One Year After Factory Disaster, What Have We Learned?

The Rana Plaza catastrophe on the outskirts of the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka on April 24, 2013, that left 1,138 dead and more than 2,000 injured (Photo Credit: Munir Uz Zaman/AFP/Getty Images).

The Rana Plaza catastrophe on the outskirts of the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka on April 24, 2013, that left 1,138 dead and more than 2,000 injured (Photo Credit: Munir Uz Zaman/AFP/Getty Images).

Today is the one-year anniversary of the collapse of the Rana Plaza garment factory building in Bangladesh, which left more than 1,100 workers dead and many more injured.  The disaster has become the most shocking recent example of business-related human rights abuse, and the images of dead workers in the debris of the collapsed factory have become powerful symbols of the pursuit of profit at the expense of people.

The Rana Plaza building housed numerous garment factories supplying international clothing companies. Over the past year, there have been various initiatives to provide compensation to the victims, involving government, global brands, and the International Labor Organization (ILO). However, these efforts have so far proved insufficient, and survivors continue to suffer and struggle to support themselves and their families.

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THIS EXISTS: Country That Forced 200,000 Women Into Sexual Slavery

Women from the house of sharing at the 'Wednesday Demo' outside Japanese Embassy, Seoul. (Photo Credit: Amnesty International)

Women from the house of sharing at the ‘Wednesday Demo’ outside Japanese Embassy, Seoul (Photo Credit: Amnesty International).

By Alice Dahle, Amnesty USA’s Women’s Human Rights Coordination Group

Before and during World War II, as the Japanese Imperial Army occupied countries throughout the Asia Pacific region, they deceived, abducted or otherwise forced an estimated 200,000 women and girls, some as young as 12 years old, into a system of sexual slavery.

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Introducing New Legislation That Will Help Murder Victims’ Families

Maryland has become a model for directing the cost savings from repeal to taking care of murder victims’ family members (Photo Credit: Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post via Getty Images).

Maryland has become a model for directing the cost savings from repeal to taking care of murder victims’ family members (Photo Credit: Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post via Getty Images).

By Andrea Hall, Mid Atlantic Regional Death Penalty Abolition Coordinator

Our victory is now complete. When Maryland’s death penalty was abolished last year, we knew that our work wasn’t finished, because homicide victims matter. With legislation passed last weekend, the state became a model for directing the cost savings from repeal to taking care of murder victims’ family members.

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How Nigerians Are Fighting Back Against Oil Companies

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By Joe Westby, Amnesty International Corporate Campaigner and Onyekachi Okoro, Media for Justice Program, Center for Environment, Human Rights and Development (CEHRD)

“People are dying silently. The oil companies bring sickness to our communities,” a man from a polluted community in Nigeria’s Bayelsa state told us.

But when it comes to oil spills in the Niger Delta, it’s not what you’ve suffered or what you know; it’s what you can prove.

This simple fact has hampered communities from obtaining justice, even when their lives have been turned upside down by pollution. Because the oil companies have significant control over determining vital data about oil spills, the affected communities lack reliable and impartial information, meaning they can’t effectively tell their side of the story.

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How the Academy Blew It

Writer/director/producer Joshua Oppenheimer of 'The Act of Killing' poses  during 2012 Toronto International Film Festival (Photo Credit: Matt Carr/Getty Images).

Writer/director/producer Joshua Oppenheimer of ‘The Act of Killing’ poses during 2012 Toronto International Film Festival (Photo Credit: Matt Carr/Getty Images).

By Claudia Vandermade, Amnesty USA Southeast Asia Co-Group Chair and Action Network Coordinator and Max White, Amnesty USA Country Specialist for Indonesia and Timor-Lesté

I had every possible appendage crossed as the Oscar for Best Documentary was announced on Sunday evening. The best documentary, film, makeup (just take a look – you’ll see what I mean) and more was The Act of Killing. The Academy chickened out and went with safe; handing the award to one of its own, lest they risk discomfort.

And The Act of Killing is very discomforting. Joshua Oppenheimer and his Indonesian crew originally hoped to tell the stories of those who survived the 1965-66 death squads let loose on the land to slaughter, torture, and rape union members, ethnic Chinese and whole villages who were all assumed to be members of the Communist Party.

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Counting Bodies in the Central African Republic

Eleven-year-old Fati suffered deep machete wounds to her head and arm in an attack by anti-balaka militia in Boali. Six people were killed and 20 others were injured in the same attack (Photo Credit: Amnesty International).

Eleven-year-old Fati suffered deep machete wounds to her head and arm in an attack by anti-balaka militia in Boali. Six people were killed and 20 others were injured in the same attack (Photo Credit: Amnesty International).

By Donatella Rovera, Senior Crisis Response Adviser at Amnesty International

The body of a 10-year-old boy, shot dead, whose hand had been cut off with a machete.

The remains of the sons of a 76-year-old man who narrowly escaped death after anti-balaka fighters shot him three times and left him for dead.

The lifeless body of a six-month-old baby, brutally murdered alongside 12 of her relatives in front of her cousin, who was forced to witness her father being decapitated.

“They killed my children heartlessly. They were slaughtered in front of our eyes,” cried a Muslim woman whose four sons were killed by anti-balaka fighters in late January.

Welcome to life in the Central African Republic.

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The Year in Drones: The Secrets Exposed, Promises Made and Ugly Realities That Remain

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.

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.

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