Archive for the ‘Amnesty International’ Category
Photograph: Reuters/Eldson Chagara
Support Amnesty’s Malawi campaign
Fax and post letters to the Malawi government
Call for release of Steven Monjeza & Tiwonge Chimbalanga
London, UK – 11 March 2010
OutRage! is backing Amnesty International’s appeal for letters of protest to the Malawian government over the arrest and trial of Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga. They face up to 14 years jail on charges of homosexuality. The verdict in their trial is expected on Monday 22 March.
See this sample letter, and the postal address and fax number of the Malawian President and Attorney General:
Amnesty International has adopted the two men as Prisoners of Conscience and is campaigning for their release.
“OutRage! is supporting Amnesty’s campaign. If enough people send letters of protest, it might help secure an acquittal or a less harsh sentence. Even if Tiwonge and Steven are convicted, they could win a successful appeal and be freed eventually,” said Peter Tatchell of OutRage!
“From their prison cells, both men have urged international pressure for their release. They need lots of support and solidarity in the run-up to the trial result. Please take time to support Amnesty’s letter-writing campaign,” he said.
Amnesty International UK Director, Kate Allen, added:
“Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga have committed no criminal offence and we adopted them as prisoners of conscience after their arrest at the end of December. It is vital that as many people as possible join us in writing to the Malawi authorities calling on them to release the two men and for them to investigate their treatment in custody.”
See this Amnesty International briefing on the case:
The planned Baltic Pride march due to take place on Saturday in Riga, Latvia, has been banned by city officials.
The parade had previously been approved but a majority of city council members wrote to executive director Andris Grinbergs, demanding permission to be withdrawn on the grounds that the march was offensive to public decency and posed a threat to public security.
They threatened that if permission was not withdrawn by 4pm today, they would have the decision overruled by a vote in the city council.
The march has been organised by Latvian organisation Mozaika, the Lithuanian Gay League and Estonian Gay Youth.
They plan to contest the decision in court.
Kaspars Zalitis, coordinator of Latvia’s Amnesty International Youth Group, told the Baltic Times that the decision was illegal.
He said: “This is extremely illegal and is based only on hatred. The decision should only be taken if there was extreme danger and the police have assured us they have all the resources in place to protect us.”
The groups had expected 700 people to join the parade.
Amnesty International has also expressed its disappointment at the decision.
Nicola Duckworth, director of the Europe and Central Asia programme at the organisation, said: “This is a disgraceful move by the Riga city council.
“The decision is unlawful under Latvian law and violates the rights of Baltic LGBT people to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.
“The council should immediately reverse its decision and allow the march. Amnesty International fully supports the legal challenge by the organisers.”
The European Intergoup on Gay and Lesbian Rights has sent letters to both the president and prime minister of Latvia, reminding the country of its duty under the European Convention of Human Rights.
Intergroup president Michael Cashman MEP wrote: “I urge you to use your authority to not let Latvia be in breach of European human rights liabilities in regard to the Baltic Pride parade scheduled for 16th May.
“But I also urge you to tackle the situation in longer term and employ appropriate policies by your government to diminish homophobia in Latvian society.”
By Peter Tatchell
This weekend President Robert Mugabe will stride the stage at the EU-African Union Summit in Lisbon. He will be welcomed and feted, alongside all the other leaders of Africa and Europe.
For the people of Zimbabwe it will be a sickening spectacle to see their blood-soaked oppressor wined and dined by the Portuguese President, Aníbal António Cavaco Silva.
Mugabe is not the world’s only tyrant and not even the worst. Nevertheless, he has killed more black Africans than even the murderous apartheid regime in South Africa. His slaughter of 20,000 civilians in Matabeleland in the 1980s was the equivalent of a Sharpeville massacre every day for over nine months.
According to Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, Mugabe’s despotic regime is guilty of detention without trial, torture, rape, extra-judicial killings, media censorship, financial corruption, election fraud, mass starvation and the violent suppression of strikes and protests.
Instead of embracing President Mugabe as an honoured guest, the Portuguese government should instruct its police to arrest him on charges of torture.
It is time to end the culture of impunity, which allows tyrannical leaders to get away with human rights abuses. Torture is a crime under international law. Mugabe, and other torture-condoning despots, should be prosecuted. Giving them state immunity is collusion with their crimes.
There is evidence from Amnesty International and from Zimbabwean human rights groups
that President Mugabe and his government have sanctioned and colluded with acts of torture. He should be arrested and put on trial, in the same way that President Milosevic of Yugoslavia was tried in The Hague.
Portugal is legally obliged to enforce the UN Convention Against Torture 1984, which it has ratified and pledged to uphold.
The Convention Against Torture has universal jurisdiction. It allows any signatory state to arrest and put on trial any person who authorises, commits or acquiesces in the infliction of torture anywhere in the world. In other words, Mugabe can be lawfully arrested and tried in Portugal for crimes that he has aided and abetted in Zimbabwe.
Despite past legal rulings granting government leaders exemption from prosecution, the trend in international law is towards rejecting the right of Heads of State to enjoy absolute immunity for crimes against humanity, such as torture.
This legal evolution began with the Versailles Treaty of 1919. The signatory nations accepted that high state officials who stand accused of “offences against international morality” cannot plead that they are above the law. Article 227 of the Treaty set the precedent in international law that Heads of State are not immune from prosecution, when it arraigned the German Emperor, William II.
The 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal reiterated this precedent by ruling that the top Nazi leaders, including Karl Doenitz, Hitler’s successor as German leader, did not enjoy immunity for crimes against humanity. Article 7 of the Charter of the International Military Tribunal stipulated that: “The official position of defendants, whether as Heads of State or responsible officials in Government departments, shall not be considered as freeing them from responsibility or mitigating punishment.” Doenitz was found guilty and sentenced to 10 years jail.
Principle Three of the Nuremberg Principles, agreed by the nations of Europe as international law, declared: “The fact that a person who committed an act which constitutes a crime under international law acted as Head of State or responsible Government official does not relieve him from responsibility under international law”.
For Portugal and the EU to now renege on the Nuremberg Principles is a monstrous betrayal of the millions who perished in the Holocaust and the millions more who sacrificed their lives to end the tyranny of the Third Reich.