The human rights violators’ playbook: how to respond to an Amnesty International report

    22 February 2017 When Amnesty International (AI) released a report documenting the mass hanging of thousands of prisoners in Syria’s Saydnaya Prison, the Syrian government was put on the back foot. President Bashar al-Assad himself responded, calling our report “childish” and “biased”, and even laughed as he said he didn’t know what went on in Saydnaya as he was "in the Presidential Palace”.   The Syrian government is not the first to have its cage rattled by our research.  To coincide with the launch of our 2016/17 Annual Report, let’s look at five tactics for responding to an AI report, tried and tested in the past year by human...
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    Global refugee deal risks being sacrificed on altar of selfish national interests

    OP-ED 28 July 2016 The world faces an unprecedented humanitarian crisis. On the 65th anniversary of the UN Refugee Convention being adopted, there are now 65 million displaced people globally, the highest number since the Second World War. Around a third of that number are refugees; at least half of those are children. Yet the only attempt to find an international solution to this most urgent of problems is now being gutted and delayed. Late last year, United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon set in motion proposals for a game-changing global deal that would equitably share responsibility for protecting refugees among the world’s...
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    Out of the Shadows: Fighting for the Rights of Sex Workers

    “Six police officers did sex to me one by one. They were armed with guns so I had to do it,” Mona, a mother of two in her late thirties told us, tears streaming down her cheeks. The gang rape took place in a public park in Papua New Guinea’s capital city Port Moresby in August 2012 and, while clearly extremely traumatized, Mona has never reported it. “It was so painful to me, but then I let it go,” Mona sighs. “If I go to the law, they cannot help me.” The reason Mona’s attackers are unlikely to ever face justice, is that...
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    Trains to Nowhere – Hungary’s harsh welcome for refugees

    4 September 2015 His brother just looked at him. The Pakistani man in his fifties lay lifeless beside a train track a few hundred metres from Bicske train station. It is unclear how he died, but he was trying to find a better life in Europe. Both men were part of a larger group running away from a train that had been halted since yesterday in the Hungarian train station. Many other refugees and migrants are still refusing to leave the train because they don’t want to go to Hungarian reception centres. This week, at the main Keleti station in Budapest and in...
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    ‘I was 12 years old when they took my dad away – we never saw him again’

    29 May 2015 Filipino national Ronaldo Lopez Ulep was arrested in front of three of his children at his home in the Qatari capital, Doha, on 7 April 2010. After being repeatedly tortured in detention and spending four years in solitary confinement, he was sentenced to life in prison in 2014 for allegedly selling information about his employer - the Qatari Air Force. He was convicted on the basis of a “confession” he was forced to sign, even though it was written in Arabic and he could not read it. Two other Filipino nationals were convicted in the same case, one of whom is...
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    Happy birthday, Jerryme!

    On 16 February, Jerryme Corre celebrated his birthday, joined by his wife and Amnesty Philippines staff at Angeles City Jail. Jerryme has spent the last three years imprisoned there after police allegedly tortured him into a confession. Gemma Regina Cunanan, Director of Amnesty Philippines, describes the day. When Jerryme walked out to meet us on Monday at Angeles City Jail, his smile was wide.  Our team from Manila had brought thousands of letters from all over the world – and a cake. They weren’t the first letters he had seen from Amnesty activists. In fact, when Jerryme described all the letters he...
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    Two years on, Laos activist still missing

    In August 2005, in front of an audience in Manila, Lao development worker Sombath Somphone received the Ramon Magsaysay Award for community leadership. Known as Asia’s Nobel Prize, it showed that Sombath’s work was appreciated not just by the people of Laos but across the region. The award recognised Sombath’s “hopeful efforts to promote sustainable development in Laos by training and motivating its young people to become a generation of leaders”. But much of that hope has now been lost. Rather than mentoring a new generation of Lao community leaders, Sombath is missing – a victim of enforced disappearance – and Lao civil...
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    The Philippines has a dark, open secret

    When a man’s severed head turns up in Manila Bay with three gunshots through the cranium, one would reasonably expect the authorities to fast-track the investigation of such a grisly crime. But justice for the victim and the family, who identified the remains as Darius Evangelista in 2010, is now more than four years overdue. The reason – the killers appear to have been police officers themselves, shooting him in the head after they had tortured him.  The victim was last seen alive in police custody, and fellow detainees have testified hearing a police officer order another to “finish him off”....
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    The case is murder.
      The body of Jennifer Laude was found battered and bruised and she reportedly died due to asphyxia by drowning after being forced head down into a toilet bowl.
    The political complication is the VFA.
      The suspect is US Private First Class Joseph Scott Pemberton who, as allowed under US-RP Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), was first held by US authorities in the American naval ship, USS Peleliu, and then transferred to a US paid container van holding cell at Camp Aguinaldo.
    The concern and protest is that justice might not be rendered because of this complication.

    Peña Nieto must commit to tackle torture

    Mexico’s National Human Rights Commission received more than 7,000 complaints for torture and other ill-treatment between 2010 and 2013 © Claudia Daut/Reuters
      Judging by some international headlines, you might think that things are looking up for Mexico. Its President, Enrique Peña Nieto, has said he is on the road to transforming and modernizing the country. A TIME magazine cover portrait of the President earlier this year was headlined ‘Saving Mexico’.  The government has played an important role in promoting human rights dialogue with other nations, including championing the Arms Trade Treaty over the past two years. And an economist...
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