Posts Tagged ‘Amnesty International’

Amnesty International claims EU ‘complicit’ in Libya migrant abuses

December 12, 2017

Rights group Amnesty International has accused EU governments of supporting migrant abuse in Libya. Echoing previous reports, it found widespread abuse of migrants in Libya by the government, smugglers and armed groups.

A migrant finishes his lunch while others wait to return to their barracks, at a detention center for migrants (AP Photo/Manu Brabo)

The European Union is complicit in the abuse of tens of thousands of migrants in Libya in order to stem migration from North Africa, Amnesty International said Tuesday.

The human rights group said European governments are training and funding the Libyan coast guard to intercept migrants at sea, who are then sent to detention centers where they are subject to abuse.

“European governments have not just been fully aware of these abuses; by actively supporting the Libyan authorities in stopping sea crossings and containing people in Libya, they are complicit in these crimes,” Amnesty Europe Director John Dalhuisen said.

Read more: Jean-Claude Juncker — Migrants ‘need legal ways to come to Europe’

Sharp drop in migrant arrivals

Led by Italy, the EU has been providing technical and financial support to the Libyan coast guard and immigration authorities in a bid to stop migrants, mostly from West Africa, from using Libya has a launch pad to reach Europe with the help of human smugglers.

There has been a one-third drop in migrant arrivals through the central Mediterranean in the first 11 months of this year, to 116,400 compared to the same period last year, the EU’s border agency Frontex said Monday. Much of the drop has been since this summer, when Italy moved to expand cooperation with Libya. More than 600,000 migrants have used the route over the past four years.

The EU has rejected criticism of its Libya policy. It has recently moved to increase funding for detained migrants and improved conditions after reports of abuses and migrants being sold into slavery.  The bloc has also tried to accelerate the repatriation of migrants from Libya to their countries of origin.

Watch video26:00

Is Libya a failed state?

Cutting migrant flows at expense of human rights

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Amnesty said that due to Libyan coast guard interceptions, at least 20,000 migrants had been put in overcrowded and unsanitary detention centers in Libyan government controlled areas.

More than 400,000 migrants are believed to be in the country including in areas outside government control, according to the International Organization for Migration.

Amnesty reported migrants have been subject to arbitrary detention, torture, forced labor, extortion and even unlawful killings by authorities, human traffickers and armed groups and militias.

It also accused the Libyan coast guard of corruption and cooperation with human smugglers.

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Amnesty called on EU governments to open pathways to legal immigration to Europe, pressure Libya to end arbitrary detentions and grant full access to the UN refugee agency, the UNHCR.

“By supporting Libyan authorities in trapping people in Libya, without requiring the Libyan authorities to tackle the endemic abuse of refugees and migrants or to even recognize that refugees exist, European governments have shown where their true priorities lie: namely the closure of the central Mediterranean route, with scant regard to the suffering caused,” said Dalhuisen.

Watch video03:31

Niger’s migration problem

cw/cmk (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)


Human rights advocates under threat worldwide

December 10, 2017

More and more human rights advocates are paying the ultimate price for their activism. Many are threatened and harassed. For years, the situation of human rights advocates has been growing worse.

Forum EU Human Rights, Brussels (DW/M. Banchón)

“It’s very difficult trying to hide where I’m going from my kids, and trying to make my mom feel that everything will be fine – with them knowing I’m lying,” Egyptian human rights lawyer Mohamed Zaree, looking visibly tense, told a TV reporter on May 23, 2017, one day prior to his court hearing in Cairo. The authorities have alleged that Zaree represents a security threat and that he has tarnished his country’s reputation.

“These charges could put me in jail for 25 years,” Zaree explained. And added: “My kids will grow up without me. I’m concerned about all of this; there are so many things on my mind.”

The following day, Zaree was released on bail. But the charges against him have not been dropped. During his time as the Egypt office director of the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, Mohamed Zaree co-authored a 2014 report on the country’s human rights situation. UN member states are expected to regularly produce such “Universal Periodic Reviews” and submit them to the United Nations Human Rights Council to help assess human rights situations in each country.

Protective human rights awards

This year, Mohamed Zaree won the Martin Ennals Award — a prize that is sometimes referred to as the “Nobel Prize for human rights”.

Mohamed Zaree (picture alliance/AP Photo/Nariman El-Mofty)Mohamed Zaree is risking life imprisonment for his commitment to human rights

“What we’re hoping is that widespread recognition, especially in the media, of Mohamed and his work will mean that hopefully the case and the charges against him will be dropped,” says Martin Ennals Foundation director Michael Khambatta. The foundation’s prize jury comprises representatives from 10 international human rights organizations. Their main objective is to help protect human rights activists who are being persecuted by their own governments.

An award without a recipient

But Mohamed Zaree was unable to attend the Geneva awards ceremony in October. This is because he has been prohibited from leaving Egypt since May 2016.

“We’ve had three finalists since 2012 and only in 2013 were all three of them able to come. Somebody has either been travel-banned, or been in prison, and in sadder cases they’ve either passed away or disappeared,” says Khambatta.

Other human rights organizations have had similar experiences. Azerbaijani journalist Khadija Ismayilova could not attend the Right Livelihood Award — or “Alternative Nobel Prize” — ceremony in Stockholm on December 1. She, too, is banned from leaving her country.

From bad to worse

“Things appear to be getting more and more difficult for human rights defenders,” Khambatta told DW. A recent report by Amnesty International warns that for years human rights advocates have been facing ever greater danger. Many are made to disappear or are murdered — often by their own governments. For its report, Amnesty International spoke to relatives of human rights activists who disappeared or were murdered. It learned that many victims knew their human rights activism was putting their life in peril.

Mexico protest at disappeared people (picture-alliance/AP Photo/E. Verdugo)Relatives, as here in Mexico, often never find out what has happened to disappeared human rights activists

Often, environmentalists, human rights activists, lawyers, journalists and volunteers pay a terribly high price for their work protecting and upholding human rights. Front Line Defenders estimates that 281 human rights activists were killed worldwide in 2016 — almost twice as many as in 2015. It is likely that the true number is much higher, with many cases going unreported. The fate of many who have disappeared remains forever unknown. And there is no evidence to suggest that the 2017 figure will be any lower.

Dangerous populists

During a video talk marking the publication of the World Report 2017 from Human Rights Watch(HRW), HRW executive director Kenneth Roth said that the global rise of populist politicians exacerbated the already grave situation: “They all have in common the claim to speak for the majority, and to claim that majority wants rights violated in the name of securing jobs or avoiding cultural change, or protecting against terrorism.” Roth added: “We’ve seen this show before. In the last century, various communist and fascist governments also claimed to speak for the majority, and then visited enormous repression on their people.”

Protest at trial of human rights activists (picture alliance/AP/dpa/L. Pitarakis)Turkey has seen protests against the arrest of human rights activists

Human rights organizations such as Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and the United Nations Human Rights Council are alarmed by political developments in many countries. HRW’s Kenneth Roth highlighted what can be done to counter persecution at the hands of populists, autocrats and dictators: “What we need is a real, vigorous reaffirmation of human rights.”

And added: “We need to explain that human rights are the best way to avoid corrupt and arbitrary rule.”

Philippines President Duterte Puts Philippine National National Police (PNP) Back Into Drug War — They have a human rights app now — Returning to dead body counts?

December 6, 2017
The Catholic Church sees the President’s order as a ‘bad move,’ but presidential spokesperson Harry Roque says the PDEA remains the lead agency in the war on drugs, with the police only providing active support
 / 07:28 AM December 06, 2017
PNP, other law enforcement agencies ordered to help PDEA in drug war

Saying there was a “notable resurgence in illegal drugs,” President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday ordered the Philippine National Police to actively support the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) in the war on drugs.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said the PDEA remained the lead agency in the war on drugs.

The PNP, the military and other law enforcement agencies would only provide “active support” to the PDEA, Roque told a news briefing.

Mr. Duterte’s order on Tuesday, he said, “supersedes the earlier memorandum that designated the PDEA as the sole agency that will deal with the entire illegal drug operations.”

Roque said that if the PNP wanted to revive “Oplan Tokhang,” it should coordinate first with the PDEA.

“Well, it’s very clear the PDEA is the lead so if Tokhang will be implemented by the PNP, I would suppose there would have to be coordination with the PDEA,” he said.

“If they want to resume Tokhang, they need to confer with the PDEA on how to implement it. The PDEA must be consulted and the PDEA must not be deprived of its role in the implementation of the Dangerous Drugs Act,” Roque added.

Thousands of people have been killed in the PNP campaign, drawing expressions of concern from the United States, European Union, United Nations and international groups about human rights violations in the Philippines.

Mr. Duterte badmouthed them all, accusing them of meddling in Philippine internal affairs.

On Oct. 11, Mr. Duterte designated the PDEA as the “sole agency” in the antidrug campaign after a series of killings of teenagers in northern Metro Manila, which was blamed for the drop in the President’s public approval ratings.

It was the second time that the PNP was stripped of its lead role in the drug war.


In January, the President ordered the PNP to suspend its antidrug operations after narcotics police allegedly kidnapped South Korean businessman Jee Ick-joo and killed him inside Camp Crame, where the PNP headquarters is located.

The President allowed the PNP to resume the war on drugs after more than a month due to reports that the country’s drug problem had worsened.

This time around, Mr. Duterte said the PDEA had made significant strides but there was a resurgent drug problem and crimes related to it.

“PDEA has made significant strides in the government anti-illegal drug campaign since Oct. 11, 2017, with only one drug suspect killed in the course of its anti-illegal drug operations,” the President said.

“[However, it] has been seriously hampered in performing its huge mandate by the lack of resources, specifically agents and operatives, who can penetrate drug-infected areas down to the municipal and barangay levels,” he said.

The President noted that the PDEA had only about 2,000 personnel to deal with the drug problem in the entire country.

“There is a clamor from the public to restore to the PNP and all other law enforcement agencies the responsibility of providing active support to PDEA in the conduct of anti-illegal drug operations,” he said.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque INQUIRER PHOTO/JOAN BONDOC

The President directed the PDEA to submit a monthly report on the progress of the campaign while the Dangerous Drugs Board would remain the policymaking and strategy-formulating body.

“So now, the President clearly wanted the PDEA to take the lead but it wants to avail [itself] of the manpower resources of all other agencies of government, not just the PNP,” Roque said.

‘Bad move’

The Catholic Church warned that Mr. Duterte’s allowing the police to rejoin the war on drugs was a “bad move.”

Speaking on Church-run Radio Veritas, Marbel Bishop Dinualdo Gutierrez called the faithful to pray.

Novaliches Bishop Emeritus Teodoro Bacani said Mr. Duterte’s decision raised questions, especially after the PDEA had achieved gains and implemented reforms in the war on drugs.

“After all, the President said 40 percent of the PNP was corrupt and he replaced them twice. There have not been significant reforms. He is interested in dead body counts,” Bacani said.

Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo said the decision only showed Mr. Duterte’s fickle-mindedness.

“Didn’t he see that the PNP was already a failure? He did not give the PDEA a chance to prove itself. He did not even give it time,” Pabillo said. —With a report from Tina G. Santos

Read more:
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President Rodrigo Duterte and PNP chief Ronald dela Rosa. PhilStar photo

Jee Ick-joo, a South Korean businessman in the Philippines, was abducted by police from his home in October. It took his wife, Choi Kyung-jin, three months to learn his fate. Video: Eva Tam; photo: Jes Aznar for The Wall Street Journal

Philippines: Police return to lethal drug operations a ‘human rights disaster’

November 25, 2017
One of the fatalities, who has yet to be identified, was killed in an alleged shootout with police officers in Guiguinto, Bulacan on June 16. AP/Aaron Favila, file


Amnesty International

Reacting to the news that the Philippines’ President Rodrigo Duterte is again considering expanding the role of the police in his administration’s “war on drugs”, James Gomez, Amnesty International’s Director of Southeast Asia and the Pacific, said:

“The return of the police’s involvement in the Philippines’ ‘war on drugs’ would be a human rights disaster. Since President Duterte took power, the police have unlawfully killed thousands of people in anti-drug operations, with the vast majority of victims being from poor and marginalised communities. The police’s return to these operations could mean many more deaths.

What the Philippines needs is not an expansion of the murderous ‘war on drugs’, led by police who show no sign of reform, but a public health-based drug policy that respects human rights and the rule of law.
James Gomez, Director of Southeast Asia and the Pacific

“There has been a reduction in killings since the government pulled the police off drug operations last month, placing the Philippines Drug Enforcement Agency as the sole agency responsible for the anti-drug campaign. What the Philippines needs is not an expansion of the murderous ‘war on drugs’, led by police who show no sign of reform, but a public health-based drug policy that respects human rights and the rule of law.

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Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte

“There must also be accountability for the thousands of killings carried out already, and all those responsible – including police officers and those who gave the orders – should be brought to justice.”


On 12 October 2017, Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte reduced the police’s role in drug-related operations in favour of the Drug Enforcement Agency. On 22 November however, President Duterte said in a national speech that he was considering revising that decision.

The Drug Enforcement Agency is mandated under the law to enforce all legal provisions on prohibited drugs.


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Agnes Callamard, U.N. special rapporteur on extrajudicial executions.

© AFP | Graphic charting the number of people killed in anti-drug operations in the Philippines since July 2016.

  (Contains links to several previous articles)

The money spent to construct the mega drug rehabilitation facility in Nueva Ecija could have been used to fund smaller, community-based anti-drug programs, DDB Chairman Dionisio Santiago said. File photo

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Detainees, the majority still waiting for trial, are assembled in the exercise area of the overcrowded Quezon City Jail, in Metro Manila November 21, 2008.  © 2008 Reuters

Tillerson, in Myanmar, calls for credible probe of atrocities

November 16, 2017


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United States Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (left) and Myanmar’s State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi during a joint press conference in Naypyidaw on Nov 15, 2017. Photo: AFP

NAYPYITAW (Reuters) – U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called on Wednesday for a credible investigation into reports of human rights abuses against Rohingya Muslims committed by Myanmar’s security forces after a meeting with its civilian and military leaders.

More than 600,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled to Bangladesh since late August, driven out by a military counter-insurgency clearance operation in Buddhist-majority Myanmar’s Rakhine State.

A top U.N. official has described the military’s actions as a textbook case of “ethnic cleansing”.

“We’re deeply concerned by credible reports of widespread atrocities committed by Myanmar’s security forces and by vigilantes who were unrestrained by the security forces during the recent violence in Rakhine State,” Tillerson told a joint news conference with Aung San Suu Kyi, the head of a civilian administration that is less than two years old and shares power with the military.

Tillerson had earlier held separate talks with Myanmar’s military chief, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, whose forces have been accused of atrocities.

A senior U.N. official on Sunday leveled allegations of mass rape, killings and torture against the Myanmar military, known as the Tatmadaw, after a tour of refugee camps in the Cox’s Bazar region of neighboring Bangladesh.

Tillerson called for the Myanmar government to lead a credible and impartial investigation and said those who committed abuses should be held responsible.

“The recent serious allegations of abuses in Rakhine state demand a credible and impartial investigation and those who commit human rights abuses or violations must be held accountable,” he said.

“In all my meetings, I have called on the Myanmar civilian government to lead a full and effective independent investigation and for the military to facilitate full access and cooperation.”

He also said it was the duty of the military to help the government to meet commitments to ensure the safety and security of all people in Rakhine state.

A posting on Min Aung Hlaing’s Facebook page said Myanmar’s military supremo had explained to Tillerson the “true situation in Rakhine”, the reasons why Muslims fled, how the military was working with the government to deliver aid and the progress made for a repatriation process to be agreed with Bangladesh.

The military launched its clearance operation after an army base and 30 police posts were attacked on Aug. 25 by Rohingya militants, killing about a dozen members of the security forces.


Tillerson condemned the militant attacks, but said any response by the security forces needed to avoid to the “maximum extent possible harming innocent civilians”.

Myanmar’s State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi and U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson attend a press conference at Naypyitaw, Myanmar November 15, 2015. REUTERS/Aye Win Myint

An internal investigation by the military into the allegations of atrocities that was released this week was branded a “whitewash” by human rights groups.

Back in Washington, U.S. senators are pressing for economic sanctions and travel restrictions targeting the Myanmar military and its business interests.

Tillerson said he would advise against any broad-based sanctions against Myanmar, as the United States wanted to see it succeed.

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Min Aung Hlaing defends military campaign in Rakhine

But he said if there was credible and reliable information on abuses by individuals they could be targeted by sanctions.


Tillerson said the United States would work with partners so that those responsible for any atrocities would face consequences, “using all available mechanisms, including those available under U.S. law”.

Myanmar is undergoing a transition to democracy after decades of rule by the military, but the generals retain extensive powers over security and a veto over reform of a constitution that has barred Suu Kyi from the presidency.

“Myanmar’s response to this crisis is critical to determining the success of its transition to a more democratic society,” Tillerson said.

”It’s a responsibility of the government and its security forces to protect and respect the human rights of all persons within its borders and to hold accountable those who fail to do so.”

He said the United States would provide an additional $47 million in humanitarian assistance for refugees bringing the total to $87 million since the crisis erupted in August.

“The humanitarian scale of this crisis is staggering,” Tillerson said.

But he said he was encouraged by talks between Myanmar and Bangladesh to agree on a refugee repatriation process.

During the news conference, Suu Kyi was asked to explain why she had not spoken out more strongly over the plight of the Rohingya, as the Nobel peace prize winner’s perceived failure to speak up has damaged her international reputation as a stateswoman.

“What I say is not supposed to be exciting,” Suu Kyi said, adding that she had aimed to keep the public informed without setting different ethnic, religious communities against each other.

“It’s important to bring peace and stability to this country and that can only be done on the basis of rule of law and everybody should understand that the role of theirs is to protect peace and stability, not to punish people.”

Writing by Simon Cameron-Moore; Editing by Clarence Fernandez, Robert Birsel

See also:


It’s Time To Talk About Min Aung Hlaing


‘Mounting evidence’ of Myanmar genocide: watchdogs

November 16, 2017


© AFP | A Rohingya refugee man — one of hundreds of thousands of the Muslim minority who have fled Myanmar — carries wood at Thankhali refugee camp in the Bangladeshi district of Ukhia on November 15, 2017

WASHINGTON (AFP) – Myanmar security forces slit the throats of Muslim Rohingya, burned victims alive, and gang-raped women and girls, according to two separate reports detailing mounting evidence of genocide against the minority group.

Human Rights Watch focused on the use of sexual violence in its report on the military’s campaign against the Rohingya, and concluded that the depredations amounted to crimes against humanity.

“Rape has been a prominent and devastating feature of the Burmese military’s campaign of ethnic cleansing against the Rohingya,” said Skye Wheeler, a researcher at Human Rights Watch and author of the report.

“The Burmese military’s barbaric acts of violence have left countless women and girls brutally harmed and traumatized.”

A separate report by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and Southeast Asia-based Fortify Rights documents “widespread and systematic attacks” on Rohingya civilians between October 9 and December of last year, and from August 25 of this year.

– Crimes against humanity –

The 30-page report, entitled “They tried to kill us all,” is based on more than 200 interviews with survivors and eyewitnesses, as well as international aid workers.

Some world leaders have already described as “ethnic cleansing” the scorched-earth military campaign against the Rohingya.

Evidence gathered by Fortify Rights and the Holocaust Museum demonstrates that “Myanmar state security forces and civilian perpetrators committed crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing” during two waves of attacks in the majority Buddhist nation, the report says.

“There is mounting evidence to suggest these acts represent a genocide of the Rohingya population,” it says.

Almost 700,000 Rohingya, more than half of the population in northern Rakhine state, have been forcibly displaced since October last year when Myanmar’s army began “clearance operations” after a previously unknown group attacked and killed security officers.

Those operations were, in practice, “a mechanism to commit mass atrocities,” the report said.

“State security forces opened fire on Rohingya civilians from the land and sky. Soldiers and knife-wielding civilians hacked to death and slit the throats of Rohingya men, women, and children,” it said.

“Rohingya civilians were burned alive. Soldiers raped and gang-raped Rohingya women and girls and arbitrarily arrested men and boys en masse.”

The report said investigators from Fortify Rights and the Holocaust Museum’s Simon-Skjodt Center for the Prevention of Genocide traveled to Rakhine and the Bangladesh-Myanmar border area, where Rohingya have fled.

It quoted eyewitness testimony of mass killings in three villages in late August.

“When the killing was complete, soldiers moved bodies into piles and set them alight,” after soldiers reportedly murdered hundreds in one attack, the report said, adding to chilling and consistent accounts of widespread murder, rape and arson at the hands of security forces and Buddhist mobs.

Human Rights Watch, for its part, interviewed 29 rape survivors.

In every case but one, they were gang raped by two or more perpetrators. In eight cases, women and girls reported being raped by five or more soldiers.

Women described witnessing the murders of their young children, spouses, and parents before being raped. Many rape survivors said they endured days of agony walking with swollen and torn genitals to reach Bangladesh.

Human Rights Watch documented six cases of mass rape during which soldiers gathered women in groups before beating and gang-raping them.

The report quoted 33-year-old Mamtaz Yunis as saying soldiers trapped her and about 20 other women on the side of a hill after they fled their village and raped women in front of them.

– Global outrage –

Global outrage is building over the violence, while Myanmar’s army insists it has only targeted Rohingya rebels.

The watchdogs’ report came a day after Washington’s top diplomat, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, said there were “credible reports of widespread atrocities committed by Myanmar’s security forces and vigilantes.”

Speaking during a visit to Myanmar, he urged authorities there to accept an independent investigation into those allegations.

The army and administration of de facto civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi — a Nobel peace laureate — have dismissed reports of atrocities and refused to grant entry to UN investigators tasked with probing allegations of ethnic cleansing.

“Without urgent action, a risk of further outbreaks of mass atrocities exists in Rakhine state and possibly elsewhere in Myanmar,” Fortify Rights and the Holocaust Museum wrote.

Amnesty slams Syrian regime for crimes against humanity

November 13, 2017

Amnesty International says the Syrian regime has conducted unlawful sieges aimed at forcing civilians from their homes ahead of “reconciliation” accords. It accuses Damascus of using “surrender or starve” tactics.

Ruined street in Aleppo(picture alliance/Zumapress)

The regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad has committed crimes against humanity and war crimes by subjecting cities to unlawful sieges that gave civilians no choice but to give up or die, rights group Amnesty International said on Monday.

In a new report entitled “We leave or we die,” Amnesty examines four so-called “reconciliation” agreements between the Syrian government and the armed opposition that were preceded by sieges and unlawful bombardments that forced civilians to live in dire conditions and caused widespread displacements.

The pacts under consideration were concluded in Daraya, Madaya, eastern Aleppo city and the al-Waer neighborhood in Homs city between August 2016 and March 2017.

“Over the past five years, the Syrian government and, to a lesser degree, armed opposition groups have enforced sieges on densely populated areas, depriving civilians of food, medicine and other basic necessities in violation of international humanitarian law. Besieged civilians have further endured relentless, unlawful attacks from the ground and the air,” the report says.

Read more: Concerns grow about abuses, war crimes in Syria

hospital in Atareb near Aleppo (Reuters/A. Abdullah)Hospitals have been among civilian infrastructure damage in government airstrikes

‘Crimes against humanity’

Amnesty said the forced displacement of civilians, often not carried out for reasons of civilians’ security or military necessity, amounted to a war crime under international law. The rights body further concludes that “the sieges, unlawful killings and forced displacement by government forces are part of a systematic as well as widespread attack on the civilian population, therefore constituting crimes against humanity.”

The group appealed to the international community to refer the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court. It also called for those investigating rights abuses to be given unhindered access to the country.

Long-running conflict

The Syrian conflict, which has its roots in peaceful anti-government protests in March 2011 that were brutally suppressed by the government, has since grown into a complex war involving a multitude of parties, including government forces backed by Russian air power, anti-government rebels who have received US backing, Kurdish forces and an array of extremist Islamist groupings.

Read more:  Syria conflict: What do the US, Russia, Turkey and Iran want?

More than 330,000 people have been killed and millions displaced amid the violence.

As recently as Sunday, scores of Syrian civilians at two displacement camps were killed by artillery fire, according to the Britain-based monitor Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Amnesty’s report was based on interviews with 134 people, including displaced residents, humanitarian workers and experts, journalists and UN officials. The group also used videos and satellite imagery to corroborate witness accounts.

Amnesty International Reponds To Philippines President Duterte’s Offer To Host a Human Rights Conference: “No Moral Authority”

November 11, 2017

Duterte does not have the credibility to host such a summit.

President Rodrigo Duterte disembarks from the Philippine Airlines chartered flight upon his arrival at the Da Nang International Airport in Vietnam on November 8, 2017 for his participation in the 25th Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders’ Meeting (AELM). ROBINSON NIÑAL JR./PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines — Guests should not be invited to a dirty house, especially when its head does not have “moral authority.”

A London-based rights watchdog on Saturday shot down President Rodrigo Duterte’s proposal to convene an international human rights summit in the Philippines, as he complained about being singled out by the international community for drug-related killings and abuses.

“We should have a summit only on human rights. But we should call all,” said Duterte, who has become famous for his acid tongue comments.

READ:  Trump to raise human rights with Duterte at ASEAN summit

Jose Noel Olano, section director of Amnesty International in the Philippines said Duterte’s offer was missing the point of the criticisms of human rights watchdogs and activists.

“President Duterte is missing the point—we are not calling for a summit,” Olano said.

The Philippine section director also stressed that with the current rights situation in the Philippines Duterte does not have the credibility to host such a summit.

“We do not invite guests to our house when our house is dirty. President Duterte should clean up,” he stressed at a media conference in Manila on the eve of a regional summit expected to be attended by almost two dozen heads of states in the Indo-Pacific region.

Among these dignitaries is US President Donald Trump whom the watchdog wants to be more forceful in confronting the Philippine leader over his drug war’s mounting killings and abuses.

READ:  Duterte to Trump: ‘Lay off’ topic of human rights

Olano said that Trump’s meeting with Duterte would serve as a “crucial test” of the US government’s commitment to upholding and defending human rights.

“Trump must not keep ignoring the grave human rights situation in the Philippines,” he said.

“When he comes face to face with President Duterte, he’ll be meeting a man whose policies are responsible for thousands of unlawful killings, including dozens of children and extrajudicial executions of dozen others,” Olano said, adding that these deaths could lead to Duterte’s prosecution for crimes against humanity.

READ:  Human rights group slams Duterte’s ‘tyrannical’ ways

Olano also urged Trump use this opportunity to call out Duterte and other leaders of Southeast Asia for the “horrifying human rights abuses that the region is facing” such as the killings of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar and political repression on Cambodia.

Trump, Duterte confrontation on human rights unlikely

When asked about the chances of Trump doing this, Gary King of Amnesty International USA admitted that he did not expect this to happen.

King, who has extensive experience documenting rights abuses in the Philippines since the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos, said that Manila’s government did not have authority to commit extrajudicial killings.

Leaders pose during the family photo session at the APEC Summit in Danang, Vietnam, Saturday, Nov. 11, 2017. Front left to right; China’s President Xi Jinping, Vietnam’s President Tran Dai Quang, Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo, back left to right; Philippines’ President Rodrigo Duterte, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, U.S. President Donald Trump. Jorge Silva/Pool Photo via AP

He however conceded that Trump might get just a flick on the wrist if he failed to raise human rights issues in the country as he was at odds with his fellow Republicans and the opposition Democrats might not speak strongly about it.

Olano stressed that Duterte’s offer to host an international human rights summit would not erase the thousands of deaths attributed to his brutal campaign against illegal drugs.

He added that if such a meeting would be held the proper venue would be the UN Human Rights Council, but unfortunately Manila rejected most of the recommendations of the panel that would address rights concerns in the country.

Duterte is accused of orchestrating a ferocious campaign to combat narcotics in the country which groups have claimed has led to mounting numbers of drug-related deaths. Estimates put the number between 7,000 to 12,000, but government authorities reject this, claiming that most of these are still under investigation.

READ: Duterte among ‘strongman’ leaders Trump has praised


The money spent to construct the mega drug rehabilitation facility in Nueva Ecija could have been used to fund smaller, community-based anti-drug programs, DDB Chairman Dionisio Santiago said. File photo

Image result for Philippines, overcrowding, jails, photos

Detainees, the majority still waiting for trial, are assembled in the exercise area of the overcrowded Quezon City Jail, in Metro Manila November 21, 2008.  © 2008 Reuters

Philippines’ Duterte Expects International Support for His “War On Drugs”

November 11, 2017


© AFP/File / by Karl MALAKUNAS | Duterte came to power promising to kill thousands of drug users in the Philippines

MANILA (AFP) – Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte will host world leaders in Manila from Sunday, hoping their presence will quieten international criticism over his deadly drugs war, which rights groups say may be a crime against humanity.

Duterte goes into the event appearing confident that even his most outrageous remarks and actions will be ignored, having boasted in the lead-up he once stabbed someone to death, while at the same time proposing to host a global human rights summit.

US President Donald Trump will be among leaders from 19 countries, plus the heads of the United Nations and European Union, coming for the talks, which will begin with a banquet on Sunday night followed by summits on Monday and Tuesday.

But rights groups have expressed alarm and disappointment that Trump and most others are likely to endorse or stay silent over Duterte’s violent rule, which has seen thousands of people killed.

“Duterte will enjoy the gift of tacit silence from East Asian leaders on his murderous drug war during the upcoming summit,” Human Rights Watch deputy Asia director Phelim Kine told AFP.

“We can expect East Asian leaders to exercise a diplomatic blind eye to the killings of thousands of Filipinos over the past 16 months as part of Duterte’s drug war.”

Duterte won last year’s presidential elections after promising to eradicate illegal drugs with an unprecedented crackdown that would see up to 100,000 people killed.

Since Duterte took office, police have reported killing 3,967 people in the crackdown.

Another 2,290 people have been murdered in drug-related crimes, while thousands of other deaths remain unsolved, according to government data.

Many Filipinos back Duterte, believing he is taking necessary measures to fight crime.

But rights groups warn he may be orchestrating a crime against humanity.

Amnesty International accuses police of shooting dead defenceless people and paying assassins to murder addicts.

Rights groups say police are following Duterte’s incitements to kill, citing comments of his such as he would be “happy to slaughter” three million addicts.

Domestic opponents have appealed to the International Criminal Court to investigate, pointing to the jailing of opponents, a compliant congress and intimidated judiciary as reasons to step in.

– A ‘great job’ –

But the ICC has yet to respond and, despite some vocal critics in the West, Duterte goes into the Manila summits full of confidence that Trump and the others will effectively endorse his rule by not speaking against the killings.

In Vietnam on Thursday on the sidelines of an Asia-Pacific economic summit, Duterte boasted that when he was 16 he stabbed to death someone for looking at him the wrong way.

He then offered to host a global summit on human rights, but insisted that the alleged crimes of the United States, France and other nations also be investigated.

Duterte, 72, last year branded then-US president Barack Obama a “son of a whore” for criticising the drug war.

But Trump and Duterte have expressed mutual admiration for other. Trump told Duterte in a telephone call in April that he was doing a “great job” with his campaign against drugs.

They are expected to hold one-on-one talks on Monday and, if Trump does not bring up any human rights concerns, Duterte is widely expected to trumpet the meeting as an endorsement.

“We will be extremely disappointed if Trump does not raise it,” Amnesty’s Philippine director, Jose Noel Olano, told reporters on Saturday.

Duterte is hosting the two days of summits as the rotating chair of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

Duterte can expect blanket support from his ASEAN colleagues, many of whom are also shadowed by human rights controversies.

“From the Rohingya crisis in Myanmar, to a sweeping crackdown on all forms of dissent in Cambodia to the thousands killed in Philippines, human rights are under siege across Southeast Asia,” Rachel Chhoa-Howard, a Philippine researcher with Amnesty, told AFP.

The premiers of China and Russia, two other important Duterte backers, will also be in Manila.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is another key backer of Duterte, with the pair having established a warm relationship.


Chinese dissident writer dies on medical parole

November 8, 2017


© AFP/File | The death of writer Yang Tongyan comes just months after Chinese Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo, who died in July, weeks after he was transferred from prison to a heavily-guarded hospital to be treated for late-stage liver cancer

BEIJING (AFP) – A veteran Chinese dissident who had nearly completed a 12-year prison sentence for “subversion” has died on , rights groups said Wednesday.

Writer Yang Tongyan died on Tuesday, nearly three months after an August 23 surgery to remove a brain tumour, Amnesty International said in a statement, citing information from close friends.

Rights groups say a pattern has emerged in recent years where China releases activists from prison in poor health, or only weeks before they pass away, with late Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo being a notable example this summer.

News of the death emerge as US President Donald Trump, whose government had urged China to release Liu before he died, arrived in Beijing for meetings with Chinese leader Xi Jinping.

“The death of yet another long-term Chinese detainee on medical parole is alarming,” said Nicholas Bequelin, East Asia Director at Amnesty International.

“There seems to be no accountability for the pattern of deaths on medical parole of people labelled by the authorities as ‘enemies of the state’,” Bequelin added.

Yang was convicted in 2006 for posting anti-government articles online, after having already spent a decade in prison for “counter-revolutionary” crimes.

The 56-year-old had been released from Nanjing Prison on medical parole in August following his diagnosis with an “aggressive form of brain cancer”, PEN America said in a statement.

Yang was a 2008 recipient of PEN’s Freedom to Write Award and a member of the Independent Chinese PEN Centre.

His death, less than four months after that of Liu Xiaobo, “is another black mark on the Chinese authorities’ human rights record,” said Karin Karlekar, PEN America’s Director of Free Expression at Risk Programs.

Liu was detained in 2008 after co-writing Charter 08, a petition calling for democratic reforms.

The veteran of the 1989 Tiananmen Square pro-democracy protests died in July, more than a month after he was transferred from prison to a heavily-guarded hospital to be treated for late-stage liver cancer.

Dissident writers and activists have long received lengthy prison sentences in China after speaking out about issues the authorities deem politically sensitive.

In another case, Chinese authorities detained activist Cao Shunli in 2013 as she attempted to travel to Geneva ahead of a UN review of China’s rights record.

She died in custody after she was denied medical treatment, her family and lawyers said.

AFP tried to phone Yang’s older sister, but an automated message said the number was not receiving incoming calls.

When asked whether Yang had requested overseas treatment prior to his death, foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told AFP she did not have any information.

The Huashan hospital in Shanghai, where Yang was treated according to AFP sources, said their press department was not available to answer questions.

An officer at Nanjing Prison refused to answer any questions.