August 15th, 2012

UN hails Australian court decision against ‘desperate’ tobacco industry

Posted on 15 Aug 2012 at 2:48pm

The United Nations health agency today applauded the decision by Australia’s High Court to dismiss a legal challenge from the tobacco industry targeting the country’s new restrictive tobacco marketing laws.

In a statement strongly welcoming what she called a “landmark” ruling, World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Margaret Chan called on other countries to follow Australia’s example and adopt an equally tough stance on tobacco marketing.

Australia is now on track to becoming the first country to prohibit branding on packs of cigarettes, requiring instead drab, olive-green packaging, through a law which will come into effect as soon as December 2012.

“With Australia’s…

Syrian Government and opposition forces responsible for war crimes – UN panel

Posted on 15 Aug 2012 at 2:34pm

Syrian Government and opposition forces have perpetrated war crimes and crimes against humanity, according to a new report by the United Nations independent panel probing abuses committed during the country’s ongoing conflict.

Issued today and produced by the UN Independent International Commission of Inquiry (CoI) on Syria under a mandate from the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council, the report states that war crimes, including murder, extrajudicial killings and torture, and gross violations of international human rights, including unlawful killing, attacks against civilians and acts of sexual violence, have been committed in line with State policy, with indications of the involvement at the highest levels of the Government, as well as…

Colombia: Indigenous leader killed amid ongoing fighting in Cauca

Posted on 15 Aug 2012 at 2:31pm

The Colombian authorities must do more to protect civilians increasingly caught up in the ongoing armed conflict in Colombia, Amnesty International said today after an Indigenous leader was killed in Cauca, south-western Colombia, at the weekend.

Lisandro Tenorio, a traditional healer and spiritual leader for the Nasa Indigenous People, was shot dead by gunmen believed to be from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), outside his home in the López Adentro reservation (resguardo) in Cauca’s Caloto municipality on Sunday afternoon.

The killing follows weeks of heavy fighting in several nearby communities between Colombian security forces and the FARC, which has resulted in the death of several civilians, with…

Hungary must protect Roma communities from attack

Posted on 15 Aug 2012 at 2:29pm

The Hungarian authorities must do more to protect the country’s Roma communities, Amnesty International said in a letter to the government today, after reports that far-right groups attacked Roma residents in the western village of Devecser.

Violence broke out on 5 August, when more than 1,000 people gathered in Devecser’s main square at a demonstration organized by far-right party Jobbik and joined by far-right vigilante groups.

According to eyewitnesses some members of the crowd chanted anti-Roma slogans and threw pieces of concrete and other missiles at Roma houses. The police did not act to stop the violence and it is unclear whether any arrests were made.

“The Hungarian authorities are obliged…

Yemen: Two years on, journalist still behind bars after alleging US cluster bomb use

Posted on 15 Aug 2012 at 2:26pm

The Yemeni authorities must set aside the conviction of a journalist imprisoned after he alleged US involvement in fatal air strikes in the country – including the use of cluster bombs – and release him, Amnesty International said today.

Thursday marks two years since Abdul Ilah Haydar Shayi’, an investigative journalist specializing in counter-terrorism affairs, was arrested at his home in the Yemeni capital Sana’a, on charges of links to al-Qa’ida. He has been behind bars ever since.

On 18 January 2011, he was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment. On 1 February 2011, former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh issued an order to free him, but it was not carried…

Syria: Fighter Planes Strike Aleppo Hospital

Posted on 15 Aug 2012 at 2:21pm

Government Rocket Attacks Over Two Days Kill Four Civilians, Wound Five

(Aleppo) – Syrian government fighter planes fired rockets that struck the main emergency hospital in an opposition-controlled area of Aleppo on August 14, 2012, wounding two civilians and causing significant damage, Human Rights Watch said today after visiting the damaged hospital.

A rocket attack by government aircraft on the hospital two days earlier, on August 12, apparently killed four civilians and wounded three, Human Rights Watch said.

“Fighter jet attacks on a hospital twice in three days indicate that this was no accident,” said Ole Solvang, emergencies researcher at Human Rights Watch. “By firing rockets at a clearly marked hospital, the…

Kazakhstan: Ensure Fair Trial for Opposition Activists, Oil Worker

Posted on 15 Aug 2012 at 2:16pm

Keep Trial Public, Ensure Due Process Rights

(Moscow) –­ Kazakhstan authorities have an obligation to ensure that the trial of two political opposition activists and an oil worker, starting on August 16, 2012, is fair and public and that the defendants’ due process rights are fully respected, Human Rights Watch said today.

Vladimir Kozlov, leader of the unregistered opposition party Alga!; Serik Sapargaly, a member of the People’s Front opposition movement; and Akzhanat Aminov, an oil worker from Zhanaozen who was convicted in August 2011 for leading an illegal strike over the phone, face charges of “inciting social discord.” The charges stem from the men’s alleged involvement in violent clashes on…

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