it was like during Hitler’s era”</a></p><p><a href="http://www.amnesty.org/en/news/france-they-said-they-would-have-killed-us-if-we-stayed-2014-04-08">France: “They said they would have killed us if we stayed”</a></p><p><a href="http://www.amnesty.org/en/news/greece-my-children-are-afraid-they-don-t-want-return-house-2014-04-08">Greece: “My children are afraid, they don’t want to return to the house”</a></p><p><strong><a href="http://together-against-hate.tumblr.com/">Take Action!: Together against Hate</a></strong></p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-ai-index-number"> <div class="field-label">Amnesty International Index Number:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> EUR01/007/2014 </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-twittertag"> <div class="field-label">Twitter Tag:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> RomaRights </div> </div> </div> <fieldset class="content-multigroup-group-quotestory"><fieldset class="content-multigroup-wrapper content-multigroup-0"><div class="field field-type-text field-field-quote"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="field-quote-begin">&#8220;</div><blockquote>There has been a marked rise in the frequency of anti-Roma violence in Europe in the last few years. The response to this alarming phenomenon has been woefully inadequate. It is unacceptable that in modern-day Europe some Roma communities live under the constant threat of violence and pogrom-like attacks. </blockquote><div class="field-quote-end">&#8221;</div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-storyfullname"> <div class="field-label">Source:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> John Dalhuisen, Europe and Central Asia Programme Director at Amnesty International. </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> </fieldset> <fieldset class="content-multigroup-group-relatedlinks"><fieldset class="content-multigroup-wrapper content-multigroup-0"><div class="field field-type-link field-field-url"> <div class="field-label">URL:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/EUR01/007/2014/en">We ask for justice”: Europe’s failure to protect Roma from racist violence</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-url-description"> <div class="field-label">Description:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Read the full report </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <fieldset class="content-multigroup-wrapper content-multigroup-1"><div class="field field-type-link field-field-url"> <div class="field-label">URL:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="http://www.amnesty.org/en/news/czech-republic-maybe-what-it-was-during-hitler-s-era-2014-04-08">Czech Republic: “Maybe this is what it was like during Hitler’s era”</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-url-description"> <div class="field-label">Description:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Feature, 8 April 2014. </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <fieldset class="content-multigroup-wrapper content-multigroup-2"><div class="field field-type-link field-field-url"> <div class="field-label">URL:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="http://www.amnesty.org/en/news/france-they-said-they-would-have-killed-us-if-we-stayed-2014-04-08">France: “They said they would have killed us if we stayed”</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-url-description"> <div class="field-label">Description:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Feature, 8 April 2014. </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <fieldset class="content-multigroup-wrapper content-multigroup-3"><div class="field field-type-link field-field-url"> <div class="field-label">URL:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="http://www.amnesty.org/en/news/greece-my-children-are-afraid-they-don-t-want-return-house-2014-04-08">Greece: “My children are afraid, they don’t want to return to the house”</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-url-description"> <div class="field-label">Description:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Feature, 8 April 2014. </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <fieldset class="content-multigroup-wrapper content-multigroup-4"><div class="field field-type-link field-field-url"> <div class="field-label">URL:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="http://together-against-hate.tumblr.com/">Together Against Hate</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-url-description"> <div class="field-label">Description:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Take Action! </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> </fieldset> Europe And Central Asia Roma Rights Tue, 01 Apr 2014 15:35:43 +0000 Amnesty International 46389 at http://www.amnesty.org Philippines: Supreme Court ruling bolsters landmark law on reproductive rights http://www.amnesty.org/en/news/philippines-supreme-court-ruling-bolsters-landmark-law-reproductive-rights-2014-04-08 <div class="field field-type-text field-field-headline"> <div class="field-label">Headline Title:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Philippines: Supreme Court ruling bolsters landmark law on reproductive rights </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-date field-field-date"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <span class="date-display-single">08 April 2014</span> </div> </div> </div> <p>&nbsp;</p><p>The Philippine Supreme Court’s decision on Tuesday to uphold a landmark reproductive health law as constitutional is an important victory for millions of Filipino women and girls, Amnesty International said.&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>The court’s decision, which will require the government to provide free contraception to millions of the nation’s poorest women, is being welcomed by activists across the country.&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>“Today’s Supreme Court ruling is a victory for the independence of the judiciary and means that millions of women and girls have a right to access medical services and information they need,” said Hazel Galang-Folli, Amnesty International’s Researcher on the Philippines.&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>“The Philippine authorities must resist all ongoing efforts to roll back the country’s landmark law on sexual and reproductive rights. Caving in to pressure would mean denying women and girls their human rights.”&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>There were, however, some disappointing concessions, some of which are inconsistent with the state’s international human rights obligations. A total of eight provisions were deemed to be unconstitutional by the court – these included key provisions that would have prohibited health practitioners from refusing to provide reproductive health services and required all private health facilities to provide family planning methods.&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>In a country where 80 percent of the population is Roman Catholic, surveys have shown that 72 percent of Filipinos support the law.&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>“While the law is not perfect, it paves the way to removing some of the existing barriers in protecting women and girl’s human right to sexual, reproductive and maternal healthcare. &nbsp;The challenge now will be ensuring that the law is properly implemented and that sufficient resources are dedicated to making it effective,” said Hazel Galang-Folli.&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><strong>Background&nbsp;</strong></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>Notable changes in the law include the rejection of Section 23 which would have prohibited health care practitioners from refusing to provide –or refusing to refer to others who would provide—reproductive health services. Section 23 would have also allowed married individuals to undergo reproductive health procedures without the consent of their spouse.&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>The ruling also declared unconstitutional section 7, which would have required private health facilities, including those owned by religious groups, to provide family planning methods, including medical consultations, supplies and procedures. This provision would have also allowed girls under 18 who already have children or who have suffered a miscarriage to access modern family planning methods, including contraception, without the need for a written consent from their parents.&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;Striking down these provisions of the law mean that some women and adolescents will be at risk of not accessing services they need and are lawfully entitled to receive. &nbsp;The state should, at a minimum fulfil its international human rights obligations and ensure that there are providers willing and able to provide services and that spousal and parental &nbsp;consent requirements do not hinder women’s and adolescents’ access to sexual and reproductive health care services.&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>As well as enabling public health centres to distribute contraceptives, the law will also introduce reproductive health education into the nation’s schools at a time when the birth-rate in the Philippines stands at around 25 per 1,000 people, one of the highest in Asia. &nbsp;The Philippines should ensure that reproductive health education is in line with their international human rights obligations, which includes ensuring that reproductive health education is accurate and comprehensive and that it promotes gender equality.&nbsp;</p><div class="field field-type-text field-field-strapline"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The Philippine Supreme Court’s decision on Tuesday to uphold a landmark reproductive health law as constitutional is an important victory for millions of Filipino women and girls, Amnesty International said.&nbsp;</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-photo"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_photo" width="620" height="620" alt="" src="http://www.amnesty.org/sites/impact.amnesty.org/files/190927_Philippines_Passes_Controversial_Reproductive_Health_Bill (1).jpg?1396981724" /> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-nodereference field-field-medianode"> <div class="field-label">Media Node:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/en/node/46565">Philippines SRR law</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-location field-field-storylocation"> <div class="field-label">Story Location:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="location vcard"><div class="adr"> <span class="fn"></span> <div class="country-name">Philippines</div> <span class="geo"><abbr class="latitude" title="15.511383">15° 30' 40.9788" N</abbr>, <abbr class="longitude" title="121.003418">121° 0' 12.3048" E</abbr></span> </div> <div class="map-link"> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> <fieldset class="content-multigroup-group-quotestory"><fieldset class="content-multigroup-wrapper content-multigroup-0"><div class="field field-type-text field-field-quote"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="field-quote-begin">&#8220;</div><blockquote>Today’s Supreme Court ruling is a victory for the independence of the judiciary and means that millions of women and girls have a right to access medical services and information they need </blockquote><div class="field-quote-end">&#8221;</div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-storyfullname"> <div class="field-label">Source:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Hazel Galang-Folli, Amnesty International’s Researcher on the Philippines </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-date field-field-date-popup"> <div class="field-label">Date:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <span class="date-display-single">Tue, 08/04/2014</span> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> </fieldset> <fieldset class="content-multigroup-group-relatedlinks"><fieldset class="content-multigroup-wrapper content-multigroup-0"><div class="field field-type-link field-field-url"> <div class="field-label">URL:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="https://www.amnesty.org/en/news/imperfect-philippines-health-law-still-fresh-start-women-s-rights-2012-12-17">Reproductive rights gains for women in the Philippines</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-url-description"> <div class="field-label">Description:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> News story, 17 December 2012 </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <fieldset class="content-multigroup-wrapper content-multigroup-1"><div class="field field-type-link field-field-url"> <div class="field-label">URL:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="https://campaigns.amnesty.org/campaigns/my-body-my-rights">My Body, My Rights</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-url-description"> <div class="field-label">Description:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Global campaign </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> </fieldset> Medical And Health Philippines Women My Body My Rights Tue, 08 Apr 2014 18:29:45 +0000 Amnesty International 46566 at http://www.amnesty.org USA: Texas Governor must stop execution of Mexican man with mental disability http://www.amnesty.org/en/news/usa-texas-governor-must-stop-execution-mexican-man-mental-disability-2014-04-08-0 <div class="field field-type-text field-field-headline"> <div class="field-label">Headline Title:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> USA: Texas Governor must stop execution of Mexican man with mental disability </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-date field-field-date"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <span class="date-display-single">08 April 2014</span> </div> </div> </div> <p>Texas Governor Rick Perry must stop Wednesday’s execution of Ramiro Hernández Llanas, a Mexican national with a mental disability, Amnesty International said today.&nbsp;</p><p>The state has relied upon racial stereotyping and the views of discredited “expertise” to secure this death sentence – now due to be carried out shortly after 6pm, local time, on 9 April.&nbsp;</p><p>After the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles denied clemency for Ramiro Hernández Llanas on Monday, his final hope for mercy is a reprieve from the state governor.&nbsp;</p><p>“This case cries out for Governor Perry to use his power of reprieve. He must recognise that the state has relied upon shoddy ‘expert’ testimony to get Ramiro Hernández Llanas to the death chamber,” said Rob Freer, Amnesty International’s researcher on the USA.&nbsp;</p><p>At the 2000 trial, the prosecution turned to the testimony of a discredited psychiatrist, Dr James Grigson, to rebut the opinions of mental health experts retained by the defence. Grigson, who had never examined the defendant, declared that Ramiro Hernández Llanas would likely commit future acts of criminal violence because he was a sociopath who lacked a conscience. Persuading the jury that the defendant will be a “future danger” to society, even in prison, is a prerequisite for a death sentence in Texas.&nbsp;</p><p>“Testimony like Dr Grigson’s has been discredited over the years as ‘junk science’, and he himself was reprimanded and then expelled from the American Psychiatric Association because of his resort to such unscientific testimony in capital trials,” said Rob Freer.&nbsp;</p><p>“Given what came next – psychiatric testimony tainted by racial stereotyping – this case stands out starkly as another Texas injustice about to be turned into permanence in the lethal injection chamber.”&nbsp;</p><p>Another psychiatrist, Dr Richard Coons, was presented by the state at a 2008 hearing to rebut a defence expert’s finding that Ramiro Hernández Llanas has ‘mental retardation’ – which would render his execution illegal under a 2002 US Supreme Court ruling.&nbsp;</p><p>Dr Coons never met the prisoner or anyone who knew him, does not speak Spanish, and claimed that the prisoner’s criminal conduct was appropriate for his “cultural group”.&nbsp;</p><p>“It is a fundamental principle of international law that everyone is equal before the law and has the right to criminal proceedings free from racial or other discrimination,” said Rob Freer.&nbsp;</p><p>“While we believe that the death penalty never equates with justice, surely even proponents of judicial killing should see the injustice of a death sentence secured after the presentation of such tainted testimony.”&nbsp;</p><p>The Mexican government filed a brief in the US Supreme Court in January condemning the “defamatory stereotyping of the functional abilities of persons raised in Mr Hernandez’s low socio-economic, Mexican culture”.&nbsp;</p><p>The American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, founded in 1876, together with The Arc of the United States, the USA’s largest community-based organization working with people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, also urged the Court to intervene. It refused to do so.&nbsp;</p><p>Last week the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights issued “precautionary measures”, calling on the USA not to go ahead with the execution so that the Commission could have time to consider a petition before it. Today, the Commission stressed that for the USA to allow the execution to go ahead in these circumstances would “seriously contravenes its international legal obligations”.&nbsp;</p><p>“Texas is no stranger to injustice when it comes to the death penalty,” said Rob Freer.&nbsp;</p><p>“Here it is again, about to carry out a death sentence secured with highly questionable testimony against someone whose mental disability calls the constitutionality of his execution into serious question. Governor Perry must act as a matter of urgency.”&nbsp;</p><p><strong>Background information&nbsp;</strong></p><p>Ramiro Hernández Llanas was sentenced to death in February 2000 for the murder of his employer, Glen Lich, who was bludgeoned to death at his ranch in Kerr County on 14 October 1997.&nbsp;</p><p>Ramiro Hernández Llanas was born into a childhood of abuse and severe poverty in Mexico, with his family living in a cardboard shack next to a rubbish dump on which they would scavenge. In tests conducted over the past decade, Ramiro Hernández Llanas has been assessed as having an IQ in the 50s or 60s. He suffers from severe adaptive functioning deficits across a range of skill areas including linguistic, academic, conceptual, social, work and domestic.&nbsp;</p><p>There have been 15 executions in the USA this year, five of them in Texas. Since judicial killing resumed in the USA in 1977 under revised capital statutes, there have been 1,374 executions nationwide. Texas accounts for 513 of these executions; 274 of them have occurred during Governor Perry’s time in office.&nbsp;</p><div class="field field-type-text field-field-strapline"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Rick Perry must stop Wednesday’s execution of Ramiro Hernández Llanas, a Mexican national with a mental disability.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-photo"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_photo" width="620" height="620" alt="" src="http://www.amnesty.org/sites/impact.amnesty.org/files/190925_MEXICO-US-JUSTICE-EXECUTION (1).jpg?1396976175" /> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-nodereference field-field-medianode"> <div class="field-label">Media Node:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/en/node/46554">texas</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-twittertag"> <div class="field-label">Twitter Tag:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> deathpenalty </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-location field-field-storylocation"> <div class="field-label">Story Location:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="location vcard"><div class="adr"> <span class="fn"></span> <div class="country-name">United Kingdom</div> <span class="geo"><abbr class="latitude" title="37.304645">37° 18' 16.722" N</abbr>, <abbr class="longitude" title="-102.304688">102° 18' 16.8768" W</abbr></span> </div> <div class="map-link"> <div class="location map-link">See map: <a href="http://maps.google.co.uk?q=%2C+%2C+%2C+uk">Google Maps</a></div></div> </div> </div> </div> </div> <fieldset class="content-multigroup-group-quotestory"><fieldset class="content-multigroup-wrapper content-multigroup-0"><div class="field field-type-text field-field-quote"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="field-quote-begin">&#8220;</div><blockquote>Governor Perry must recognise that the state has relied upon shoddy ‘expert’ testimony to get Ramiro Hernández Llanas to the death chamber.</blockquote><div class="field-quote-end">&#8221;</div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-storyfullname"> <div class="field-label">Source:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Amnesty International’s Rob Freer </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> </fieldset> Death Penalty USA Tue, 08 Apr 2014 17:03:44 +0000 Amnesty International 46557 at http://www.amnesty.org Czech Republic: “Maybe this is what it was like during Hitler’s era” http://www.amnesty.org/en/news/czech-republic-maybe-what-it-was-during-hitler-s-era-2014-04-08 <div class="field field-type-text field-field-headline"> <div class="field-label">Headline Title:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> “Maybe this is what it was like during Hitler’s era” </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-date field-field-date"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <span class="date-display-single">08 April 2014</span> </div> </div> </div> <p>When Romani children in the city of České Budějovice, in southern Czech Republic, wake up scared in the middle of the night, it is not for fear of imaginary monsters.</p><p>Angry mobs have been increasingly attacking their homes and harassing Roma communities across the country.</p><p>The first demonstration in České Budějovice took place on 29 June last year. More than 1,000 members of far-right groups gathered in the centre of town and marched to the Máj neighbourhood, chanting abuse against the Roma people living there.</p><p>They shouted “black swine” and “let’s get them” while throwing stun grenades and glass bottles at their homes and even at police officers trying to stop them.</p><p>“It was horrible. We were very much afraid… We were looking out of the windows and they were shouting at us, calling us ‘black swines’ and threatening to kill us,” said Michal, a 27-year old Romani resident.</p><p>“I thought, maybe this is what it was like during Hitler’s era.”</p><p>Most Roma residents watched helplessly from their windows at the violent demonstrations, completely terrified and hoping for the mob to leave.</p><p>But they didn’t.</p><p>In fact, they came back almost every Saturday for several weeks after that.</p><p>One of the largest marches took place on 6 July. The mob arrived as parents were playing with their children in the local playground.</p><p>“My sister was on her balcony overlooking the playground and she started to shout: ‘Run back home, they are here again!’. We took the children and started to run. They could not understand, they were crying and asking what was happening,” said Martina, one of the residents.</p><p>Once again, they chanted abuse, threw stones at the homes and threatened residents.</p><p>Protests eventually stopped in October but residents are still scared as rumours say new demonstrations might take place now that the winter is over.</p><p>Angela, who moved to Máj from Slovakia 25 years ago, said life has become almost unbearable in the area, with mothers and children afraid to go out because of the marches. They say discrimination, even from public officials, has increased since the demonstrations.</p><p>“After the demonstration I was stressed and afraid. The children were worried. They asked me not to go to work, but it is important for me to have money for my family,” she said.</p><p>After the first march, in June, some measures were taken by the police to protect the targeted Roma communities. However, the central government has been slow to unequivocally condemn racist marches taking place in České Budějovice and elsewhere in the Czech Republic.&nbsp;</p><div class="field field-type-text field-field-strapline"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>When Romani children in the city of České Budějovice, in southern Czech Republic, wake up scared in the middle of the night, it is not for fear of imaginary monsters.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-photo"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_photo" width="620" height="620" alt="" src="http://www.amnesty.org/sites/impact.amnesty.org/files/189472_Roma (1).jpg?1396367213" /> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-nodereference field-field-medianode"> <div class="field-label">Media Node:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/en/node/46390">Roma Czech Republic</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-onpagesummary"> <div class="field-label">At a Glance:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><strong>Angry mobs, racism and abuse: Life for Roma in Europe</strong></p><p><a href="http://www.amnesty.org/en/news/czech-republic-maybe-what-it-was-during-hitler-s-era-2014-04-08">Czech Republic: “Maybe this is what it was like during Hitler’s era”</a></p><p><a href="http://www.amnesty.org/en/news/france-they-said-they-would-have-killed-us-if-we-stayed-2014-04-08">France: “They said they would have killed us if we stayed”</a></p><p><a href="http://www.amnesty.org/en/news/greece-my-children-are-afraid-they-don-t-want-return-house-2014-04-08">Greece: “My children are afraid, they don’t want to return to the house”</a></p><p>&nbsp;</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-twittertag"> <div class="field-label">Twitter Tag:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> RomaRights </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-location field-field-storylocation"> <div class="field-label">Story Location:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="location vcard"><div class="adr"> <span class="fn"></span> <div class="country-name">Czech Republic</div> <span class="geo"><abbr class="latitude" title="50.296358">50° 17' 46.8888" N</abbr>, <abbr class="longitude" title="11.865234">11° 51' 54.8424" E</abbr></span> </div> <div class="map-link"> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> <fieldset class="content-multigroup-group-quotestory"><fieldset class="content-multigroup-wrapper content-multigroup-0"><div class="field field-type-text field-field-quote"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="field-quote-begin">&#8220;</div><blockquote>It was horrible. We were very much afraid… We were looking out of the windows and they were shouting at us, calling us ‘black swines’ and threatening to kill us. I thought, maybe this is what it was like during Hitler’s era.</blockquote><div class="field-quote-end">&#8221;</div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-storyfullname"> <div class="field-label">Source:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Michal, Romani resident. </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <fieldset class="content-multigroup-wrapper content-multigroup-1"><div class="field field-type-text field-field-quote"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="field-quote-begin">&#8220;</div><blockquote>After the demonstration I was stressed and afraid. The children were worried. They asked me not to go to work, but it is important for me to have money for my family.</blockquote><div class="field-quote-end">&#8221;</div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-storyfullname"> <div class="field-label">Source:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Angela, Romani resident </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> </fieldset> <fieldset class="content-multigroup-group-relatedlinks"><fieldset class="content-multigroup-wrapper content-multigroup-0"><div class="field field-type-link field-field-url"> <div class="field-label">URL:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="http://www.amnesty.org/en/news/roma-europe-demanding-justice-and-protection-face-violence-2014-04-08">Roma in Europe: Demanding justice and protection in the face of violence</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-url-description"> <div class="field-label">Description:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> News Story, 8 April 2014. </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <fieldset class="content-multigroup-wrapper content-multigroup-1"><div class="field field-type-link field-field-url"> <div class="field-label">URL:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/EUR01/007/2014/en">&quot;We ask for justice”: Europe’s failure to protect Roma from racist violence</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-url-description"> <div class="field-label">Description:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Report, 8 April 2014. </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <fieldset class="content-multigroup-wrapper content-multigroup-2"><div class="field field-type-link field-field-url"> <div class="field-label">URL:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="http://www.amnesty.org/en/news/france-they-said-they-would-have-killed-us-if-we-stayed-2014-04-08">France: “They said they would have killed us if we stayed”</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-url-description"> <div class="field-label">Description:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Feature, 8 April 2014. </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <fieldset class="content-multigroup-wrapper content-multigroup-3"><div class="field field-type-link field-field-url"> <div class="field-label">URL:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="http://www.amnesty.org/en/news/greece-my-children-are-afraid-they-don-t-want-return-house-2014-04-08">Greece: “My children are afraid, they don’t want to return to the house”</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-url-description"> <div class="field-label">Description:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Feature, 8 April 2014. </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <fieldset class="content-multigroup-wrapper content-multigroup-4"><div class="field field-type-link field-field-url"> <div class="field-label">URL:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="http://together-against-hate.tumblr.com/">Stand Together Against Hate</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-url-description"> <div class="field-label">Description:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Take Action! </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> </fieldset> Czech Republic Roma Rights Tue, 01 Apr 2014 15:49:42 +0000 Amnesty International 46391 at http://www.amnesty.org Russian court forces closure of prominent human rights NGO http://www.amnesty.org/en/news/russian-court-forces-closure-prominent-human-rights-ngo-2014-04-08 <div class="field field-type-text field-field-headline"> <div class="field-label">Headline Title:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Russian court forces closure of prominent human rights NGO </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-date field-field-date"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <span class="date-display-single">08 April 2014</span> </div> </div> </div> <p>Today’s decision by the St Petersburg City Court to deny the appeal of a prominent Russian non-governmental organization (NGO) against a previous court order to register as a “foreign agent” is a legal assault on the whole of civil society in Russia, Amnesty International said. <br /><br />Anti-Discrimination Centre Memorial, an important human rights NGO working on behalf of victims of racism and xenophobia in Russia, decided to close down its activities in Russia rather than wear the label of a “foreign agent” or risk the criminal prosecution of its leader for failing to register. &nbsp;<br /><br />“The court had two options, and its choice was not in favour of justice and human rights. Its disheartening decision is in line with the prevailing tendency promoted by the Russian government to stamp its authority on any civil society activity. It sets a dangerous precedent which could be used against other NGOs,” said Sergei Nikitin, Director of Amnesty International’s Moscow office. <br /><br />“The Russian authorities are deliberately depriving Russian society of an alternative voice, of checks and balances to the government’s actions. They attack anybody who dares to criticize them.”<br /><br />The persecution of ADC Memorial started more than a year ago when the Prosecutor’s Office referred to its report, Roma, migrants and activists: the victims of police abuse, submitted to the UN Committee Against Torture (CAT) in November 2012, as evidence of ADC Memorial being involved in “political activity” and hence, violating Russia’s newly adopted law by failing to register as a “foreign agent”. <br /><br />The NGO successfully resisted two court cases brought against it by the Prosecutor’s Office, in May and July 2013. However, on 12 December 2013 a court in St Petersburg found in favour of the Prosecutor’s Office’s new request to recognize all of ADC Memorial’s activities as “political” and compel it to register as a “foreign agent”.<br /><br />After today’s ruling, ADC Memorial’s head, Stefania Kulaeva, voiced her disappointment to Amnesty International:<br /><br />“The court proceedings were not objective. Our arguments were not considered. Our lawyers were interrupted time and again while the prosecution was given a free rein.”<br /><br />The “foreign agents” law, introduced more than a year ago, gives the Russian authorities the power to impose hefty fines and severe administrative penalties on organizations which receive foreign funding and engage in loosely defined “political activities” but fail to register as “an organization performing the functions of a foreign agent”. <br /><br />The court decision against ADC Memorial comes the same day as Russia’s Constitutional Court ruled that the “foreign agents law” is in line with the country’s Constitution. A number of NGOs and the Human Rights Ombudsman Vladimir Lukin had challenged the law on the grounds that it violates the rights to freedom of expression and association, both of which are purportedly protected under Russia’s Constitution.<br /><br />“It has become increasingly clear that the Russian authorities are hell-bent on crushing civil society at all costs,” said Sergei Nikitin.&nbsp;</p><div class="field field-type-text field-field-strapline"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>St Petersburg City Court denies the appeal of prominent Russian non-governmental organization, Memorial, against a previous court order to register as a “foreign agent”.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-photo"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_photo" width="620" height="620" alt="" src="http://www.amnesty.org/sites/impact.amnesty.org/files/189556_Russia_s_President_Vladimir_Putin_signs_a_law_on_ratification_of_a_treaty_making_Crimea_part_of_Russia (1).jpg?1396977870" /> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-nodereference field-field-medianode"> <div class="field-label">Media Node:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/en/node/46558">putin</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-twittertag"> <div class="field-label">Twitter Tag:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> russia </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-location field-field-storylocation"> <div class="field-label">Story Location:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="location vcard"><div class="adr"> <span class="fn"></span> <div class="country-name">United Kingdom</div> <span class="geo"><abbr class="latitude" title="56.270811">56° 16' 14.9196" N</abbr>, <abbr class="longitude" title="54.316406">54° 18' 59.0616" E</abbr></span> </div> <div class="map-link"> <div class="location map-link">See map: <a href="http://maps.google.co.uk?q=%2C+%2C+%2C+uk">Google Maps</a></div></div> </div> </div> </div> </div> <fieldset class="content-multigroup-group-quotestory"><fieldset class="content-multigroup-wrapper content-multigroup-0"><div class="field field-type-text field-field-quote"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="field-quote-begin">&#8220;</div><blockquote>The Russian authorities are deliberately depriving Russian society of an alternative voice, of checks and balances to the government’s actions.</blockquote><div class="field-quote-end">&#8221;</div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-storyfullname"> <div class="field-label">Source:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Amnesty International’s Sergei Nikitin </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> </fieldset> Activists Freedom Of Expression Tue, 08 Apr 2014 17:26:06 +0000 Amnesty International 46560 at http://www.amnesty.org