at 6pm, the State of Florida is scheduled to kill my brother,
Thomas Provenzano, despite clear evidence that he is mentally
ill... I have to wonder: Where is the justice in killing a sick
Sister of death row inmate,
By the end of 2005, more than
1,000 men and women had been put to death in the USA since
executions resumed in 1977. At least one in 10 of them were
suffering from mental illness.
In a report released in
January, AI listed the stories of a hundred people who had been
executed in the USA since 1977 despite clear evidence that they
were mentally ill. People like Johnny Garrett, executed in 1992 for
a murder committed when he was 17. Like many on the list, Johnny
Garrett was severely physically and sexually abused as a child,
leaving him brain damaged and chronically psychotic. He was
described by a psychiatrist as "one of the most psychiatrically
impaired inmates" she had ever examined, and by a psychologist as
having "one of the most virulent histories of abuse and neglect...
encountered in over 28 years of practice."
Many of the 100 suffered
hallucinations or delusions as a result of their mental illness,
some had serious brain damage. Yet all were judged mentally
competent and able to understand the charges against them – a
necessary prerequisite for a death sentence.
The judge who found Thomas
Provenzano competent for execution found "clear and convincing
evidence that Provenzano has a delusional belief that the real
reason he is being executed is because he is Jesus Christ." He said
that his ruling "should not be interpreted as a finding that Thomas
Provenzano is a normal human being without serious mental health
problems, because he most certainly is not."
Their very mental illness may
have played a part in their receiving the death sentence – a
punishment that is supposed to be reserved for the "worst of the
worst" crimes and offenders – either because they were unable to
aid their defence lawyers or refused legal assistance, or because
their illness or medication made them appear frightening and
remorseless to the jury.
Scott Panetti, currently on
death row, was allowed to defend himself at his trial, despite
being diagnosed as suffering from schizoaffective disorder, a
combination of schizophrenia and biopolar disorder. Scott Panetti
conducted his defence dressed as a cowboy and appeared to be
hallucinating. After the trial a doctor stated, "In my opinion
Scott’s mental illness had an effect on the jurors that was
visible… members of the jury had hostile stares and looked at Scott
in disbelief while he rambled and made no sense." One juror later
admitted that they had voted for death out of fear of Scott
Panetti’s behaviour at the trial.
The US Supreme Court has
outlawed the death penalty for people with "mental retardation"
(learning disability) as well as for children under the age of 18
when they committed the crime, on the grounds that their diminished
culpability renders the death penalty an excessive punishment when
used on offenders from these categories.
While learning disability and
mental illness are not the same, their symptoms can have similar
consequences. If people with learning disability are exempt from
the death penalty, it follows that those with serious mental
illness should be as well.
Thomas Provenzano was
executed in June 2000 after more than 20 years of mental illness.
As his sister asked, where is the justice in that?
SeeUSA: The execution of
mentally ill offenders(AMR
AI visits Syria after nine
want to thank all the people who don’t know me and yet tried to
help… I’m so impressed… it kept me strong, and kept us all
determined and stubborn."
Ex-prisoner of conscience
Fawwaz Tello talking to AI, January 2006
In January AI was allowed to
visit Syria for the first time since March 1997. Delegates met
senior government officials from the Ministries of Foreign Affairs,
Justice, Interior, Social Affairs and Labour and met with the head
of the Supreme State Security Court (SSSC), where many political
prisoners and prisoners of conscience have been sentenced following
The delegates also met
ex-prisoners of conscience who AI has supported over the years,
including five of the "Damascus Spring" detainees, who were
released during AI’s visit. Ma’mun al-Humsi, Habib ‘Isa, Riad Seif,
Fawwaz Tello and Walid al-Bunni expressed their thanks to AI for
its support and for helping expose human rights violations in
Syria. Two of the five men said they were tortured in detention.
Despite their ordeal some of them expressed their determination to
speak out in defence of human rights.
The so-called "Damascus
Spring" period followed the 2000 accession to power of President
Bashar al-Assad, who initially permitted greater freedom of speech
and released hundreds of political prisoners. But in 2001 the
authorities clamped down and at least 10 of the people who had
taken part in new discussion forums were arrested.
Despite recent releases, at
least 300 political prisoners and prisoners of conscience are still
detained. The oldest of the "Damascus Spring" detainees, Dr ‘Aref
Dalilah, aged 62, continues to serve a 10-year sentence, in poor
health and in solitary confinement. Two of those previously
released, Habib Salih and Kamal al-Labwani, were re-arrested last
year and remain imprisoned.
AI met Khaled Hamdu,
brother of prisoner of conscience Mas’oud Hamdu, a Syrian Kurdish
student. Mas’oud Hamdu was arrested after he sent Internet sites
photographs of a peaceful demonstration in June 2003 calling for
the rights of Syrian Kurdish children to be respected. He was held
in a cell measuring 1mx2m for over a year, was reportedly tortured,
and in October 2004 he was convicted by the SSSC and sentenced to
five years’ imprisonment. Seethe Wire
AI welcomes the Syrian
authorities’ cooperation but remains concerned at ongoing human
rights violations. In particular, the organization urges the
authorities to release all prisoners of conscience, to guarantee
fair trials for all and to stop the practice of torture. AI also
calls on the authorities to implement urgently the human rights
reforms which the ruling Ba’th Party Congress recommended in June
Religious persecution in
will receive no visitors and you will rot here until you sign this
The reported words of an
Eritrean military commander to Helen Berhane, a well-known gospel
singer of the Evangelical Rema Church, who has been held
incommunicado in Mai Serwa military camp since 13 May
Some 1,750 Evangelical Church
members – men, women and children – including at least 26 pastors,
three Orthodox Church priests, several Jehovah’s Witnesses refusing
military conscription, and dozens of members of a new Muslim group,
have been imprisoned in Eritrea in the last three years simply for
practising their religion. Many are held in inhumane conditions
including underground cells and metal shipping containers. The
containers are often swelteringly hot in the day and very cold at
night, with no sanitary facilities. Detainees receive very poor
food and little or no medical care.
In May 2002 the government
ordered all religions, other than the four main recognized
religions – the Orthodox, Catholic and Lutheran Churches and Islam
– to close their places of worship and stop practising their faith
until they were registered. Those minority religious groups which
did apply for registration have received no response. Many
continued to gather in private and this appeared to be tolerated by
the authorities for some months.
However, in early 2003, the
authorities began a crackdown on the 35 or more Evangelical
churches in particular. Police and soldiers broke into religious
services and weddings being held in private homes, and arrested
men, women and children, sometimes beating them. Many were detained
without court orders and held incommunicado for indefinite
For example, on 28 May 2005
police raided a wedding party of the Meseret Kristos Church in
Asmara and detained the bride and bridegroom and about 200 guests,
including gospel singer Essey Stefanos and Pastor Gideon of the
Meseret Kristos Church. The bridal couple and over half the guests
were released the following month, leaving as many as 70 people
detained in Mai Serwa army camp. Many religious detainees have been
tortured and threatened with indefinite detention unless they
signed a paper agreeing to recant their faith or not to attend
religious meetings. Typically, like many political prisoners, they
are tied up for several hours, once or repeatedly, in a position
commonly known as "helicopter"
sketch). Prisoners are also
beaten by teams of soldiers, or kept in solitary confinement in
special underground punishment
There is no law in the penal
code in Eritrea criminalizing religious practice, and detentions
have been arbitrary, with no possibility of legal redress, and in
contravention of the Constitution. No official reason has been
given for the crackdown but it reflects the government’s general
intolerance of dissent and freedom of expression, whether religious
or political. AI considers all those detained on account of their
religious beliefs to be prisoners of conscience. Several thousand
actual or suspected political opponents are also detained in
similar appalling conditions.
The government continues to
make blanket denials of the overwhelming evidence of systematic
religious persecution. In response to the publication of AI’s
Persecution(AFR 64/013/2005), in
December 2005, the Acting Minister of Information, Ali Abdu Ahmed,
was reported as saying "Who are these Amnesty International people?
We cannot run every day after such unsubstantiated fabrications."
AI continues to receive and investigate reports of human rights
violations in Eritrea, including further arrests of Evangelical
Afghanistan ‘success’ ebbing
Threat of insurgency grows as
goodwill towards US troops fades
On 1 February 2006,
representatives of the international community, including the UN,
concluded the "Afghanistan Compact", a comprehensive set of
measures intended to bolster the reconstruction of the country. The
Compact was the conclusion of a conference entitled "Building on
Yet the "success" that the
Afghan government and its international partners are striving to
build on is ebbing away. Security has by no means been restored.
There are signs that the goodwill widely felt towards US and
Coalition (US/CF) forces following the removal of the Taleban from
power is being replaced by resentment and opposition because of the
human rights violations perpetrated by US/CF forces.
During a visit to Afghanistan
in December, AI met some of the hundreds of people whom US/CF
forces had detained in mass, arbitrary arrests, following raids on
villages and towns. These raids relied on often flawed intelligence
about alleged centres of "insurgents". The soldiers’ conduct in the
raids humiliated and degraded local people, notably through their
treatment of women and the manner of their searches. Dozens of
people reported months of arbitrary detention under US custody at
Bagram airbase, held without charge, trial or access to legal
The environment of impunity
for US troops flows from the legal agreement between the Afghan and
US governments regarding the status of US forces in Afghanistan.
Under its terms "parties waive any and all claims against each
other for […] death or injury". Claims by third parties – such as
the victims of abuse – "should, at the discretion of the United
States Government, be dealt with and settled in accordance with
United States law". The discretion of the US government has meant
that US troops are, in effect, above the law, able to treat Afghans
as they wish without fear of reprisal.
Justice and restitution is
likely to elude the families of Dilawar, Habibullah and Abdulwahid.
The first two men died in US custody at Bagram in December 2002.
While over 20 servicemen were tried on various charges in
connection with the men’s deaths, none were held responsible for
their deaths. Sentences ranged from reprimands to dishonourable
discharges in connection with the "homicides" declared by the US
military autopsy. Abdulwahid was arrested by Afghan forces under US
command, two years ago. He was fatally wounded when his captors
repeatedly thrust a smouldering plastic bottle, filled with cooking
oil, into his body. His body was returned to the family by US
forces who told them, "We didn’t do it". AI is not aware of any
disciplinary or criminal action taken by the US authorities in this
Then there is Aminullah
picture). On 6 December he went to
collect water in the woods near his village in Daychopan, southern
Afghanistan. He heard gun shots and tried to run home but was shot
by US forces in the shoulder. US troops flew Aminullah and his
uncle, Mohammad Wali, to the military hospital in Kandahar where he
underwent an operation and was discharged. A US official gave them
US$ 100. They had to make their own way home, some 60km away. "God
knows that what they gave us is not enough," Mohammad Wali told AI.
Yet, in view of the legal status of the US forces, the family
cannot hope for more than this, either in compensation or
AI believes that this is not
the only case in which US forces have resorted to excessive and
occasionally lethal force in a climate of impunity.
In March AI will publish its
findings and recommendations from the December visit to
‘Better not to call the
police; things only get worse’
Police of the Russian
Federation are failing to protect women from domestic
Liliana was staying in a
workers’ hostel just 200 metres from a police station when her
former partner stole a key to her bedroom, entered the room and
tried to rape her. Liliana and her neighbours called the police 16
times that night, but they failed to come to her aid.
Anna’s husband poured
inflammable liquid on her and tried to set her alight. The police
told her they could not do anything because "he had not committed a
Galina was attacked by her
husband in front of a police officer – her husband’s friend. His
only response was to tell his friend not to attack her with a
hammer because "men use their fists".
Every hour of every day, a
woman in the Russian Federation dies at the hands of a relative,
partner or former partner. Most will have already endured years of
violent abuse before their death. Many will have suffered in
silence, knowing that the police would be unwilling, or unable to
"Many more women would turn
to the authorities if they would really help us," Liliana told
The Russian Federation has no
specific law on domestic violence. In Moscow, a city of 10 million,
there is not one shelter for victims of violence against women.
Without shelters, restraining orders or adequate support from the
police, it is almost impossible for women to escape from a violent
relationship or prevent the violence continuing.
The size of the problem
cannot be overestimated. A 2003 survey of married women in the
Russian Federation found that 70 per cent had suffered some form of
violence – physical, sexual or mental – from their
Police officers interviewed
by AI admitted that domestic violence is given low priority by the
force. Even when perpetrators are detained, they are rarely held
for more than three hours, even if this means they are detained and
released several times during one night. Often the police do no
more than "talk to him man to man" as one officer put it. Their
victims, meanwhile, are discouraged from pursuing justice, and even
blamed for the violence.
Most of the police officers
interviewed felt that a law on family violence was needed as they
were lacking the tools to deal with this crime. Yet in 2003, the
Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs claimed in a letter to AI UK
that the Russian parliament, and a large part of the population,
would consider a law on violence in the family as an interference
in private family matters. In such a climate, it is hardly
surprising that men feel that they can attack their wives or
partners with impunity.
As he beat her head against a
wall in front of his police officer friend, Galina’s husband told
her, "If I kill you I won’t get punished." She tried to take him to
court but he fled the city and proceedings against him were
dropped. Like so many other perpetrators of violence against women
in the Russian Federation, he escaped justice.
Nowhere to turn – violence against women in the
Human rights defenders
Seven Sahrawi human rights
defenders were sentenced to prison terms of between seven months
and two years in December 2005.
Aminatou Haidar, Ali-Salem
Tamek, Mohamed El-Moutaouakil, Houssein Lidri, Brahim Noumria,
Larbi Messaoud and H’mad Hammad were convicted on various charges
relating to demonstrations in the town of Laayoune in May
Aminatou Haidar was released
in January 2006 at the end of her sentence. At an appeal trial in
January2006, Ali-Salem Tamek’s sentence was increased from eight to
10 months’ imprisonment; the remaining five had their sentences
confirmed. An eighth human rights defender, Brahim Dahane (above),
is facing similar charges and is expected to be brought to trial
shortly. AI believes they may be prisoners of
Since May 2005 Moroccan
security forces have used heavy-handed methods to break up
demonstrations calling for Western Sahara to be granted
independence from Morocco, which has ruled it since 1975. Human
rights defenders have been harassed and intimidated by the security
forces and have reported human rights violations against
demonstrators, including one death in suspicious circumstances in
October 2005. All eight human rights defenders have been involved
in collecting and disseminating information about human rights
violations committed by Moroccan forces against Sahrawi protesters
in the recent demonstrations.
AI has serious concerns about
the fairness of the trials. The convictions were reportedly based
on written confessions of guilt which the defendants said that they
either never made or made only as a result of torture or
ill-treatment in detention. The court failed to examine the
defendants’ claims of torture. None of the defendants were allowed
to call witnesses in their own defence. The right of the accused to
call and question witnesses is a cornerstone of the right of
defence in a fair trial.
For more information
Sahara: Sahrawi human rights defenders under
Sahara: Human rights defenders jailed after questionable
Please write, calling for the
immediate release of Ali-Salem Tamek, Mohamed El-Moutaouakil,
Houssein Lidri, Brahim Noumria, Larbi Messaoud, H’mad Hammad and
Brahim Dahane, unless they are promptly retried in full conformity
with international fair trial standards.
Send appeals to: His
Excellency Driss Jettou, Prime Minister, Département du Premier
Ministre, Palais Royal, Touarga, Rabat, Morocco.
Fax: +212 37 76 99
Longest-serving prisoner of
On 12 March, U Win Tin will
spend his 76th birthday in jail. A journalist, former editor and
senior opposition party official, he has been imprisoned since
1989. AI believes him to be Myanmar’s longest-serving prisoner of
conscience. U Win Tin was arrested because of his senior position
in the main opposition party, National League for Democracy (NLD).
The NLD won 82 per cent of seats in the general election in 1990
but the authorities refused to hand over power.
U Win Tin has spent one fifth
of his life in jail for his peaceful opposition to the ruling
military authorities and for his defence of human rights and
freedom of expression. Detained since 1989, he has been sentenced
three times to a total of 20 years’ imprisonment. Most recently, in
March 1996, U Win Tin was sentenced to seven years’ imprisonment
for communicating with the UN about prison conditions, torture and
medical neglect, and for writing and circulating articles in
prison. The authorities described this as "secretly publishing
propaganda to incite riots in jail".
U Win Tin and others accused
with him were held in cells designed for military dogs, made to
sleep on concrete floors without bedding and deprived of food and
water for long periods. They were also reportedly denied legal
representation at their trial.
U Win Tin has been held in
solitary confinement for much of his imprisonment. He is known to
have chronic health problems, which have been exacerbated by the
poor prison conditions. In July 2005, the authorities reportedly
told him he would be released with more than 200 political
prisoners, but then returned him to his prison cell.
Please write, calling for the
immediate and unconditional release of U Win Tin and hundreds of
other prisoners of conscience in Myanmar.
Send appeals to: Senior
General Than Shwe, Chairman of the State Peace and Development
Council, c/o Ministry of Defence, Ahlanpya Phaya Street, Yangon,
Human rights defender at
Founder and former Chair of
the Ethiopian Human Rights Council, Professor Mesfin Woldemariam,
aged 75, has been detained since early November 2005 following
opposition party demonstrations to protest peacefully against
alleged fraud in Ethiopia’s May elections.
Eighty-five others are in
custody with him, including leaders of the opposition party
Coalition for Unity and Democracy (CUD), to which he belongs,
independent journalists and anti-poverty activists, whom AI
considers to be prisoners of conscience. The charges against them,
many carrying the death penalty, include "high treason", "inciting
and organizing armed uprising" and "genocide".
Most defendants are
boycotting the legal proceedings in protest. They are held in
Kaliti prison in the capital, Addis Ababa, with restricted access
to their families and legal representatives.
Several thousand other
suspected government opponents are reportedly still detained
without charge in relation to the November demonstrations, when the
security forces shot dead 42 demonstrators.
AI is concerned about
Professor Mesfin Woldemariam’s health in prison, particularly on
account of his advanced age. Prior to his arrest, he was in bed for
two months suffering from severe back pain requiring regular
medical attention. In prison, he manages to walk with a stick. In
December, he was among several CUD members who went on a hunger
strike for several weeks. He resumed his hunger strike in
Ethiopia’s most prominent human rights defender, is a retired
geography professor from Addis Ababa University. He recently spent
a year at Harvard University, USA.
Please write, calling for the
immediate and unconditional release of prisoner of conscience
Professor Mesfin Woldemariam and all those detained with him solely
for the peaceful expression of their opinions.
Send appeals to: Prime
Minister, His Excellency Meles Zenawi, Office of the Prime
Minister, PO Box 1031, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Fax: + 251 11
In September 2005, the
Supreme Court overturned the sentences imposed on 85 Muslim
Brothers, including the two death sentences imposed on Abdullah
Ahmed Izzedin (top) and Salem Abu Hanak (bottom), and ordered their
retrial. Since then Abdullah Ahmed Izzedin and Salem Abu Hanak have
appeared before an ad hoc court three times – in October and
December 2005 and on 30 January 2006. On each occasion the trial
was postponed for a variety of reasons. Their case is due to come
before the court again on 18 March.
AI is concerned that no
information is available about whether the ad hoc court meets
international standards on fair trial.
Internet dissident and
prisoner of conscience Nguyen Khac Toan was released in late
January after spending four years in prison. He was jailed for
emailing details of farmers’ protests about official corruption and
land confiscation to overseas Vietnamese groups. However, he is now
held under house arrest for the next three years and AI is calling
for the immediate removal of this restriction.
The German authorities have
said that Murat Kurnaz will be allowed to return to Germany and
have his residency permit renewed if he is released from US
detention in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. This welcome news follows public
condemnation of Guantánamo by senior German government officials.
However, they gave no indication of when Murat Kurnaz might be
Please continue to send
appeals calling for Murat Kurnaz to be released immediately unless
he is to be tried in accordance with international
Send appeals to: Alberto
Gonzales, Attorney General, US Department of Justice, 950
Pennsylvania Avenue, NW Washington, DC 20530-0001, USA. Fax: + 1
202 307 6777. Email: AskDOJ@usdoj.gov
AI welcomed the release of
Cheam Channy, prisoner of conscience and opposition
parliamentarian, in February 2006, following a royal pardon. He was
sentenced to seven years in prison in February 2005 after an unfair
trial by a Military Court – which has no jurisdiction over
civilians. According to AI’s information there was no basis to the
charges against him.
Indigenous activist and
prisoner of conscience Feliciano Pineda was released from prison on
2 February 2006. However, he has not been fully acquitted and AI
continues to be concerned for his safety.
Meeting of NGOs in Middle
East denounces deals on detainee transfers
A gathering of human rights
organizations convened by AI in Beirut in January condemned the
UK’s flawed deals on detainee transfers for increasing the risk of
torture and other ill-treatment.
The two-day meeting of
non-governmental organizations (NGOs) from the Middle East and
North Africa concluded that the memorandums of understanding signed
or being negotiated between the UK and countries in the region –
aiming at handing over suspects of terrorism – undermine the
absolute prohibition on torture. The UK has so far concluded three
such agreements – with Jordan, Lebanon and Libya – and is
negotiating others with at least Algeria and Egypt. The agreements
provide "diplomatic assurances" that detainees will not be
tortured, ill-treated or unfairly tried after their transfer to
these countries, despite the systemic practice of torture in these
By setting out a special
system to monitor the treatment of a few individuals, the
agreements are intrinsically discriminatory. The safeguards they
provide fall below those contained in international law. They lack
enforcement mechanisms and provisions for a remedy in case of a
breach. SeeMemorandums of
Understanding and NGO Monitoring: a challenge to fundamental human
Assurances’ No protection against torture or
To find out more about AI’s
campaign to stop torture and other ill-treatment in the "war on
Control Arms campaigning at
the World Social Forums
In Mali they came to the
World Social Forum (WSF) wearing black, red and white T-shirts, an
army whose weapons were pens, cameras and a commitment to ending
the unregulated trade in arms. The global trade in weapons has left
more than eight million small arms circulating around West Africa,
fuelling conflicts that have stolen tens of thousands of young
lives and arrested development in the region. So it was a fitting
place for Control Arms campaigners to raise support for a global
Arms Trade Treaty.
Volunteers from the Control
Arms coalition (Oxfam, IANSA and AI) collected more than 27,000
signatures from people from around the world who raised their hands
to say "No" to gun violence. Over the five days of the Forum
volunteers from AI Mali, together with Control Arms campaigners
from Oxfam, pressed journalists and development activists to
support the campaign for a global Arms Trade Treaty. Activities
included a press conference and a seminar as well as a concert
attended by 25,000 fans of Ivorian reggae star and Control Arms
spokesman Tiken Jah Fakoly.
The Venezuela WSF was
launched on 24 January with a march through the streets of Caracas,
vibrant with colour, song, banners and flags. AI Venezuela and
Control Arms campaigners were there again to raise concerns on the
proliferation of arms and the need for an international Arms Trade
Around 200 people attended a
conference which was held in central Caracas and recorded for
Venezuela TV. As well as addressing the use of arms and their
impact on peoples’ lives, the seminar generated animated discussion
and gave an excellent overview of the Control Arms campaign.
Participants came from across the Americas and even as far afield
Volunteers engaged people on
the streets of Caracas in discussion about the issues of the
campaign. They distributed Control Arms wristbands which are now
being worn by thousands of WSF participants. The loud, vibrant
music and dancing of La Capoeira band drew in the crowds and AI’s
stall was a hub of activity. Over 5,000 photos were collected for
the Million Faces petition.
The Million Faces petition is
collecting photos and self portraits from around the world to reach
a goal of one million faces by June 2006. The faces will send a
powerful, global message of support to the world’s governments for
an international Arms Trade Treaty.
The Control Arms campaign is
launching an international "100 Day Countdown" in the lead up to
the UN Conference which will review controls over small arms.
Starting on 16 March and ending just before the UN Review
Conference on 25 June, the countdown will culminate with events in
New York, USA, to mark the start of the conference. The aim is to
involve as many people as possible to promote the campaign and
convey the message to the UN that it is time to start negotiating
an Arms Trade Treaty – and this could be agreed at the UN General
Assembly in October this year.
To sign up and get involved
El Salvador fails to meet
deadline set by Inter-American Court
The government of El Salvador
has failed to comply with most of the recommendations made in the
ruling issued by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR)
in March 2005, despite a deadline of 29 March 2006 having been
The judgement called on the
government to investigate and punish those responsible for human
rights violations in the country during the internal armed conflict
between 1980 and 1991.
In particular, the
government must investigate the unresolved case of Ernestina and
Erlinda Serrano Cruz, who were aged seven and three years when they
were forcibly separated from their parents during the course of
military operations by the state.
There have been no advances
in the internal judicial proceedings and the State has not yet
publicly acknowledged its responsibility nor apologized to the
Serrano Cruz family in a public ceremony in Chalatenango city, with
the presence of high authorities of the State, as required by the
Please write, calling on the
El Salvador government to comply with the ruling of the IACHR
within the established time limit.
Send appeals to: President
Elías Antonio Saca, Casa Presidencial, Avda. Dr Manuel Enrique
Aranjo 5500, Frente a Canal 6, San Salvador, El Salvador. Fax: +503
2243 9947 Email:www.casapres.gob.sv/prescartas.htm
AI helps free torture victim
When Sergei Gurgurov was
taken to court on 3 November he was unable to walk unaided and
shook uncontrollably. The 27-year-old man had been arrested a week
earlier and allegedly beaten and tortured with electric shocks by
police to force him to confess to stealing a mobile phone. The
court refused a request to extend his detention and ordered his
release under house arrest. Instead the police moved him to another
temporary holding facility.
AI took up Sergei Gurgurov’s
case as an Urgent Action and in the following weeks thousands of
members from all over the world wrote letters on his behalf. The
Urgent Action attracted a lot of attention in Moldova and on 23
November AI Moldova organized a press conference with the two
lawyers working on the case.
On 9 December Sergei Gurgurov
was released on bail. Unfortunately the torture he suffered has
left him in such bad health that he was unable to attend the
hearing that led to his release. Instead he was taken by stretcher
straight from the detention centre to a hospital.
Talking to a member of AI
Moldova on 24 January, assistants of the Deputy General Prosecutor
complained that they were receiving up to 150 letters a day, and
that campaigning on his case was damaging Moldova’s international
image. On 18 January the Prosecutor’s office refused to start a
criminal case against the police officers concerned.
Former Peruvian President
must be brought to justice
"…they took the son I
most loved, my first-born… I had to look for him under the earth to
find him… How could this government have pardoned them [the
killers] in my name?"
Raída Cóndor, mother of
Armando Amaro Cóndor
Armando Amaro Cóndor was one
of the hundreds of people who "disappeared" or were killed by
Peruvian security forces, including the "death squad" Grupo Colina
during the presidency of Alberto Fujimori, in 1990 to
The killing of Armando Amaro
Cóndor, eight other students and a university professor in 1992
caused national and international outrage. Members of Grupo Colina
were tried and convicted of the killings, but were freed in an
amnesty shortly after their detention. The amnesty legalized
impunity, prohibiting all investigations into human rights
violations committed by the security forces in Peru’s 20-year
internal armed conflict.
This amnesty was reversed in
2000, following the resignation of President Fujimori, and all the
members of Grupo Colina are now charged with human rights
violations. Alberto Fujimori, however, escaped justice by fleeing
In November 2005 Alberto
Fujimori travelled to Chile, where he was arrested. The Peruvian
authorities have requested his extradition to face charges
including forced disappearance, extrajudicial executions and
torture. The Chilean courts are reviewing the request.
The widespread and systematic
nature of the human rights violations committed during Alberto
Fujimori’s presidency constitute crimes against
To find out more about why
AI is campaigning for Alberto Fujimori to be brought to justice
human rights violations during the presidency of Alberto Fujimori
ACT NOW! BRING FUJIMORI TO
www.amnesty.org.uk/action/fujimori.shtml and sign the petition.to
bring Fujimori to justice