Newsroom

We put a human face on complex issues to hold governments accountable.

Below you’ll find breaking news as well as reports, updates on our campaigns, and victories.

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Update

Azerbaijan: “Unlimited Presidency” Approved

If you thought that the democratic situation couldn’t get worse in ex-Soviet Azerbaijan, you have been wrong. The oil-rich country has voted – according to the government – to eliminate presidential term limits. On March 18, 2009, voters approved all the 29 ballot issues, including institutionalizing unlimited presidency, reports the Russian-language Day.az. One Azerbaijani told Reuters: "We can write, we can read, we can watch. But we have no voice." Or, "We can vote, but we have no voice."

March 19, 2009

Update

Israeli Soldier's Speak Out About Gaza

In a series about the lax rules of engagement of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), the Israeli newspaper Haaretz is currently publishing testimonies of Israeli soldiers who participated in the recent fighting in Gaza. The first story in today's edition describes an incident of an IDF sharpshooter who mistakenly shot a Palestinian mother and her two children: There was a house with a family inside .... We put them in a room. Later we left the house and another platoon entered it, and a few days after that there was an order to release the family (...) The platoon commander let…

March 19, 2009

Update

A Friendship Forged During the Dirty War

When the world you live is filled with the constant threat of disappearances, torture and murder, how do friendships happen? On Monday, in a small lecture hall at Duke University, Argentine Ambassador Hector Timerman, son of famed journalist Jacobo Timerman, told about one unexpected friendship that developed during that country’s infamous Dirty War and how it helped to save his father’s life. The Duke event was a celebration of the life of Rabbi Marshall Meyer, the American who lived in Argentina in the 1970s risked his life to help the Timerman family and many others.  Hector Timerman couldn’t attend the…

March 19, 2009

Update

The Soldiers Speak; What about the UN inquiry?

Israeli soldiers are telling their stories about questionable military practices during the conflict in Gaza.  They are describing attacks on unarmed civilians, using phrases like “cold blooded murder” in an effort to expose human rights violations.   But: “Neither the Israeli justice system, despite its acknowledged strengths, nor that of the Palestinian Authority has ever properly addressed violations of international law by Israeli forces or Palestinian fighters.” The UN’s Board of Inquiry is currently investigating attacks on UN facilities, but what of the civilians on both sides of the conflict? "What is needed is a comprehensive international investigation that looks at…

March 19, 2009

Update

The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same

Late on Friday afternoon, in a move apparently designed to give the media as little time to respond as possible, the Obama administration filed a new motion in the US District Court for the District of Columbia clarifying that the administration still asserted the authority to detain suspected terrorists indefinitely at the US Naval base in Guantanamo Bay. The filing marked three departures from the policies of the Bush administration. First, the administration no longer asserted that this power derived from the executive office of the presidency but from the Authorization for Use of Military Force passed by Congress in the…

March 18, 2009

Update

Spare Me Your Weight

On the outset, it seemed like March was going to be a great time for women.  This month, we celebrated International Women’s Day recognizing women’s social achievements and ongoing struggles in pursuit of economic, social, and political justice.  Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton came together to recognize women’s human rights activists.  And President Obama signed an executive order establishing a White House Council for Women and Girls.  Yes, ma’am!  This is our month!  And just days later, the nation has come to focus on … Meghan McCain’s dress size.  Oh. By now, most people know about the fight that conservative…

March 18, 2009

Update

New Mexico Public Calls In for Abolition

Last night, New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson's press office issued a press release highlighting that phone calls to his hotline (505-476-2225) on the question of repealing the death penalty were running over 3-1 in favor of abolition.  The actual totals were 7169 FOR repeal and 2244 against.  The Governor has until midnight (Mountain Time) tonight to take action.  Stay tuned ...

March 18, 2009

Update

Fighting Back Against Sexual Assaults in Western Sahara

Many young women in Western Sahara are believed to have suffered sexual assaults and other abuses at the hands of Moroccan occupying forces and police, but Hayat Erguibi is different.  She refused to remain silent. Given the stigmatism of rape or molestation within the conservative Islamic culture of the Western Saharans or Sahrawis, such humiliation at the hands of foreign occupiers prevents victims from stepping forward. It has also been charged that women are threatened by Moroccan forces if they dare to speak out. Erguibi so dared.  On Feb. 24, she went to a local human rights organization a statement…

March 17, 2009

Update

World’s Top Investigators Call for Gaza Inquiry

(Originally posted on Daily Kos) The top dogs of international justice and reconciliation today called on UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and UN member states to set up a UN commission of inquiry into the Gaza conflict, adding a powerful voice to extend the current insufficient investigation beyond attacks against UN facilities. The impressive group of signatories surely knows what they are talking about: they are the world’s top investigators and judges, having worked on transitional justice issues in countries like Rwanda, the former Yugoslavia, Sierra Leona and South Africa – among others. Signatories include Richard Goldstone, Mary Robinson and…

March 16, 2009

Update

Congolese Women Fight Sexual Violence

In a powerful new video Oxfam America shows the fight of Congolese women against sexual violence (thanks to change.org for bringing this to the attention of a wider audience). It features the courageous story of Justine Masika Bihamba, a women’s human rights defender for who we are actively campaigning for. Justine is coordinator for Synergy of Women for Victims of Sexual Violence (Synergie des femmes contre les violence sexuelles), an organization that helps survivors of sexual violence. In the context of the Democratic Republic of Congo, her story is truly impressive, to say the least.

March 16, 2009

Update

Iraq: 128 Executions Planned

On Monday, March 9, the Iraqi government announced to Amnesty International that 128 death sentences have been ratified, and that executions would commence soon at the rate of 20 per week.  Exactly who these 128 people are, what crimes they have been condemned for, or how imminent these executions are is not known.  It is also now known how many of these prisoners facing execution might have been transferred to Iraqi authorities from US custody following the Status of Forces Agreement that came into effect at the beginning of this year. What is known is that Iraqi trials do not…

March 16, 2009

Update

Gestapo vs. USA

As if we needed more justification for a commission of inquiry, a new secret report by the International Committee of Red Cross was leaked this past weekend, and describes in great detail the unfathomable horrific abuse of detainees well into 2007.  Andrew Sullivan compares the reports' table of contents with the Gestapo's list of torture techniques, and the two are eerily similar: ICRC report: Contents Introduction 1. Main Elements of the CIA Detention Program 1.1 Arrest and Transfer 1.2 Continuous Solitary Confinement and Incommunicado Detention 1.3 Other Methods of Ill-treatment 1.3.1 Suffocation by water 1.3.2 Prolonged Stress Standing 1.3.3 Beatings…

March 16, 2009