First Impressions Count: An Agenda for Secretary Kerry’s Trip to Africa

In his upcoming Africa trip, Secretary Kerry has a rare opportunity to reiterate that human rights and good governance are priorities for the United States and to ask for meaningful reforms by these governments (Photo Credit: Jacquelyn Martin/AFP/GettyImages).

In his upcoming Africa trip, Secretary Kerry has a rare opportunity to reiterate that human rights and good governance are priorities for the United States and to ask for meaningful reforms by these governments (Photo Credit: Jacquelyn Martin/AFP/GettyImages).

Secretary of State Kerry embarks today on a trip to Ethiopia, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Angola. The trip offers a key opportunity to refocus U.S. leadership on the deteriorating respect for human rights by the ruling governments in Addis Ababa and Luanda and on the need for more leadership on good governance by the government of President Kabila in Kinshasa.

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What’s Ten Attack Helicopters Between Friends?

In 2013, Amnesty International documented the use of attack helicopters by Egyptian security forces for surveillance against crowds and protesters. Now, the Obama administration is selling 10 Apache military helicopters to the country (Photo Credit: Ken Ishii/Getty Images).

In 2013, Amnesty International documented the use of attack helicopters by Egyptian security forces for surveillance against crowds and protesters. Now, the Obama administration is selling 10 Apache military helicopters to the country (Photo Credit: Ken Ishii/Getty Images).

By Nate Smith, Chairperson – Military, Security and Police Transfers Co-Group, Amnesty International USA

When a government violates human rights on a mass scale – jailing opposition activists and journalists on trumped up charges, arresting hundreds of protesters at once, passing draconian laws to suppress public opinion – they should be held accountable. It’s not always a clear-cut or simple task for the international community, but we must identify some simple dos and don’ts.

Do: Provide support for human rights and government accountability.

Don’t: Sell advanced, highly lethal killing machines to a government engaged in a crackdown on personal freedoms.

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URGENT: 528 Men Sentenced to Death in Mass Trial

Egyptian relatives of supporters of ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi cry sitting outside the courthouse after the court ordered the execution of 529 Morsi supporters after only two hearings (Photo Credit: AFP/Getty Images).

Egyptian relatives of supporters of ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi cry sitting outside the courthouse after the court ordered the execution of 529 Morsi supporters after only two hearings (Photo Credit: AFP/Getty Images).

An Egyptian court has shocked the world by issuing a mass death sentence to 528 supporters of ousted President Mohamed Morsi for their alleged role in a riot last July that turned violent.

This is the largest number of death sentences handed down in one case Amnesty International has seen in recent years.

This is not justice. It’s the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment, and it could be an attempt to wipe out political opposition. But the Egyptian authorities may yield to local and international pressure to overturn the convictions.

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Zimbabwe: Where Freedom Isn’t Free

Activists, such as Jenni Williams of Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) can be imprisoned in Zimbabwe for peaceful demonstrations (Photo Credit: Amnesty International).

Activists, such as Jenni Williams of Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) can be imprisoned in Zimbabwe for peaceful demonstrations (Photo Credit: Amnesty International).

By Simeon Mawanza, Amnesty International Zimbabwe Researcher

On Friday, April 18, 2014, Zimbabwe commemorates 34 years of independence. As usual, there will be the official gatherings and speeches to remind us of the journey to independence.

Amid all the pomp and ceremony, I dare remind people that Zimbabwe remains a country where organizing a peaceful protest can land you behind bars.

Two things happened this week reminding us of the many human rights challenges facing the country today.

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How Much Do You Know About Turkey’s “Twitter Trial”?

Turkey on March 27,2014 banned video-sharing website YouTube, a week after blocking access to Twitter (Photo Credit: Ozan Kose/AFP/Getty Images).

Turkey on March 27,2014 banned video-sharing website YouTube, a week after blocking access to Twitter (Photo Credit: Ozan Kose/AFP/Getty Images).

In Turkey, 29 men and women are about to go on trial for Twitter messages they sent during the Gezi Protests last June. This is another ugly step in the Turkish government’s increasingly intense war on dissent. It is important to let the government – as well as those on trial – know that the whole world is watching.

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THIS EXISTS: Country That Forced 200,000 Women Into Sexual Slavery

Women from the house of sharing at the 'Wednesday Demo' outside Japanese Embassy, Seoul. (Photo Credit: Amnesty International)

Women from the house of sharing at the ‘Wednesday Demo’ outside Japanese Embassy, Seoul (Photo Credit: Amnesty International).

By Alice Dahle, Amnesty USA’s Women’s Human Rights Coordination Group

Before and during World War II, as the Japanese Imperial Army occupied countries throughout the Asia Pacific region, they deceived, abducted or otherwise forced an estimated 200,000 women and girls, some as young as 12 years old, into a system of sexual slavery.

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