Our report makes clear that, while there were encouraging signs in the speech, the continuing absence of international human rights law from the US government’s counterterrorism framework remains a grave cause for concern.
Here are seven key recommendations from the report:
Demonstrators from Amnesty International chant outside the White House in Washington, D.C. as they call for strong support for a comprehensive global Arms Trade Treaty (Photo Credit: Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images).
On June 3rd, the historic UN Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) will open for signature. This treaty is the first global agreement to link the protection of human rights with the trade in conventional weapons, including the pernicious small arms and light weapons (SALW) that contribute to abuses in conflict and non conflict – throughout the world.
1. Gives UN Security Council Embargoes Added Power
The ATT will help to fill a critical gap in international law by establishing that it is illegal to transfer weapons to countries that are subject to a United Nations Security Council embargo. While this is already an implicit principle of international law, the ATT reaffirms and reinforces this critical principle.
By Nehal Amer, Social Media Specialist, Middle East Coordination Group
5/30/2013 UPDATE:Success! What does it take for the Israeli military to stop imprisoning Natan Blanc? It takes Amnesty International and other activists making their concerns known and taking action.
Natan Blanc’s father received a call from his son telling him that he had been informed that he would be released at the end of his current prison term. The decision apparently follows a decision by the Unsuitability (or Compatibility) Committee which – according to the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) – is designed to deal with people with behavioral problems who are deemed unsuitable for army service. It is not a committee which explores whether someone is a genuine conscientious objector or not. In practice, it seems to work as a mechanism for the IDF to rid itself of the problem of conscientious objectors who have been repeatedly imprisoned by declaring their ‘unsuitability’ based on poor mental health or discipline problems.
Natan is expected to be set free June 6th. Thank you for taking action. No further action is required at this time.
The warm White House reception, combined with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s call for the suspension of sanctions on imports from Myanmar, gave President Thein Sein a big boost. Did he deserve it? (Photo Credit: Shawn Thew, Pool/Getty Images).
President Obama welcomed Myanmar President Thein Sein to the White House this week, hailing what he called “steady progress” being made on economic and political reforms. President Obama also reminded Myanmar’s leader that many challenges remain to be addressed, including ethnic strife, rampant corruption, and the continued detention of political prisoners.
The warm White House reception, combined with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s call for the suspension of sanctions on imports from Myanmar, gave President Thein Sein a big boost.
Delegates to the United Nations General Assembly after passing the first UN treaty regulating the international arms trade (Photo credit: Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images).
By Alberto Estévez, Amnesty International’s Advocacy Coordinator for the Arms
It was a special moment I’ll never forget.
On Wednesday, March 27, as I walked towards the UN official giving out copies of the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), I held my breath wondering how the Golden Rule principle of “No Arms for Atrocities” had been worded in the final treaty text.
I glanced at the preamble, scope and implementation articles and rushed to read
articles 6 and 7, encompassing the Golden Rule. I read it again, in case I had
missed something. Then I had a look at the provisions on reporting, diversion
and how the treaty can be changed in the future. I took a deep breath and said
to myself: “Well done to Amnesty, we’ve got the Golden Rule in.”
The US is trying to strip the Arms Trade Treaty of critical human rights protections.
This post is part of a special series on the Arms Trade Treaty. From March 18-28, world leaders from more than 150 countries are gathering for the UN Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) in New York. An Amnesty International delegation with representatives from every world region is participating and will be pressing leaders to agree to a strong treaty that upholds international human rights law.
By Nate Smith, Arms Trade Treaty Negotiations Observer
Update: THOUSANDS of your calls have been pouring into the White House since Monday. Thank you and keep it up! Apparently, we’re partially responsible for jamming up White House lines, so please try this new number in case you’re having trouble getting through: 202-456-1414…24 hours left – let them hear you!
Late on Friday, the latest draft of the Arms Trade Treaty was shared publicly. It’s not looking good.
Here’s what it boils down to: Will world leaders take the necessary steps now to prevent sending weapons to countries where they will likely be used for torture, summary executions, and other human rights abuses? Or will they allow business as usual and wait until even more staggering numbers of civilians have been killed until they finally decide to stop arms shipments to those who are targeting civilians?
The second option is called the “body bag” approach. The US government is among those who actually think this is a good idea. It wants to allow critical human rights protections to be kept out of the treaty. These would require countries to exercise some due diligence in making sure they aren’t transferring weapons to places where they know they’ll be used in extrajudicial executions, disappearances, or torture – a global “background check” for arms transfers
Child soldier with adults, Sanghe, Democratic Republic of Congo, June 2002.
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.
Amnesty International has long feared that the failure of the Morsi government to hold security forces and military accountable for their past human rights abuses ensured that those abuses would be repeated when the government called on those institutions to respond to the popular protests.
Sure enough, reporting from Egypt, Amnesty International researcher Diana Eltahawy documented evidence that points to the use of excessive force by Egyptian security officials.
Mali is currently facing its most serious humanitarian and human rights crisis since its independence in 1960, with myriad rights abuses rampant, amounting to what may become charges of war crimes and/or crimes against humanity. Cue the International Criminal Court (ICC).
On the final day of the July 2012 Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) Conference, at a moment when the 190 assembled delegations thought an agreement was at hand, the US, joined by Russia and China, announced they did not have enough time to resolve problems they saw in the text.
This announcement, followed by intensified lobbying by the National Rifle Association, has delayed progress towards regulating the flow of arms around the world. The National Rifle Association is now crowing about their victory in heading off the treaty. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
Action for Human Rights. Hope for Humanity.