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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.
Darvinson Rojas, Venezuelan journalist and prisoner of conscience for reporting on COVID-19, was conditionally released on 2 April 2020. After spending 12 days arbitrarily detained, Darvinson was charged with ‘advocacy of hatred’ and ‘instigation to commit crimes’ and released on bail pending a criminal investigation. Amnesty International considers these charges to be politically motivated and an attempt to silence his reporting on the pandemic in Venezuela, and we demand the case against him be closed.
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. However, even as provincial high courts issued directives to release vulnerable, under-trial and elderly prisoners, the Supreme Court of Pakistan suspended all bail orders. Prisons in Pakistan face massive overcrowding (jails in Pakistan have a capacity of 57,742 but currently house 77,275 inmates), 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.
On 24 March 2020, leader of the opposition Algerian political party, Union Démocratique et Sociale (UDS), Karim Tabbou was sentenced to one year in prison and a fine of 50,000 Algerian dinars (around 405 USD) for trumped up charges of “incitement to violence” and “harming national security” in relation to a speech he gave, in a video published on the political party’s Facebook page, where he peacefully criticized the role of the army in politics. Tabbou has been held in prolonged solitary confinement since his arrest in September 2019.
On 8 March 2020, 81-year-old Palestinian national Dr. Mohammed al-Khudari and his son Dr. Hani al-Khudari (48 years old) were brought before the Specialized Criminal Court (SCC), Saudi Arabia’s counter-terror court, in a mass trial on trumped-up charges under the counter-terror law. They have no legal representation. Dr. Mohammed al-Khudari requires adequate medical attention and treatment for cancer.
Alain Lobognon, a member of parliament of Cote d’Ivoire and founding member of the political party Generations and People in Solidarity (GPS), is being detained in Agboville Prison, in south-eastern Cote d’Ivoire. He was arrested in the capital, Abidjan, on 24 December 2019, and charged with ‘publishing false news, undermining public order and the authority of the state’. He is in need of medical attention.
Nikolai Makhalichev was detained on 21 February in Haradok, northeast Belarus, and is now at imminent risk of extradition to Russia. As a Jehovah’s Witness, he is facing unfounded charges of “extremism” in Russia, and years in prison if convicted. He will also be at risk of torture and unfair trial. Nikolai Makhalichev should be immediately released and granted international protection.
Azerbaijani human rights defender Elchin Mammad was arrested on 30 March and has been detained since under trumped up charges, after publishing a critical report on the human rights situation in Azerbaijan. Elchin Mammad should be released immediately and unconditionally.
Domoina Ranabosoa has been held in inhumane conditions in pre-trial detention in Antanimora prison, Madagascar, since 10 March. She is charged with ‘corruption of minors under the age of 21’, accused of having a same-sex relationship with her girlfriend, a 19-year old woman. Since her incarceration, Domoina Ranabosoa’s physical and mental health have deteriorated. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, she is not allowed to receive visits from her lawyer or visitors, and her trial date has been postponed to an undetermined date.
A new case filed under the draconian Digital Security Act against Bangladeshi newspaper editor Shafiqul Islam Kajol, three hours after CCTV footage shows his last known whereabouts raises further fears of an enforced disappearance. Bangladesh authorities must launch an urgent investigation to determine his fate and whereabouts, release him if he is in their custody and drop all cases against him.
Vladislav Sharkovsky and Emil Ostrovko were imprisoned in 2018, both at the age of 17, for a minor, non-violent drug offense. Like many young people in Belarus, they should not be in prison in the first place. Their health is poor, and with the spread of COVID-19, they and many prisoners face a growing risk.