Good News for January 2015

Cuba

The release of 53 (at 13 Jan) jailed opposition activists by the Cuban authorities is a positive step which should be followed by a new human rights agenda on the island, Amnesty International has said. Cuban activists have confirmed that among these men, some were previously recognised by AI as prisoners of conscience. This would be one of a series of releases of more than 50 prisoners in Cuba as part of a deal announced last month to 'normalise' relations between Cuba and the US.

Americas Director of AI, Erika Guevara Rosas, said that the release is clearly an important step towards righting past injustices in Cuba, and hopefully the first of many such releases of those jailed for politically motivated offences.

 

Arms Trade Treaty

After two decades of campaigning by AI and its NGO partners around the world, the global ATT entered into force on 24 December 2014. This marked a breakthrough for human rights. For the first time, there is a treaty explicitly embedding the human rights implications of each arms sale into every transfer. It will block the flow of arms to governments which would use them to commit atrocities. 5 of the top arms exporters - the UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain - are among the 60 states around the world who have already ratified the ATT.

N.B. the USA has signed but not yet ratified the treaty. Other major arms producers including China, Canada and Russia, have resisted signing or ratifying.

 

Scotland - same sex marriages

AI has welcomed the first same-sex marriages in Scotland, the earliest ones took place on New Year's Eve 2014. Same sex marriages wer elegalised in England and Wales earlier this year, the first ones in March.

AI's Northern Ireland Programme Director hopes this will happen in 2015 in Northern Ireland. A survey there in 2012 found a clear 57% of public support there for the legalisation of same-sex marriage.

 

Published on behalf of Pamela Thickett

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