Changing lives and policies
We free people from prison who are being held unjustly because of who they are or what they believe. We change laws to protect millions of people’s human rights. We transform societies to be more fair, free, and just. Here are our victories.
We recently helped release land rights activist and mother of two, Tep Vanny from Cambodia. Vanny was handed a prison sentence of two years and six months on 23 February 2017, after Phnom Penh’s First Instance Court convicted her of “intentional violence with aggravating circumstances” for peacefully protesting the forced eviction of her community from Boeung Kak Lake, Phnom Penh. A construction project on the site has seen thousands of families lose their homes. Amnesty considered Tep Vanny a prisoner of conscience, held solely for her peaceful human rights work. Thanks to the support and mobilization of our members, Vanny was released and able to be reunited with her family.
The trial against Juan Requesens, Venezuelan Representative in the National Assembly who has been in pre-trial detention since his arbitrary detention on 7 August 2018, finally began on 2 December after repeated undue delays and irregularities.
On 1 November 2019, the Saudi authorities released two Qatari citizens, Ali Nasser Ali Jarallah (70) and his son Abdulhadi Ali Nasser Ali Jarallah (17), who then returned home to Doha. On 18 August 2019, their family lost all contact with them as they travelled through Saudi Arabia to visit relatives. Amnesty International was concerned that they may have been forcibly disappeared and urged King Salman to reveal the whereabouts of the father and his son and immediately release them unless they were promptly charged with a recognizable criminal offence.
On 23 November, adequate police protection enabled up to one hundred transgender rights activists in Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital, to hold the 2019 Trans March and mark Transgender Day of Remembrance. The police successfully prevented attempts by groups openly advocating hatred and discrimination to disrupt the event.
University lecturer Firew Bekele was released on 19 November, after spending three months in detention for his alleged role in writing and publishing a book "the Hijacked Revolution". He was a prisoner of conscience and should have never been persecuted.
On 16 October 2019, following a royal pardon, Hajar Raissouni, her fiancé, and the doctor were released from prison after being sentenced to one year in prison for trumped-up charges of abortion and extra-marital sex. On 30 September 2019 Hajar and the other defendants had been arbitrarily imprisoned in what was likely a politically motivated attack on Hajar for her journalistic work at newspaper Akhbar al-yaoum, in blatant violation of the rights to freedom of expression and private life.
On 15 November, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals halted the execution of Rodney Reed and ordered the original trial court to consider new evidence in his case. The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles also supported delaying the execution and recommended that the Governor grant a 120-day reprieve. Rodney Reed has been on death row since 1998.
On 13 November 2019, activist and medic Saba Mahdawi was released. Saba went missing after being abducted by an unknown group on 2 November 2019. Her family confirmed to Amnesty that Saba was in good health and had not been ill-treated.
On 19 September 2019, a court in Tunis acquitted 18-year-old activist Maissa al-Oueslati of all charges after facing trumped-up charges that could have resulted in her imprisonment for up to 4 years. On 4 September 2019, the police arbitrarily detained Maissa al-Oueslati and her 16-year-old brother, for filming a protester threatening to set himself on fire in front of a police station. They were interrogated without a lawyer, in a blatant violation of Tunisian law and international human rights law.
Ahmed H. was finally able to return home to his family in Cyprus on 28 September. He had been separated from his Cypriot wife and two daughters for almost four years, after being wrongfully convicted in Hungary.
Aung Ko Htwe, former child soldier, was released from prison a few months early on 6 September 2019, likely due to good behavior. Arrested in August 2017 after giving a media interview about being forcibly recruited into the military, he was sentenced to two and a half years in prison.