Posts Tagged ‘Amnesty International’

Pakistan: More than two million people living outside displacement camps face appalling conditions

July 3, 2009
July 2, 2009
12:19 PM
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LONDON – July 2 – Pakistan’s central and regional governments must urgently do more to assist the more than two million people who have fled escalating fighting in northwestern Pakistan but do not have access to aid distributed in official displacement camps, Amnesty International said today. In particular, the Pakistani government must ensure that ethnic Pashtuns fleeing the fighting do not face discrimination in receiving assistance.

“As the fighting expands to North and South Waziristan, a displacement crisis that the government had said would last only for weeks looks set to go on for months, with no relief in sight for the millions of displaced people,” said Sam Zarifi, Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific Director. “To make matters worse, the vast majority of displaced people are living outside the registered camps where aid agencies are distributing shelter, food and water to those in need.”

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Amnesty Accuses Israel Of War Crimes In Gaza

July 2, 2009

Sky News,9:00am UK, Thursday July 02, 2009

Israel has been accused of killing hundreds of unarmed Palestinian civilians and destroying thousands of houses in their recent offensive along the Gaza strip.

A Palestinian man prays on the tomb of a relative killed during Israel's 22-day military operation over GazaAmnesty found 300 children and hundreds of unarmed civilians died in the conflict

The first in-depth human rights report on the three-week conflict in Gaza said Israel’s attacks amounted to war crimes.

Amnesty International first accused Israel of breaching the laws of war shortly after the fighting ended on January 18.

And it said “disturbing questions” remain about why high-precision weapons “killed so many children and other civilians”.

The group called on Israel to publicly pledge not to use artillery, white phosphorus and other imprecise weapons in densely populated areas.

And it urged Gaza’s militant Hamas rulers to stop rocket fire against Israeli civilians.

Airstrike crater in Gaza

Remnants of an Israeli airstrike

In addition, Amnesty accused Israeli forces of using Palestinians as “human shields”, and regularly denying civilians from getting medical care and humanitarian aid.

The pattern of attacks and the high number of civilian casualties “showed elements of reckless conduct, disregard for civilian lives and property and a consistent failure to distinguish between military targets and civilians and civilian objects”, the 117-page report read

More than 1,400 Palestinians, including more than 900 civilians, were killed during the offensive, according to Gaza health officials and human rights groups.

Israel said the death toll closer to 1,100 and says the vast majority of the dead were militants, though it has refused requests to provide a list of the dead.

Amnesty found some 300 children and hundreds of other unarmed civilians were among the dead.

Amnesty International’s report was based on physical evidence and testimony gathered from dozens of attack sites in Gaza and southern Israel during and after the war.

Amnesty asks India to end torture in Kashmir

June 30, 2009

Daily Times, June 29, 2009

ISLAMABAD: International human rights watchdog Amnesty International (AI) has said the Indian government must take immediate steps to end torture and other human rights violations in Indian-held Kashmir (IHK).

In a letter to Indian Home Minister P Chidambaram, AI Asia Pacific Programme Director Sam Zarifi said AI continued to receive reports of torture and ill-treatment of individuals in custody in IHK. “I am writing to express AI’s concerns that torture and other cruel inhuman treatment or punishment are still inflicted widely throughout India,” Zarifi said, asking India to ratify the United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment. app

Amnesty International cites “shocking” beating of Iran protesters

June 15, 2009

Middle East News, June 14, 2009

London/Washington – The human rights organization Amnesty International Sunday condemned reports of excessive violence by Iranian security forces against people protesting the results of Friday elections and called for an investigation.

‘The shocking scenes of violence meted out by the security forces need to be urgently investigated and those responsible for human rights violations must be brought to justice,’ said Hassiba Hadj, an AI official, in a statement e-mailed to dpa in Washington.

Hadj is deputy director of the Middle East and North Africa programme of the London-headquartered organization.

Amnesty International said that at least 170 people were arrested on Saturday as supporters of Iran’s opposition leader Mir-Hossein Moussavi protested the results that declared President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad re-elected by a 62 per cent majority.

Iranian police said 60 people had been arrested as some protestors threw rocks at store windows and carried out other acts of violence.

Amnesty International said it had reports that plain-clothes security forces used batons to beat and disperse many non-violent individuals, causing many injuries.

The report cited several incidents, saying University of Tehran students had reportedly been chased by 100 riot police. It said police on motorcycles had beat Moussavi supporters who were staging a peaceful sit-in in Tehran’s Vanak Square.

According to the rights organization, protests had spread to other cities including Rasht, Mashahd, Shiraz, Ahwaz, Zahedan and Oroumiye.

‘We deplore that the new presidential term is heralded with widespread abuses,’ the group said. ‘Amnesty International considers anyone arrested simply for demanding transparency and for questioning the results of the election is to be a prisoner of conscience who should be immediately and unconditionally released.’

Amnesty presses UN on Sri Lanka casualty figures

June 1, 2009
Morning Star Online, Sunday 31 May 2009

Amnesty is urging the United Nations to publicise its estimate of civilian deaths in the final weeks of Sri Lanka’s civil war, amid mounting speculation over the true toll.

The NGO said that it has received “consistent testimony” that both government troops and Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam fighters had killed thousands of civilians trapped in the war zone.

It called for an independent international investigation to uncover the truth.

The group did not say who had testified to the alleged abuses.

The UN said that 7,000 civilians had been killed and 16,700 wounded between January 20 and May 7.

However, these estimates, circulated among diplomats, were not released publicly.

Amnesty cited an investigation published on Friday in a British newspaper, which claimed that 20,000 civilians had been killed in the final phase of the war.

The report cited unnamed UN sources.

But the world body denied that the figure had come from the UN and said that the exact death toll may never be known because there were no independent observers on the ground.

Indian doctor Binayak Sen released from prison on bail

May 29, 2009

Dr Binayak Sen

Dr Binayak Sen

© Private

Amnesty International, 26 May 2009

Dr Binayak Sen, who spent two years in an Indian prison as a Prisoner of Conscience, was released on Tuesday after being granted bail by the Supreme Court.

Welcoming Dr Sen’s release on bail, Amnesty International believes that the charges against him are baseless and politically motivated. Amnesty International has repeated its call on the Indian authorities to immediately drop all the charges against Dr Sen.

Dr Sen, who was held in Raipur prison in the central Indian state of Chhattisgarh, thanked Amnesty International and other human rights organizations that have been campaigning for his release. He said he would continue to defend human rights in Chhattisgarh despite possible threats to his life from “state and non-state actors”.

The 59-year-old is a pioneer of health care to marginalized and indigenous communities in Chhattisgarh, where the state police and armed Maoists have been engaged in clashes over the last six years.

He was arrested on 14 May 2007 on politically motivated charges, aimed at stopping his human rights work, after he met with an imprisoned leader of a banned Maoist organization.

His earlier meetings with an imprisoned Maoist leader, on which some of the charges against him were based, had all been facilitated by the prison authorities.

“Dr Sen’s prolonged imprisonment is a glaring example of how the Indian authorities misuse security legislation to target activists,” said Madhu Malhotra, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific Programme.

“These laws are open to abuse as they contain vague and sweeping definitions of ‘unlawful activities’. Under no circumstances should work that peacefully defends human rights be termed an ‘unlawful activity’.”

Prior to his arrest, Dr Sen had criticized the state authorities for enacting special security legislation – the Chhattisgarh Special Public Safety Act, 2005 (CSPSA).

He had also reported on unlawful killings of adivasis (Indigenous People) by the police and by Salwa Judum, a private militia widely held to be sponsored by the state authorities to fight the armed Maoists.

The state authorities have so far failed to conduct effective and impartial investigations into these unlawful killings.

Dr Sen was detained without proper charges for seven months, denied bail, and kept in solitary confinement for three weeks. Many of the charges against him stem from laws that contravene international standards. Repeated delays in the conduct of his trial have also heightened doubts about its fairness. Meanwhile, Dr Sen had asked for specialist medical treatment for his heart ailment.

Sri Lanka: Urgent Need for Human Rights Protection in Sri Lanka, Says Amnesty International

May 19, 2009

Dire Humanitarian Crisis Unfolding in Sri Lanka as Government-Rebel Conflict Ends, Says Human Rights Group

Contact: AIUSA media office, 202-544-0200 x302,

Amnesty International, May 18, 2009

(Washington) — As the war between the Sri Lankan government and the Tamil Tigers (LTTE) reaches its final hours and the humanitarian crisis unfolds, Amnesty International is calling for key steps to be adopted to ensure civilians and captured fighters are protected.

“The Sri Lankan government must ensure that its forces fully respect international law, including all provisions relating to protecting civilians from the effect of hostilities,” said Sam Zarifi, Amnesty International’s Asia Pacific Director. “The government should accept the surrender of any LTTE fighter who wants to surrender and treat humanely LTTE fighters who have laid down their arms. In turn, the LTTE must also protect civilians and any Sri Lankan soldier they take prisoner.”

There are more than 200,000 displaced people, including approximately 80,000 children, who need relief but also protection from abuses in Sri Lanka.

Amnesty International calls on the Sri Lankan government:

*To allow full access to national and international humanitarian agencies, including the United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross, to all those in need and facilitate their operations.

*To allow immediate and unfettered access to national and international independent observers to monitor the situation and provide a safeguard against human rights violations, including torture or other ill-treatment, arbitrary detention and enforced disappearances.

*To take measures to protect displaced people, including putting in place immediately a proper registration process, as a key safeguard against abuses such as enforced disappearances.

“In addition, the international community must require the prompt deployment of international monitors to be stationed in critical locations, including registration and screening points, displacement camps and places of detention,” said Zarifi.

Amnesty International is supporting the convening of a special session of the U.N. Human Rights Council to sustain attention to the evolving situation in Sri Lanka and is calling for the United Nations to immediately establish an international commission of inquiry.

“The commission should investigate allegations of violations of international human rights and humanitarian law by all warring parties in the course of the conflict and make recommendations on the best way to ensure full accountability,” said Zarifi.

Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 2.2 million supporters, activists and volunteers in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.

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Obama has ‘not done enough’ to distance US from Bush crimes

April 30, 2009
Wednesday 29 April 2009
NEW AGE: Obama needs to do more to prove that change is not skin deep.

AMNESTY declared on Wednesday that US President Barack Obama must do more to shake off the legacy of torture, impunity and unlawful detention he inherited from the previous US administration.

The human rights group released a report to coincide with the first 100 days of Mr Obama’s administration which applauded his decision to close the Guantanamo detention camp within 12 months and his rejection of torture.

But it stressed that more needs to be done, especially at Guantanamo Bay, where the US continues to hold 240 people without charge.

Only one detainee – Ethiopian national and British resident Binyam Mohamed – has been released since Mr Obama took office.

And no-one has yet been charged under the new administration.

Report author Rob Freer said: “From the perspective of the detainees, the change in administration has meant pretty much nothing.

“Some have been held for seven years and need their cases resolved quickly,” Mr Freer stressed.

Noting that “Guantanamo is the creation of the US,” Mr Freer argued that Mr Obama should have changed former president George W Bush’s policy that no Guantanamo detainees would be released into the US.

Amnesty also highlighted the fact that Mr Obama has not changed the US policy on Bagram air base in Afghanistan, where hundreds of people are being held without charge with no access to the outside world.

“The closure of Guantanamo must mark the end of the policies and practices it embodies, not merely shift those violations elsewhere, whether to Bagram airbase in Afghanistan or anywhere else,” Amnesty concluded.

US State Department spokesman Robert Wood claimed that it is “too early” for rights activists to start criticising Mr Obama’s administration.

Al-Bashir visit to Egypt is a missed opportunity to enforce justice

March 26, 2009

Sudanese President Omar al Bashir

Sudanese President Omar al Bashir

Amnesty International, 25 March 2009

“Egypt and other members of the League of Arab States should not shield President al-Bashir from international justice”, said Irene Khan, Amnesty International’s Secretary General. “His presence in Egypt today should have been an opportunity to enforce the arrest warrant issued by the International Criminal Court.”

“By declaring that President al-Bashir has immunity from the arrest warrant for war crimes and crimes against humanity, the Arab League has undermined international law which provides no such immunity for anyone, even a serving head of state, for such grave crimes.

“The Arab League was right to demand international justice for war crimes and other serious violations of international law committed during the recent conflict in Gaza. They should apply a similar standard to crimes committed in Sudan”.

Amnesty International is calling on all members of the international community to ensure full accountability for crimes under international law committed in Sudan, Gaza and wherever else they occur.

Iraq urged to stop the execution of 128 prisoners on death row

March 14, 2009

Hanging rope at execution gallows, Baghdad, Iraq, 15 December 2006

Hanging rope at execution gallows, Baghdad, Iraq, 15 December 2006

© APGraphicsBank

Amnesty International, 13 March 2009

Iraq’s Justice Minister has been urged to stop the execution of 128 prisoners on death row, amid reports that the authorities plan to start executing them in batches of 20 next week.

The use of the death penalty has been increasing at an alarming rate in Iraq since the government reintroduced it in August 2004. This followed a suspension of more than one year by the Coalition Provisional Authority.

Last year at least 285 people were sentenced to death, and at least 34 executed. In 2007 at least 199 people were sentenced to death and 33 were executed, while in 2006 at least 65 people were put to death. The actual figures could be much higher as there are no official statistics for the number of prisoners facing execution.

“The Iraqi government said in 2004 that reinstating capital punishment would curb widespread violence in the country. The reality, however, is that violence has continued at extremely high levels and the death penalty has yet again been shown to be no deterrent,” said Malcolm Smart, Amnesty International’s Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme. “In fact, many attacks are perpetrated by suicide bombers who, clearly, are unlikely to be deterred by the threat of execution.”

The Iraqi Supreme Judicial Council informed Amnesty International on 9 March that Iraq’s Presidential Council (comprising the President and the two Vice-Presidents) had ratified the death sentences of 128 people whose sentences had already been confirmed by the Cassation Court.

The Iraqi authorities have not disclosed the identities of those facing imminent execution, stoking fears that many of them may have been sentenced to death after trials that failed to satisfy international standards for fair trial.

Most are likely to have been sentenced to death by the Central Criminal Court of Iraq (CCCI), whose proceedings consistently fall short of international standards for fair trial. Some are likely to have been convicted of crimes such as murder and kidnapping on the basis of confessions they allege were extracted under torture during their pre-trial detention by Iraqi security forces. Allegations of torture are not being investigated adequately or at all by the CCCI. Torture of detainees held by Iraqi security forces remains rife.

“Iraq’s creaking judicial system is simply unable to guarantee fair trials in ordinary criminal cases, and even less so in capital cases, with the result, we fear, that numerous people have gone to their death after unfair trials,” said Malcolm Smart.

“Iraq continues to be plagued by high levels of political violence but the death penalty is no answer and, due to its brutalizing effect, may be making the situation worse. The Iraqi government should order an immediate halt to these executions and establish a moratorium on all further executions in Iraq.”

Amnesty International has called on the Iraqi authorities to make public all information pertaining to the 128 people, including their full names, details of the charges against them, the dates of their arrest, trial and appeal and their current places of detention.

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