Texas Governor Rick Perry may put our relations with other countries at risk if he does not grant Edgar Arias Tamayo clemency before his execution (Photo Credit: Stewart F. House/Getty Images).
By Andrea Hall, Mid Atlantic Regional Death Penalty Abolition Coordinator
Let’s hope that Texas Governor Rick Perry was paying attention in kindergarten. Most likely, that’s where he first learned to play by the rules.
The rule, in this case, is article 36 of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations (VCCR), to which the U.S. is a party. That document requires that foreign nationals who are arrested or detained be given notice “without delay” of their right to have their embassy or consulate notified of that arrest. Foreign officials can then assist defendants with their legal proceedings.
It’s rare Amnesty activists get a moment to stop and take a breath. But with the start of a new year comes the opportunity to take stock of the progress we’ve made and the successes we helped accomplish in 2013. There’s still much to be done, but we hope the list below will help inspire all of us in the year to come:
Yorm Bopha was 29 when she was arrested on September 4, 2012 on spurious charges. She is a prominent activist from the Boeung Kak Lake community who is facing up to five years’ imprisonment if found guilty at her trial. She is a prisoner of conscience (Photo Credit: Jenny Holligan).
1. In 52 years, Amnesty International activists have helped free tens of thousands of Prisoners of Conscience around the world. In 2013, we continued that trend. Human rights activists freed this year included Yorm Bopha in Cambodia, Kartam Joga in India, Filipino poet Ericson Acosta, Yemeni journalist Abdul Ilah Haydar Shayi’ and Iranian human rights attorney Nasrin Sotoudeh.
Amnesty said in a report released in October that the U.S. carried out unlawful drone killings in Pakistan, some of which could amount to war crimes or extrajudicial executions. The Administration refused to confirm or deny our account or publicly commit to investigating potentially unlawful killings.
By Naureen Shah, Advocacy Advisor at Amnesty International USA
Nearly every month of 2013 brought a devastating revelation about the secret U.S. drone program, which has reportedly involved more than 400 drone strikes and killed more than 4,700 people. Here’s a look back at the secrets that were exposed, the promises made, and the ugly realities that remain:
January 2013: The White House reportedly finalizes a lethal “playbook” with rules for the secret killing of terrorism suspects. The CIA conducts drone strikes in Pakistan, but they are reportedly exempt from the playbook’s rules.
“There’s a sense that you put the pedal to the metal now,” the Washington Post reports an unnamed U.S. official as saying about the CIA’s continued killings.
January 11, 2014 will mark the 12th anniversary of Guantanamo. On that day, Amnesty International will be protesting in front of the White House, calling for President Obama to speed up transfers and close the detention facility.
Amnesty activists have campaigned for many, many years to resolve the cases of the 22 Uighurs who have been held at Guantanamo.
The transfer of the last three Uighurs is a milestone in the process of closing the detention facility. There are now 155 detainees at Guantanamo, 76 of those are cleared for transfer. 11 detainees were transferred in 2013.
I’m at Guantánamo this week to observe – via an audio/video feed on 40-second delay to hide classified information, including evidence of torture – proceedings in the 9/11 case.
While it’s depressing to see what our tax dollars are buying here – including the Orwellian “Camp Justice” sign in front of the tents where we stay – there has been significant progress in the past few days toward closing the detention facility and ensuring justice and security in accordance with human rights standards:
Lieutenant Islam Bibi Helmand’s top female police officer (R) talking to a colleague on March 8, 2013. Known as the most senior female police officer in Afghanistan’s Helmand province, Bibi was shot dead on July 4, 2013 by unknown gunmen while being driven to work. The attack is seen as part of a series violence against top women officials (Photo Credit: Majid Saeedi/Getty Images).
Elsie De Laere, our Afghanistan country specialist, co-authored this piece.
The situation is unfortunately not unfamiliar yet it deteriorates with each passing day: Afghan women working to protect and advance their rights continue to face growing threats to their lives and safety.
Well-documented threats to female Members of Parliament and government, women’s human rights defenders, and female police officers occur on a daily basis, all set against the terrifying backdrop of an uncertain future currently being shaped by attempts to revoke provisions of the country’s Elimination of Violence Against Women law and potential peace negotiations with the Taliban and other insurgent groups that threaten to rollback gains for women’s human rights.
In October 2012, Mamana Bibi was killed in front of her grandchildren while gathering vegetables in her family’s large, vacant fields in Pakistan. She was blasted into pieces by a drone strike that appears to have been aimed directly at her.
For this report, Amnesty International reviewed all 45 reported U.S. drone strikes that occurred between January 2012 and August 2013 in North Waziristan, a region in northwest Pakistan which has seen the vast majority of this type of targeted killings. The organization conducted detailed field research into nine strikes, based on rare access to the region and more than 60 interviews with survivors, eyewitnesses, residents and officials.