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We refuse to stand by while guns enter the wrong hands resulting in heartbreaking losses in our communities. Even if we can’t stop all gun violence, this is a common-sense step we can take to make our country safer.
Gun violence in the U.S. is a human rights crisis, resulting in the death of 38,658 in 2016 alone. Our government has clear international human rights obligations to protect people from gun violence. The first step in preventing guns from getting in dangerous hands is requiring common sense gun violence prevention measures like comprehensive background checks for the purchase of every gun.
Hundreds of children — even babies — have been reportedly held in U.S. Border Patrol facilities without a chance to bathe, brush their teeth or change their clothes for weeks. There are reports of extreme cold and inadequate food, sanitation and medical care.
Enough is enough: it is an outrage that children are being detained, especially in these appalling conditions.
The U.S. government is defying international law while heartlessly putting infants and children in harm’s way. We cannot stand by idly and ignore this crisis.
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.
Amid growing concerns over the spread of COVID-19 in Turkey’s overcrowded and unsanitary prisons, the health and lives of prisoners and staff are at increased risk. The Turkish government is preparing a draft law that will reportedly lead to the release of up to 100,000 prisoners but would exclude those who have been imprisoned unfairly under anti-terror laws simply for exercising their rights, including journalists, human rights defenders, and people in pre-trial detention.
On 17 February 2020, the Federal Supreme Court in Abu Dhabi confirmed the verdict against five Lebanese men including Abdel Rahman Talal Chouman, who was sentenced to life imprisonment, as well as Ahmed Nimr Sobeh and another man who were sentenced to 10 years in prison on “terrorism” charges. The three men had been sentenced by the Federal Appeal Court in a trial that did not meet international fair trial standards.
Journalist Svetlana Prokopyeva is facing criminal charges of “justification of terrorism”, punishable by seven years in prison, for her comment on a local radio station in Pskov, north-western Russia, made on 8 November 2018. She criticized the government and expressed her views on why youth are radicalized. The charges against Svetlana Prokopyeva stem solely from her exercise of her right to freedom of expression and should be dropped.
Samuel Ogundipe, a journalist with Premium Times, an investigative newspaper in Nigeria, is currently in hiding. He is being hounded by officials of Nigeria’s Department of State Security (DSS) for revealing a leaked memo exposing an alleged fight for control within the President’s inner circle. On 1 March, unidentified persons lurked around his home in a suspicious manner.
On 5 March 2020, prisoner of conscience, Hajer Mansoor Hassan, was released from Isa Town Detention Centre for Women in Bahrain, having served her full three-year sentence after a grossly unfair trial. Her nephew, Mahmood Marzooq Mansoor, also sentenced to prison in the same case, was released on 11 March 2020.
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.
The Iranian authorities must immediately and unconditionally release hundreds of prisoners of conscience amid grave fears over the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) in Iran’s prisons. The authorities should take measures to protect the health of all prisoners and urgently consider releasing pre-trial detainees and those who may be at particular risk of severe illness or death.
An inmate at Camp Jail, with a prison population of 3,500 people, in the provincial capital Lahore tested positive for coronavirus before being transferred to a medical facility. Prisons in Punjab face massive overcrowding, with limited hygiene supplies and insufficient access to healthcare. Forcing inmates to practice social distancing would be impossible, given the overcrowding, drastically increasing the potential for the virus to spread. Pakistani authorities must protect the health of all prisoners and should urgently consider measures to reduce the prison population. Should the government fail to act now, Pakistani prisons and detention centers could become hotspots for the transmission of coronavirus.