Posts Tagged ‘Egypt’


Latest Death Penalty report

The latest death penalty report for June/July is available thanks to group member Lesley for the hard work in compiling it.

Death Penalty report


If you would like to join the local group – because for example you have strong convictions against the use of the death penalty – you would be most welcome.  Or you can just write using one of the urgent actions in the report above.

China is the world’s leading executioner.

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Reggie Clemons (picture Amnesty USA)


The following piece was published in the Salisbury Journal (8 December 2016)

Each year thousands of people in the UK write letters or send cards in solidarity with those suffering humans rights abuses around the world pas part off Amnesty’s Write for Rights campaign.

As a result, people have been freed after having been unfairly imprisoned, human rights defender who have been threatened and harassed by authorities have been able to live freely without intimidation and forced evictions have been halted.

Sending a message of support to those whose rights are being abused and also to the authorities on that person’s behalf is powerful.  Imagine drowning in thousands of letters of encouragement and solidarity – in fact, imaging the officials who will see and deliver thousands of cards to the victims and their families.  The effect on both is priceless.  It shows the authorities that that individual is not alone and that all over the world thousands of people are standing up for them.

People featured this year include:

  • Fomoseh Ivo Feh a young man in Cameroon who faces 20 years in prison for forwarding a sarcastic text message
  • a photojournalist from Egypt, named Shawkan who was beaten, arrested and then held without trial following a demonstration in Cairo
  • a British-Iranian charity worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe who was arrested in April at Tehran

    Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe. Picture: Iran Human Rights

    airport as she was about to board a return flight to London with her 22 month old daughter.

Salisbury Methodist Church is hosting a Write for Rights event from January 4th to 15th and people are invited to see the exhibition and send a message of support.  The church will be open from 10 am to noon.

We hope local readers will be able to support this initiative and come along at some time on those 2 days and sign something.


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The latest death penalty report is now available thanks to group member Lesley for compiling it.  Generally gloomy with several countries around the world reverting – or threatening to revert to – the penalty.

Death penalty report (Word)

No to the death penalty


Secretive Security and Policing Exhibition this week

This week, in Farnborough, the secretive Security and Policing Exhibition takes place behind closed doors.  On the face of it, the event, organised by the Home Office, is innocent enough.  It brings together firms providing security equipment with police and other security personnel who might have an interest in purchasing it.   The UK has a high-profile in this industry.

The first puzzle however, is why the taxpayer is funding this exhibition?  The current government is extremely keen on the private sector and in promoting free enterprise.  It has a distaste for the public sector and seeks every opportunity to outsource or privatise services previously provided by them.  So why, may one ask, is the Home Office organising and sponsoring this event?  Surely since these are profit-making enterprises – some hugely so – can they not organise their own event without subsidy from the taxpayer?

But the bigger concern is the use some of this equipment is put to and the customers being invited to the exhibition.  The list of countries include many well-known abusers of human rights and include Brunei; Indonesia, Saudi Arabia; Bahrain, Egypt, Israel and UAE.  The equipment being sold is likely to be used to violently and brutally repress individuals or groups of protestors who may be carrying out perfectly lawful demonstrations.  Once arrested, many will be tortured, mistreated and in some cases ‘disappeared.’  The UK will be complicit in this activity.

There is clearly some sensitivity around this exhibition – which as we’ve noted, is not open to the public – and its website says:

Established as one of the most important events in the security calendar, this unique event is aimed at police, law enforcement and offender management professionals who are tasked with security, civil protection and national resilience.
Security & Policing enables those with operational needs to meet companies with the relevant solutions. Exhibitors get the opportunity to display products that would be too sensitive to show in a more open environment. Visitors get to see the very latest products, services and technologies available – all within a secure environment. (emphasis added)

Reading some of the exhibitors’ websites is quite chilling with descriptions of real-time interception, harvesting millions of communications a minute and access to the ‘dark web.’  Clearly, if the public were to see some of the equipment it would be alarming so making the exhibition closed gets over that.

In addition to the Home Office, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills will be attendance to show the delegates round and make them welcome.  John Glen MP is PPS to the Minister and will no doubt be taking part.  We look forward to his piece in the Salisbury Journal telling us about this.  UPDATE 17 March – no mention in the Salisbury Journal (17th March) so perhaps he didn’t attend.

We have previously commented on Britain’s role is supplying weapons and service personnel in various countries and in particular Yemen, where civilians and hospitals are being bombed using our equipment.  In addition to selling weapons, we sell repressive regimes the means to crack down on their citizens and we seem to be quite proud to do so as well.  Claims by the Prime Minister, other ministers and Mr Glen to be promoting human rights seem quite hollow in the light of these activities.


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Lobbying and business influence in government at a high level.  MPs receive millions for lobbying

We have frequently drawn attention to the issue of corporate influence on our political process and in particular, the role of oil and arms companies.  We have recently seen three leaders from China, Egypt and India, visit the UK and be given the red carpet treatment.  Each has – to put it mildly – a poor human rights record.

In the case of China it includes the use of torture, shutting down the freedom of speech and more executions than the rest of the world put together.  Egypt has been involved in mass arrests and torture and President Modi of India has a dubious record in terms of the treatment of Muslims.

It seems as though the ‘prosperity agenda’ is eclipsing all else and the only thing that matters seemingly, is the pursuit of business and contracts.  No one is arguing for boycotts but that the issue of human rights be brought up in discussion with these leaders.

A factor in this is the role of lobbyists and a recent analysis by Transparency International is worrying and should receive wider coverage.

Analysing the new UK Register of Lobbyists and data from Parliamentary registers of interests, their new research has found:

  • Less than 4% of lobbyists are covered by the Government’s new lobbying register – almost all lobbyists are completely unaccountable.
  • 8/10 of the most frequent lobbyists are from FTSE 100 companies – lobbying is dominated by the corporate world.
  • £3.4 million paid to 73 MP’s last year for external advisory roles – a significant risk of conflicts of interest.
  • Payments for Parliamentary advice is still allowed in the House of Commons, but prohibited in the House of Lords, Scotland and Wales – a major loophole in the rules (TI’s emphasis)

The findings come after detailed analysis of research across Westminster, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.  The report can be read on their web site or can be accessed here[There is also a permanent link to their site at the bottom of our page under ‘Links‘]

With such a high level of corporate lobbying and with the substantial level of fees MPs are earning, it is perhaps not surprising that business interests get such a high profile and human rights issues so low.

It appears from the report that the situation has got worse under the new government.  There were some publications of meetings with lobbyists concerning the previous year but that now seems to have stopped.  Most of the lobbying it seems is around domestic matters for example, firms trying to get a slice of the health service.

Business is important and of course companies should be free to lobby.  But it should be transparent and registered.  More importantly, business interests should not trump all else.  The government is not after all some kind of selling operation for FTSE 100 companies.

UPDATE: 16 NOVEMBER

It’s not about human rights but as if to illustrate the point, it’s just been reported the ex Health Minister, Lord Lansley, is to take up posts with firms hoping to profit from the NHS. 

Andrew Lansley and the revolving door


We attach our latest report into the use of the death penalty around the world thanks to group member Lesley for compiling it.

November

Correction: the Death Penalty Vigil took place on 17 October and not November as stated in the report

No to the death penalty


No to the death penaltyThe death penalty report for September is now available thanks to Lesley for compiling it.  Links to other blog posts and in particular the continuing correspondence with John Glen MP concerning the government’s policy change on the death penalty.

Death penalty report, September

Report on possible reductions in the use of the death penalty by India and China.  This is to be welcomed although we cannot verify the situation in the latter country because the numbers executed are a state secret.


No to the death penaltyThe monthly report on the state of the death penalty around the world is attached – thanks to Lesley.

July death penalty report (pdf)


No to the death penaltyAttached is the #Deathpenalty report for June prepared for the group by Lesley.  It reports on the increasing tide of executions in #Pakistan.  We note again that China doesn’t feature because, although they lead the world in the number of executions, it is a state secret.

Death penalty report

NB: the date given in the report for the World Day Against the Death Penalty should be 10th not 11th October.


Reading this blog can sometimes seem depressing as we highlight individuals imprisoned for their beliefs; the widespread use of torture around the world; the use of the death penalty and recently, a desire by some of our (UK) politicians to abolish the Human Rights Act.

Successes

There are successes however, some of which have been a long time in the making. After six years of legal proceedings and campaigning by Amnesty members around the world, Shell Oil have at last been made to pay for the devastation caused by oil spills in the Niger Delta.

wire tap imageOthers successes have been unprecedented. For the first time ever, the Investigatory Powers Tribunal ruled that UK secret services acted illegally in their surveillance activities.

And that’s not all. Because of you Guadalupe found justice in El Salvador. With a window of just 48 hours, we asked you to tweet El Salvador’s members of parliament calling for a pardon for Guadalupe – a young woman imprisoned after suffering a miscarriage. Every tweet counted: her pardon was granted by a majority of just one vote. Thank you. We’re continuing our work to ensure Salvadoran women are not criminalised by the total abortion ban in the country

Burma has dropped off the radar in the last couple of years and things have improved there.   But not totally and there are still prisoners of conscience. For example, long-standing prisoner of conscience Dr Tun Aung has recently secured release.

February saw two historic victories in the age-old battle for the right to privacy and free expression. The USA and UK’s past intelligence-sharing on Communications surveillance was ruled illegal and the Security Services conceded their current regime for intercepting legally privileged communications is also unlawful. These landmark rulings, in which Amnesty were co-claimants, should mean there are more significant positive changes ahead.


A great step towards justice was made in January when three journalists imprisoned in Egypt had their sentences overturned on the basis of a flawed trial. Peter Greste was allowed to return home to Australia but Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohammed are awaiting a retrial in Egypt, currently set for 22 April. Egypt must now drop all charges against them and free, not retry these prisoners of conscience.

Forced to sign a confession after being kidnapped and tortured by marines, Claudia Medina Tamariz has had the last of the charges against her dropped, and she is now a free woman.  Claudia thanked the 300,000 Amnesty members around the world who demanded justice.  We continue to call for an investigation into the torture she suffered, and for the perpetrators to be brought to justice.

A month after Claudia’s release, the Mexican president came to the UK and we delivered your Stop Torture petition signatures to him – in a giant piñata. Ahead of the visit you called on the UK representatives meeting him to raise the issue of torture. Guess what? They did. Thanks to Amnesty supporters campaigning, the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister and Secretary of State for Scotland all helped send a strong message: it’s time for Mexico to respect human rights.

So campaigning does sometimes work.