That Time When Solitary Confinement Was Not Considered “Solitary Confinement”

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It has been more than three years now, but I can still remember the awestruck feeling I had in January 2013 while observing Chelsea Manning’s court-martial proceedings for the unauthorized disclosure of classified military documents to Wikileaks. This thought kept pouring through my mind as I sat intently listening to Col. Lind as she read her decision: “How is solitary confinement not ‘solitary confinement’?”

On 18 May, Amnesty International, with the help of attorneys from Keker & Van Nest, LLP, filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Army Court of Criminal Appeals in support of Chelsea Manning’s appeal of her sentence. While Manning’s attorneys are raising several points on appeal, Amnesty International’s brief focused on the conditions of her pre-trial detention, arguing that Judge Lind erred when finding that Manning was not subject to prolonged solitary confinement that amounted to pre-trial punishment in violation of Article 13 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

IDAHOT 2016: LGBT Human Rights Around The World

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Today, May 17, Amnesty International celebrates International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia. This IDAHOT, Amnesty International condemns the ongoing discrimination, violence, and denial of fundamental human rights faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people around the world. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

It is Time for Leonard Peltier to be Freed

Amnesty has serious concerns about the fairness of Leonard Peltier's (above) trial (Photo Credit: Taro Yamasaki).

“Only one thing’s sadder than remembering you were once free, and that’s forgetting you were once free.” –Leonard Peltier

This weekend I made the 850 mile trip from the Nation’s Capitol to the sprawling Coleman Federal Correction Complex in Wildwood Florida to visit a man who has been in Federal custody for more than half of his life – Leonard Peltier. As I wound my way past barbed wire and concrete, the words above weighed heavy on my mind. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Why Gun Violence is a Human Rights Crisis

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Human rights are basic rights and freedoms that all people are entitled to regardless of nationality, sex, national or ethnic origin, race, religion, language, or other status.

Human rights include civil and political rights, such as the right to life, liberty and freedom of expression; and social, cultural and economic rights including the right to participate in culture, the right to food, and the right to work and receive an education. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

What If Eating Caused You Excruciating Pain? This Man’s Impossible Choice

Michelle Shephard-Pool/Getty Images

I just ate an apple. Later, I’ll try to resist the temptation to munch on crackers. I keep hearing about the importance of a “clean diet.” I think that means no crackers. Maybe carrots instead?

As I make these decisions, I can’t help but compare them to the ones this torture survivor makes every day. If he eats, he will experience excruciating pain. If he wants to avoid the excruciating pain, he cannot eat.

This man weighs about 110 pounds. I have seen him through glass, in a makeshift courtroom at Guantanamo, and he seems frail, a wisp of a person, a man broken and hardly repaired. His name is Mustafa al Hawsawi. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Are U.S. weapons being used to kill Yemeni civilians?

Watch Amnesty International USA’s Middle East North Africa Advocacy Director, Sunjeev Bery on CNN here.

Saudi Arabia-led coalition continue to indiscriminately bomb and kill civilians in Yemen.

Saudi Arabia-led coalition continue to indiscriminately bomb and kill civilians in Yemen.

It has been over a year since an international coalition led by Saudi Arabia launched air strikes against the Huthi armed group in Yemen sparking a full-blown armed conflict.

Over the following year, the conflict has spread and fighting has engulfed the entire country. Horrific human rights abuses, as well as war crimes, are being committed throughout the country causing unbearable suffering for civilians. Watch Sunjeev Bery, Advocacy Director for the Middle East North Africa at Amnesty International USA, discuss Yemen’s war and how the US-Saudi alliance makes it worse.

Torture Is Not the Answer

Still from 'Waiting For The Guards ' shows simulated torture by the CIA

Still from ‘Waiting For The Guards ‘ shows simulated torture by the CIA

Too little, and much too late. CIA Director John Brennan this week declared that the CIA would refuse to engage in waterboarding in the future, even if ordered to do so.

This was the latest in a recent string of headline-grabbing proclamations from current and former U.S. officials insisting that, if faced with the dilemma between following orders or rejecting torture, they would reject torture.

As welcome as these promises are, they ring hollow. That’s because the same U.S. intelligence community was already faced with that exact dilemma, and they got it wrong. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Don’t Let California Jumpstart Executions

A protester holds a sign up during an anti-death penalty protest on June 18,2001 in Santa Ana, CA. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

David McNew/Getty Images

Officials at the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) are doing everything they can to jumpstart executions after over a decade without them—and with the largest death row in the country, they could fast track dozens of cases for execution.

That’s dozens of humans killed at the hands of the state. We can help stop them since the CDCR is required by law to listen to us!

Tell them it’s time to end the death penalty once and for all! SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Is the U.S. State Department Understating Human Rights Abuses?

Egyptian human right activist with chained hands during a protest against torture in police stations. KHALED DESOUKI/AFP/Getty Images

Egyptian human right activist with chained hands during a protest against torture in police stations. KHALED DESOUKI/AFP/Getty Images

Following last week’s release of the 2016 Department of State Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, Amnesty International USA conducted a review of the reports and offered an analysis of the reports.

The annual, Congressionally-mandated reports are meant to highlight abuses such as human rights defenders being killed, detained or hounded in to exile, along with draconian restrictions on the rights to freedom of expression, assembly and association, often imposed in the name of national security.

Unfortunately, this year’s report continues the practice of using diplomatic language to understate human rights violations. The report also continues to bury some cases of abuse by failing to refer to them in the summary section of the report. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

10 Reasons to Abolish the Death Penalty

Today, Amnesty International released its annual report on the use of the death penalty worldwide. 2015 was a year of extremes – the number of executions worldwide skyrocketed, but here in the United States executions dropped to their lowest in decades. Here are 10 reasons why it’s time to abolish the death penalty now:

1. There was more than a 50% increase in 2015 executions from 2014. Amnesty confirmed 1,634 executions in 2015, 573 more than the previous year and the highest Amnesty has recorded in 25 years. That figure excludes executions in China, which likely executes more than the rest of the world combined but considers the data to be a state secret.
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2. The death penalty in the United States continues to decline. 2015 saw the fewest executions in the U.S. in 24 years and the fewest death sentences in 25 years. All 28 executions in 2015 were isolated to just six states, and only three states – Texas, Missouri, and Georgia – were responsible for 85%.
SEE THE REST OF THIS POST