What If Eating Caused You Excruciating Pain? This Man’s Impossible Choice

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I just ate an apple. Later, I’ll try to resist the temptation to munch on crackers. I keep hearing about the importance of a “clean diet.” I think that means no crackers. Maybe carrots instead?

As I make these decisions, I can’t help but compare them to the ones this torture survivor makes every day. If he eats, he will experience excruciating pain. If he wants to avoid the excruciating pain, he cannot eat.

This man weighs about 110 pounds. I have seen him through glass, in a makeshift courtroom at Guantanamo, and he seems frail, a wisp of a person, a man broken and hardly repaired. His name is Mustafa al Hawsawi. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

CIA Torture Just Got One Step Closer to Facing Accountability

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Director of Central Intelligence Agency John Brennan, December 11, 2014. (JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)

Director of Central Intelligence Agency John Brennan, December 11, 2014. (JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)

“You rarely win, but sometimes you do.” I keep a poster up in my office with this quote from Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird. To me, it perfectly summarizes Amnesty International’s work of pushing back against the human rights abuses carried out in the name of national security. That’s because we’re fighting against fear and hate, which are powerful, intimidating adversaries. But recent victories have reminded me that there’s something stronger than fear and hate, and that our fight is worthwhile. We may feel sometimes as if human rights rarely win – but this time, they did. And they won big. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

President Obama Must Appoint ATF Director to Stop the Flow of Illegal Guns

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US President Barack Obama speaks at a town hall meeting with CNN's Anderson Cooper on reducing gun violence at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, on January 7, 2016. Obama announced limited measures two days ago to tackle rampant US gun violence and called on Americans to punish lawmakers who oppose more meaningful reforms.   AFP PHOTO/ NICHOLAS KAMM / AFP / NICHOLAS KAMM        (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)

US President Barack Obama speaks at a town hall meeting with CNN’s Anderson Cooper on reducing gun violence at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, on January 7, 2016. (NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)

Last month, President Obama unveiled a number of actions his administration will take to help curb the increasing number of gun violence incidents in the United States. Included in those actions are new guidelines to strengthen background checks, provide increased access to mental health care, explore gun safety technology and implement more aggressive enforcement of current laws.

One of the agencies tasked with helping to enforce those laws is the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). As a bureau within the Department of Justice, the ATF plays a key role in stopping the illegal use and trafficking of firearms. This is an issue that doesn’t just impact people in the United States but also individuals around the world; for example, 70 percent of the more than 104,850 guns seized by Mexican authorities from 2009-2014 can be traced back to the United States. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Torture Is Not the Answer

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Still from 'Waiting For The Guards ' shows simulated torture by the CIA

Still from ‘Waiting For The Guards ‘ shows simulated torture by the CIA

Too little, and much too late. CIA Director John Brennan this week declared that the CIA would refuse to engage in waterboarding in the future, even if ordered to do so.

This was the latest in a recent string of headline-grabbing proclamations from current and former U.S. officials insisting that, if faced with the dilemma between following orders or rejecting torture, they would reject torture.

As welcome as these promises are, they ring hollow. That’s because the same U.S. intelligence community was already faced with that exact dilemma, and they got it wrong. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Don’t Let California Jumpstart Executions

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A protester holds a sign up during an anti-death penalty protest on June 18,2001 in Santa Ana, CA. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

David McNew/Getty Images

Officials at the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) are doing everything they can to jumpstart executions after over a decade without them—and with the largest death row in the country, they could fast track dozens of cases for execution.

That’s dozens of humans killed at the hands of the state. We can help stop them since the CDCR is required by law to listen to us!

Tell them it’s time to end the death penalty once and for all! SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Is the U.S. State Department Understating Human Rights Abuses?

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Egyptian human right activist with chained hands during a protest against torture in police stations. KHALED DESOUKI/AFP/Getty Images

Egyptian human right activist with chained hands during a protest against torture in police stations. KHALED DESOUKI/AFP/Getty Images

Following last week’s release of the 2016 Department of State Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, Amnesty International USA conducted a review of the reports and offered an analysis of the reports.

The annual, Congressionally-mandated reports are meant to highlight abuses such as human rights defenders being killed, detained or hounded in to exile, along with draconian restrictions on the rights to freedom of expression, assembly and association, often imposed in the name of national security.

Unfortunately, this year’s report continues the practice of using diplomatic language to understate human rights violations. The report also continues to bury some cases of abuse by failing to refer to them in the summary section of the report. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

10 Reasons to Abolish the Death Penalty

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Today, Amnesty International released its annual report on the use of the death penalty worldwide. 2015 was a year of extremes – the number of executions worldwide skyrocketed, but here in the United States executions dropped to their lowest in decades. Here are 10 reasons why it’s time to abolish the death penalty now:

1. There was more than a 50% increase in 2015 executions from 2014. Amnesty confirmed 1,634 executions in 2015, 573 more than the previous year and the highest Amnesty has recorded in 25 years. That figure excludes executions in China, which likely executes more than the rest of the world combined but considers the data to be a state secret.
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2. The death penalty in the United States continues to decline. 2015 saw the fewest executions in the U.S. in 24 years and the fewest death sentences in 25 years. All 28 executions in 2015 were isolated to just six states, and only three states – Texas, Missouri, and Georgia – were responsible for 85%.
SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Fleeing for Our Lives: Central American Migrant Crisis

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WATCH LIVE: Human Rights Implications of Protecting People on the Move in the Americas

Migration from Central America to the U.S. is not a new phenomenon, however the reasons, or push factors that are causing people to migrate or flee have changed. The Northern Triangle of Central America (“NTCA”), composed of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, is considered one of the most dangerous places on earth, which has caused unprecedented levels of migration. The United Nations High Commissioner for refugees has called this a humanitarian crisis. Many Central Americans are refugees who like Syrians, are fleeing for their lives.

A one-year-old from El Salvador clings to his mother  ( John Moore/Getty Images)

A one-year-old from El Salvador clings to his mother ( John Moore/Getty Images)

While the United States has seen a record in asylum applications in recent years, Central American countries are dealing with larger migratory flows from the NTCA within their borders. According a 2014 UNHCR report, Mexico, Belize, Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Panama  have had a 432% increase in asylum applications. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

The Road to the AGM

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March 24, 2016 – AGM Road Trip Playlist 1

The road to Amnesty International USA’s Annual General Meeting and Human Rights Conference technically began in April of 2015, when the AIUSA Board of Directors chose Miami as the host city for our 2016 conference. The literal road trip to the conference began on March 24, when events staff and interns packed the boxes of materials and equipment that we will need to pull off a successful AGM. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Deadly Force Knows No Borders

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On March 15th, the International Day against Police Brutality will again remind the world of the lives lost and communities changed forever due to the unlawful use of deadly force by police.

Last year, we released our “Deadly Force” report, highlighting the increasing number of individuals killed by police in the United States. One of the most disturbing findings of the report, noted that all 50 states and Washington, D.C. fail to comply with international law and standards on the use of lethal force by law enforcement officers, and with more than 16,000 police departments across the country, the lack of consistency is evident.  SEE THE REST OF THIS POST