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Hearts and Lives Broken: The Nightmare of Uyghur Families Separated by Repression

Some Uyghur parents were separated from their children as a result of the unprecedented crackdown on ethnic populations.

China: Uyghur children sent to 'orphan camps' in Xinjiang

Uyghurs in exile in Italy, Turkey and elsewhere discover their children in China have been sent to ‘orphan camps’ Other relatives in Xinjiang targeted and unable to look after the children Orphan camps part of wider crackdown on Uyghurs "Now my children are in the hands of the Chinese government and I am not sure I will be able to meet them again in my lifetime" - Uyghur parent in Italy The exiled families of Uyghur children held in ‘orphan camps’ in the Chinese region of Xinjiang have described their torment in new research published by Amnesty International today. Amnesty spoke to parents

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Four Bahraini minors tried as adults

AI Mission to Bahrain - © Amnesty International
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In February 2020, Husain Abdulrasool Salman Abdulla Husain’s family received a phone call for his father to accompany Husain Abdulrasool Salman Abdulla Husain to the Criminal Investigations Directorate (CID). Father and son attended the CID building where Husain was interrogated alone without a lawyer and without his father present in the room. Husain Abdulrasool Salman Abdulla Husain was informed of the charges against him and made to sign a document and told that he would be kept under surveillance before being released. His father was simultaneously and separately questioned about his son and while waiting for Husain, he heard the investigators screaming at his son to confess. Husain Abdulrasool Salman Abdulla Husain later told his family that he had also been slapped in the face.

On 30 November 2020, Husain Abdulrasool Salman Abdulla Husain was summoned again to the CID which he attended with his father and was detained. During his interrogation without a lawyer he admitted his involvement in burning tires and handling Molotov cocktails on 14 February 2020 as well as that of three other boys. The case was referred to the prosecution unit for terrorism crimes, who officially charged him under Articles 277 (1), 277(bis), 277(1 bis) and 277 (2 bis) of the Penal Code with premeditated arson; fabricating with other unknown persons Molotov cocktails with the aim of using them and endangering life and property; possessing and obtained Molotov cocktails with the aim of using them and endangering life and property; and using Molotov cocktails with the aim of using them and endangering life and property on 14 February 2020 in Karrana, a village north west of the capital Manama. He was also charged under Articles 178 and 179 of “participating with others in an illegal gathering of more than five people, in order to disturb public security by way of violence”. The case was referred to Branch Four of the High Criminal Court. The referral document named the four boys and stated that three of them, Sayed Hasan Ameen Jawad Abdulla, Faris Husain Habib Ahmed Salman, and Mohammed Jaafar Jasim Ali Abdulla were on the run.

Sayed Hasan Ameen suffers from sickle-cell disease and reduced heart function. He was twice hospitalized in October and November 2020. During the first hospitalization he spent a week in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at Salmaniya Medical Complex including for vaso-occlusive crisis due to sickle-cell disease, muscular seizure, and encephalopathy.

On 14 February 2021, the King ratified Law No 4 of 2021 on the promulgation of the Corrective Justice Law for Children and their Protection from Ill-Treatment. The new law will consider anyone who committed an offence when under the age of 18 to be a child and as such would be tried by Juveniles Courts.

At present, under the 1976 Bahraini Juvenile Law, a juvenile is someone not exceeding 15 years of age. As such, Bahrain is in breach of its obligations under the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), to which it is a party.

Article 37 of the CRC states that: States Parties shall ensure that: (d) Every child deprived of his or her liberty shall have the right to prompt access to legal and other appropriate assistance, as well as the right to challenge the legality of the deprivation of his or her liberty before a court or other competent, independent and impartial authority, and to a prompt decision on any such action. Furthermore, Article 40 also states: 2(a) No child shall be alleged as, be accused of, or recognized as having infringed the penal law by reason of acts or omissions that were not prohibited by national or international law at the time they were committed; 2(b)(ii) To be informed promptly and directly of the charges against him or her, and, if appropriate, through his or her parents or legal guardians, and to have legal or other appropriate assistance in the preparation and presentation of his or her defence and 2 (b)(iv) Not to be compelled to give testimony or to confess guilt; to examine or have examined adverse witnesses and to obtain the participation and examination of witnesses on his or her behalf under conditions of equality.

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Malawi: Resurgence of killings and abductions of people with albinism a dangerous escalation

Cases of attacks on people with albinism in Malawi remain largely unresolved (library picture shown) © Amnesty International/Lawilink

Last week a 12-year-old escaped abduction and a 26-year-old was murdered Since November there have been seven recorded attacks against people with albinism ‘These attacks are fuelled by a culture of impunity’ - Muleya Mwananyanda The resurgence of killings and abductions of people with albinism marks a dangerous escalation in Malawi, Amnesty International and the Association of Persons with Albinism said today. Last week, a 12-year-old girl with albinism narrowly survived abduction by two unknown assailants, who broke into her home in Machinga district. The body of 26-year-old Saidi Dyton is

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Nigeria: Authorities must act immediately to rescue abducted children and ensure schools are made safer

Amnesty International has documented Boko Haram’s atrocities and targeting of schools since 2012 (library picture) © Mohammed Abdulsamad / The Walking Paradox

Boko Haram claimed responsibility for abduction of over 500 boarding students in Northwest Nigeria ‘Attacks on schools and abductions of children are war crimes’ - Osai Ojigho Responding to Boko Haram’s claim of responsibility for the abduction of more than 500 students from Government Science Secondary School in the town of Kankara, Katsina State, Osai Ojigho, Director of Amnesty International Nigeria, said: “We condemn this appalling attack, which is the latest in a string of grave human rights abuses by Boko Haram. Since 2012 hundreds of teachers, schoolchildren and students have been

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28 children at risk of imminent deportation

Immigration detention centre
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The 28 children and their parents (23 families total) at risk of imminent deportation are detained at the South Texas Family Residential Center in Texas, and the Berks County Family Residential Center in Pennsylvania simply for seeking safety in the United States. The third family detention center in the USA is the Karnes County Family Residential Center in Texas. US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) currently has dozens of families detained at these three facilities. 

Ana* (22) and Victoria* (4) fled Honduras after repeated threats against their lives after her partner and Victoria’s father was killed because of his political beliefs. They requested asylum in the U.S. over nine months ago and locked up ever since. ICE was informed multiple times that Victoria is asthmatic and particularly at risk for COVID-19, but refuses to release them. Ana has been suffering from ovarian cysts that have pained her daily for months, and has not received the appropriate medical care. Victoria now has anxiety attacks, nightmares, and wets the bed—something she didn’t used to do. 

COVID-19 was confirmed in family detention centers in June 2020, placing all detained families at grave risk due to inadequate hygiene and negligent medical care. A federal judge described the facilities “on fire” after COVID was confirmed in the facilities and because of inadequate protective measures. Yet, these families continue to be needlessly detained. Families trapped in detention feel they are sitting ducks for COVID-19. Immigration authorities at ICE has the legal authority to release families together and has historically done so but is choosing not to exercise its authority. Families should not be deported, and all families must be immediately released. They must be allowed their right to ask for asylum. They have communities waiting to welcome them, and there is no reason — especially during a pandemic — not to release parents with their children.
In May 2020, ICE presented detained parents with children as young as one-year-old an impossible “binary choice”: separate from their children, who would be released to sponsors while the parent remains in indefinite detention facing possible deportation, or stay detained together indefinitely. Amnesty International released the report briefing, “Family Separation 2.0: ‘You aren’t going to separate my from my only child”, with testimony from parents.

Under international law, the USA government has an obligation to ensure that the human rights of migrants and asylum seekers are respected, protected and fulfilled. The USA government also has an obligation to ensure that children are detained only in exceptional circumstances, and for the shortest possible amount of time. International standards, including instruments to which the USA is a party, contain a strong presumption against the detention of migrants and asylum seekers. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) clearly sets out the right to be free from arbitrary detention. Detention of asylum-seekers should only be a measure of last resort, after other non-custodial alternatives have proven or been deemed insufficient in relation to the individual. The U.S. government is also under the obligation not to return individuals to a situation in which they would be at risk of torture or other serious human rights abuses, as well as the obligation to provide a fair chance at asking for asylum.

The 28 children and their families must not be deported. They came to the U.S. after fleeing from horrific violence, persecution, and other severe human rights abuses in their home countries. They came to the U.S. simply seeking protection and must be allowed to pursue the right to seek asylum here in safety. All families in detention must be immediately released together. They have communities waiting to welcome them. There is no reason not to release children with parents. The alternative, to separate families and only release children, is unacceptable. Family separation produced by a coercive “choice” violates multiple human rights, including the right to family unity, the right to liberty, and the requirement to prioritize the best interests of the child. 

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Bahraini youth targeted in family reprisal

Free Kameel
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Kameel Juma Hasan is the son of Najah Ahmed Yusuf, a former prisoner convicted and held for over two years on charges of posting content opposing the government online. On 23 April 2017, Kameel, 14 years old at the time and still in middle school, was summoned with his mother for interrogation on charges of “unlawful assembly”, “hooliganism”, and “production and possession of flammable or explosive articles” (presumably meaning Molotov cocktails). While he was being held in the interrogation centre that day, a court convicted him in a grossly unfair trial in his and his lawyer’s absence of these charges and sentenced him to probation for a year. The family were never informed that he had proceedings on that date, and only learned of the ruling later. 

As Najah has described in interviews, during the interrogations with her and her son, Kameel, in April 2017 at the Muharraq office of the Criminal Investigations Directorate (Bahrain’s police interrogation agency), intelligence officers demanded that both mother and son become informants for the government on opposition activities in the Murqoban area of Sitra where the family lived. The officers threatened to take revenge against Kameel, using the criminal charges raised against him as a means of coercion, and told Najah they would kill members of her family, making it appear as an accident, if the two did not accept work as informants. Najah has consistently reported from the time of her arrest that she was subjected to beating and sexual assault by her interrogators. After she refused to become an informant during several days of interrogation and abuse, she was taken into pre-trial custody, prosecuted, and imprisoned based on charges of circulating online opposition content. She has spoken out about her experience to British media (The Independent, the BBC) since her release. Amnesty has written about her case several times.

Later in 2017, after his mother had been imprisoned, Kameel was summoned again under a new set of charges based on alleged participation in a violent demonstration. Given his prior experience of coercion under interrogation and conviction in an unfair trial, he did not respond to the summons. On 26 November 2017, a Bahraini court convicted Kameel in his absence on the new charges, ruling that he had violated the terms of his probation and ordering that he be held for the remainder of the probation term in a youth detention centre. He did not turn himself in to serve this term of detention and therefore became wanted. He managed to take his final exams for middle school in spring 2018, but thereafter went fully into hiding and so could not begin secondary school in the fall 2019 term starting September.

Throughout 2018 and 2019, a steady stream of summons, charges, and prosecutions were raised against Kameel, including six prosecutions based exclusively on charges of “unlawful assembly” and “hooliganism”, and over a dozen more also linked to participation in demonstrations. In total, Bahrain has raised at least 22 separate prosecutions against Kameel arising from his alleged participation in demonstrations. In one prosecution he has 38 co-defendants, including 13 other children – an unreasonably high number of defendants to charge in a single case that makes the task of determining individual criminal responsibility unfeasible and thus violates the right to fair trial. It appears that all of Kameel’s co-defendants, like him and his family, are Shi’a. Kameel’s home area, the island of Sitra, is almost exclusively Shi’a, and citizens from Sitra have often been viewed with suspicion by Bahrain’s Sunni government. Prison authorities recently confiscated religious articles (spare copies of the Qur’an and rosaries) from Kameel and other Shi’a inmates.

By the end of 2019, cases were being added against Kameel so rapidly that he was sometimes expected to attend separate hearings in separate prosecutions in a single day. Faced with mounting threats to the rest of the family as his father, brother, and cousins were summoned for interrogations on his whereabouts, Kameel ultimately chose to turn himself in after yet another summon, this one to the Nabih Saleh police station for the date of 31 December 2019. After turning himself in, he was transferred later the same day to the Royal Academy of Police, where Amnesty’s sources report he was subjected to beating and stress positions (forced standing). Several days later, he was taken to sign prepared “confession” documents that he had no opportunity to read. Given the proliferation of identical cases against him, the background, and the timing – official pursuit of Kameel became more aggressive as Najah continued to speak out about her own ordeal – it appears that his prosecution and imprisonment have been taken in reprisal against his mother.

Kameel was 16 years old at the time of his detention, and thus legally a minor under Article 1 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which Bahrain is a party. Bahrain, however, has treated individuals above the age of 15 as adults for purposes of criminal prosecution since 1976, a stance it reaffirmed in its amendment of the Law on Minors in 2014 (Decree of Act No. 17 of 1976 on Minors, Art. 1, and Act No. 15 of 2014 amending this provision). Children under 15 can also be placed in various disciplinary proceedings falling short of criminal prosecution for participating in demonstrations under Bahrain law (Law on Minors, as amended by Decree of Act No. 23 of 2013, Arts. 2.8 and 6).

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USA: policy to separate migrant families amounted to 'torture'

A US immigration detention facility near the Mexican border © Alli Jarrar/ Amnesty International

Separation of 2,500 migrant children from parents branded ‘reckless incompetence and intentional cruelty’ by House Judiciary Committee Full criminal investigation of all those responsible needed ‘Cruelty was always the point’ - Denise Bell Responding to the findings of a 21-month investigation by the US House Judiciary Committee into the Trump administration’s family separation policy - which resulted in more than 2,500 migrant children being separated from their parents - Denise Bell, refugee and migrant rights researcher at Amnesty International USA, said: “Today’s report only confirms what

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