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.
All detainees held at the police’s anti-terrorism branch in Urfa province, south eastern Turkey, following clashes between security forces and the armed PKK on 18 May, have been either released or sent to prison custody. The 13 people that were remanded in prison are no longer considered to be at risk of torture or other ill-treatment.
On 5 April 2019, human rights defender Zine El Abidine Erradi was released after serving a one-year sentence in Agadir local prison, following an unfair trial. Zine El Abidine holds a refugee status in France and had been arrested upon his arrival in Morocco to visit his father. As of 15 May, he could eventually come back in safety in France after receiving his travel documents.
Asia Bibi is a Christian farm worker, who was sentenced to death for blasphemy in 2010. After an eight-year ordeal, Pakistan’s Supreme Court acquitted her of all charges and released her in October 2018. Following the decision by the Supreme Court to uphold her acquittal on 29 January 2019, it was confirmed by the Pakistani Foreign Office on 9 May that she had left Pakistan and safely arrived in Canada to be reunited with her family.
On 7 March 2019, Algerian blogger and prisoner of conscience Merzoug Touati was released. On 4 March 2019, an Algerian court issued a new verdict reducing Marzoug Touati’s sentence from seven to two years in prison and three years of suspended prison term. The decision prompted his release as he had already served two years in prison. Amnesty International has been calling for Merzoug Touati’s immediate and unconditional release, as he was a prisoner of conscience solely detained for his peaceful posts online.
Two Reuters journalists, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, have been granted a presidential pardon and released from prison after serving more than 500 days of their seven year sentences in Myanmar. This is an important victory for press freedom in Myanmar and beyond, which Amnesty International is proud to have contributed to.
Azerbaijani activist Bayram Mammadov was released on 29 April after having spent 30 days in administrative detention under trumped-up accusations.
Prisoner of conscience Mikhail Tsakunov was released under travel restrictions on 26 April after spending almost a year in pre-trial detention. He was arrested in May 2018 and charged with violence against a police officer for his peaceful participation in an opposition rally. The criminal proceedings against him are ongoing and he is still facing up to five years in prison if convicted.
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.