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    July 22, 2021

    One year after naming Bernardo Caal Xol a prisoner of conscience, Amnesty International has delivered a petition with 27957 signatures from around the world, including more than 12,000 from Canada, to Guatemala’s Attorney General, María Consuelo Porras, demanding his immediate release. 

    “Bernardo Caal’s imprisonment for more than three years now sends a frightening message to the Indigenous peoples leading the defense of human rights, justice and the protection of our planet,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International.  

    “It’s shameful that the Guatemalan authorities continue to criminalize and intimidate those who dedicate their lives to defending nature while a global movement for environmental protection is gaining ground. Guatemala’s authorities have it in their hands to end the injustice against Bernardo and change the course of the country.” 

    July 21, 2021

    Amnesty International published a new video today calling on the Chilean National Prosecutor's Office to investigate the high command of the Carabineros, specifically the former Director General and the current Director General, for widespread human rights violations committed during the period of social unrest that began in October 2019.

    Given the imminent closure of the investigation into the attacks that left Gustavo Gatica permanently blind, set for 30 July; the review of the precautionary measures against the Carabinero identified as having shot the tear gas canister that blinded Fabiola Campillai, and the request for an extension of the deadline for the investigation by the Prosecutor's Office in this case, which will be on 28 July; Amnesty International considers investigations of the full chain of command to be as necessary as they are urgent.

    July 19, 2021

    Responding to the conviction of journalist and government critic Omar Radi to six years in prison in a trial marred by blatant breaches of due process in relation to charges of espionage and rape, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa, Amna Guellali said:

    “Before his arrest Omar Radi was harassed by the authorities because of his brave journalistic work criticizing human rights violations and exposing corruption. Ever since his trial began, it has been marred by flaws. He has been deprived of the right to prepare a proper defence, he and his legal team were denied the right to access some of the evidence against him and all requests to summon defence witnesses in the cases against him were denied. He has also been held in solitary confinement for nearly a year.

    “Condemning someone to six years in prison after such flawed proceedings is not justice. Morocco’s authorities must urgently grant him a fair retrial in line with international standards."

    Background

    July 19, 2021

    NSO Group’s spyware has been used to facilitate human rights violations around the world on a massive scale, according to a major investigation into the leak of 50,000 phone numbers of potential surveillance targets. These include heads of state, activists and journalists, including Jamal Khashoggi’s family.

    The Pegasus Project is a ground-breaking collaboration by more than 80 journalists from 17 media organizations in 10 countries coordinated by Forbidden Stories, a Paris-based media non-profit, with the technical support of Amnesty International, who conducted cutting- edge forensic tests on mobile phones to identify traces of the spyware.

    “The Pegasus Project lays bare how NSO’s spyware is a weapon of choice for repressive governments seeking to silence journalists, attack activists and crush dissent, placing countless lives in peril,” said Agnès Callamard, Secretary General of Amnesty International.

    July 16, 2021

    Police in Addis Ababa have arbitrarily arrested and detained dozens of Tigrayans without due process, following the recapture of the Tigray region’s capital, Mekelle, by forces from the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) that also calls itself Tigray Defence Forces (TDF) on 28 June, Amnesty International said today. The arrests appear to be ethnically motivated, with former detainees, witnesses and lawyers describing how police checked identity documents before arresting people and taking them to detention centres.

    “Following the withdrawal of the Ethiopian National Defense Force from parts of Tigray and the announcement of a unilateral ceasefire by the Federal government on 28 June, for the last two weeks Tigrayans in Addis Ababa have been arbitrarily arrested and detained. Former detainees told us that police stations are filled with people speaking Tigrinya, and that authorities had conducted sweeping mass arrests of Tigrayans,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Director for East and Southern Africa.

    July 12, 2021

    In response to the state repression of social protests in several areas of Cuba yesterday, Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International, said:

    “In a historic day for Cuba, thousands of people took to the streets to demonstrate peacefully in several parts of the country, exercising their rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly. It’s unacceptable that the Cuban government has denied these rights for decades and continues to do so today.”

    “During yesterday’s spontaneous demonstrations, which spread across different areas of the country, Amnesty International received with alarm reports of internet blackouts, arbitrary arrests, excessive use of force – including police firing on demonstrators – and reports that there is a long list of missing persons.”

    July 08, 2021

    The armed assault that reportedly killed Haitian President Jovenel Moïse and injured his wife early Wednesday is a shocking indicator of the serious human rights and political crisis that Haiti has been facing for years, and must be promptly and impartially investigated alongside the grave and ongoing human rights violations in the country, Amnesty International said today.

    “The killing of President Jovenel Moïse must be immediately and impartially investigated alongside the grave human rights violations and chronic impunity that ordinary people have suffered under his watch,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.

    “This is a wake-up call for the international community, and for the Haitian authorities who have overseen chronic impunity and ignored the calls of human rights defenders that has paved the way for such a serious crisis.”

    July 08, 2021

    Reacting to the news that four million people have now died globally from Covid-19 according to Johns Hopkins University, Amnesty International’s Secretary General Agnès Callamard, said:

    “At least four million lives have now been lost to Covid-19. This devastating milestone must spur richer governments and companies into immediate action. How many more millions must die before the knowledge and technology to produce enough vaccines for everyone are made universally available?

    “The life-saving impact of vaccines is clear. Since January, the number of people dying in countries that have managed to give at least one dose to over half the population has reduced by over 90 per cent.

    “Yet, because vast swathes of the world have little or no access to vaccines, one person is still dying from Covid-19 every 11 seconds – mostly in lower-income countries. Equal access to vaccines shouldn’t be based on where you live, it’s a basic human right.

    July 07, 2021

    The Palestinian authorities in the occupied West Bank have launched a chilling campaign of repression cracking down on peaceful protests with unlawful force, targeting journalists, civil society activists, and lawyers with arbitrary arrests and torturing detainees, said Amnesty International today.

    Tensions in Palestine have spiked since the death in custody of prominent Palestinian critic and activist Nizar Banat on 24 June. Security forces responded to protests sparked by his death with excessive force. Most recently, on the evening of 5 July, Palestinian security forces detained at least 15 people, including protesters, journalists and a lawyer, after violently dispersing a peaceful gathering in front of the Ballou’ police station in Ramallah.

    July 05, 2021

    David Castillo, former manager of the company Desarrollos Energéticos, and the person in charge of the Agua Zarca hydroelectric project, was found guilty of participating as co-author in the 2016 murder of Honduran human rights defender Berta Cáceres. 

    “The long-awaited prosecution of David Castillo, convicted as co-author of the murder of Berta Cáceres, is an important step towards justice and the result of her family and COPINH’s tireless efforts to secure truth, justice and reparation. However, justice for Berta will never be truly complete until everyone who took part in the crime, including those who planned it, is brought to justice,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International. 

    “We urge the prosecutors to keep uncovering the truth. Until all those responsible are held accountable, other human rights defenders in Honduras will continue to lose their lives, for raising their voices and defending the most vulnerable. The Honduran authorities must put an end to impunity.”

    July 01, 2021

    Reacting to news that Burundian human rights defender Germain Rukuki has been released after serving more than four years in prison, Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for East and Southern Africa, said:

    “It is terrific news that Germain is finally free. He should never have been jailed in the first place - as he was arrested, prosecuted and convicted simply for his human rights work.”

    “This is a great moment for Germain, his family and friends and the hundreds of thousands of people around the world who tirelessly campaigned for his release. It is also a victory for human rights.”

    Germain’s release comes after the appeal court on 4 June reduced his sentence from 32 years to one.

    For more on the case, please see:

    Burundi: Global campaign to free Germain Rukuki launched today | Amnesty International

    June 30, 2021

    Hong Kong’s National Security Law (NSL) has decimated the city’s freedoms and created a landscape increasingly devoid of human rights protections, Amnesty International said in a new research briefing released today, exactly one year after the Beijing-imposed legislation took effect.

    ‘In the Name of National Security’ details how the law enacted on 30 June 2020 has given the authorities free rein to illegitimately criminalize dissent while stripping away the rights of those it targets. 

    “In one year, the National Security Law has put Hong Kong on a rapid path to becoming a police state and created a human rights emergency for the people living there,” said Yamini Mishra, Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific Regional Director.

    “From politics to culture, education to media, the law has infected every part of Hong Kong society and fomented a climate of fear that forces residents to think twice about what they say, what they tweet and how they live their lives.

    June 28, 2021

    Amidst profound concern about the deepening human rights crisis in Colombia and militarized repression of ongoing demonstrations across the country, Amnesty International Canada is calling on the Canadian government to suspend weapons exports to the South American country.

    “Given horrendous human rights violations committed by security forces against protesters in Colombia, and in line with international obligations under the Arms Trade Treaty, Canada must immediately cease the direct or indirect supply, sale or transfer of equipment that could be used against civilians,” said Ketty Nivyabandi, Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada – English-speaking Section.

    Military exports from Canada to Colombia in the past have included helicopters and armoured vehicles. In light of the troubling human rights record of Colombian police and military, Amnesty International and other human rights organizations call into question such exports.

    June 23, 2021
    Sweeping arrests targeting Palestinian activists Unlawful use of force against Palestinian protesters Torture of Palestinian detainees Failure to protect Palestinians from planned attacks by groups of Jewish supremacists

    Israeli police have committed a catalogue of violations against Palestinians in Israel and occupied East Jerusalem, carrying out a discriminatory repressive campaign including sweeping mass arrests, using unlawful force against peaceful protesters, and subjecting detainees to torture and other ill-treatment, during and after the armed hostilities in Israel and Gaza, Amnesty International said today.

    Israeli police have also failed to protect Palestinian citizens of Israel from premeditated attacks by groups of armed Jewish supremacists, even when plans were publicized in advance and police knew or should have known of them.

    June 22, 2021

    A statement delivered at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva by a cross-regional group of 43 states who are “gravely concerned” about China’s serious human rights violations in Xinjiang must pave the way for concrete action, Amnesty International said today, repeating its call for an independent, international investigation into grave human rights violations there.

    “This important statement delivered by Canada on behalf of 43 countries is a welcome reflection of growing international concern over evidence of crimes against humanity being committed in Xinjiang. It sends a crucial message to China’s authorities that they are not above international scrutiny,” said Agnès Callamard, Amnesty International’s Secretary General.

    “These states must now move beyond handwringing and take real action to address this egregious situation. Human Rights Council members must build on this statement to establish an independent, international investigative mechanism that can pave the way for holding to account those responsible for the human rights violations in Xinjiang. There’s not a moment more to lose.

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