Want to Cut Violence Against Our Communities? Decriminalize Sex Work.

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Death penalty repeal: if not now, when?

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DeathPenalty (1)

By Rachel Livingston, Field Organizer at The Delaware Repeal Project

There is a growing call from the Black community throughout the nation for reform of the criminal justice system. We hear the bellowing of the now-famous phrase “Black Lives Matter” because Black and Brown citizens of the world are demanding that they have value and that the world should be outraged by their deaths just as much as the world is outraged at the death of most human beings.

Repeal of the death penalty is another piece of this movement that cannot be divorced from this struggle for Black Lives. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Dominican Republic’s Absurd Laws Shatters Star Boxer’s Promising Career

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Adonis was born in the Dominican Republic in 1994 to Haitians parents. His birth was never registered because his parents lack of documents. This results in statelessness. The lack of identity documents for Adonis means that he faces many obstacles to work and enjoy his passions in life. For example, Adonis had to stop practicing baseball for lacking ID card. Now he practices boxing, but is under pressure to secure ID card.

Adonis was born in the Dominican Republic in 1994 to Haitians parents. His birth was never registered because his parents lack of documents. This results in statelessness.

By Josefina Salomón, News Writer at Amnesty International

When Adonis Peguero Louis won the pre-selection test to join the Dominican Republic’s national boxing team, the young man’s future played before him.

As if watching a film, he saw himself headlining fights across the country, traveling to arenas in cities he had only visited through the small TV screen that rests in the corner of his crammed living room, coming face-to-face with his childhood heroes. He vividly imagined becoming a hero himself — the kind that starts life with empty pockets but then manages to save all those around him from poverty. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Every Girl Deserves an Education—Make Sure She Can Get One!

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Anonymous school children, all girls, in front of a blackboard at an unidentified school somewhere in Sierra Leone.

Anonymous school children, all girls, in front of a blackboard at an unidentified school somewhere in Sierra Leone.

Education is a human right. It is both a right in itself and also a pathway to the enjoyment of other rights. Education is also an inalienable right for every child, and every child deserves the opportunity to receive one.

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Reflections on Boston

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(Photo Credit: Dominic Chavez/EPA/Landov).

(Photo Credit: Dominic Chavez/EPA/Landov).

My cousin lives in Boston and I was worried that he was somehow affected by the attacks. It immediately brought me back to 9/11 and the memory of how powerless I felt watching the Twin Towers fall. Luckily, my cousin was fine. But it wasn’t true for others. The grief of losing family and friends is unbearable.

Deliberate attacks against civilians by individuals or armed groups are always human rights abuses. Amnesty International condemns the attacks in Boston in the strongest terms. The victims have a right to remedy, including to see those responsible brought to justice in a fair trial that respects human rights and reaffirms the rule of law.

The Obama administration is right to prosecute the suspect in criminal court and ignore those calling for denial of human rights and civil liberties. The trial must be fair, the suspect must be treated humanely and we must not let fear-mongering and discrimination flourish. We all want justice and security, but there’s a right way and a wrong way to go about it.

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Department of State Human Rights Reports: The Resource That Washington Ignores

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Secretary of State John Kerry spoke to how the 2013 Human Rights Reports were the foundation of U.S. foreign policy and a statement to the world that the U.S. is watching to make sure that foreign governments protect the human rights of their citizens (Photo Credit: Mladen  Antonov/AFP/Getty Images).

Secretary of State John Kerry spoke to how the 2013 Human Rights Reports is the foundation of U.S. foreign policy and a statement to the world that the U.S. is watching to make sure foreign governments protect the human rights of their citizens (Photo Credit: Mladen Antonov/AFP/Getty Images).

At long last, the 2013 country reports documenting global human rights trends has been released by the U.S. Department of State.

This year’s report, which was first produced during the Carter administration, is as important for what it does not say – or perhaps how it says it – as it is for what it says. In looking back at events in 2012, the report highlights several alarming trends, first what can only be described as a growing assault on civil society and human rights defenders.

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SCOTUS, It’s Time for Marriage Equality

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Love is a (human) right, not a wrong and protecting the rights of same-sex couples in the U.S. is a step towards recognizing that fact (Photo Credit: Mustafa Ozer/AFP/Getty Images).

Love is a (human) right, not a wrong and protecting the rights of same-sex couples in the U.S. is a step towards recognizing that fact (Photo Credit: Mustafa Ozer/AFP/Getty Images).

By Emily McGranachan, Member of Amnesty International USA’s LGBT Human Rights Coordinating Group

Today the Supreme Court of the United States began hearing arguments on two pivotal cases involving lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights. The focus of today’s hearing was on California’s Proposition 8, which wrote discrimination into the California Constitution by defining marriage in the state as between one man and one woman. The state constitutional amendment has been found unconstitutional by a federal appeals courts and supporters of marriage equality hope it will be struck down entirely.

Tomorrow the court hears arguments on the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which limits federal recognition of marriage to heterosexual couples. There is a great deal in the news about both cases and what they could mean for LGBT rights. The decisions made by the Supreme Court will have real impacts on individuals, children, and families, regardless of their sexual orientation.

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What a NY Times Column Gets Wrong About Israeli Settlements

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Ma'ale Adumim settlement

Construction continued on the Ma'ale Adumim settlement in 2010 despite an official Israeli "freeze".

An opinion piece written last week by Dani Dayan, a leader of an association of Israeli settlers, has sparked controversy over whether – as Dayan claims – Israeli settlers have a moral right to live in Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT).  What has been missing so far from the discussion is the human rights perspective on the issue that Amnesty International considers most important.

Dayan insists in his column that Israel’s Settlers Are Here to Stay” and argues that instead of trying to find a two-state solution, American diplomats should accept the status quo and “maintain the current reality on the ground.”

His argument, however, leaves out one significant fact — the establishment of settlements in the OPT violates international humanitarian law and also constitutes a serious violation of the prohibition on discrimination. The presence of settlements has led to mass violations of human rights of the local Palestinian population including, but not limited to, policies involving access to water, restrictions on movement, land confiscation and home demolitions. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Belarusian President: "Better to Be a Dictator Than Gay"

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Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko © STR/AFP/Getty Images

It sounds like a line from Sacha Baron Cohen’s upcoming comedy The Dictator, but it actually came from a real dictator.

Alexander Lukashenko, the president of ex-Soviet Belarus, said “better to be a dictator than gay” when responding to European criticism of the country’s democratic record. He was alluding to the sexual orientation of some European Foreign Ministers.

President Alexander Lukashenko has been ruling Belarus with an iron fist for almost 18 years. The country’s population is under 10 million and has faced sanctions. Belarus is one of the least democratic in Europe, and is Europe’s only country to have the death penalty. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST