Today, Amnesty International released its annual report on the use of the death penalty worldwide. Although 2013 saw more executions than in previous years and several countries resuming executions, there was also progress towards abolition in all regions of the world. Below, see the top 10 things you need to know from our newest report:
By Alice Dahle, Amnesty USA’s Women’s Human Rights Coordination Group
An 18-year-old Ethiopian migrant woman in Khartoum, Sudan was out looking for housing, when she was lured into an empty property and gang-raped by seven men. A police officer found her after the attack and took her to the police station. However, since it was a public holiday, a formal complaint was not filed.
The perpetrators of the rapes filmed the attack and distributed the video through social media six months later. As a result, everyone involved was arrested.
Of the seven men put on trial, three were convicted of adultery and sentenced to 100 lashes. Two more were convicted of indecent acts and sentenced to 40 lashes and fines. Another man was convicted of distributing indecent material and sentenced to 40 lashes and a heavy fine. The seventh individual was released on grounds of insufficient evidence against him. Those sentenced to lashing had their sentences carried out immediately after the trial in a closed court.
But that’s not where the story ends.
By Tarah Demant, Co-Chair of Amnesty International USA Women’s Rights Co-Group
A life free from violence is a fundamental human right, yet daily, women and girls are targeted specifically because of their sex or gender, and violence in communities often affects women disproportionately. Violence against women is a global epidemic; no country or community is immune.
Violence against women is used as a tool of discrimination, control, and intimidation, and it restricts women’s choices and increases their vulnerability to further injustices. 1 in 3 women will be raped, beaten, or abused in her lifetime, yet violence against women affects us all. Consider the following cases:
- In Sudan, women can be can be stopped by the police, arrested, jailed, and even sentenced to public flogging for nothing more than wearing pants or leaving her hair uncovered.
- In Egypt, women protesters have faced harassment and assault while Egypt’s political leaders have remained silence about the rampant sexual violence and discrimination.
- In Syria, more than 2 million people have fled the armed crisis, and now tens of thousands of women and girl refugees in Jordan risk further violence simply because they have no safe access to a toilet.
- In the Democratic Republic of Congo, often ranked the worst place in the world to be a woman, women human rights defenders provide grassroots assistance to civilians, yet they themselves face intimidation, attack, rape, and sexual violence for their efforts.
- In Bangladesh, women human rights defenders work for the rights of indigenous people throughout the country, yet 17 years after the disappearance of a high-profile Pahari activist, her family and community still waits for justice.
- In Honduras, women human rights defenders are threatened with sexual violence for championing human rights throughout the country.
- In Mexico, Miriam López Vargas and hundreds of other women wait for justice after torture and rape by Mexican soldiers.
What these cases have in common is a global culture of discrimination and violence against women as well as impunity for those who commit gender-based violence. And this year’s theme: From Peace in the Home to Peace in the World: Let’s Challenge Militarism and End Violence Against Women highlights the relationship between heightened militarism and communal and interpersonal violence.
Despite a culture of violence and discrimination women around the world are raising their voices against violence and discrimination, demanding their basic human rights, and standing against intimidation and fear. Today, what unites women internationally is their vulnerability to the denial and violation of their fundamental human rights, and their dedicated efforts to claim those rights.
You can join them this 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence as we join activists worldwide from Nov. 25 – Dec. 10 to help end violence against women. This year, we’re highlighting the seven cases above – in each instance, you can learn more, take action, and stand with women demanding their rights!
Imagine a world without violence against women. Join us this 16 Days to make that vision a reality.
By Alex Neve, Secretary General, Amnesty International Canada
Fighting is raging between various ethnic groups on the Darfur side of the border of the Chad/Sudan border, particularly between two Arab tribes, the Salamat and Misseriya, who have been allies in the past. More villages are being attacked and left in ruins. That means more people killed and injured. It also means more women and girls being raped, though it is as of yet impossible to get a clear read on how widespread that has become. Homes and businesses are being set on fire and destroyed. Looting and theft, of livestock and personal property, is pervasive.
And tens of thousands of people are on the move. More than 30,000 have left Darfur and crossed over into Chad as refugees since the beginning of the year, the highest number to flee in years. Some have settled in refugee camps, others remain dispersed near the border.
By Khairunissa Dhala, Researcher on Sudan/South Sudan Team at Amnesty International
Does the human rights situation in Sudan still require a U.N.-mandated Independent Expert to monitor and report back on developments? That was among the issues to discussed as the 24th session of the U.N. Human Rights Council (HRC) opened this week in Geneva.
Given Sudan’s dire human rights situation – ongoing armed conflicts in three different states, restrictions on freedoms of expression, association and assembly, including arbitrary arrest and torture of human rights defenders and activists – it is hard to imagine that there is even a question on whether this is needed. But there is.
Just as storms overwhelm unattended levees, political strife and armed conflict can overwhelm the system of international law created to ensure we do not repeat the darkest periods of human history. Today marks the 15th anniversary of the adoption of the Rome Statue, which established the International Criminal Court to secure accountability for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. This week also brings continued news of the terrible price paid by civilians as a result of such grievous crimes in Syria, Sudan and elsewhere.
Millions have been victims of these crimes in recent history, yet only very rarely have those responsible been held accountable. In the last two decades, however, progress has been made towards reversing this trend of impunity. With the establishment of the International Criminal Court, a clear message was sent around the world that failure to investigate and prosecute such crimes at the national level will not be tolerated.
Yet, every hopeful step is met with new and compelling challenges. Political alliances sometimes supersede international legal and moral obligations, shielding fugitives such as Omar al-Bashir, the sitting president of Sudan, for example, from appearing before a court of law to answer for their alleged crimes. Impunity for grave crimes robs those victimized of justice, and prevents communities and whole countries from recovering from trauma.
Governments and other organizations across the world are perfecting techniques to prevent journalists from shining a light on corruption and human rights abuses. From trumped-up charges and removing work licenses to murder, here are 10 ways journalists are repressed and prevented from reporting freely and fairly.
1. Physical Attacks
In some countries such as Syria, Turkmenistan and Somalia, governments, military forces and armed groups attack and even kill journalists who are seen to be critical of their policies and practices.
In May 2012, 18-year-old citizen journalist Abd al-Ghani Ka’ake was fatally shot by a government sniper in Syria while filming a demonstration in Aleppo. Armed opposition groups have also attacked and killed journalists.
Now where will the US go on the ICC?
While international justice has seen many milestones over the last months, including the surrender of “The Terminator” Bosco Ntaganda, one of the most well known fugitives from the International Criminal Court (ICC) remains on the loose. Joseph Kony, the Lord Resistance Army’s (LRA) notorious leader, has so far evaded arrest. However, as of today, attempts to locate his whereabouts have gotten a considerable boost. In fact, thanks to satellite imagery, we might know the exact coordinates of his recent location.
Even though most of the world has turned its back on the death penalty, some countries continue to impose capital punishment for acts like having consensual sexual relations outside marriage, opposing the government, offending religion and even drinking alcohol.
This is despite international law barring states from handing out death sentences for any of these crimes.
Here’s a list of some “crimes” that, in some parts of the world, can get you killed.
1. Consensual Sexual Relations Outside Marriage
In Sudan, two women, Intisar Sharif Abdallah and Layla Ibrahim Issa Jumul, were sentenced to death by stoning on charges of “adultery while married” in separate cases in May and July 2012. In both cases, the women were sentenced after unfair trials involving forced “confessions.” The sentences were subsequently overturned on appeal, and both women were released.
In Iran at least 10 individuals, mainly women, remain on death row having been sentenced to stoning for the crime of “adultery while married.”
By Angela T. Chang, Advocate, Crisis Prevention and Response Team, Amnesty International USA
When a little boy is kidnapped, turned into a child soldier, forced to kill or be killed — that’s slavery. When a little girl is sold by her impoverished family—girls my daughters’ age—runs away from home, or is lured by the false promises of a better life, and then imprisoned in a brothel and tortured if she resists — that’s slavery. It is barbaric, and it is evil, and it has no place in a civilized world.
– US President Barack Obama, September 2012
Despite these strong words by President Obama against the use and recruitment of child soldiers a few months ago, he got reprimanded earlier this week for falling flat in delivering on tangible actions to address this issue.
The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child released a new report on Tuesday, calling out the U.S. and the Obama administration for failing to adhere to its international human rights obligations by continuing to waive sanctions on military assistance, per the 2008 Child Soldiers Prevention Act, to countries that are known to recruit and use child soldiers – a clear violation of children’s rights and a war crime if the children are under the age of fifteen. Yes, you read that right. Seems confusing and backwards? That’s because it is.