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 two young children and their mothers who fled violence in their native countries in Central America get released from over 600 days in immigration detention. Three-year-old Diego and eight-year-old “Antonio” have spent much of their childhood behind the walls of a detention center in Berks County, Pennsylvania despite having proven that they and their mothers posed no safety or flight risk while their asylum petitions are reviewed. Two other children and their mothers who have been at Berks for an extended time remain. AIUSA continues to fight for their freedom, and for an end to family detention.
Activist Tin Maung Kyi was released 13 days early on 29 March 2019 after serving six months and two days in prison. He was imprisoned for staging a solo protest calling on the international community to arrest senior Myanmar generals.
On 26 March 2019, Egyptian activist Islam Khalil was released on probation after more than a year in arbitrary detention. A judge in the terrorism circuit of the Cairo Criminal Court had ordered his release on 19 February. Instead of releasing Islam, the authorities held him incommunicado since 25 February, refusing to inform his family of his whereabouts. Despite his release, Islam is still facing bogus charges and must spend two hours at a police station twice a week as per his probation terms.
The International Women’s Day rally organised by human rights defender Vitalina Koval in Uzhgorod, western Ukraine, on 8 March was a success. Participants were well protected by the police and able to exercise their rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly safely.
On 28 February, Mexican Congress approved a controversial Constitutional amendment to introduce a “National Guard” in Mexico. The bill originally proposed was substantially changed after heavy criticism by human rights defenders and activists. The approved bill does not contain the most concerning provisions of the proposal and, if correctly implemented, could be a first step in the orderly withdrawal of the military from security tasks.
On 26 February 2019, Egypt’s Supreme Military Court of Appeals formally accepted an appeal on the two death sentences of Ahmad Amin Ghazali (pictured below) and Abdul Basir Abdul Rauf. The judge commuted their death sentences to life imprisonment, almost a year after a judge in the same court had upheld their death sentences, in a case marred by torture and enforced disappearances.
Abdirahman Ibrahim Adan, a poet in Somaliland, was released on 25 February. He had been arrested and detained on 12 January after reciting a poem the previous day in which he called on the Somaliland government to reform its prisons and criminal justice system.
On 28 February 2019, Palestinian lawmaker and prominent political figure Khalida Jarrar was released from HaSharon prison in central Israel. She had spent 20 months in administrative detention without charge or trial.
Opposition leader Sharofiddin Gadoev returned safely to the Netherlands on 2 March. He had been held by the Tajik authorities following his arbitrary arrest in Moscow on 14 February and forcible return to Tajikistan.
Azerbaijani prominent blogger Mehman Huseynov was released on 2 March following two years of unjust imprisonment on trumped-up charges.
On 12 February 2019, Jordanian journalist and poet, Tayseer Salman al-Najjar was released from al-Wathba prison in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The UAE authorities waived the fine imposed on him and he was flown back to Jordan on the same day. A prisoner of conscience, Tayseer had been due for release on 13 December 2018, having served his three-year prison sentence, but as his family could not pay the fine imposed by the court, his detention was extended