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    March 29, 2019

    Responding to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen’s letter to Congress, Charanya Krishnaswami, Americas Advocacy Director at Amnesty International USA stated:

    “Secretary Nielsen is ready to exploit the vulnerable situations of families in order to send a loud message to the world that refugees are not welcome in America.

    “The US must live up to its promise and implement humane policies that do not unnecessarily detain people seeking safety and protection.

    “The DHS’s argument that treating asylum seekers humanely fuels migration is a blatant lie meant to curb the basic rights of those fleeing violence and persecution in their home countries.”

    Amnesty International USA calls on Congress to reject Secretary Nielson’s request for more powers and demand that DHS renew its ‘Alternative to Detention’ programs.

    Background

    In October, Amnesty International launched a report on the policy of family separation and illegal pushbacks and the arbitrary detention of asylum seekers.

    March 19, 2019
    Forensic investigation yields credible evidence 14 civilians were killed in just five strikes More than 100 strikes by US drones and manned aircraft since early 2017 Strikes in Somalia tripled under Trump, outpacing Yemen and Libya combined

    The US government must carry out impartial, thorough investigations into credible evidence its rapidly escalating air strikes in Somalia have killed numerous civilians, Amnesty International said in a new report today.

    The Hidden US War in Somalia details how 14 civilians were killed and eight more injured in just five of the more than 100 strikes in the past two years. These five incidents were carried out with Reaper drones and manned aircraft in Lower Shabelle, a region largely under Al-Shabaab control outside the Somali capital Mogadishu. The attacks appear to have violated international humanitarian law, and some may amount to war crimes.

    March 15, 2019

    Responding to reports that the U.S. will restrict visas for International Criminal Court personnel looking into the U.S. military personnel actions in Afghanistan, Daniel Balson, Advocacy Director at Amnesty International USA stated:

    “This announcement is the latest attack on international justice and international institutions by an administration hellbent on rolling back human rights protections.

    “While victims’ rights should be the very top priority of the United States government, throwing roadblocks in front of the ICC’s investigation undermines justice not only for abuses committed in Afghanistan, but also for the millions of victims and survivors throughout the world who have experienced the most serious crimes under international law.

    “The ICC prosecutes the most serious crimes under international law, including genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. Impeding the work of ICC investigators disrupts its vital function and demands impunity for the White House's own policies. In doing so, it risks setting a dangerous precedent.

    March 13, 2019

    Today the California Gov. Gavin Newsome signed an executive order placing a moratorium on executions. The order will affect over 700 people on death row.

    “This is an important step towards establishing a better criminal justice system that respects human rights,” said Kristina Roth, senior program officer of Amnesty International USA’s criminal justice program. “California has made a significant move toward being on the right side of history as momentum continues against the death penalty. While this is an important development, we will continue to work for the complete abolition of the death penalty in all states and nations around the world.”

    Amnesty International USA opposes the death penalty in all cases without exception as the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment. As of today, 142 countries have abolished the death penalty in law or practice.

    This statement available at: https://www.amnestyusa.org/press-releases/california-governor-signs-moratorium-on-executions/
     

    March 07, 2019

    Reacting to news that the Trump administration has revoked a part of an Obama executive order requiring reporting on civilian casualties, Daphne Eviatar, Amnesty International USA’s Director of Security with Human Rights stated:

    “This is a shameful decision that will shroud this administration’s actions in even more secrecy with little accountability for its victims.

    “The public deserves to know how many civilians are killed by U.S. actions. This is an unconscionable decision and in complete disregard of fundamental human rights.

    “It is incomprehensible that this vital work will be left only to human rights organizations such as ours.”

    Background

    In 2016, Amnesty International USA spoke out on the Obama-era policy documenting standards for airstrikes, when they were first announced, calling for more transparency and accountability.

    March 01, 2019

    WASHINGTON, DC – Reports indicate that the Remain in Mexico plan, also known as Migrant Protection Protocols, will soon be implemented in parts of California, New Mexico, and Texas. This plan forces asylum-seekers to stay in Mexico while their claims are reviewed. It is being implemented alongside ongoing large-scale illegal pushbacks at the border.

    Charanya Krishnaswami, advocacy director for the Americas at Amnesty International USA, issued this statement:

    “The Trump administration is not only abandoning people in their most desperate hour, it is actively putting them in harm’s way. Forcing people seeking protection in the United States to stay in Mexico while their claims are processed is irresponsible, cruel, and a stark violation of international law.

    February 25, 2019

    WASHINGTON – As US President Donald Trump is scheduled to meet with his North Korean counterpart Kim Jong-un at a two-day summit on February 27 - 28 to be held in Hanoi, Vietnam, Francisco Bencosme, advocacy manager for Asia Pacific at Amnesty International USA, issued the following statement:

    “Over a year ago, President Trump stood in front of Congress and pledged to challenge North Korea’s human rights record. Since then, President Trump has repeatedly disregarded the human rights of the North Korean people to gain favor with Kim Jung-un. His silence in the face of relentless and grave human rights violations has been deafening.

    “The people of North Korea have endured enforced disappearances, arbitrary detention, forced labor in prison camps, a total absence of press freedom, severe restrictions on freedom of expression and movement, and decades of separation of families. But President Trump has turned his back on them for the sake of a photo-op.

    February 06, 2019

    By Alex Neve, Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada

    The heartbreaking absurdity of the fact that Canada continues to maintain that the United States is a ‘safe’ country for refugees was apparent with every interview, observation or meeting I had as our six-country Amnesty International delegation moved along the US/Mexico border this past week.

    Far from being safe, it is beyond question that the frightening reality for refugees and migrants in the United States is one of unrelenting human rights violations.  Rather than pretending otherwise, it is time for Canada to suspend the Safe Third Country Agreement that shuts down access to official border posts for refugee claimants crossing into the country from the United States.  Instead, Canada should be exerting all possible pressure on the Trump Administration to end the deepening and dehumanizing assault on the safety and dignity of refugees and migrants.

    February 06, 2019

    The following can be attributed to Joanne Lin, national director of advocacy and government relations at Amnesty International USA:

    “Tonight’s State of the Union was just another opportunity for the president to peddle his politics of hate and fear to a captive audience. He has emboldened despotic regimes around the world by turning a blind eye, and in some cases, actively promoting human rights violations in places like Saudi Arabia and North Korea. At the southern border, his obsession with divisive symbols like a wall is just part of his continued efforts to stigmatize people desperately in need of protection. His policy of sending vulnerable asylum seekers back to dangerous conditions in Mexico is nothing short of cruel. 

    “No wall, no military buildup, no expansion of detention facilities, no pushbacks of people legally seeking asylum at the border. It’s time to come back to human rights and work for policies that treat all people and families with dignity.”

    January 31, 2019
    Mexico USA border wall with barbed wire at top

    Amnesty International Canada Secretary General Alex Neve is currently part of a delegation of senior Amnesty leadership who are visiting the Mexico/USA border to witness the impacts of US policy on migrants and asylum seekers.|

    El Paso, Texas

    So many times over the past two years, since Donald Trump’s presidency and assault on the rights of refugees and migrants began, I have asked myself: what more will it take for the Canadian government to agree that the United States is not “safe” when it comes to refugee protection?

    And while I do not have the answer yet, as the accounts of utter contempt for international obligations and the lack of even a minimal sense of compassion mounted during our visit to Tijuana, El Paso and Ciudad Juárez this week, as a Canadian I felt a deepening sense of shame that this remains an open question.

    What more will it take?

    January 28, 2019

    Amnesty International Canada Secretary General Alex Neve is currently part of a delegation of senior Amnesty leadership who are visiting the Mexico/USA border to witness the impacts of US policy on migrants and asylum seekers. 

    Tijuana, Mexico

    We began the day walking across the border between the United States and Mexico, separating San Ysidro, California and Tijuana. We ended the day back at that exact same border post, accompanying three courageous LGBTQ teens from Honduras as they sought, against considerable odds, to lodge their asylum claims with US officials.

    In between we had ample occasion to see and hear firsthand that despite Donald Trump’s toxic rhetoric, the only crisis that is playing out along this frontier is a politically-driven one that spreads distortions and fear on the backs of people – mainly, but not only, from Mexico and Central America – who are fleeing terrifying persecution, endemic violence and grinding poverty.

    It is a crisis of conscience, compassion and justice.

    January 25, 2019

    WASHINGTON, DC – Amnesty International and the National Immigrant Justice Center are sending an international delegation of senior leadership to monitor the impact of US policy on asylum seekers and migrants traveling to the US-Mexico border. The delegation will be traveling from January 27 to 31. They will be meeting with Mexican and US authorities, documenting conditions at shelters in Tijuana for families and individuals whom the US had denied access to asylum protections, and meeting with non-governmental organizations directly working with asylum-seekers and migrants in El Paso.

    The delegation includes ; Alex Neve, secretary general of Amnesty International Canada ; Margaret Huang, executive director of Amnesty International USA; Tania Reneaum, executive director of Amnesty International Mexico; Colm O’Gorman, executive director of Amnesty International Ireland; Philippe Hensmans, director of Amnesty International Belgium; and John Peder Egenes, head of Amnesty International Norway. They will be joined by Mary Meg MacCarthy, executive director of the National Immigrant Justice Center.

    January 17, 2019

    In response to a report from the Health and Human Services (HHS) inspector general’s office confirming that thousands more families were separated at the border than previously acknowledged by US authorities, Amnesty International regional researcher Brian Griffey issued the following statement:

    “Today’s report confirms Amnesty International’s research, which found that thousands more families at the southern border were separated than the administration initially disclosed. By their own admission, US authorities intentionally separated families in order to deter others from trying to seek safety in the United States. This cruel and dangerous policy must never be put into practice again.

    “Ripping children from the arms of their parents or guardians is a brazen violation of human rights. US authorities must immediately reveal full statistics on family separations for public scrutiny and ensure that all separated families are reunited.”

    January 11, 2019
    Protester dressed in prison uniforms outside the White House

    I remember that ever-present day that is seared in my memory forever as if it was yesterday. It was more than 17 years ago when secret police officers led me to my old car parked outside my mother’s house in Mauritania, and asked me to follow them in their unmarked, inconspicuous vehicle. There was a visibly ashamed agent waiting to sit beside me in my car.

    As I emerged from my mother's door, she stopped me. She suspected these were agents just from the way they looked. She was afraid for me. Even an apolitical person like my mother could spot them every time.

    January 10, 2019

    The military prison at Guantánamo Bay remains a stain on the human rights record of the United States and continues to present site for ongoing violations as long as it stays open, said Amnesty International USA on the eve of the January 11 anniversary of its opening.

    “When President Trump revoked President Obama’s order to close the military prison at Guantánamo, he opened the door for a whole new era of horrific human rights violations to take place,” said Daphne Eviatar, director of Security with Human Rights at Amnesty International USA.

    “While the prison should have been relegated long ago as an appalling chapter in U.S. history, Guantánamo continues to operate 17 years later as a symbol of Islamophobia that embodies the fear-mongering and xenophobia that defines Trump’s presidency.”

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