Russia/Ukraine: Amnesty International calls for respect for international humanitarian and human rights law as prospect for expanded armed conflict escalates

Responding to news that President Vladimir Putin has ordered “peacekeeping operations” to the so called “Donetsk People’s Republic” and “Luhansk People’s Republic” in eastern Ukraine, Agnès Callamard, Amnesty International’s Secretary General, said: “After weeks of fruitless negotiations, the protection of civilians in Ukraine must now be the absolute priority. While the potential for full-blown conflict is now a devastating reality, every effort must be made to minimize civilian suffering and prioritise humanity in this crisis. It is a legal obligation of all parties to do so. While the potential for full-blown conflict is now a devastating reality, every effort must…

Canada: Let Gravely Ill Canadians Leave Northeast Syria

Click to expand Image Canadian Kimberly Polman in Roj camp in northeast Syria. © 2019 Maya Alleruzzo/AP Photo Canada is effectively preventing a Canadian woman and a young Canadian child detained in northeast Syria from coming home for life-saving medical care despite a Canadian policy allowing them to do so, Human Rights Watch said today. That policy allows Canada to repatriate nationals held in northeast Syria as Islamic State (ISIS) suspects and family members if they have potentially fatal medical conditions that cannot be treated in the camps and prisons where they are held. A former US ambassador who has…

Colombia: Decriminalization of abortion is a triumph for human rights

The Colombian Constitutional Court’s ruling in favour of the decriminalization of abortion during the first 24 weeks of a pregnancy is a great triumph for human rights, said Amnesty International today. “We celebrate this ruling as a historic victory for the women’s movement in Colombia that has fought for decades for the recognition of their rights. Women, girls and people able to bear children are the only ones who should make decisions about their bodies. Now, instead of punishing them, the Colombian authorities will have to recognize their autonomy over their bodies and their life plans,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas…

Russia: LGBTI siblings facing up to 8.5 years in a Chechen jail must be released

Ahead of Tuesday’s sentencing of Salekh Magamadov and Ismail Isaev, two Chechen siblings who face up to 8.5 years in prison after being falsely accused of “aiding illegal armed groups”, Marie Struthers, Amnesty International’s Eastern Europe and Central Asia Director, said: “Salekh Magamadov and Ismail Isaev must be immediately and unconditionally released. They should never have been charged in the first place. Belonging to the LGBTI community in Chechnya — or anywhere else for that matter — is not a crime. Nobody should be detained for their sexual orientation or  gender identity or for criticizing the authorities. Their ordeal must…

Turkey: Baseless prosecution of Öztürk Türkdoğan an “attack on all those who speak out for human rights”

All charges against Öztürk Türkdoğan, the co-chair of Turkey’s most prominent human rights organisation and a respected lawyer, should be immediately dropped, Amnesty International said today ahead of the start of his trial tomorrow. Öztürk Türkdoğan, the co-chair of the Human Rights Association (IHD), faces baseless charges of “membership of a terrorist organization”, “insulting a public official” and “insulting the Turkish nation and the Turkish state” for public statements he made in relation to his association’s human rights work. “The prosecution of Öztürk Türkdoğan is an undisguised attack on this one human rights defender and also on all those who…

Turkey: Human Rights Defender on Trial

Click to expand Image Öztürk Türkdoğan, co-chair of the Human Rights Association, Turkey’s oldest human rights nongovernmental organization. © 2022 IHD (Istanbul) – The prosecution of a human rights defender demonstrates the Erdoğan government’s policy of bringing baseless criminal charges against people involved in legitimate and peaceful civil society activities, Human Rights Watch said today. Öztürk Türkdoğan, co-chair of the Human Rights Association, Turkey’s oldest human rights group, is scheduled to stand trial in Ankara on February 22, 2022, on charges of “membership in a terrorist organization.” If convicted, he could face a sentence of 5 to 10 years in…

India: Biased Investigations 2 Years After Delhi Riot

Click to expand Image A municipal worker stands where communal clashes took place in New Delhi, India, February 27, 2020. © 2020 AP Photo/Altaf Qadri (New York) – Indian authorities are wrongfully prosecuting activists and protest organizers under India’s anti-terrorism law two years after 53 people were killed in communal violence following peaceful protests against discriminatory citizenship policies, Human Rights Watch said today. The authorities should immediately drop politically motivated charges and release the 18 activists and others detained. People responsible for abuses should be appropriately prosecuted, including supporters of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government who instigated the…

Prisoners in Thailand forced to make fishing nets for U.S. export

Incarcerated people exploited by the fishing industry Thailand has the largest prison population in Southeast Asia comprising of 282,000 incarcerated people across 143 prisons. Prisons are overcrowded and fail to meet international standards, and some incarcerated people are also subjected to forced labor, specifically pertaining to the multi-billion-dollar fishing industry. The Thomson Reuters Foundation published a report in December 2021 finding that incarcerated people are being forced to make fishing nets under the threat of violence and delayed release. Denial of forced labor   Thomson Reuters Foundation interviewed formerly incarcerated people who said making fishnets was particularly harsh because the…

Vietnamese children forced to work off debt in Europe

Chung* was an orphan living in Vietnam, collecting and selling driftwood, snails and plastic bottles to survive, when he was approached. “I was around 15 to 16 years old. They came to me and asked if I’d like a job and said I could make a lot of money […] I did what I was told,” he says. He was taken to Europe where he now lives in hiding, constantly in fear of being found by his traffickers.  Chung is one of the many Vietnamese children who have been trafficked thousands of miles by criminal networks into conditions that experts…

Philippines: Presidential candidates must commit to freeing senator unjustly detained for 5 years

Candidates in the May 2022 national elections should commit to the immediate release of prisoner of conscience and Philippine Senator Leila de Lima, who marks her fifth year in arbitrary detention on politically motivated charges this week, Amnesty International said today.  “After the killings and impunity that were a hallmark of the Duterte administration’s so called ‘war on drugs’, human rights must feature front and centre in the election campaign agendas of all candidates. This includes the immediate and unconditional release of Senator de Lima, who continues to speak out against grave violations despite five years of unjust detention,” Rachel…

Europe: Ban Trade with Illegal Settlements

Click to expand Image The Israeli settlement of Maale Adumim in the occupied West Bank, with the Palestinian neighborhoods of occupied East Jerusalem in the background. © 2020 Reuters (Brussels, February 21, 2022) – The European Commission should prohibit EU trade with settlements in occupied territories globally, Human Rights Watch said today as it signed onto a European Citizen’s Initiative (ECI). The citizen-led initiative, registered with the European Commission in September 2021 and initiated on February 20, 2022, calls for adopting legislation to prohibit products originating from unlawful settlements from entering the EU market and to ban EU exports to…

Ukraine: Shelling Residential Areas Puts Civilians at Risk

Click to expand Image Damage from the shelling of a kindergarten in the settlement of Stanytsia Luhanska, Ukraine, February 17, 2022. © 2022 Anton Skyba for Human Rights Watch The shelling of a school, a kindergarten, and residential areas along the line of contact in eastern Ukraine on February 17, 2022, apparently by Russia-backed armed groups, injured civilians and damaged civilian infrastructure, Human Rights Watch said today. The attacks, which injured at least four civilians, severely damaged or destroyed several homes.   Attacks that indiscriminately strike civilian objects violate international humanitarian law, or the laws of war, and if committed willfully amount to…

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