Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch


The Living Force
Journalist and expert on the Middle East Karin Leukefeld told Sputnik Germany that the Amnesty International report accusing the Syrian government of carrying out mass executions at a prison near Damascus is part of an information campaign targeted against President Bashar al-Assad and aimed at undermining his diplomatic efforts.

Expert: Amnesty International Report on Syria Part of Campaign Targeted Against Bashar Assad

Sat Feb 18, 2017 - The research, unveiled in early February, "has been exploited for certain political purposes," she said, adding that "One cannot rely on the credibility of this report – as opposed to the work Amnesty International did in the past."

Leukefeld stressed that the report should be viewed in the context of an information campaign targeted against the Syrian government and Russia.

The journalist is convinced that this campaign was designed to force President Bashar al-Assad and his government to stand trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC) by influencing public opinion and the media.

In Leukefeld's opinion, such campaigns have undermined, if not torpedoed Damascus's efforts aimed at bringing peace to Syria. She specifically mentioned the work on the new constitution as a case in point.

"These are important political processes. It is in the interest of the Syrian people to support them," the journalist said.

On February 7, Amnesty International issued a report accusing the Syrian authorities of killing 13,000 people at the Saydnaya prison. Damascus has denied the claims, with President Assad saying that the document was not true and based on allegations. Critics have pointed out that the report appeared to lack sound evidence and "deep expert analysis," as Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova put it.

Leukefeld also maintained that while the war is still raging, Assad is likely to remain in power.

"If there was a political process, it could convince people to support different politicians. However, the war is still ongoing. There are no political debates and reforms. This is why at the moment I don't see any alternative," she said.

Leukefeld urged Germany and the European Union to engage in dialogue with the Syrian government. The journalist also praised Russia, Turkey and Iran for their efforts aimed at resolving the conflict which is estimated to have claimed more than 400,000 lives, leaving half of Syria's population displaced and sparking a refugee crisis.

In late 2016, Damascus and key armed opposition groups reached several agreements, including a ceasefire deal, with Moscow, Ankara and Tehran sponsoring the talks. In addition, Russia, Turkey and Iran have kick started the Astana peace process, with two round of talks held this year. The negotiations marked the first time that a delegation from Damascus and representatives of the armed opposition have met since the foreign-sponsored insurgency morphed into a large-scale civil war in 2011.


The Living Force
A report by Amnesty International reveals that the Ukrainian government has repeatedly repressed members of the media located in the country's eastern regions or holding pro-Russian sentiments.

Amnesty International: Ukraine's Authorities Repress Media Operating in Country

22.02.2017 - The Ukrainian government has repeatedly repressed members of the media located in the country's eastern regions or holding pro-Russian sentiments, a human rights watchdog said in its annual report released on Wednesday.

"Independent media and activists were not allowed to work freely in [the self-proclaimed eastern regions of] the People's Republics of Donetsk and Luhansk… Media perceived as pro-Russian faced harassment in government-controlled territories," the Amnesty International report reads.

It is noted in the report that the Inter TV channel had repeatedly been threatened to be closed by the Interior Ministry, and on September 4, around 15 masked men attempted forcefully but unsuccessfully enter the news agencies premises, accusing it of pro-Russian news coverage. The men then threw Molotov cocktails into the building.

The report also cited numerous arrests of members of the press.


The Living Force
angelburst29 said:
Save the Children is an agency connected to Amnesty International.

The situation for refugees and migrants in Serbia is deteriorating by the day, with people exposed to diseases in derelict warehouses or frostbite in sub-zero temperatures on the country's border.

'Dire' Conditions in Serbia for Refugees Squatting in Derelict Buildings

24.01.2017 - Serbian authorities have been accused of failing to provide adequate food, water and sanitation for the 1,200 refugees and migrants sleeping rough on its soil.

Meanwhile it's emerged refugees and migrants who have crossed Serbia's border into Croatia or Hungary are being forced back.

According to charity, Save the Children, there have been 1,600 cases of illegal push-backs with refugees and migrants, who have been forced, often violently, back into Serbia.

The charity claims there has been an average of 30 cases a day of "clandestine" push-backs, which it says "highlights a disregard for the human right to an individual assessment of the need for international protection."

It's thought around 100 people are arriving every day, risking their lives as they cross mountains and forests in sub-zero temperatures along the Balkans where police brutality is a regular occurrence.

A 12-year-old boy from Afghanistan told Save the Children:

During the trip I had many problem especially in the woods. The Bulgarian police beat us, took our money, asked us why we came to Europe. We also had problems with the Mafia."

Despite the EU-Turkey deal, the refugee crisis according to Save the Children, "has not abated."

"It's simply a more dangerous route, especially for children. The EU-Turkey deal has given smugglers a firmer grip on a hugely profitable business, incorporating increasingly dangerous tactics to circumvent authorities," Jelena Besedic, Save the Children's advocacy manager in Serbia said.

"We are seeing injuries such as dog bites and people wounded by brutal treatment as they are pushed back," she added.

Despite the European Union's pledge to crack down on people smugglers by closing off routes into Europe, child refugees are disappearing from aid agencies' sights and into the hands of people smugglers, who continue to profit in Serbia.

Dr. Jill Biden, educator and wife of former Vice President Joe Biden, has been named board chair of Save the Children.

Jill Biden named board chair of aid group Save the Children

Tuesday Feb. 21, 2017 - Biden, who still teaches English to college students, said she was honored to be asked to chair the international aid organization's board and thought its emphasis on education was a perfect fit for her.

"I've been an educator for 31 years," Biden said in a phone interview with the Associated Press. "I'm still teaching full time at Northern Virginia Community college, and I think (Save the Children's) emphasis on education fits with my life's work." Biden has traveled around the world to see education programs, including those that help refugee children.

Save the Children works in more than 120 countries, including the United States, and focuses on the health, education and safety of kids. U.S. operations are headquartered in Fairfield, Connecticut.

Biden traveled to rural Linden, Tennessee, last week to see firsthand how Save the Children literacy programs help kids in the town of 900 that's about 90 miles southwest of Nashville. She said many of her own students have gaps in their education, and that's why the organization's early-childhood education programs are so important.

Save the Children officials believe Biden will be able to help call attention to the organization's mission both here and abroad.

"The work that we do for kids is more needed than ever, Carolyn Miles, president and CEO of Save the Children, said. "We have issues like what's happening in Syria — the horrible things there that are affecting children. We have issues right here in our own country in terms of kids growing up in poverty, and the really huge challenges they're facing." It's time that people get involved to help these kids, and it doesn't matter what political side of the aisle they sit on, she said.

"If they care about kids," Miles said, "we want them to be involved and engaged in what we do with Save the Children."


The Living Force
Amnesty International censured US President Donald Trump for adopting a “poisonous” rhetoric that “dehumanizes” entire communities and sets the stage for "angrier and more divisive politics” in the world.

Amnesty: Trump Taking Humanity to ‘Darkest’ Times

Wed Feb 22, 2017 - Amnesty said Wednesday, in a statement upon the release of its annual human rights assessment, that the divisive rhetoric used by people like the new American president led to an unprecedented spike in hate crimes last year, presstv reported.

“2016 was the year when the cynical use of ‘us vs. them’ narratives of blame, hate and fear took on a global prominence to a level not seen since the 1930s. Too many politicians are answering legitimate economic and security fears with a poisonous and divisive manipulation of identity politics in an attempt to win votes,” said Salil Shetty, Amnesty’s secretary general.

Specifically naming Trump and a number of other world leaders, Shetty charged that self-proclaimed “anti-establishment” politicians are “wielding a toxic agenda that hounds, scapegoats and dehumanizes entire groups of people.”

Since taking office on January 20, Trump has signed a number of executive orders aimed at curbing immigration into the US, openly blaming Muslims and Latin Americans for the lack of security in the country.

On January 27, the former reality TV star authorized an entry ban against people from seven Muslim countries and halted refugee admissions for three months. Syrian refugee admissions were indefinitely suspended under the ban, which has been halted upon a federal judge’s order.

Trump has also signed a directive to begin the construction of a controversial wall on the border with Mexico, while hiring thousands of new enforcement agents to carry out more deportation raids.

During his campaign run, Trump promised to deport the 11 million undocumented immigrants that are currently residing in the country. He also threatened to withdraw funding from states that harbor illegal immigrants.

In its statement, Amnesty said Trump’s “hateful xenophobic” policies exemplified “the global trend of angrier and more divisive politics.”

The rhetoric has led to a shift of “what is acceptable,” Shetty argued, adding that some politicians were “shamelessly and actively legitimizing” their misogynistic and racist acts.

“This threatens to unleash the darkest aspects of human nature,” he warned.

The organization also took issue with Trump’s foreign policy, saying early indications suggest that his time in the White House would “usher in a new era of greater instability and mutual suspicion.”


The Living Force
Israel has refused to issue visas to staff from Human Rights Watch (HRW), one of the world's most renowned human rights NGOs, accusing the group of having an "extreme, hostile and anti-Israel agenda" - a move the organization has described as "ominous," and a sign the state "has no appetite" for serious scrutiny of its human rights record.

An 'Ominous' Move: Israel Denies Visa to 'Hostile' Human Rights Watch

24.02.2017 - The policy was revealed when authorities turned down a visa for HRW's new Israel and Palestine director Omar Shakir, a US citizen, at the request of Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In a letter, rejecting Shakir's application, Israel accused HRW of being "engaged in politics in the service of Palestinian propaganda, while falsely raising the banner of 'human rights.' "

Confirming the decision, Israeli foreign ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon said HRW was "not a real human rights group," and had demonstrated "time and again it is a fundamentally biased and anti-Israeli organization with a clear hostile agenda."

Nahshon said the group was not banned and its Israeli and Palestinian employees were still permitted to work in Israel, but questioned why Israel "should give working visas to people whose only purpose" was to "besmirch and attack" the country. Furthermore, he suggested other organizations such as Amnesty International could also be subject to visa denials, and applications from similar organizations would be assessed on a case by case basis.

In a statement, HRW countered that its work in Israel had also included numerous reports of human rights abuses in Palestine, such as the detention of journalists by the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, an extrajudicial execution carried out by Hamas' military wing, and executions by Hamas in Gaza.

Moreover, the organization found the decision "particularly surprising" given that it regularly meets and corresponds with Israeli government officials, including representatives of the military, the police, and the Foreign Ministry. Last year, the Foreign Ministry even requested HRW intervene in a case involving Israeli victims of human rights abuses.

"This decision and the spurious rationale should worry anyone concerned about Israel's commitment to basic democratic values. It is disappointing the Israeli government seems unable or unwilling to distinguish between justified criticisms of its actions and hostile political propaganda," said Iain Levine, HRW Deputy Executive Director for Program.

While the decision was deemed "ominous" by HRW , the organization has had its ability to investigate human rights abuses in the West Bank sharply truncated ever since 2010, with Israel refusing HRW staff access to the area without impediments — save for a single visit in 2016.

Moreover, it comes at a time when Israel is increasingly cracking down on human rights groups' operations in the country; a law passed by the Knesset in July 2016 targets human right groups, imposing onerous reporting requirements that burden their activities. While the law's wording does not specifically refer to any organization, pro-Israel NGOs are not impacted by its requirements.

In August, five US activists aiming to investigate living conditions for Palestinians in Israeli-occupied areas were arrested, detained and then deported, as well as being banned from ever returning.

In December, Israel detained African theologian Isabel Phiri over claims the organization for which she works, World Council of Churches, supported sanctions against Israel.

Palestinian rights defenders have also received anonymous death threats, been subject to travel restrictions and even arrested and charged on questionable grounds.

On Twitter, Shakir noted that while Israel was far from unique in contesting HRW's findings, it was almost alone in blocking the organization from entering the country — only states such as North Korea, Sudan, Uzbekistan and Venezuela "where there is zero appetite for human rights engagement" had done the same to date.

An international human rights watchdog on Friday urged the United States to carry out a thorough investigation into into late January's Yemen raid which killed over a dozen civilians.

HRW Calls for Full-Scale Probe Into First Trump-Approved Raid Killing Civilians

24.02.2017 - In early February, the US Central Command admitted that a late January raid against al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) near the Yemeni town of Bayda had resulted in deaths of a number of civilians, including children. The attack, which involved both ground troops and helicopters, was said to be aimed at gathering intelligence and Centcom claimed most victims were combatants and al-Qaeda members.

"The US military’s acknowledgment of civilian deaths in this attack was a rare departure from past US practice in Yemen, but it’s not enough… The US needs to go a step further and provide a full accounting of possible laws-of-war violations and deliver appropriate compensation to civilians," Human Rights Watch Terrorism and Counterterrorism Program Director Nadim Houry said, as quoted in a statement.

The Centcom investigation was not public and did not specify whether the victims would be compensated, the statement added.

The watchdog gathered information on at least 23 people killed during the attack, with most names matching those collected by local journalists.

The watchdog also cited residents in disputing that Abdel Raouf Dahab, a local commander whose house was targeted by the raid, was an AQAP member. Dahab instead appeared to be in command of tribal forces loyal to the Aden-based government which is fighting the northern Houthi rebellion.

AQAP, the Yemeni and Saudi Arabian branch of al-Qaeda, was established in 2009 and is a designated terrorist organization in the United States, Russia and many other nations. It has a presence in significant areas of sparsely populated eastern Yemen.

The January 29 raid has received widespread publicity, with the White House issuing an official statement calling it a "successful operation." The raid was the first such operation authorized by President Donald Trump Yemeni Aden-based authorities expressed concern with the raid and have also launched a probe into the incident.


The Living Force
Amnesty International said the Riyadh-led coalition has used Brazilian-made rockets with prohibited cluster munitions in Yemen's residential areas.

Saudi-Led Coalition Used Brazilian-Made Rockets in Yemen - Amnesty Int'l

09.03.2017 - The Saudi-led coalition has used Brazilian-manufactured rockets containing banned cluster munitions on residential areas in the Yemeni city of Sadah on February 15, a human rights watchdog said Thursday.

“The Saudi Arabia-led coalition absurdly justifies its use of cluster munitions by claiming it is in line with international law, despite concrete evidence of the human cost to civilians caught up in the conflict. Cluster munitions are inherently indiscriminate weapons that inflict unimaginable harm on civilian lives. The use of such weapons is prohibited by customary international humanitarian law under all circumstances," Director of Research at Amnesty International Beirut regional office Lynn Maalouf said as quoted in the watchdog's report.

Yemen's civil war between the internationally recognized Aden-based government of President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi and the Houthi movement backed by army units loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh erupted in March 2015. The same month, the Saudi-led coalition of Arab countries started carrying out airstrikes against the Houthis at Hadi's request.

According to the official data, the conflict in Yemen has claimed the lives of some 4,600 civilians, leaving over 8,000 civilians injured.


The Living Force
Several rights organizations, including Amnesty International, warned of a considerable rise in hate crimes in the British capital London over the past year following Brexit.

Amnesty Warns of Hate Crime Rise in London after Brexit

The organizations expressed alarm at “deeply worrying” figures recently presented by the Metropolitan Police regarding a sizable increase in hate-related crimes in London over the last year, particularly since Britons voted to leave the European Union in June 2016, Independent reported.

According to the statistics, the number of incidents relating to religion and race has increased by almost 20 percent from 14,004 to 16,618 ever since, with the rights groups saying the rise is definitely linked to Britain’s exit from the 28-member bloc and the "toxic language" that was used during the exit campaign.

Reacting to the figures, prominent rights group Amnesty International said that the recent discriminatory language in Britain has been unprecedented in decades.

“If accurate, these figures are deeply worrying, and they bear out our initial concerns that divisive political campaigning last summer gave license to the expression of discriminatory views in a way we haven’t seen for decades,” said Kerry Moscogiuri, the director of campaigns at Amnesty International UK.

“We had witnessed negative and sometimes toxic language being used in debates on refugees and migrant rights. The London Mayor election and the EU referendum brought some of this to the surface, but there has been an insidious narrative developing for much longer,” he added.

“There needs to be a much stronger message from all quarters of the political establishment that racially charged and demonizing language is totally unacceptable in modern Britain,” Moscogiuri stressed.

Taking a swipe at the new US president, Moscogiuri concluded The election of Donald Trump in America, following a campaign built on divisive and sometimes poisonous rhetoric means we’re extremely concerned about the corrosive nature of political debate on both sides of the Atlantic.”

Another rights group, Stop Hate UK, attributing the rise in hate crimes to Brexit, said some forms of hate crimes were under-reported and called on those in positions of power to stand up against the crimes.

“The time and the nature of these increases mean that they are undeniably linked to EU referendum. It was the language of the Leave campaign, rather than the result, which gave license to those with prejudiced views to commit hate crimes,” said Mike Ainsworth, a director at Stop Hate UK.

“We need very clear moral leadership from those in positions of power to stand up and say that crime is unacceptable. The Mayor of London has been exemplary in this regard so far,” he added.

Commenting on the statistics, a spokesperson for the British police said, “Tackling hate crimes such as racist crime, domestic violence and homophobic crime is a high priority for the Metropolitan Police."

A hate crime generally refers to a criminal act that is motivated by bias against a specific group. Hate crimes may involve physical assault, bullying, harassment, damage to property, verbal abuse or insults, offensive graffiti and hate mail.

In the June 23 referendum, about 52 percent of British voters opted to leave the EU, while roughly 48 percent of the people voted to stay in the union. More than 17.4 million Britons said the country should leave the bloc and just over 16.14 million others favored remaining in the EU.

Recent studies as well as anecdotal reports suggest that eastern European migrants to Britain were mostly affected in the aftermath of the EU referendum.

Within days of the Brexit vote, Polish communities reported a series of hate incidents, including the distribution of pamphlets describing them as "vermin" and racist graffiti outside a cultural center in London.


The Living Force
Many civilians have died as a result of airstrikes in Iraq's Mosul after being instructed by authorities to remain in the city, a prominent watchdog said on Tuesday.

Many Mosul Residents Advised to Remain in City Killed in Airstrikes – Watchdog

Amnesty International senior crisis response adviser Donatella Rovera said that many of those who followed the authorities' advice to remain in the city were killed by airstrikes.

"The fact that the authorities advised people to remain in their homes, also meant that some people who might otherwise have tried to escape did not do so… They heeded the call to remain in their homes and then their homes were bombed," Rovera said.

Rovera stressed that, "while it is understandable that fighting and warfare in an urban environment carries inherent risks for the civilian population," it is vitally important that "the parties involved spare no effort and take all the possible and feasible precautions."

She confirmed that Amnesty was calling for an investigation into the excessive use of force in Mosul, particularly in instances when militants of Daesh, outlawed in Russia, use residential areas as a base and civilians as human shields.

Earlier on Tuesday, Iraqi President Fuad Masum described in an interview with Sputnik the situation in Mosul as a humanitarian catastrophe due to the civilian deaths, but urged for continued efforts to recapture the city, since "it would not be sensible to leave Mosul to terrorists." He noted that it was necessary to thoroughly investigate the mistakes made by the US-led coalition during its operations in Iraq.

UN Human Rights chief Zeid Ra'ad Hussein condemned on Tuesday the loss of life, noting that at least 307 civilians have been killed and another 273 injured in the area of northern Mosul between February 17 and March 22.

On March 17, a US-led coalition airstrike, targeting Daesh militants and equipment, hit a building in al-Jadida neighborhood in western Mosul, into which militants had forced dozens of civilians while at the same time rigging the building with explosives. Iraqi media reported that up to 200 people, many of whom were civilians, were killed in the airstrike.


The Living Force
Human Rights Watch has accused Houthi rebels, and their allies, of using banned landmines in Yemen, resulting in the maiming and deaths of "hundreds of civilians." The news comes as the UN has urged the opposing side - the Saudi-led coalition - to not bomb the rebel-held port of Hodeida, a key entry point for aid to the war-torn country.

Rebel Mines Have 'Killed and Maimed Hundreds of Civilians' in Yemen - HRW (Video) (2:09 min.)

The situation in Yemen is an unmitigated disaster, and one of human creation. As things stand, nearly 50% of Yemeni children under five are chronically malnourished, and the nation teeters on the brink of mass famine.

Added to the toxic mix of civil war and international bombings of hospitals and schools, now comes an accusation from Human Rights Watch that the Houthi rebels, and their allies, are using illegal land mines.

"Houthi-Saleh forces have been flouting the landmine ban at the expense of Yemeni civilians," Steve Goose, director of the Arms Division at Human Rights Watch, said.

"Yemen prohibited antipersonnel mines nearly two decades ago and no authorities should tolerate their use."

Human Rights Watch alleges that land mines in Yemen "have killed and maimed hundreds of civilians and disrupted civilian life in affected areas."

Human Rights Watch also highlights that landmines will make the return of the millions of people who have fled their homes far more difficult — even after the conflict ends. However, such an end is no where in sight.

The Yemen civil war continues to rage on, spurred by the strategic importance of the country. It has become a proxy battle for the neighboring powers of Saudi Arabia and Iran.

In February 2015, Houthi Shia rebels forced Yemen's President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi to flee the capital Sanaa. President Hadi dismissed the Houthis as Iranian proxies, which Tehran denies.

The destabilization that followed Hadi's flight has engulfed the whole country.

Saudi Arabia rapidly intervened, assembling a coalition of nine Arab states, backed by the US and UK.

Both sides have been accused of illegal acts including bombing and firing at civilian targets such as hospitals and schools.

Human Rights Watch says that the use of landmines has been used in six governorates of Yemen since March 2015.

The International Campaign to Ban Landmines reported that at least 988 people were killed or wounded by landmines or other explosive remnants of war in Yemen in 2015.

Also, on Thursday, April 20, the UN called on the Saudi-led coalition to not bomb the rebel-held port of Hodeida, which is a key entry point for aid to Yemen.

"We continue to advocate to the Saudi-led coalition that the attack on the port of Hodeida and the city itself is not necessary."

"This port is the most essential, the most crucial part of our ability to feed people and get medical services… The Hodeida port is the only port that we can use to serve the bulk of the population in need," Jamie McGoldrick, the UN humanitarian coordinator for Yemen, told reporters in Jordan.

More than seven million people face the risk of starvation in the next months if they don't receive food assistance.

Human Rights Watch blamed US authorities for failing to take all possible precautions to avoid civilian deaths in a recent attack on a Syrian mosque.

HRW Censures US for Killing Syrian Civilians in Mosque Attack

The report notes that although US officials claimed the building targeted on March 16 was a partially-constructed community hall, “information from local residents, photographs, and video footage of the building before and after the attack” show that it was also a mosque, Al Waght reported.

HRW’s deputy director for Middle East and North Africa division, Lama Fakih says that witnesses on the ground, video and photographic evidence, all confirm in fact that the building that was struck was a mosque.

It goes on to accuse US authorities of appearing to have “inadequately understood the pattern of life in the area,” noting that they said the attack happened after evening prayer, however, it actually occurred 15 minutes before night prayer.

"The airstrike took place in between the sunset and the evening prayer, at a time when US officials should have known that there would be people gathering in the mosque," Fakih said. "These strikes also took place on a Thursday, when there were religious lectures happening in the mosque..."

“Information about prayer times is easily accessible online and should have been well known by US authorities,” the report says.

HRW also says that it has not found any evidence to support the allegation that member of Al-Qaeda or any armed group were meeting at the building.

The human rights body notes that the laws of war prohibit attacks targeting civilians or civilian structures, along with indiscriminate attacks which fail to distinguish between military and civilian targets and where the civilian casualties or damage to civilian buildings is excessive to the military advantage gained.

Forty-six people were reportedly killed in last month’s attack in the village of Al-Jineh, in the northern province of Aleppo. US military officials have so far only admitted to bombing an Al-Qaeda meeting place, but have said they will investigate whether civilians were among those killed, and whether the building was part of a complex belonging to Omar Ibn al-Khatab mosque.

Meanwhile, at least 15 civilians have lost their lives in an aerial attack by a US-led coalition that purports to be fighting ISIL in Syria.

According to Lebanon’s Arabic-language al-Ahed news website, the US-led airstrike targeted a residential compound in the town of Albu Kamal in the southeastern countryside of Dayr al-Zawr.

The report added that most of the casualties were women and children.

The US-led coalition has been conducting airstrikes against purported ISIL targets inside Syria since September 2014 without any mandate from United Nations or authorization by the Syrian government which has condemned violation of the country’s sovereignty.

HRW urged on Australia to immediately end military sales to Saudi Arabia as the regime's aggression on neighboring Yemen has killed thousands of civilians.

HRW Warns Australia to Halt Arms Sales to Saudi Arabia amid Concerns over Yemen War

The rights group in a letter to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said Australian government should also release details about military weapons and material it has sold to other members of the Saudi-led coalition involved in the over two-year brutal aggression and whether any Australian-made arms have been used in unlawful coalition attacks, Al Waght reported.

HRW says the "Australian Defense Department has approved four military export licenses to Saudi Arabia, but it has not released information on the types or quantities of arms and equipment sold."

The United Nations and nongovernmental organizations, including Human Rights Watch, have documented numerous unlawful coalition airstrikes on homes, markets, schools, and hospitals that some of the have been "apparent war crimes", HRW said on Tuesday.

"Prime Minister Turnbull has approved military sales to Saudi Arabia when he should be using Australia’s leverage to press Riyadh to end unlawful airstrikes in Yemen,” said Elaine Pearson, Australia director at Human Rights Watch. “Until the Saudi-led coalition credibly investigates and curtails its unlawful attacks, Australia should stop selling them arms and equipment."

Saudi Arabia launched brutal aggression against its southern neighbor on 27 March 2015, which in a bid to restore power to Yemen's resigned president who fled to Riyadh after Yemeni people's uprising in 2015.

However the Saudi-led coalition "has not seriously investigated alleged laws-of-war violations, and has provided almost no information on which country’s forces participated in such attacks," HRW says.

Saudi Regime has also imposed a naval blockade on Yemen that has exacerbated the country’s grave humanitarian crisis, which the UN recently declared one of the world’s worst. The blockade has diverted ships carrying life-saving medical supplies and delayed shipments of civilian goods for up to three months. Nearly 19 million Yemenis, over two thirds of the population, need humanitarian assistance, and seven million are facing starvation.

Many Western countries, including the US and Britain, are among key states that supply Saudi Arabia with weapons.


The Living Force
Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in a report that systemic failures in the healthcare system of US immigration detention centers has caused tens of preventable deaths, warning that the toll is likely to rise under Donald Trump's ramped-up deportation and detention plans.

HRW: Systemic Indifference to Kill More Immigrant Detainees under Trump

“New evidence has emerged of dangerously subpar medical care in US immigration detention centers that has caused preventable deaths,” the New York-based rights group said, Al Waght reported.

The 104-page report was released by HRW and Community Initiatives for Visiting Immigrants in Confinement (CIVIC) after confirmation of the death of seven detained immigrants from 18 preventable deaths between 2012 and 2015 due to flawed medical care in the US.

The report defined systemic failures as unreasonable delays in care and unqualified medical staff.

“The data reveals that people in immigration detention died needlessly under the Obama administration, even with its attempts at reform,” said Grace Meng, a senior US researcher at HRW. “The Trump administration has already announced its intent to roll back key reforms while detaining even more immigrants, which would likely mean more people will die needless and preventable deaths."

The report came as the administration of President Donald Trump is increasing the detention of undocumented immigrants in the US.

The US currently detains about 40,000 people a day, or more than 400,000 per year, at an annual cost of US$2bn. Many people in detention are blocked under US law from having a bond hearing to determine whether their detention is necessary.

The Trump administration's recent request for supplemental funding included a request for $1.2bn for increased detention capacity from the current 34,000 beds to an unprecedented 45,700.

A UN forum held in Riyadh last week amounted to a “slap in the face” for Saudis jailed in a country which does not allow independent NGOs, a rights group said.

HRW: UN Forum in Saudi ‘Slap in the Face’ of Rights Activists

Adam Coogle, Middle East researcher for Human Rights Watch (HRW), was commenting on a two-day UNESCO NGO Forum staged in the Saudi capital, Al Manar reported.

“To host a prestigious NGO event in Saudi Arabia is a slap in the face to the more than a dozen Saudis languishing in prison merely for trying to set up independent organizations, and an unearned reward to the government officials who put them there,” Coogle wrote.

He said Saudi Arabia took an important step in November 2015 when it approved a law which, for the first time, allows non-governmental organizations engaged in activities other than charity.

That law has “serious flaws”, including a bar on NGOs collaborating with foreign organizations without government approval, said Coogle of the New York-based watchdog.

“And this law appears to provide protection when the Saudi authorities continue to vigorously prosecute and imprison independent human rights activists for setting up ‘unlicensed organizations’,” he said.

The forum was organized with the MiSK Foundation founded by Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is pushing economic and social change in the kingdom.

The Riyadh event marked the first time the forum had been held in the Arab region, Irina Bokova, director general of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, said in a video address opening the event.

Aiming to empower youth, it featured speakers from the Arab world and beyond.

In January, a Saudi counter-terrorism court upheld an eight-year prison sentence for Abdulaziz al-Shubaily, a leading member of the Association for Civil and Political Rights which was dissolved by a Saudi court in 2013.

He was the last of the group’s founders to be locked up, London-based Amnesty International has said.

On a visit to Saudi Arabia last Thursday, a United Nations special rapporteur said the kingdom should urgently review its definition of terrorism under a law used to prosecute non-violent journalists, human rights defenders and others.

Ben Emmerson said he presented the Saudi government with a list of nine “priority cases”, individuals who a UN group in 2015 said had been arbitrarily detained for exercising their rights to free speech and peaceful association.


The Living Force
Rights group Human Rights Watch (HRW) has released a report that reveals several immigrants’ deaths in US detention facilities due to “systematic” medical negligence.

Systematic medical failure kills several immigrants in US detention centers: HRW

Tue May 9, 2017 - “New evidence has emerged of dangerously subpar medical care in US immigration detention centers that has caused preventable deaths,” the New York-based rights group said in the report published on Monday.

The 104-page report was released by HRW and Community Initiatives for Visiting Immigrants in Confinement (CIVIC) after confirmation of the death of seven detained immigrants from 18 preventable deaths between 2012 and 2015 due to flawed medical care in the US.

The report defined systematic failures as unreasonable delays in care and unqualified medical staff.

“The data reveals that people in immigration detention died needlessly under the Obama administration, even with its attempts at reform,” said Grace Meng, a senior US researcher at HRW. The Trump administration has already announced its intent to roll back key reforms while detaining even more immigrants, which would likely mean more people will die needless and preventable deaths."

The report came as the administration of President Donald Trump is increasing the detention of undocumented immigrants in the US.

The United States currently detains about 40,000 people a day, or more than 400,000 per year, at an annual cost of 2 billion dollars. Hundreds of immigrants at federal detention centers across the country have gone on hunger strikes in recent years, calling for improved conditions or to be released.


The Living Force
Amnesty International Human Rights Organization Demands The Ukraine Junta Regime Release All Those Who Wore Soviet Symbols During Victory Day Parade.

Amnesty International demands the release of all detainees for having worn Soviet symbols in Ukraine during Victory Day Parade ! Scum Poroshenko, Coup Leader Of The Ukraine Regime detains women , children and the elderly for having symbols, the same symbols that defeated hatred, that defeated the Nazis during WWII ! ~ ZN

The international human rights organization Amnesty International criticized the actions of the Ukrainian authorities that had allowed the detention of people who used Soviet symbols during the Victory Day celebration.

According to human rights activists, the detention of people by the police for non-violent demonstration of Soviet symbols violates the right of citizens to freedom of expression and demonstrates the policy of official Kiev, aimed at limiting freedom of speech and peaceful assembly.

In total, during the celebration of the Victory Day in Ukraine, over 50 people were detained.


The Living Force
The Bahraini regime refused entry visa to a Human Rights Watch (HRW) activist scheduled to attend the annual FIFA congress in the country.

Bahraini Authorities Prevents Entry of Human Rights Watch Activist

HRW’s Israel-Palestine Director Omar Shakir stated that he was prevented from entering the small Persian Gulf state with his US passport, Al Waght reported.

The human rights officials was interrogated at the country’s Manama airport on the aims of his visit before being denied entry.

This move came after the Al Khalifa regime came under sharp criticism for inviting an Israeli regime delegation to attend a FIFA conference in the country slated for Thursday.

In a joint statement issued on Monday, 12 Bahraini-based human rights institutions condemned the planned visit.

The activists noted that Bahraini rulers were hosting a delegation of the Israeli regime which has over decades been trampling upon the rights, integrity, and the lives of the Palestinian people.

Al Khalifa regime, which is also repressing a popular uprising at home, is hosting the Israeli delegation during FIFA’s 67th Congress that is held in the Bahraini capital of Manama on May10- 11.

In their statement, the Bahraini-based rights groups also called on the leadership of regional countries not to forget or undermine the Palestinian issue.

Last October, the President of the Bahrain Football Association (BFA), Ali bin Khalifa Al Khalifa said Israeli Football Association (IFA) was allowed to attend the FIFA conference after green light from the country’s monarchy.

Bahrain, just like Saudi Arabia, has been publicly warming up to Israel after years of clandestine ties.


The Living Force
Hong Kong authorities refuse to grant asylum to a group of people who helped Edward Snowden in 2013, when they provided him with shelter during his stay in the Chinese special administrative region, a human rights organization said Monday, adding that their lives might be threatened in the case they have to return to their home countries.

Snowden's Supporters in Hong Kong at Risk After Authorities Reject Asylum - HRW

Snowden's supporters, who retain refugee status in Hong Kong and might be sent back to their home countries and face repression there, include two men and a woman from Sri Lanka, a woman from the Philippines, as well as three children who were born in Hong Kong and are stateless. Those people reportedly allowed the whistleblower to stay at their homes, while no more details considering their role in Snowden's case has ever been revealed.

As their stories and photos were published worldwide, Snowden's helpers fear prosecution or torture in their home countries.

"Those who helped Edward Snowden in Hong Kong when he was seeking asylum now find themselves at dire risk if sent back to their countries," Dinah PoKempner, general counsel at the Human Rights Watch organization, said.

The watchdog stressed that the lawyers were now seeking asylum for Snowden's support givers in Canada.

The human rights organization believed those people were at great risk and urged Canada to immediately take necessary action to protect them.

"Canada has the opportunity to a prevent a terrible outcome and should act immediately," PoKempner added.

Snowden was hiding in Hong Kong in June 2013 after revealing to the press that he had classified information. Since then, Snowden has been residing in Russia, where he was granted asylum.


FOTCM Member
True to form and very similar to what happened in Syria, Human Rights Watch raises it voice about the potential for human rights abuses in the Philippines due to the declaration of martial law. We will most likely see a continous effort by HRW to highlight crimes by the government while letting the terrorists get a free or perhaps even a sympathetic pass. Here is the pressrelease from HRW:

Philippines: Martial Law Threatens Escalation of Abuses
Duterte Places Mindanao Under Military Rule, Suspends Habeas Corpus

(New York, May 26, 2017) – The Philippine government’s declaration of martial law in the southern island of Mindanao threatens to widen the scope of abuses under President Rodrigo Duterte, Human Rights Watch said today. On May 23, 2017, the Duterte administration declared martial law and suspended habeas corpus after the Islamist armed group Maute attacked Marawi City and killed three security force officers and burned several buildings, including a hospital and school. Maute fighters reportedly took a priest and several others hostage.

The imposition of martial law in the midst of Duterte’s “war on drugs,” in which more than 7,000 people have been killed since June, raises grave concerns of ever-widening human rights violations in the country, Human Rights Watch said. The day following the declaration, Duterte told the media, “Martial law is martial law. It will not be any different from what the president, [Ferdinand] Marcos did. I'd be harsh.” He later said that he “might declare martial law throughout the country to protect the people.”

“Duterte’s martial law threatens military abuses in Mindanao that could rival the murderous ‘drug war’ in urban areas,” said Phelim Kine, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “It’s crucial that the country’s security forces abide by international law at all times and hold rights violators to account.”

Placing Mindanao under martial law empowers the Philippine military to supersede civilian authorities in enforcing the law. Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said that the military will have “control of movement, searches and arrest of detained people, [and] suspension of writ of habeas corpus.” On May 24, the Department of National Defense appropriately issued a statement that all military personnel are “enjoined that the rule of law and human rights should prevail” wherever martial law is in effect.

In 1972, then-President Marcos imposed martial law and suspended habeas corpus throughout the Philippines, which facilitated widespread abuses by the military and other security forces, including detention without charge, torture, enforced disappearances, and extrajudicial killings. These abuses did not end when martial law was lifted in early 1981. The 1987 Philippine Constitution, which was drafted after Marcos’s overthrow during “people power” revolution in 1986, places restrictions on the proclamation of martial law and the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus, as well as on their implementation.

Article VII, section 18 of the Constitution empowers the president in the event of “invasion or rebellion” to impose martial law and suspend habeas corpus for up to 60 days. A majority of members of both houses of Congress can revoke – or extend – the proclamation or suspension without the president’s approval.

Also under section 18, the Supreme Court may review a case brought by any citizen contesting the factual basis for martial law, and must hand down its decision within 30 days.

The Constitution also provides some important due process protections during martial law, Human Rights Watch said. A state of martial law does not suspend the Constitution, nor replace the functioning of the civil courts or Congress. It only permits military courts to try civilians when civil courts are unable to function. Suspension of habeas corpus applies only to people judicially charged for rebellion or offenses linked to invasion, and those arrested or detained must still be charged by the courts within three days or be released.

Maute and the Islamist armed group Abu Sayyaf threaten the security of people in parts of Mindanao, Human Rights Watch said. Both groups have pledged support to the Islamic State (also known as ISIS). However, the imposition of martial law throughout Mindanao for at least 60 days could also affect the Philippine armed forces’ handling of other armed conflicts on the island, including with the communist New People’s Army (NPA) and various Moro insurgent groups.

Expanding the military’s legal authority in these conflicts opens the door to increased human rights violations against civilians, including leftist activists, indigenous leaders, and environmental activists, who have long been targets of military abuses.

“The Philippine government has a responsibility to protect the population from armed militants, but gaining the backing of affected people means abiding by the rule of law,” Kine said. “Martial law is not a free pass for abuse.”

Philippines 'Dirty' Duterte facing ‘same ISIS dynamic’ as Assad in Syria
Published time: 25 May, 2017 13:31
Edited time: 25 May, 2017 15:50

Someone has unleashed ISIS, which forces the Filipino government to come down hard, to declare martial law, and then the international organizations will demonize Duterte, Patrick Henningsen, Executive Editor of 21st Century, told RT.
Global terrorism, Islamic State, Terrorism in Europe
Fighters linked to ISIS went on a rampage in the Philippines' city of Marawi. The country's President Rodrigo Duterte has declared martial law there.

RT: With terrorism as his new target, do you think Duterte will receive much international support, given that his war on drugs was condemned by many and called too brutal?

Patrick Henningsen: This President is already under intense scrutiny by the sort of wider international community, if you will, and specifically by the US. He has sort of gone at loggerheads with Washington on more than one occasion. This is a bit of a tight spot, a bit of a Catch-22 for Duterte in the Philippines because he will already have been somewhat demonized for his heavy-handed approach to organized crime and the organized drug trade that has affected his country. So comparisons will be made to Ferdinand Marcos. This is bit of public relations issue for this President and this government. It will have to be ironed out.

At the end of the day he is in the exact same situation, very similar situation that Bashar Assad in Syria was in early on in the sort of the terrorist takeover of that country in the early days of the FSA, and then Al-Nusra Front, and then later ISIS. So he has to balance out this public relations issue – is he too heavy-handed? Most people would say looking at Syria that you can’t be heavy-handed enough when it comes to dealing with ISIS. So we’ll see how much progress he makes on the island in the next few weeks.

RT: With terrorism apparently spreading around the world, don't you think Duterte-style harsh measures should be an option now?

PH: What is really interesting if you look at Syria, as the test case, we just came back from Syria on a one-month fact-finding mission. If there was any criticism of Assad – especially early on in 2011-2012, but especially in the beginning of the crisis in Syria – the criticism from Syrians would have been: “He wasn’t heavy-handed enough.” You can sort of look at that situation and Duterte is probably looking at that situation in Syria, and then taking a sort of more tougher tack because if this gets out of hand, if he starts losing cities, towns, provinces or governorates to terrorist control, then you have a really big problem on your hands. There is also this issue of military equipment. Are they ready to deal with that size of a problem? Quite possibly not. And if they are, they will need to be able to sort of rearm and modernize some paramilitary aspects of the Philippine forces, which they may be or not may not be ready for. So going in hard, going in strong in the beginning, might seem like a better option now after looking at what has happened in Syria over the last six years.

RT: Human Rights Watch [HRW] has already called on Duterte to ensure the rights of civilians would be protected under the law. Do you think the watchdog is being subjective? Would it happen with any other country?

PH: HRW took the same tack with the government in Syria and President Bashar Assad for the last five or six years. Here we have the Philippines, geopolitical foe for the moment of the US, of the West. It’s getting the same treatment from the NGO complex, led by people like HRW and Amnesty International, who will then sort of wage a public relations war against governments that maybe aren’t friendly at the moment to the US.

Certainly, that is what we’ve seen with Syria. Someone unleashes ISIS - if this is indeed ISIS in the Philippines - someone has unleashed ISIS. Then the government is forced to come down hard, to declare martial law, and then the international organizations will demonize this government. So this is an exact same formula as what we saw in Syria, albeit on a smaller scale, on a smaller level. Essentially, we’re looking at the same dynamic, and especially with the negative public relations side that the Philippine government is looking at, just like Syria went through.
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