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.
Darvinson Rojas is a Venezuelan journalist and prisoner of conscience. He was arbitrarily detained for reporting on COVID-19 and conditionally released on 2 April 2020. To date, the politically motivated charges against him have not been dropped and there has been no news on court case against him. As soon as there are changes in the case, we will renew campaigning actions on his behalf.
Nay Zar Tun, Khin Cho Naing, and Myint Zaw have been released from prison early due to sentence reductions. Sentenced to between 12 and 18 months, they were in prison for peacefully protesting charges against Nay Zar Tun’s brother, former child soldier Aung Ko Htwe. Detained solely for expressing their human right to freedom of expression, the three activists should never have been imprisoned at all.
On 7 April the Prosecutor General’s office in Belarus denied Russia’s request to extradite Jehovah’s Witness Nikolai Makhalichev. Nikolai Makhalichev is facing unfounded charges of ‘extremism’ in Russia, stemming solely from exercising his right to freedom of religion, which led to his detention in Belarus on 21 February. Following the refusal to extradite him to Russia, Nikolai Makhalichev was immediately freed from detention. He is now awaiting the decision on his asylum application in Belarus.
On 26 March, journalist Mamane Kaka Touda was released after being detained for three weeks in Niamey Prison, Niger, for publishing a post on social media regarding a suspected case of COVID-19 infection in Niamey Reference Hospital. He was given a three-month suspended sentence and was ordered to pay one franc as symbolic compensation. His lawyer has appealed the sentence.
On 15 July 2019, State Security Prosecution ordered the release of 19-year-old transgender woman human rights defender Malak al-Kashef after more than 120 days in pre-trial detention since her arrest. On 6 March 2019, National Security Agency (NSA) officers arrested Malak at her family’s residence in Giza. Malak’s arrest was part of a massive arrest campaign that followed the 27 February 2019 fire incident at Cairo’s main train station, which killed 25 people.
On 13 May 2019, 33-year-old musician Rami Sidky was released on probation after 374 days of pre-trial detention. Rami was detained on 5 May 2018 in connection with a song criticizing president Abdelfatah al-Sisi. According to his lawyer, he neither wrote, nor produced, nor performed the satirical song.
Activists known as “Aguadores” were released on 30 December but still face charges. Their trial was scheduled for 30 January but got postponed and has yet to take place. As of 27 February 2020, at least 61 people remained in detention for reasons related to the 2018 protests. We will continue to explore actions to ensure that the activists’ charges are dropped and seek the release of other people still in prison.
The Komsomolsk-on-Amur District Court ruled to release women rights and LGBT rights activist Yulia Tsvetkova from house arrest on 16 March. She remains under travel restrictions, and criminal and administrative proceeding instigated against her for promoting women’s rights and LGBTI rights are still ongoing.
Senegalese activist Guy Marius Sagna was released on bail on 3 March, three months after he was first detained and after two requests for the provisional release were denied. The eight other activists who were also charged with participation in an unauthorized gathering were released on bail between December 2019 and February 2020. The charges against the nine activists are still pending.
On 14 February 2020, Joaquín Elo Ayeto was released from Black Beach Prison in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, where he had been imprisoned for almost a year following his arbitrary arrest on 25 February 2019. He was released without any explanation or any papers confirming his situation.