Tag Archives: Amnesty International

Nigeria ‘may clampdown on social media platforms’ over fresh protest.


Lagos State police commissioner Hakeem Odumosu said the command will resist any planned protest in the state.

The Nigerian government on Thursday warned social media platforms over their role in the October 2020 protest against police brutality tagged #EndSARS.


The government’s threat came at a time when a fresh protest against the handing over of Lekki toll gate, where Nigerian forces opened fire on unarmed protesters last October, to the Lekki Concession Company (LCC).

“The Federal Government is also keenly watching the role being played by the various social media platforms in this renewed clamour for violence in the country,” Nigeria’s information and culture minister Lai Mohammed said at a press conference in Abuja, the capital.

Mohammed accused social media platforms of encouraging the violence and destruction of properties that occurred during the #EndSARS protests in different parts of the country.


“Recall that the social media platforms that eagerly nudged on the #EndSars protesters,” Mohammed said.

Referring to the violence on United State’s Capitol by supporters of former President Donald Trump, the minister stated that “until the situation got out of hand, (social media platforms) are the same ones that quickly pulled the plug on even their own President when the chips were down in their own country.”

Many Nigerian cities, especially Lagos State where the #EndSARS protest was held, suffered a loss of lives and destruction of properties from the violence that followed the protest.

While normalcy has since returned to Lagos, members of the judicial panel set up by the government to investigate the October 2020 Lekki shooting drew the ire of the youths, when they voted 5-4 in favor of the handing over of the Lekki Toll Gate to LCC.


Similar to the beginning of the nationwide #EndSARS protest, another protest tagged #OccupyLekkiTollGate is gathering momentum in Lagos – from social media.

A counter-protest is also in the offing. Both are scheduled for Saturday, But the Nigerian government said it will resist any form of violent protest.


“No government anywhere will allow a repeat of the kind of destruction, killing and maiming wrought by the hijackers of EndSars protests last year,” Mohammed said.

The information minister stated that sponsors of the fresh protest are members of the diaspora and described the protesters in Nigeria as “gullible people.”

Nigeria President Muhammadu Buhari shared Mohammed’s sentiment that social media and members of the diaspora community incited young people against the government.


Buhari said there was a deliberated “spreading of deliberate falsehood and misinformation through the social media in particular, that this government is oblivious to the pains and plight of its citizens is a ploy to mislead the unwary within and outside Nigeria into unfair judgement and disruptive behaviour.”

Days before Buhari’s speech, Nigerian security forces were at the Lekki Toll Plaza and shot live rounds at unarmed protesters. The army initially denied the involvement of its personnel at the protest scene. Six days later, the army said it was invited to the scene by the Lagos State Government but denied shooting at protesters.

Amnesty International said on October 21 that at least 12 persons were killed at Alausa and Lekki. Both locations are in Lagos – also scheduled to host the #OccupyLekkiTollGate protest on Saturday, February 13.

Although, Mohammed said the government is aware that it is the constitutional right of citizens to protest but it would not tolerate violence under the guise of any form of protest.


“Security agents are ready for any eventuality,” Mohammed said.

Lagos State police commissioner Hakeem Odumosu said the command will resist any planned protest in the state.



CNG ‘smile in support of’ Amnesty over bandits.


Federal Government appears to be creating and fanning the present chaotic situation to cover its serial misgovernance and pervasive institutional and structural corruption.

Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG) has urged the Federal Government to support Sheikh Ahmed Gumi’s initiative by granting amnesty to bandits terrorising the region.


Spokesperson of the coalition, AbdulAzeez Suleiman, in a statement yesterday, called on Fulani herdsmen living in the southern part of the country to relocate if their safety could not be guaranteed in their host communities.

According to the group, the re-orientation and re-integration of bandits, who embrace peace, is critical to ending the insecurity in the North.

It berated the Kaduna State Governor, Nasir el-Rufai, for his stance against negotiating with bandits, saying the governor’s tactics would only further bloodshed in the region.

The group said: “We emphatically repudiate the stance of the Northern State Governors Forum (NSGF) against open grazing without first identifying suitable lands and creating grazing reserves and cattle routes after four years of lying about resettling the pastoralists through vague initiatives that never materialised.


“We call on the Nigerian public to note that rather than working to ensure a united, secure Nigeria, the Federal Government appears to be creating and fanning the present chaotic situation to cover its serial misgovernance and pervasive institutional and structural corruption.

“In this regard, we support and encourage the efforts of the Katsina, Zamfara, Sokoto, Kebbi and other reasonable state governments that prefer dialogue to the hardcore counter-productive use of force for further bloodshed preferred by El-Rufai and his ilk.”



Thousands of France Protesters ‘unlawfully detained’ – AI.


The legislation, since scrapped, would have restricted publication with so-called malicious intent of photos of on-duty police officers, a move condemned as a curb on press freedom.

A slate of detentions carried out on December 12 during a Paris protest by tens of thousands of people against France’s controversial security bill were “arbitrary”, Amnesty International France said Monday.

Out of 142 people who were arrested, including 124 who were taken into custody, “nearly 80 percent faced no charges in the end”, a study by the French branch of the rights watchdog concluded.

A similar proportion of detainees to charges laid was seen in the “yellow vest” movement that peaked in late 2018 and early 2019, according to Paris prosecutor Remy Heitz.


AIF, which joined an umbrella group opposed to the security bill, said it had “legitimate concerns over the possibility that there were arbitrary arrests and other violations of human rights”.

The legislation, since scrapped, would have restricted publication with so-called malicious intent of photos of on-duty police officers, a move condemned as a curb on press freedom.

AIF’s Anne-Sophie Simpere, the report’s author, told AFP the December 12 protest march in central Paris did not see “notable violence”, adding: “Nothing seems to justify what happened in terms of arrests or charges.”

The report focused on police questioning, medical certificates and judicial documents in 35 cases of people who were held but not charged. Two were held for nearly five hours, while the other 33 were held overnight.


A heavy police contingent preceded the marchers and flanked them on both sides, preventing any of them from leaving the protest, AFP journalists reported at the time.

‘Vague laws’
On the basis of witness testimony and video footage, Amnesty said arrests were not preceded by “audible warnings” and at moments when no “significant disorder” was noted in the march.


Alexis Baudelin, a lawyer who was taken into custody, told AFP: “I was surprised by the strategy… At each intersection, the security forces charged on non-violent demonstrators without reason or warning.”

Protesters gather for a demonstration after French medical experts exonerated the gendarmes involved in the arrest of Adama Traore, a young black man who died in police custody in 2016, outside the “Tribunal de Paris” courthouse in Paris on June 2, 2020. – The Adama traore case sparked violent protests in the Paris suburbs and became a rallying cry for police brutality in France, which young, black men say is often targeted at them. The police chief of Paris defended his forces on June 2 against accusations of brutality and racism as anger over alleged police violence mounts in France as in the United States. French medical experts on June 29 exonerated the three gendarmes, dismissing a medical report commissioned by the young man’s family that said he had died of asphyxiation. (Photo by STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN / AFP)

The offensive tactic was aimed at preventing the formation of “Black Bloc” anarchist groups after two consecutive weekends of violent demos in Paris, the police said later.

Amnesty also pointed to “detentions based on vague laws”, notably one against “taking part in a group with the aim of planning violence”, cited in 25 of the cases studied.


In only two of the cases studied had the detainees been carrying objects that could justify suspicions of violent intent.

“It’s a catch-all offence,” Simpere said. “You punish an act before it is committed.”

Such lack of precision can “unduly infringe on human rights”, the report said.

Lara Bellini, whose 16-year-old son was held for 20 hours before being released without charge, told AFP: “They (the police) told me he belonged to a malicious band. It was incomprehensible… My son is an activist, but he is in no way a violent person.”


In five of the cases, police used a March 2019 law to slap a ban on appearing in Paris for up to six months.

The ban amounts to “punishment without trial” without even the possibility of appeal, Amnesty said, calling on parliament to scrap the legislation.



Amnesty says Malta using illegal tactics to pushback migrants from Libya


Amnesty report says Malta arranged ‘unlawful pushbacks to Libya’ and diverted migrant boats to Italy.

An Amnesty International report has blamed Malta for using “ever more despicable and illegal tactics” to turn away migrants and refugees from North Africa.

In its report released on Tuesday, Amnesty said Malta has arranged “unlawful pushbacks to Libya”, diverted migrants boats to Italy and illegally detained “hundreds of people on ill-equipped” offshore quarantine ferries.

The rights group also criticised Maltese authorities for signing a new agreement with Libya to stop migrants and refugees leaving the conflict-ridden country.

“Malta is stooping to ever more despicable and illegal tactics to shirk their responsibilities to people in need,” Amnesty researcher Elisa De Pieri said.


“Shamefully, the EU and Italy have normalised cooperation with Libya on border control, but sending people back to danger in Libya is anything but normal.”

It also said in the report “some of the actions taken by the Maltese authorities may have involved criminal acts being committed, resulting in avoidable deaths, prolonged arbitrary detention, and illegal returns to war-torn Libya”.

“The authorities also used the COVID-19 pandemic as a pretext to declare that Malta was not a safe place to disembark – to discourage people from seeking safety and a decent life in Europe.”


Amnesty recalled that 27 people rescued by Danish tanker Maersk Etienne on August 4 are still at sea as no disembarkation has been offered to them.

On Monday, three international organisations called on Mediterranean countries to take in the migrants, saying their situation was becoming dire.

Maltese Prime Minister Robert Abela has said his country is not responsible for them. However, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), International Organization for Migration (IOM) and International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) accused governments of breaking international law by refusing to allow the migrants to leave the ship.

“International law and maritime conventions place clear obligations on ships and coastal States to ensure people in distress are rescued and promptly disembarked in a place of safety,” the three organisations said.


“The Maersk Etienne fulfilled its responsibilities, but now finds itself in a diplomatic game of pass the parcel.”

In May, Malta’s Foreign Minister Evarist Bartolo said the country’s migration centres were holding twice the number of people they were designed for, and Malta was at the mercy of people smugglers.

Malta has taken in 2,162 sea migrants between January and August compared with 3,405 over the whole of 2019, according to IOM [File: Anne Chaon/AFP]

“We want to protect the rights of people seeking protection, but we can only do so much. We are being left alone. Words of sympathy are not enough; we need practical help,” he said referring to the EU.

Malta is the EU’s smallest member state. According to the IOM, it has taken in 2,162 migrants from the sea between January 1 and August 20, compared with 3,405 in 2019.


Malta and Italy have long said they are disproportionately affected by Europe-bound sea migration from North Africa, and that there is insufficient burden-sharing across the European Union.

The positions of both Valletta and Rome hardened in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, amid concerns migrants could have turned into virus spreaders.

Human rights groups have repeatedly warned that migrants stuck in Libya, or forcibly returned there, are exposed to torture, exploitation and abuse.

According to Amnesty, “7,256 people were ‘pulled back’ to Libya by the EU-supported Libyan Coast Guard” between January and August 27, often with the help of Frontex and other EU operations


2019 protests: Amnesty int. accuses Iran of widespread torture.


Iranian forces committed serious human rights violations against the demonstrators, says new report by rights group.

Rights group Amnesty International has accused Iran of using torture to extract confessions, saying hundreds of people have been jailed since a sweeping crackdown against protests last year.

Demonstrations erupted across Iran in November 2019 after a significant petrol price rise, but they were put down by the Iranian security forces with mass arrests amid a near-total internet blackout.

Amnesty said it had gathered dozens of testimonies from the 7,000 people it estimated were arrested, which included children as young as 10. Additionally, video recordings, court documents and statements by the authorities were also evaluated.

The accounts reveal “a catalogue of shocking human rights violations, including arbitrary detention, enforced disappearance, torture and other ill-treatment”, the London-based human rights group said on Tuesday.


Those arrested were tortured into “confessions” of involvement in the protests, membership of opposition groups or contact with foreign governments and media, it added.

Diana Eltahawy, Amnesty International’s Middle East Deputy Director, said the “crimes and violations” were accompanied by a wave of “forced televised confessions in state propaganda videos”.

The rights group also said it recorded the names of more than 500 people “subjected to unfair criminal proceedings”.


Prison sentences ranged from one month to 10 years, the report added.

Torture techniques included waterboarding, beating, electric shocks, pepper-spraying genitals, sexual violence, mock executions and pulling out finger and toe nails, Amnesty reported.

Amnesty said it gathered testimonies from 7,000 people it estimated were arrested in November 2019 following protests over a significant petrol price rise [File: Alaa al-Marjani/Reuters]

“It felt like my entire body was being pierced with millions of needles,” one man allegedly tortured with electricity told Amnesty.

Another man said he was suspended from his hands and feet from a pole – a method reportedly called “chicken kebab” by his interrogators – the report read.


In May, Iran’s interior minister suggested that up to 230 people were killed during the November protests, when petrol pumps were torched, police stations attacked and shops looted.

A group of independent United Nations rights experts said in December that more than 400 people could have been killed in the crackdown, based on unconfirmed reports.

Iran accused “thugs” backed by the United States, Israel and Saudi Arabia for the unrest, which it described as the work of a “very dangerous conspiracy”.

The country’s economy has been choked by crippling sanctions reimposed by the US in 2018, three years after Washington unilaterally pulled out of a landmark nuclear deal signed between Tehran and world powers.