The Wynne Unit in Huntsville, one of the seven prison units in Walker County, Texas. Texas is preparing to execute its 500 convict since the death penalty was restored in 1976, a record in a country where capital punishment is elsewhere in decline. (Photo Credit: Chantal Valery/AFP/GettyImages).
By MbaLuka Michael Mutinda, Youth Activist and AIUSA Ladis Kristof Fellow.
On Wednesday, Kimberly McCarthy may eat her last meal. Barring a last-minute stay, she will be led down the hallways of Huntsville Penitentiary, make a last statement, and be given a lethal injection that will stop first her breathing and then her heart. She will be Texas’ 500th execution.
The death penalty is emblematic of the many problems still prevalent, not only in the American justice system, but in society as a whole. Capital punishment is racially and economically biased. It places more value on some victims over others. Since 1976, 260 black defendants have been executed for murdering white victims, but only 20 white defendants have received the same sentence for murdering black victims. Death sentences also depend more on geography than the severity of a crime.
Stéphane Koche has been an LGBTI activist in Cameroon since 2005 (Photo Credit: Amnesty International).
By Suzanne Trimel, Amnesty USA Media Director
Denis Nzioka, a gay activist in Nairobi, was harassed constantly by neighbors who finally sent a letter demanding he leave his apartment because: “We know you are homosexual.”
Frank Mugisha in Uganda had his tires slashed and once was slapped across the face by a man who told everyone nearby: “He is a homosexual.” He recalls a neighbor coming up to him and saying: “Why are you still alive?”
“There is so much homophobia here,” said Mugisha. “I am so paranoid and do not sleep very well.”
Freedom of expression is a right we have to value and protect, which is why I’m joining Amnesty to demand justice for the thousands of peaceful protesters who have been injured due to police violence in Turkey.
The use of excessive force to disperse peaceful protesters is not uncommon in Turkey, but since the clashes in Taksim Square began on May 28th, it has reached unprecedented levels within the country. What began as a small protest against the demolition of one of the last green spaces in Turkey has turned into a national crisis and commanded international attention.
The situation in Turkey is spiraling out of control. Turkish authorities have failed to step in to curb abuses by the police and help their own citizens. Thousands have been injured and that number will continue to rise unless the authorities bring police tactics in line with basic human rights standards.
Albert Woodfox and Herman Wallace (right) have spent 41 years in solitary confinement.
After 41 years in solitary confinement, Albert Woodfox and Herman Wallace of the Angola 3 have lived through a nightmare that no human being should have to endure. We work on their case with the hope that, one day, we can share the news that these men have been released from solitary and have seen justice.
But today is not that day. Today I am deeply saddened to tell you that 71-year-old Herman Wallace has been diagnosed with liver cancer, after spending the majority of his life isolated in a small cell, four steps long, by three steps across for 23 hours a day. I’ve often described the Angola 3 case as “injustice compounded” – that description has never rung more true than today.
Albert and Herman were convicted of murdering a prison guard at Louisiana’s Angola prison more than four decades ago. The two men were placed in solitary confinement and kept there, even as significant flaws in their trial rose to the surface from the dark, racially charged underbelly of the US prison system: potentially exculpatory evidence mysteriously “missing,” the retraction of eyewitness testimony and even compelling proof that the state bribed a key eyewitness.
Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda (right) attends the 2008 Benefactrix Ball presented by YMCA at the Beverly Hills Hotel (Photo Credit: Leon Bennett/WireImage).
As we reflected on 50 Days of Action for Women and Girls and its themes, including early marriage, violence against women, and sexual and reproductive health, we got to wondering: What does all this integrated human rights talk look like in practice?
In your experience,what does participation mean in the context of women’s rights in your country?
For women to participate, it [is] important that they know and are aware of their rights, have the social empowerment to engage and the space to exercise their voice. Women’s community groups, organizations and networks…have provided the platforms for such participation.
We had a makeshift hospital here for two days. We used our desks and tables as beds for injured people, there were sleeping bags on the floor, and medicine and food everywhere. On June 11, we finally had time to clean up the mess and put our desks and computers back.
Activists demonstrate against indefinite detention and unfair trials at US Naval Station Guantanamo Bay (Photo Credit: Shawn Duffy).
Angry. That’s how I felt when President Obama signed the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) into law, despite containing terrible provisions that run afoul of human rights standards and have been used to justify indefinite detention at Guantanamo.
Well, the NDAA is back in the House of Representatives this week and the bad Guantanamo provisions are in it again. Will you join me in demanding that Congress support the human rights of all people?
Healthcare and nutrition are some of the many ways that women worldwide invest their time and income in their families, well surpassing the amount of contribution from men (Photo Credit: Amnesty International).
Worldwide, women invest 90% of their income in their families and communities; men, only 30%-40% of theirs. It’s a great stat for women’s rights advocates, because it helps us tell this story: when women participate, things change.
When designed with women’s input, safe drinking water and sanitation programs function better and last longer. This, in turn, can give women back their time for work, school, or literacy training, and let girls just be girls.
Natan Blanc’s father received a call on May 30th from his son telling him that he had been informed that he would be released at the end of his current prison term. The decision follows a ruling by the Unsuitability (or Compatibility) Committee which – according to the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) – is designed to deal with people with behavioral problems who are deemed unsuitable for army service. It is not a committee which explores whether someone is a genuine conscientious objector or not.
Since May 31, more than 4,000 protesters have been injured as Turkish police continue to use excessive force in an attempt to disperse them. Amnesty International has seen a growing body of evidence of police brutality, including extensive use of teargas and water cannons against nonviolent protesters. Video footage taken at the scene of demonstrations has shown police officers kicking visibly defenseless protesters and even beating them with batons.
During the first days of the crisis, Amnesty International’s office, located in the heart of the Istanbul protest zone, stayed open around the clock, while volunteer doctors treated injured protesters. Amnesty staff and volunteers have risked their personal safety to document abuses and ensure that the world receives accurate information about the events unfolding in Turkey.