domenica 14 settembre 2014

Pakistan: Malala arrests must lead to better protection for human rights defenders.


Today’s arrest of the suspects in the assassination attempt on Malala Yousafzai offers an important opportunity for the authorities to address their poor record in protecting human rights defenders in Pakistan, Amnesty International said.
“By her words and deeds, the brave education rights activist Malala Yousafzai proved that the pen is indeed mightier than the sword,” said Mustafa Qadri, Amnesty International’s Pakistan Researcher.
“But human rights defenders promoting the rights of women and girls in her native Swat and across Pakistan remain especially at risk of deadly attacks and other abuse from the Taliban and other groups, not least because of the authorities’ continued failure to hold the perpetrators to account.
“Human rights defenders play a critical role in promoting the rights of everyone in Pakistan society. With the world watching, it is critical that Pakistan seizes this opportunity to demonstrate its commitment to human rights, justice and rule of law.”
Pakistan’s military today announced that 10 members of the Pakistani Taliban, Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, suspected of involvement in the 2012 attack on Malala Yousafzai had been arrested.
“The arrested men must be treated humanely at all times. If there is credible, admissible evidence against them they should be brought to trial in proceedings which meet international standards of fairness and without recourse to the death penalty,” said said Mustafa Qadri.

mercoledì 10 settembre 2014

Afghanistan: Urgent inquiry needed after new US airstrike increases civilian death toll .

Formal criminal investigations into the killing of civilians by foreign troops in Afghanistan are extremely rare.
Formal criminal investigations into the killing of civilians by foreign troops in Afghanistan are extremely rare. © AFP/Getty Images
The reported killing of 14 civilians, including two children, in a US/NATO airstrike in eastern Afghanistan highlights the urgent need for transparent investigations and justice for civilian casualties caused by foreign troops in the country, said Amnesty International.

A recent Amnesty International report documented how previous incidents where civilians were killed during US/NATO military operations have not been properly investigated. Incidents involving likely war crimes have not led to prosecutions.

“The lack of accountability for killings of civilians by US/NATO forces in Afghanistan sends a message that foreign troops have free rein to commit abuses in Afghanistan and that the lives of Afghan civilians have little or no value,” said Richard Bennett, Asia-Pacific Director at Amnesty International.

“We express our deep condolences to the victims of this airstrike, including the families of those who lost their lives. NATO and the US military must ensure that this airstrike is promptly, thoroughly and impartially investigated and that victims’ families are kept informed about the progress of the investigations.”

The US/NATO strike, which took place in the Badiel valley, Narang district, Kunar province, also injured more than a dozen people.

Villagers reportedly brought the bodies of their relatives to the provincial capital to show civilians had been killed.

Amnesty International’s report Left in the dark: Failures of accountability for civilian casualties caused by international military operations in Afghanistan, published in August, examined 10 cases involving more than 140 civilians who were killed during US/NATO attacks, none of which were properly investigated.

Formal criminal investigations into the killing of civilians by foreign troops in Afghanistan are extremely rare. Amnesty International is aware of only six cases since 2009 in which US military personnel have faced trial for killing civilians.

“Evidence of possible war crimes and unlawful killings has seemingly been ignored by the US. This needs to change. Accountability now is prevention in the future: these incidents simply should not be happening,” said Richard Bennett.

Background Information
Amnesty International spoke to Kunar provincial authorities, local journalists and villagers who said that at 13:30 on Tuesday a bomb dropped from a plane hit the area and killed four people.

When the villagers heard the bomb and rushed out to help the injured, another bomb was dropped. The villagers also said that after the bombing the plane started shooting, which increased the number of casualties.

According to local journalists and Kunar provincial authorities, a team of Afghan and international forces who were patrolling the area yesterday came under fire from insurgents.

MALDIVES - UK foreign office expresses concern over Maldives’ human rights situation and Rilwan disappearance.

UK foreign office expresses concern over Maldives’ human rights situation and Rilwan disappearance thumbnail
 The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has expressed concern over the human rights situation in the Maldives, as well as the disappearance of Minivan News journalist Ahmed Rilwan.
“We are also concerned by reports that parliamentarians, human rights advocates and journalists have recently been the target of death threats, and by the disappearance and apparent abduction of one journalist on 8 August,” said Minister of State at the FCO Hugo Swire.
Swire’s comments came in response to a written question submitted by Conservative Party MP Karen Lumley.
The minister expressed concern over freedom of religion, rule of law, and women’s rights, as well as reports of death threats made against a number of politicians and MPs in recent months.
Former health minister Dr Mariyam Shakeela is the latest to have reported having received death threats. Similar messages have been received by multiple journalists and politicians, including Jumhooree Party leader Gasim Ibrahim.
Rilwan, 28-years-old, was last seen on the Malé-Hulhumalé ferry on August 8, just minutes before his neighbours saw a man fitting his description forced into a car outside his apartment.
“Officials at our high commission in Colombo, which is also accredited to the Maldives, have raised concerns on human rights, as well as the recent threats and this reported disappearance, with the Maldives Government,” reported Swire.
“We have also urged them to ensure that those responsible are prosecuted as appropriate. The Maldives Government has expressed deep concern following the disappearance, and noted that they are committed to ensuring the safety and security of all Maldivians,” he continued.
While Rilwan’s disappearance has been highlighted by many international groups – including the UN, Reporters Without Borders, and the Committee to Protect Journalists – the FCO’s comments mark the first time the case has been mentioned by a foreign government.
There is little information regarding Rilwan’s disappearance despite a MVR200,000 reward being offered by his family and a petition signed by 5000 people submitted to the People’s Majlis.
The petition called upon the legislature to find answers to questions regarding the police’s investigations. Similar concerns regarding the investigation’s progress have been raised by the Human Rights Commission and civil society groups.
After police released a statement on Thursday night (August 4) – claiming it had questioned 318 individuals, interrogated 111, and searched 139 locations – Rilwan’s family voiced concerns over the case’s progress.
“These are just statistics. We want to find him. We want the police to tell us if they have leads, if there is progress,” said Rilwan’s brother Moosa.
“We want to know what the results of these extensive searches are. It’s been a month, my family and I fear for his life.”

Bangladesh, torture e sparizioni impunite.

Il Bangladesh sta attraversando una fase di crisi politica che neanche le elezioni di gennaio hanno risolto. Anzi. La Lega Awami della prima ministra Sheikh Hasina ha vinto facilmente riconfermandosi  alla guida del paese grazie alla decisione del Partito nazionalista del Bangladesh e dei suoi alleati di boicottare il voto. Durante le proteste indette dall’opposizione, sono morte oltre 100 persone la maggior parte delle quali durante violenti scontri con le forze di polizia.

Di questa crisi politica, secondo quanto riferisce un rapporto di Amnesty International, la situazione dei diritti umani risente profondamente.

Dal 2012, almeno 20 persone sono scomparse nelle mani delle forze di sicurezza (ma il numero effettivo potrebbe essere più alto): nove sono state ritrovate morte, sei sono state rilasciate dopo settimane di prigionia e di cinque non si hanno ancora notizie.

A essere chiamato in causa è il Battaglione di risposta rapida, un corpo speciale di polizia coinvolto ad aprile nel rapimento e nell’uccisione di sette uomini. Per questa vicenda, che ha destato scandalo nel paese, sono stati arrestati tre agenti ma nessuno di loro è stato finora incriminato.

La tortura resta assai diffusa. Amnesty International ha incontrato oltre 100 ex detenuti che avevano denunciato di essere stati torturati. Tra i metodi di tortura, quelli più frequenti sono le sospensioni al soffitto e le scariche elettriche sui genitali. In due casi la polizia ha sparato alle gambe dei detenuti, uno dei quali ha dovuto ricorrere all’amputazione dell’arto.

La libertà d’espressione ha conosciuto nuove limitazioni, soprattutto a causa della Legge sull’informazione e le tecnologie di comunicazione, usata massicciamente per incriminare coloro che pubblicano “informazioni diffamanti od offensive” su Internet.

Nell’ultimo anno e mezzo sono stati arrestati diversi utenti della Rete. Rilasciati su cauzione, restano in attesa del processo per aver pubblicato “commenti offensivi” sull’Islam tramite Facebook o altri social media.

Giornalisti e direttori di quotidiani subiscono una forma più sottile di repressione, dalle minacce telefoniche alle pressioni ufficiali affinché non sia dato spazio alle voci dell’opposizione politica.

venerdì 29 agosto 2014

MALDIVES - Uncuffedmv.com for torture victims.

Uncuffedmv.com is a space to share the stories of those who have suffered torture in the Maldivian prison system and whose grievances have not been officially recognized. Uncuffed.com is also a source for the Maldivian and international communities, in whose hands justice lies.

Uncuffedmv is an independent operation; its primary goal is to prompt public discussion and reconciliation of the practice of torture in the Maldives. This website does not have any political aims, nor does it blame any party or individual for the injustice and torture reported in these interviews.

Pakistan: Impunity marks International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances.

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL
PUBLIC STATEMENT
AI Index: ASA 33/013/2014
29 August 2014
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Pakistan: Impunity Marks International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances
On the eve of the annual International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances, the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ), Amnesty International, and Human Rights Watch urge Pakistan’s government to stop the deplorable practice of state agencies abducting hundreds of people throughout the country without providing information about their fate or whereabouts.
Despite clear rulings from the Pakistan Supreme Court in 2013 demanding justice for victims of enforced disappearances, as well as recommendations from the United Nations Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances in 2012, the Pakistan government has done little to meet its obligations under international law and the Pakistan Constitution to prevent enforced disappearances.
The government has failed to establish the facts about the fate and whereabouts of victims when enforced disappearances occur, has failed to bring perpetrators to justice, and has failed to provide reparations to victims, including the families of the disappeared, the three leading rights organizations said.
Instead, the government has responded by passing the Protection of Pakistan Act, 2014, which facilitates enforced disappearances by retrospectively legitimizing detention at undisclosed locations and providing immunity to all state agents acting in ‘good faith.’ These steps perpetuate a troubling culture of impunity in Pakistan, casting grave doubts on the government’s seriousness about ensuring justice and protecting human rights.
Enforced disappearances—most often of men and boys—occur regularly throughout Pakistan, including Balochistan and north-western Pakistan, as well as in Punjab and Sindh provinces.
Balochistan is of particular concern because of a pattern of enforced disappearances targeting political activists, human rights defenders, journalists, and lawyers. Disappeared people are often found dead, their bodies bearing bullet wounds and marks of torture.
Earlier this year, eyewitnesses reported that Zahid Baloch, a human rights defender and chairperson of Baloch Student Organization-Azad, was abducted at gunpoint in Quetta, capital of Pakistan’s Balochistan province, allegedly by personnel of the Frontier Corps, a state security force widely implicated in enforced disappearances in the province. Despite widespread protests and appeals for his release from relatives and human rights groups, the authorities have failed to adequately investigate his abduction, determine his fate or whereabouts, and bring those responsible to justice.
In the weeks leading up to Pakistan’s Independence Day, 14 August, dozens of ethnic Baloch were arbitrarily arrested in the New Kahan area of Quetta, and Turbat and Kharan districts. At present, the fate or whereabouts of all of these people remain unknown.
Hundreds of men and boys, especially individuals associated with the Muttahida Quami Movement political party and ethnic Pashtuns accused of being associated with the Taliban, have been subjected to enforced disappearance in the city of Karachi over the last two years. Several members of ethnic Sindhi nationalist groups have also allegedly been subjected to enforced disappearance in the province of Sindh in the same period. In north-west Pakistan, the armed forces allegedly continue to subject men and boys to enforced disappearances in areas where they are carrying out counter-insurgency operations against the Taliban.
The few investigations carried out by the Pakistani authorities have been hampered by their refusal or inability to adequately investigate state security forces and intelligence services implicated in enforced disappearances.
The ICJ, Amnesty International, and Human Rights Watch urge the Pakistani government to take the following steps as a matter of urgency to affirm its commitment to end enforced disappearances and meet its obligations under international human rights law:
Ratify the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance and implement its provisions in law, policy and practice, and in particular include a new and separate crime of enforced disappearances in the penal code;
Carry out a thorough review and, as necessary, amend all security legislation, in particular the Protection of Pakistan Act, 2014, and the Actions (in Aid of Civil Power) Regulations, 2011, to ensure its compatibility with international human rights law and standards;
Ensure that all persons held in secret or arbitrary detention are immediately released, or charged for a cognizable crime by civilian courts following international fair trial standards, and are detained in official places of detention and in conditions that fully respect their human rights;
Ensure that prompt, thorough, independent and impartial investigations are carried out into all allegations of enforced disappearance; perpetrators, including those with command or superior responsibility, are brought to justice before independent and impartial civilian courts, consistent with the United Nations Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance; and victims, including the families of the disappeared, have access to effective remedies and receive adequate reparation.

Maldives media: Rilwan’s abduction is a threat to all.

By Zaheena Rasheed 

Maldivian journalists have expressed grave concern over the disappearance of Minivan News journalist Ahmed Rilwan Abdulla and called for an end to intimidation of the press.
In an unprecedented joint statement on Saturday, media outlets expressed solidarity and said Rilwan’s abduction is threat to all of Maldives.
“Abduction and disappearance of individuals do not stop with journalists. This is a threat to every individual, every family and all of the Maldives,” the statement read.
Efforts have been made by various parties to silence the press, including assault, murder attempts, vandalism of property and torching of TV stations, the statement noted.
“Now, a journalist has disappeared without a trace. Information we have gathered so far strongly suggests Rilwan was abducted,” it said.
The statement comes after several journalists from various media organisations spoke with eyewitnesses in Hulhumalé who claimed to have seen a man being forced into a car at knifepoint on the night of Rilwan’s disappearance.
Today is the 15th day since Rilwan is believed to have gone missing.
Both print and broadcast media signed the statement. They include Minivan News, Haveeru, Sun, CNM, Vaguthu, Dhuvas, Raajje TV, DhiTV, VTV, DhiFM, Channel One and Jazeera TV.
Media groups noted the state has failed to take adequate action against those who intimidate the press.
“As intimidation of press grows, and attacks against journalists, equipment, and buildings continue, we are extremely concerned over the delays in bringing to justice those who commit these acts. We note that the investigation of Rilwan’s case is slow and that information has not been adequately shared with the media and the public,” the statement said.
No one has been prosecuted for the October torching of Raajje TV, while two years have passed since charges were pressed against two individuals suspected of assaulting Raajje TV journalist Ibrahim ‘Asward’ Waheed.
The state’s failure to end press intimidation allows extremism of all forms to grow stronger, the statement added.
The Maldives Police Services have pledged to treat Rilwan’s disappearance as a “top priority case” and said the army is now assisting the police in their search. Police have failed to reveal details of the investigation.
In a May report, the Maldives Broadcasting Commission said 84 percent of reporters in the Maldives have reported being threatened at least once, often by political parties, gangs and religious extremists.
Media groups today urged the state to make the relevant policies to ensure the right to live and work without fear is enjoyed by all Maldivians.
“Even though different media outlets have different editorial policies, we, all journalists, are one family,” the statement said.
Pledging to do all necessary to secure freedom of the press, media groups said: “And though we continue to face dangers from radical and extremist groups, this is not a danger we alone face. We will not step back, or put down our pens, or silence our tongues or hold our thoughts in the face of such threats.”
Expressing gratitude for the solidarity, Minivan News Managing Editor Daniel Bosley said: “We, as journalists, are a community which rightly includes differing political opinions – and even different nationalities. But we have to send a message that we are one community nevertheless, and I strongly believe that this statement does that.”
Media groups have set up a committee to pressure the state to expedite investigations into Rilwan’s disappearance and end intimidation of the press. Planned activities include meetings with stakeholders on Rilwan’s disappearance, increased coverage and talk shows about the threats against media.
International groups, including the Office for the United Nations Commissioner for Human Rights (OCHR) and Reporters Without Borders have called for a speedy and thorough investigation.
The OCHR has urged the relevant authorities to address threats and intimidation of the press, while the International Federation of Journalists said the government must determine the circumstances of his disappearance as a “matter of urgency.”
The New York based Committee to Protect Journalists urged the authorities “to leave no stone unturned” in their efforts to find him.
Meanwhile, Rilwan’s family have offered a reward of MVR50,000 (US$3,240) for information leading to his successful return.