Swaziland Prisoners of Conscience Stay Behind Bars During U.S.-Africa Summit

Swaziland King Mswati III poses with European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and EU Council president Herman Van Rompuy prior to the 4th EU-Africa summit in April. (Photo credit: Georges Gobet/AFP/Getty Images)

Swaziland King Mswati III poses with European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and EU Council president Herman Van Rompuy prior to the fourth EU-Africa summit in April. (Photo credit: Georges Gobet/AFP/Getty Images)

This blog posting is part of a series Amnesty USA is publishing to coincide with the U.S.-Africa Summitoccurring August 4-6, 2014. We are utilizing the series to highlight human rights concerns on the continent we feel critically need to be addressed during the summit discussions.

Contributed by Jamie Skaluba, Amnesty International USA Country Specialist for Swaziland, Malawi and Lesotho

As King Mswati III and his delegation board their royal airplane to Washington, D.C. to lend a Swazi voice to the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, two men remain imprisoned in Swaziland for merely exercising their human right to use their voices.

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My Brother Went to War in Gaza, I Stayed Back as Amnesty International Israel Director

Palestinians salvage items from the rubble of destroyed buildings in part of Gaza City's al-Tufah neighbourhood as the fragile ceasefire in the Gaza Strip entered a second day on August 6, 2014. (Photo credit: MAHMUD HAMS/AFP/Getty Images)

Palestinians salvage items from the rubble of destroyed buildings in part of Gaza City’s al-Tufah neighborhood as the fragile ceasefire in the Gaza Strip entered a second day on August 6, 2014 (Photo credit: Mahmud Hams/AFP/Getty Images).

By Yonatan Gher, Executive Director, Amnesty International Israel

My brother and I are experiencing the current Israel-Gaza conflict quite differently. He is 20, serving out his military service and has been fighting in Gaza. I, on the other hand, am the Executive Director of Amnesty International Israel, an organization that is now heavily involved in documenting and campaigning on apparent crimes perpetrated by both sides of this conflict. I am also a conscientious objector.

My position does not diminish from the fact that I spend my days worried sick about him and other family members in similar situations. When you have such complexity in a family situation, humor is often the best approach, and so we joke sometimes that if the rest of the world heeds Amnesty International’s call for an arms embargo, I’ll be coming for his gun first.

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How the U.S. and Benin Can Help Bring Justice to the Central African Republic

President Barack Obama issued an executive order imposing sanctions against former President Djotodia on May 13, 2014.  (Photo credit: BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)

President Barack Obama issued an executive order imposing sanctions against former President Djotodia on May 13, 2014 (Photo credit: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images).

This blog posting is part of a series Amnesty USA is publishing to coincide with the U.S.-Africa Summit occurring August 4-6th, 2014. We are utilizing the series to highlight human rights concerns on the continent we feel critically need to be addressed during the summit discussions.

Contributed by Natalia Taylor Bowdoin, Amnesty International USA Country Specialist on the Central African Republic

It is critical leaders in the U.S. and the West African nation of Benin address international justice issues at the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit. Former Central African Republic (CAR) President, Michel Djotodia, currently living in exile in Benin, must be investigated for the crimes under international law committed under his command and prosecuted if there is sufficient evidence to bring a case against him.

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Violence in Nigeria: Bringing Back No One

Today, Amnesty International released new findings into war crimes and other human rights abuses occurring in Nigeria.

Among the evidence gathered in recent field research were a series of videos. The contents of these video inspire horror; as an adjective, to describe the footage as haunting is about as apt as any other.

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No One To Trust, Nowhere To Turn In Nigeria

The gruesome video footage gathered by Amnesty International provides fresh evidence of war crimes in north-eastern Nigeria. © EPA

The gruesome video footage gathered by Amnesty International provides fresh evidence of war crimes in north-eastern Nigeria. © EPA

By Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s Secretary General

At Amnesty International, we are no strangers to suffering. Documenting human rights abuses is our daily work. Sometimes, however, we unearth evidence of such depravity that it leaves even our hardened investigators almost lost for words.

This has been the case with our revelations of war crimes from Nigeria today. The materials come from a recent mission by an Amnesty International research team which investigated widespread human rights abuses in Borno state, a region which gained worldwide notoriety following the kidnapping in April of more than 240 school girls by the armed group, Boko Haram.

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How This Week’s U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit Can Help End Violence Against Women in Morocco

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While Morocco has amended a law that allowed rapists to escape punishment by marrying their victims if they are younger than 18, there are still numerous legal and procedural ways in which it actively discriminates against women and girls (Photo Credit: Amnesty International).

This blog posting is part of a series Amnesty International USA is publishing to coincide with the U.S.-Africa Summit occurring August 4-6th, 2014. We are utilizing the series to highlight human rights concerns on the continent we feel critically need to be addressed during the summit discussions.

Contributed by Jihane Bergaoui, Amnesty International Country Specialist for Morocco and the Western Sahara

This week, President Obama will welcome nearly every African head of state to Washington, D.C. for the first ever U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit. As one of America’s oldest and most strategically important allies, Morocco is expected to participate in the conference.

Morocco’s continuous efforts to appear as one of the region’s most stable and progressive countries provide human rights activists and U.S. government officials a unique opportunity to successfully pressure Morocco to end violence against women.

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‘We Are All Gaza’ – Palestinian Anger in the West Bank

Palestinians in Ramallah gather to protest Israeli attacks on Gaza on July 25,2014 as fatalities continue to rise everyday.

Palestinians in Ramallah gather to protest Israeli attacks on Gaza on July 25,2014. More than 1,400 Palestinians and 59 Israelis have died since the war began on July 7, according to the New York Times (Photo Credit: Issam Rimawi/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images).

By Saleh Hijazi, Amnesty International’s Researcher on Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

Across the city of Ramallah in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) hang billboards and banners showing images of bloodshed and destruction alongside the words: “Here now, we are all Gaza.”

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Searching for Sombath: What is Laos Hiding?

Sombath Somphone's wife, Ng Shui Meng, handles a 'missing person' poster of her husband at Saoban, a store selling Lao Village handicrafts that she established with her husband. (Photo credit: Gilles Sabrie/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Sombath Somphone’s wife, Ng Shui Meng, handles a ‘missing person’ poster of her husband at Saoban, a store selling Lao Village handicrafts that she established with her husband. (Photo credit: Gilles Sabrie/LightRocket via Getty Images)

By Claudia Vandermade, Southeast Asia Co-Group Chair and Action Network Coordinator

It’s always in the eyes. When we meet with the families of the disappeared there are a range of messages in the eyes – from fear to loss to sorrow – but also an occasional flicker of hope. Dr. Ng Shui-Meng came to Washington, D.C. recently and expressed all these feelings plus one other – determination.

Ng Shui-Meng is demanding an explanation for the December 15, 2012, disappearance of her husband Sombath Somphone from a police checkpoint in the Laotian capital of Vientiane.

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UPDATE: Detroit Pledges to Stop Water Shutoffs to Those Who Can’t Pay

Demonstrators protest against the Detroit Water and Sewer Department July 18, 2014 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo credit:Joshua Lott/Getty Images)

Demonstrators protest against the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department July 18, 2014 in Detroit, Michigan (Photo credit: Joshua Lott/Getty Images).

After months of residents decrying water shutoffs to customers unable to pay their bills, there is tentatively good news from Detroit!

Mayor Mike Duggan has promised a plan to help customers keep their water while the city develops payment plans and financial assistance for those who need it most. 

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