Civil Society and Human Rights Continue to Disintegrate Under Russia’s Heavy Handed ‘Rule of Law’

Yekaterina VologzheninovaBy Courtney Dobson, Country Specialist for Russia at Amnesty International USA.

There is a clear juxtaposition between Putin’s ambition for Russia to be a superpower in the global arena and the disintegration of human rights and civil society at home. In recent months, Putin may have gained diplomatic points in the global arena for commanding the world’s attention to its aggressive activities both in eastern Ukraine and its military action in Syria. However this grandstanding on the world stage should not be cause for distraction; the attack on Russian civil society continues, as a single mom and shop assistant from the Sverdlovsk region of Russia has been charged with inciting ethnic hatred for sharing links on social media.


Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Amnesty International USA

Last November, we decided to send our sixth delegation of organizers and human rights observers to Ferguson. In response to requests from community members, AIUSA staff and members chose to go through training, to bear witness, to stand for accountability, and to lift up the voices of community members living their human rights.

These choices reflect a commitment to live our values in a way that recognizes that local human rights abuses are global human rights challenges. Amnesty sections, structures and offices from Hong Kong to Venezuela, and from Brazil to Turkey have made important changes to bring their work closer to the ground. Part of that shift for us here has meant a commitment to working more closely with communities who are most impacted by human rights abuses here at home. And by embarking on an ambitious body of human rights work, at AIUSA we also knew we would have to examine the ways our structure and staffing reflect that same commitment. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

#Write4Rights Brings Human Rights Home

On Human Rights Day, Amnesty International USA and Donda’s House are teaming up for the world’s biggest letter writing event, Write for Rights.

Join in from anywhere in the world as they add their voice to fight injustice and demand human rights for all. Your words have power! Write a letter and change a life by providing hope for a prisoner, demanding justice for families killed and shining a light on horrifying human rights abuses.

Starting at 6:30pm tune-in to the live event in Chicago to hear from artists, musicians and activists about raising awareness about gun violence and police brutality.


Posted in USA

What is the UN Saying on Syria?

Sunjeev Bery on Sky News Arabia

Sunjeev Bery on Sky News Arabia

Yesterday, I joined the team at Sky News Arabia for a live discussion of the latest report on Syria by an independent UN panel. Special thanks to Sky News producer Arwa Sawan, reporter Joseph Khawly, and anchor Amer Abdel Aziz for giving Amnesty International USA an opportunity to share our analysis of the grave human rights situation.

The report (PDF) is a catalog of violence, suffering, and geopolitical developments, focusing on events between January 15th and May 15th of this year. It was produced by the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic, established by the UN Human Rights Council in 2011.


Tweet Chat with Tom Parker Today at 2:00 PM EST!

Today Amnesty International USA will be hosting a Tweet Chat with Tom Parker, our Policy Director for Terrorism, Counterterrorism and Human Rights.

Today also marks the beginning of the Military Commission proceedings for Guantánamo detainee Omar Khadr, who has been in U.S. custody since the age of 15.  While the U.S. ratified the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict in 2002, which Khadr should be protected by, the military commission trial completely fails this international obligation.  What’s more is that some of Khadr’s statements may have been made while he was being tortured. Just yesterday,  his statements have been ruled admissible  as the prosecution has maintained in its legal filings that “the accused was not tortured; nor subjected to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.”

Now’s your chance to get your questions answered on the Obama administration’s plans to close Guantánamo,  or, even more generally, U.S. policy on torture, terrorism or detainment.

Join Amnesty International today for a Tweet Chat to discuss Khadr’s case and that of other detainees at Guantanamo.

WHEN: Today Tuesday, August 10th from 2:00 – 3:00 pm EST

WHERE: Follow Tom on Twitter @TomAtAmnesty

HOW: Submit questions on Twitter any time from now through August 10th using hashtag #AskAI.  Example: How else should the U.S. gain intelligence re: terrorism plots w/o using torture? #askai

Observing the Trial of Omar Khadr

By Alex Neve, Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada.  Neve is currently at Guantánamo to observe the military commissions proceedings against detainee Omar Khadr.  This is his second in a series of posts from the field.

Photo: Alex Neve at Guantánamo Bay

Photo: Alex Neve at Guantánamo Bay

Omar Khadr’s case has been in the military commission pipeline for several years – he was first charged in November 2005 under the system thrown out the following year by the US Supreme Court.  His case has had various false starts under a variety of different versions of the military commission process.

His case has been slated to come up before the latest version of military commissions for months.  Lawyers, journalists, observers, government and military officials have arrived – anticipating that key legal issues were finally going to get an airing.  All this lead time; all this preparation – you would at least expect everything to be in place.

But there is no confidence at all that things are going to get off to a smooth start.  One key piece of the equation that is missing is the set of rules to govern the military commission process under legislation passed in late 2009.  Under the revised Military Commissions Act (MCA), signed by President Obama last October, the Secretary of Defense was supposed to submit to Congress within 90 days the rules for military commissions – that is, the Manual for Military Commissions.  At the moment, the only manual that has been available is a 2007 version under the 2006 MCA.