Amnesty International: At least 17 Syrian Refugees Shot and Killed by Turkish Border Guards

Kathryn Maureen Ryan
Impunity Watch, Managing Editor

Ankara, Turkey – According to an Amnesty International report, Turkey has denied entry to Syrian refugees fleeing the civil war and mass atrocities in their home country, while its border guards have shot and killed at least 17 refugees at remote border crossings. The report found that while Turkey has maintained an open border policy during the three and a half year conflict between the Assad regime and various rebel groups, allowing refugees to enter Turkey and the relative safety of refugee camps along the countries border, it found that only two border crossing are fully open to refugees and that refugees without passports have been denied entry into the country unless they had urgent needs.

A Kurdish refugee mother and son from the town of Kobani in Syria walk beside their tent in a refugee camp in the southeastern town of Suruc Turkey. (Photo courtesy of Amnesty International)

The Amnesty International Report also claimed that at least 17 people had been shot and killed by border guards at unofficial crossing points between December 2013 and August 2014. Amnesty International shared its findings with Turkish authorities.

More than 1.6 million Syrian refugees have fled into neighboring turkey since the conflict began in 2011. Roughly half of the refugees who have fled the conflict over the past three and a half years have fled to turkey and are now struggling to survive. About 220,000 refugees are living in government-run refugee camps that Amnesty reports are now operating at full capacity. “Turkey is clearly struggling to meet even the most basic needs of hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees. The result is that many of those who have made it across the border have been abandoned to a life of destitution,” said Andrew Gardner, Amnesty International’s Turkey researcher.

While the roughly 220,000 refugees who are living in 22 government-run camps have access to food and essential services, Amnesty International reports that the remaining 1.38 million – more than 85% – are living outside of the  camp system without access to government sponsored series. Most of these refugees are living in makeshift communities along the Turkey-Syrian border.

Tensions between the Turkish population and the incoming refugee population have been on the rise over the past several moth as Turkish resources have been stretched to capacity. The Turkish government has failed to grant refugee status to Syrians fleeing the brutal armed conflict in their home country and instead has labeled them as “guests” who enjoy temporary protection. This lack of protection and legal recognition has made the matter worse for Syrian’s attempting to support themselves in Turkey, many are facing backlashes from Turkish residents who see them as unwanted guests and unwanted competition for local resources.

The Amnesty report states that an increasing number of refugees are now being denied access to Turkey and many of those who still attempt to cross the border into the Turkish territory have become victims of abuse. “There can be no excuse for ‘pushbacks’ into war-torn Syria or for beating or shooting at refugees seeking safety in the country,” Andrew Gardner said. “The response of the international community to the Syrian refugee crisis has been pitiful both in terms of resettling refugees from the region and taking financial responsibility for the reception of Syrian refugees in Turkey.”

The Amnesty International Report documents dozens of cases of Syrian refugees who have been severely beaten, shot at or otherwise ill-treated by Turkish border guards. At least 17 refugees were shot and killed by border guards. This change in Turkey’s policy towards refugees fleeing the war is a clear violation of the non-refoulement principle, which prohibits any country from returning refugees to conflict zones where their lives are in danger. Despite this principle, many Syrians are being pushed back at the Turkish border where they face an uncertain future.

For more information please see:

Amnesty International – Turkey: Border Abuses and Destitution Aggravating Plight of Syria Refugees – 21 November 2014

The Guardian – Amnesty Report Reveals Desperate Plight of Syrian Refugees in Turkey – 20 November 2014

International Business Times (United Kingdom) – Amnesty Report: Syrian Refugees Killed By Border Guards As Turkey Feels Strain – 20 November 2014

The Telegraph – Syria Refugees ‘Shot and Killed By Turkey Border Guards’ – 20 November 2014


Major Tobacco Company Praised For Taking Steps to End Child Labor Is Still Targeting Children in International Ad Campaign

By Kathryn Maureen Ryan
Impunity Watch, Managing Editor

WASHINGTON DC, United States of America – In a major PR move Philip Morris International, which sells Marlboro among other leading cigarette brands, announced that it will begin buying US-grown tobacco exclusively through third-party leaf supply companies, rather than directly from tobacco farmers in what the company says is an effort to combat child labor, which has become a major problem on U.S. tobacco farms. Despite its stated commitment to end child labor practices on Tobacco farms, known to cause devastating illnesses linked to nicotine exposure, the company continues to target children in its international advertisements.

an advertisement used by Philip Morris as part of its “be Marlboro” international ad campaign. Like many in the series, the ad features young adults and appears to be targeting teens. The ad appeared in Germany in 2012. (Photo courtesy of the International Business Times)

Human Rights Watch in a May 2014 report found that, like smokers, children working on tobacco farms in the United States are exposed to toxic, addictive and highly carcinogenic chemicals like nicotine and toxic pesticides as well as extreme heat, and other dangers. Most of the children interviewed for the report stated that they were experiencing troubling symptoms including nausea, vomiting, headaches, or dizziness while working – symptoms that are consistent with acute nicotine poisoning.

“Philip Morris International’s new purchasing model means thousands of US tobacco farms will now need to meet higher child labor standards that should protect children from the most dangerous work in tobacco farming,” said Margaret Wurth, children’s rights researcher at Human Rights Watch. “Philip Morris International should carefully monitor suppliers to ensure they know the rules and follow them.” Human Rights Watch has urged Tobacco companies to ban children under the age of 18 from working in tobacco supply chains where their risk of exposure is high. “All tobacco companies should do more to protect children from the hazards of tobacco farming,” Wurth said. “Each company should adopt policies to prohibit children under 18 from doing hazardous work, including all work that involves direct contact with tobacco.”

While Philip Morris has been praised for taking the step to limit child labor in the United States the company still targets children in advertisement used in its overseas markets, particularly in the growing Asian markets where legal restrictions on tobacco production, sale and advertiments are few and far between. A report issued March 12, 2014, by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and other international public health organizations including Alliance for the Control of Tobacco Use Brazil, Corporate Accountability International, Framework Convention Alliance, InterAmerican Heart Foundation, and Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance. Stated that how Philip Morris International’s ‘Be Marlboro’ marketing campaign uses themes and images that appeal almost exclusively to youth.  The company has expanded the campaign to more than 50 countries despite being banned by a German court and fined in Brazil for targeting teens and sparking similar concerns in other countries.

Smoking in western countries has been on a steady decline over the past several decades since the 1964 Surgeon Generals Report on Smoking and Health was published in the Untied Sates sparking a steady stream of restrictions on smoking and tobacco advertising in several countries. Companies like Philip morose have begun targeting developing nations for new smokers, once again adopting the practice of targeting youth in the hopes of getting children addicted for life and ensuring the industries survival. Philip Morris claims its ads do not target teens. However the ad campaign clearly targets the millennial generation and its younger counterparts.  Jesse Bragg, Corporate Accountability International’s press secretary, said the “Be Marlboro” campaign, which employs coercive slogans urging consumers to “be” like the young-adult actors depicted in the ads, is the same coercive and subliminal advertisement method used to attract kids to Philip Morris for decades. “This is just an updated 21st-century version of the Marlboro Man in a lot of ways, built for a global market as opposed to a U.S. market,” he said.

For more information please see:

Human Rights Watch – US: Tobacco Giant’s Move Could Reduce Child Labor – 5 November 2014

Philip Morris International – Press Release – 5 November 2014

Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids – Despite Outrage, Philip Morris International Expands Global “Be Marlboro” Campaign – 15 July 2014

International Business Times – Philip Morris International (PM) Wants Millennial Smokers, But Health Advocates Say Marlboro Ads Target Teenagers – 5 March 2014

Argentina Continues to Assert Ownership Over Falkland Islands

By Delisa Morris

Impunity Watch Reporter, South America

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina — Earlier this week Argentina officials passed a bill that required every piece of Argentinian transportation to have a sign that says “Las Malvinas son Argentinas” or “the Falkand Islands are Argentine”.

President Cristina Hernandez de Kirchner holding up a sign about Islas Malvinas or The Falkland Islands/ Image courtesy of

A diplomatic source said Argentina’s choice to display the signs laying claim to the islands are “regrettable”.

The Argentine MP behind the initiative said it would “reflect our undeniable sovereignty” over the territory.  The idea was introduced along with a number of other public transportation reforms which were passed unanimously on Thursday.

Senator Teresina Luna, the member of Congress who proposed the new regulation, wrote to the president of the parliament to say: “It is directed not only at the foreigner who comes here as a tourist or visits our country, but also at the citizens in general, and will serve to reinforce our history, our culture and our identity.”

President Cristina Fernandez’s government has often raised the issue of sovereignty over the islands known in Spanish as Las Malvinas.

Argentina lays claim on the islands, which it calls Las Malvinas, but Britain maintains that it ha sovereignty and has accused Argentina of ignoring the wishes of its residents who desire to remain British.  Argentina lost a brief, bloody 1982 war with Britain over the South Atlantic archipelago and still claims the islands.  Argentina claims Britain has illegally occupied the islands since 1833.

Recently, an angry mob erupted when Jeremy Clarkson was spotted driving through Argentina with a number plate H982 FKL which some claimed a reference to the Falklands War.

The Top Gear cast and crew had to flee the South American country after they were attacked by an angry mob, which Clarkson described as ‘the most terrifying thing I’ve ever been involved in.’

Last year, Falkland islanders took part in a referendum, voting by 1,513 to three to remain a British overseas territory.  The island consists of about 3,000 residents.

UK Prime Minister David Cameron said at the time that the result “could not have sent a clearer message” but Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner has maintained that the islanders’ wishes are not relevant.

The source added: “No sign can change the rights of the Falkland islanders to their own identity and we are determined to uphold that right.”

The measure was approved by the lower house of congress after getting approval from the Senate.  It applies to all forms of public transportation whether rail, air, land or sea.

For more information, please see:

BBC News – Falkland Islands are Argentine signs ‘regrettable’ – 21 Nov. 2014 – Falkland orders for Argentine transport – 21 Nov. 2014

Daily mail – Argentina passes law stating that all public transport and stations must display the words ‘The Falklands are Argentina’ – 20 Nov. 2014 – Public transport to say ‘The Falklands are Argentine’ – 20 Nov. 2014

Magnitsky’s Mother Goes to the Russian Supreme Court to Overturn the Second Posthumous Case Initiated Against Her Murdered Son

21 November 2014 – Sergei Magnitsky’s mother has filed a complaint with the judicial collegium of the Supreme Court of Russia in relation to the second posthumous proceeding organized against her son by the Russian Interior Ministry.

Under this second posthumous case, Sergei Magnitsky has been named after his death as a “co-conspirator” in the $230 million tax refund fraud that he had in fact uncovered and exposed.

…Investigator Urzhumtsev in violation of the principle of presumption of innocence, in violation of the constitutional right for defence, in the absence of a court order, in the absence of preliminary investigation, had stated in his decree [from December 2010] that Sergei Magnitsky who died a year before [in November 2009] in Matrosskaya Tishina detention center, committed a serious crime… the theft of 5.4 billion rubles [$230 million]… The conclusion itself must be qualified as slander in relation to knowingly innocent person,” says the complaint.

He [Investigator Urzhumtsev] knew very well, that Magnitsky not only was not complicit in the theft of 5.4 billion rubles, but that Magnitsky was the first person who had uncovered the crime committed against the three companies of his client, and who had exposed the criminal activity of perhaps one of the largest criminal groups which specializes in unlawful tax refunds,” says the complaint.

Interior Ministry Investigator Oleg Urzhumtsev was included on both the investigative team on the case against Sergei Magnitsky under which Magnitsky was arrested and ill-treated in custody; and on the case to investigate the $230 million theft that Magnitsky had uncovered. The second investigation led by Investigator Urzhumtsev finished by exonerating all Russian Interior Ministry and tax officials from liability for the $230 million theft, and naming Sergei Magnitsky as co-conspirator posthumously and in secret from his relatives. Urzhumtsev also was responsible for assigning the blame for the crime to a “jobless” person named Vyacheslav Khlebnikov in a fast-track proceeding which ended with a lenient sentence of five years for the $230 million theft. As part of that proceeding conducted after Magnitsky’s death, Khlebnikov gave a false testimony against Magnitsky from detention.

As member of the investigative group [on the case Sergei Magnitsky was detained], Urzhumtsev knew that Magnitsky was arrested soon after his testimony implicating officials in the theft of 5.4 billion rubles, and that some of those officials were included on the same investigative team,-  points out the complaint. – Magnitsky stated that his criminal prosecution was a measure of repression aimed to punish him for the assistance he provided to his client during the identification of circumstances of the theft of his client’s companies – Rilend, Makhaon, and Parfenion.”

The complaint says that Investigator Urzhumtsev has concealed the real perpetrators by blaming the $230 million theft on Sergei Magnitsky, and two other deceased individuals (Mr Gasanov and Mr Korobeinikov), neither of whom were alive and could be questioned at the time of the investigation.

“The evidence in the case file objectively demonstrates that Investigator Urzhumtsev acted in the interests of persons who perpetrated the theft of 5.4 billion rubles [$230 million], and who using his own terminology, “found” two deceased individuals in order to put on them the liability for the theft of budget funds, and in order to provide the service of concealment for the real perpetrators of the crime,” says the complaint.

It was since uncovered that Mr Gasanov died on 1 October 2007, two months before the $230 million was committed. Mr Korobeinikov died in September 2008, “falling of a balcony” of a building under construction, according to the Russian investigation.

Ms Magnitskaya asks the Russian Supreme Court to examine the lawfulness of investigator Urzhumtsev’s actions and annul previous decisions by lower-level Russian courts who rejected her complaints.

“The court must check the lawfulness and the justification for the Investigator’s decree… The previous rejection violates the constitutional principle of the presumption of innocence because deceased Magnitsky was named by Investigator Urzhumtsev as a co-conspirator in a crime,” says the complaint.

The court had an opportunity to check the arguments using the criminal case files, and by inviting investigator Urzhumtsev to give testimony, but it failed to do so…As a result, the conclusion of the court [of lower instance] is not supported by the factual circumstances, which is … the ground to cancel the court decision,” says the complaint in conclusion.

Previous complaints from Ms Magnitskaya addressed to lower instance courts have been rejected by Moscow district judge Tatiana Neverova, and Moscow city court judges Andrei Titov and Lyubov Ishmuratova

In the United States, 26 Russian officials and private individuals involved in Sergei Magnitsky’s detention and ill-treatment in custody and in the criminal conspiracy Magnitsy had uncovered have been sanctioned under the US Magnitsky Act. The list includes several colleagues of Investigator Urzhumtsev on the Russian Interior Ministry’s investigative team in the Magnitsky case.

For more information, please contact:

Magnitsky Justice Campaign

+44 2074401777

Colombia Peace Talks in Cuba to Resume Following Release of FARC Kidnapped General

By Delisa Morris

Impunity Watch Reporter, South America

BOGOTA, Colombia — President Juan Manuel Santos suspended peace talks in Cuba this week, which are quickly approaching their second year, amid the kidnapping of General Ruben Dario Alzate.

FARC lead negotiator Ivan Marquez in Cuba / Photo courtesy of Reuters

Today, Colombian Marxist rebels agreed to release General Alzate.  Colombians hope that this will diffuse the situation and resume the peace talks to end conflict that has spanned over five decades.  The rebel forces, also known as the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) also agreed to release four other captives, that have been captured in the past two weeks.

President Juan Manuel Santos’s office responded immediately to the announcement, pledging to resume talks as soon as the hostages are free.

Alzate and two others were seized on Sunday by a FARC patrol as they left a boat in the poor and crime-ridden coastal region of Choco, prompting Santos to halt talks and throwing into doubt the two-year peace process under way in Cuba.

Just days earlier, the rebels had kidnapped two soldiers in eastern Arauca department.

“The government will give its total collaboration to guarantee the safe return of these people to their homes, which we hope will be in the shortest time possible,” Santos’s office said in a brief statement.

“Once they are all free, the government’s delegation will return to Havana.”

The FARC’s decision to release the captives may counter critics of the peace process who say the rebels are not serious about ending Latin America’s longest-running war, which has killed more than 200,000 people since it began in 1964.

The suspension of talks is the most serious setback to peace efforts after months of complicated discussions resulted in partial accords on three out of five agenda items.

Wednesday, the FARC defended the negotiations aimed at ending the half-century conflict. A FARC commander best known by his alias Ivan Marquez said the biggest achievement so far is a growing sense of reconciliation among Colombians.

The two sides have already reached agreements on agrarian reform, political participation for the FARC and how to jointly combat illicit drugs in what was long the world’s largest cocaine producer.

But the remaining issues, including how the FARC will lay down their arms and whether commanders will face prosecution for atrocities and drug-trafficking, are some of the thorniest.

The most recent peace process with the FARC collapsed in 2002 after the group used the breathing room of a demilitarized zone to build its fighting force, intensify its cocaine trafficking, and take hostages.

The final straw came when the FARC boarded a commercial plane and seized a senator, who was held captive for six years.

For more information, please see:

ABC News – Colombia Rebel-Held General a Bookish Strategist – 20 Nov. 2014

BBC News – Colombia kidnap: Farc agrees conditions for release – 19 Nov. 2014

ABC News – Colombia, Rebels Agree on Steps to Free General – 19 Nov. 2014

Reuters – Colombia rebels to free general, opening door to resume peace talks – 20 Nov. 2014

Endemic Corruption in the Solomon Islands Raises Concerns over Elections

By Max Bartels 

Impunity Watch Reporter, Oceania 


Honiara, Solomon Islands

Corruption is endemic in the Solomon Islands, the small island nation is in the process of an election and there are concerns that there is no cure to suppress the rampant corruption. A High Court Judge in Australia has stated that the country is in desperate need of a special taskforce to tackle the corruption. According to the Judge it is so prevalent that there is no debate about its existence and no attempt to hide any corrupt practices. Corruption dominates every aspect of society, from government, politics, the police, to private industry and business. There is a call for an international and independent commission; the corruption would immediately taint any commission formed domestically.

IW#25 Solomon Islands
Local and international election monitors observe the election process in the Solomon Islands. (Photo curtesy of Radio Australia)

The Current election in the Solomon Islands is the first since an Australian led peace keeping force has scaled down operations in 2013. The operation was deployed to stop systemic ethnic violence and restore order. An anti-corruption watchdog called Transparency Solomon Islands has asked all candidates to sign an anti-corruption pledge. The pledge simply states that if the candidate is voted into office the candidate promises not to accept bribes or give bribes. So far 73 out of the 400 candidates for political office have singed on.

At present, Transparency Solomon Islands is concerned about the integrity of the election process and election fraud is a major concern. There is not the same international support for the election in the Solomon Islands as there was a few months ago for the Fiji election but Transparency states that the concern is just as pressing. Transparency claims that part of the problem is that education is not advanced in many of the rural areas of the islands, and that there is a lack of awareness that corruption, such as vote buying and selling is counterproductive to the democratic process.

Many voters will take days and even weeks to get to the nearest poling station, arriving by foot and by boat. 280,000 voters are registered for the election from across the many islands that make up the Solomons’. This final number was reached after 160,000 fraudulent registrations were screened out by an audit. The election is being conducted according to a biometric voter registration system. Registered voters receive a individualized biometric registration card, in an effort to cut down on fraud and keep others from voting in someone’s stead. However, once the cards were issued many were sold and exchanged as currency for money or gifts.

For more information, please see: 

ABC News — Independent Commission Needed in Solomon Islands to Tackle Endemic Corruption: Outgoing High Court Judge Says — 19 November 2014 

Reuters — Solomon Islands Stages First Election Since End of Peacekeeping Intervention — 18 November, 2014

BBC News — Solomon Islanders Vote in First Post- Ramsi Election — 19 November, 2014 

ABC News — Polls Close in Solomon Islands’ Genreal Election — 19 November 2014

Peru Activists Killings at the Forefront of Climate Talk

By Delisa Morris

Impunity Watch Reporter, South America

LIMA, Peru — In less than two weeks Peru will host a key global climate conference.  However, the country has again come under fire for failing to protect activists who were murdered in an attempt to save the country’s quickly diminishing rainforest and other ecosystems.

Illegal loggers in the Amazon / Image courtesy of Aberu

According to the NGO Global Witness, the South American country has become the fourth most dangerous state in the world for environmental and land defenders.  The NGO also accused Peru’s government of placing too much emphasis on exploitation of the land opposed to conservation.

In a recent report at least 57 activists have been killed in Peru since 2002, where more than 60% of the deaths have been within the last four years.  The other three most dangerous countries are Brazil, Honduras and the Philippines.

The report, with the updated death toll comes just in time as Lima prepares to host ministers from around the world for the United Nations climate conference, even though the host nation hasn’t been spot on addressing green issues.

Deforestation in the Peruvian Amazon – which accounts for about half of the country’s carbon emissions – nearly doubled in 2012, as farmers, miners and illegal loggers sawed deeper into the forest.  The World Bank estimates that almost 80% of the country’s timber exports were felled illegally.

Sources detail that most of the activist murders were related to conflicts over land or resistance to mining projects or illegal logging operations.  A large number of the victims were from indigenous tribes who had been granted reserves or applied for land titles, but receive little to no protection or enforcement from the government.

In a recent case, anti-logging campaigner Edwin Chota and three other Ashéninka leaders were killed in Ucayali in September over land they had spent a decade trying to secure for their community.  The community planned to use the forest sustainably.

Chata asked for protection before he and his colleagues were murdered.  He told the police he was receiving death threats from illegal loggers, and sent them photographs of the suspects.  Currently many of the suspects have been arrested, but the authorities are being accused of negligence.

“The murders of Edwin Chota and his colleagues are tragic reminders of a paradox at work in the climate negotiations,” said Patrick Alley, co-founder of Global Witness. “While Peru’s government chairs negotiations on how to solve our climate crisis, it is failing to protect the people on the frontline of environmental protection … The message is clear, if you want to save the environment, then stop people killing environmental defenders.”

For more information, please see:

ABC News – Widows: Probe Into Peru Activist Killings Stalled – 17 Nov. 2014

the guardian – Spotlight on murders of activists as Peru prepares for Lima climate talks – 17 Nov. 2014

Yahoo news – Peru activist killings condemned ahead of climate talks – 17 Nov. 2014

herald online – Widows: Probe into Peru activist killings stalled – 17 Nov. 2014

Report Uncovers Psychologists’ Role In Military Interrogations

By Lyndsey Kelly
Impunity Watch Reporter, North America

 WASHINGTON D.C., United States of America – The nations largest organization of psychologists are inquiring into whether it supported the government’s use of torture in the interrogation of prisoners during the Bush administration. The APA inquiry comes after author, James Risen, wrote a book detailing the relationship between psychologists and the Bush administration in the post-9/11 era. The APA has hired David H. Hoffman, a former federal prosecutor, to lead the investigation.

A New report uncovers the role of Psychologists in military interrogations (Photo Courtesy of The Guardian).

Human rights advocates have raised questions regarding the role of American psychologists in the implementation of Bush-era interrogation programs for years. Critics have said that the participation of psychologist allowed the Bush administration to ague that the interrogation procedures did not constitute torture because trained psychologists were monitoring the interrogations. There are claims that Psychologists were involved in developing enhanced interrogation techniques used on terrorism suspects.

The report documents how psychologists consulted with the military under their official role of Behavioral Science Consultation Teams. Their key role was to identify any vulnerability of the detainees. The psychologists were then expected to collaborate with interrogators in exploiting them.

What has led to more criticism is the APA’s 2002 decision to modify its ethics rules which essentially gave psychologists greater coverage in aiding with the interrogations. The most significant change in the APA’s guidelines was a new rule that states that if a psychologist was conflicted between the APA’s ethics code and a lawful order, the psychologists could follow the law. This led many APA members to disapprove of the organization’s decision, as they seen it as essentially giving psychologists permission to ignore ethical concerns if ordered by the government to aid in these interrogations. The list of interrogation methods used is troubling, consisting of: beatings, exposure to extreme cold, sleep deprivation, sensory deprivation, exposure to prolonged yelling, exploitation of phobias, cramped confinement, prolonged stress positions, forced feeding, deprivation of basic items, and waterboarding.

The APA has long defended its activities against critics who have questioned the ethics of the organization.


For more information please see the following:

ALL GOV – American Psychological Association Finally Agrees To Investigate Collusion in Bush Torture Program – 17 Nov. 2014.
THE GUARDIAN – The Dark Side of Psychology in Abuse and Interrogation – 5 Nov. 2013.
THE NEW YORK TIMES – U.N. Commission Presses U.S. on Torture – 13 Nov. 2014.
THE NEW YORK TIMES – Psychologists to Review Role in Detainee Interrogations – 13 Nov. 2014.

Workers Commemorate Massacre in Guyaquil with Hope for Labor Code Reforms Package

By Delisa Morris

Impunity Watch Reporter, South America

On Saturday, President Rafeal Correa of Ecuador presented the labor code reforms package, which coincided wight eh 92nd anniversary of the workers massacre in Guayaquil.  President Correa spoke to an audience of about 100,000 people.

Workers rally in Guayaquil / image courtesy of telesur

In the coastal city of Guayaquil, before more than 100,000 workers, President Rafael Correa presented the final package of reforms to the labor code to the President of the National Assembly Gabriela Rivadeneira.

Carlos Marx Carrasco, minister of labor relations spoke about Ecuador’s labor reforms, following the massive show of support.

“Of course, these reforms represent a milestone int eh region and surely, unions, the governments, entrepreneurs from other countries will be watching us.  And hopefully these dreams of our workers are made into reality throughout Latin America also,” said Marx.

The document seeks to expand workers rights, the reforms are universalizing the social security system, extending benefits to some 1.5 million homemakers.  Furthermore, the reforms seek to give rester proaction to workers from historically marginalized groups as well as eliminate fixed-term contracts, among other gains for employees.

“Some have all their right guaranteed, and others, like the campesinos, informal workers, and homemakers did not have anything.  This is why we are presenting these reforms to the labor code and to social security.” said President Correa on Saturday.

Several of the workers attending Saturday’s rally are members of a recently formed union, the United Workers Trade Union Federation (CUT).

The event purposely coincided with the 92nd anniversary of a massacre of about 1,500 workers in the city of Guayaquil who were involved in a general strike.  The fall of cacao prices under the presidency of Dr. Jose Luis Tamayo following World War I obliterated the country’s export potential, greatly affecting the national economy as well as working conditions and salaries.

The strike led to a freeze of all economic and political activities in Guayaquil.  On November 14, several trade union leaders were arrested.  Several people demanded they be released as well as greater protection rights, reasonable work hours and adequate living salaries.  These demands attracted other workers, an their demonstrations were violently repressed.  Around 3,000 members of the military attacked crowds, killing both workers and civilians.

The massacre is commemorated each year with a ceremony, where workers and civilians leave crosses and flower crowns to drift in the river.  The reforms package will not be debated within the National Assembly.

For more information, please see:

Cuenca High Life – Ecuador marks 90th anniversary of ‘Guayaquil Massacre’, as many as 1,500 labor demonstrators died in hail of bullets – 15 Nov. 2014

telesur – Massive Ecuador Rally Commemorates Workers, Advances Revolution – 15 Nov. 2014

el ciudadano – Workers’ massacre of 1922 was hidden by the media in Guayaquil – 11 Nov. 2014

telesur – Ecuador: As Reforms to Labor Code Pushed Forward, Past Remembered – 15 Nov. 2014

New Russian State Television’s Attack on Bill Browder Features Ex-con and Expert Suspected of Involvement in Rwandan Genocide

14 November 2014 – To mark the fifth anniversary of Sergei Magnitsky’s murder in police custody, Russian state-controlled television, NTV will be airing a show on prime time television which will conclude that Sergei Magnitsky was not murdered, and will blame justice campaigner Bill Browder as the man responsible for all of Russia’s problems ( NTV’s show will air on Sunday night at 8:10pm on 16 November 2014.

The new Russian show accuses Mr Browder of being a CIA agent responsible for the devaluation of the Russian ruble in 1998, for the theft of $4.7 billion of Russian IMF funding; and for the murders of Edmond Safra and Boris Berezovsky.

The show relies on several experts, including Oleg Lurie, who was previously convicted for extortion in Russia and served a four year prison sentence (;

The show also stars Paul Barril, a former French intelligence officer, suspected by human rights activists of complicity in the Rwandan genocide (

While the rest of the world is marking the anniversary of Sergei Magnitsky’s killing in custody, noting with shock the impunity of Russian officials, the Russian government continues to cover up the crime and blame the victims,” said a Magnitsky Justice Campaign representative.

The Magnitsky case has lead to a dramatic movement in Russian civil society, calling on the West to do something to create consequences for involved Russian officials, and specifically to impose sanctions in the form of visa bans and freezes on their assets in Western banks.

As a result, in December 2012, the U.S. passed the “Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act” imposing such sanctions. In Europe, the European Parliament, the Parliamentary Assembly of the OSCE and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), international organizations comprising up to 57 countries, passed resolutions calling on their members and their national parliaments to adopt a course similar to that of the US and impose Magnitsky sanctions. The Russian government and President Putin have made resisting the Magnitsky sanctions one of top foreign policy priorities.

Sergei Magnitsky was a 37-year old lawyer and outside counsel for the Hermitage Fund, who was tortured to death in Russian Interior Ministry custody after he testified about the involvement of Interior Ministry officials in the theft of his client’s companies and the $230 million theft. The Russian officials responsible for his arrest, torture and killing were absolved from any responsibility, promoted and decorated with state honours.

For more information, please contact:

Magnitsky Justice Campaign

+44 2074401777

5 Years After Magnitsky’s Death, Russia Still Trying to get Browder

By Kyle Herda

Impunity Watch Reporter, Europe

MOSCOW, Russia – It’s been five years since Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky died in a Russian prison at the age of 37 and under suspicious circumstances. Even so, Russia is still looking to bring self-claimed “justice” over Bill Browder, a former associate of Magnitsky.

Sergei Magnitsky died in Russian captivity 5 years ago this week. (Photo courtesy of Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty)

Browder was the leader of the largest Russia-only investment firm in the world, Hermitage Capital Management. Browder’s company was worth over $4.5 billion by the early 2000’s. Magnitsky worked as a lawyer for Browder back when things were good.

As Browder became more and more successful, he began pushing for more transparency in Russian capitalism. In addition, Browder also pushed to expose corruption in Russian companies, hoping ultimately to have Russian capitalism come closer to Western models and encourage more mixing between the markets. When Vladimir Putin came to power, however, Browder’s goals were frustrated.

In 2005, Browder made a trip to Britain, but was refused re-entry into Russia after. Shortly thereafter, Browder’s company was declared to have $1 billion in “liabilities,” claimed by Browder to have come from fictitious documents. Quickly, Russia had other officials step in and attempt to clean up the mess Browder allegedly created.

Browder tried to have Magnitsky also flee, fearing what would happen if Russia decided to go after Magnitsky too. Instead, Magnitsky stayed behind and investigated very openly and expressly the fraud that Russia had committed on Brower and his company. He even testified against a group of Interior Ministry officers who allegedly stole over 5 billion rubles, or $230 million, from Russia’s Treasury. Magnitsky was imprisoned by these same officers on bogus charges, and he remained in prison until his physical condition worsened. Doctors were denied to Magnitsky, and under debated circumstances he passed away.

For the 5th anniversary of Magnitsky’s death, Browder has come out with a statement regarding circumstances surrounding Magnitsky. Browder calls into question the “natural causes” that led to Magnitsky’s death. Browder questions why Magnitsky was alleged to have been guilty of crimes but never uncovered any in his investigation. And Browder questions how the Russian state officials involved in the case were all exonerated. Finally, Browder discussed one success in the search for justice that has come since Magnitsky’s death. The United States passed the Magnitsky Act, banning certain Russian officials implicated in the case from entering the US.

After a trial in 2013 posthumously found Magnitsky guilty and Browder guilty in a trial in absentia, Browder was sentenced by a Russian court to 9 years in prison. Russia has repeatedly tried to get Interpol, the international police force, to retrieve Browder from Britain and bring him to Russia, and Russia has repeatedly been denied. However, Interpol has recently decided to give Russia another chance to make their case.

For more information, please see:

Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty – Interpol Said To Eye New Russian Bid For Browder’s Arrest – 17 November 2014

The New York Times – Putin Plays Hardball – 17 November 2014

Law and Order in Russia – Statement by Bill Browder on 5th Anniversary of Sergei Magnitsky’s Killing in Russia – 16 November 2014

The Moscow Times – From the Archive: Magnitsky’s Death Was No Accident – 14 November 2014

Cannibal Trio in Brazil Tried & Sentenced

By Delisa Morris

Impunity Watch Reporter, South America

BRASILIA, Brazil — A judge in north-eastern Brazil has sentenced three people after they were convicted of killing a woman, and then eating her.

‘Brazil Trio’ / Image courtesy of

Jorge Beltrao Negromonte da Silveira was sentenced to 23 years in prison.  His wife, Isabel Cristina Pires and his mistress, Bruna Cristina Oliveira da Silva were sentenced to 20 years in prison.

The trio made parties from a woman’s flesh and then sold the pastries to their neighbors.  Additionally, they confessed to killing two more women and will be sentenced later.  Their lawyer’s are planning an appeal against the Friday’s sentences.

The three were arrested in April 2012, in the city of Guaranhuns.  Together they were convicted of murder, desecration and concealment of a body.

At the trial’s opening, Silveira said that he had “committed a horrible monstrous mistake,” according to local news channels. 

Their victim was a homeless woman named as Jessica Camila da Silva.  The victim was of no relation to Bruna Cristina Oliveira da Silva.

The trio allegedly lured the victims to their house by telling them that they were looking to hire a nanny.

They admitted to the court that they murdered and ate their victims as a part of a purification ritual.  However, they denied that they sold the victims remains baked inside of ’empada’ pastries.

It is alleged that the trio passed off the human pastries as non-human meat to sell to their neighbors.  It is also alleged that the trio fed the human remains to a child that was living with them.

Authorities found human remains in the garden behind the house that the three shared.

Police also found a book written by Jorge Beltrao Negromonte da Silveira titled “Revelations of a Schizophrenic”.  In the 50-page book he detailed how he constantly heard voices and was fixated on killing women.

At the time of their arrest the trio claimed to be a part of a group that supported “the purification of the world, and the reduction of its population”.

For more information, please see:

BBC News – Brazil ‘cannibal trio’ sentenced – 15 Nov. 2014

9news – Brazilian cannibal trio who baked woman into pastries sentenced – 17 Nov. 2014

International Business Times – Trio Who Ran Brazilian ‘Cannibal Bakery’ Sentenced – 16 Nov. 2014

ITV News – Brazilian cannibalism trio jailed after making pies out of human flesh – 15 Nov. 2014


On the 5th Anniversary of Sergei Magnitsky’s Murder in Russian Police
Custody, Please Join Us in Watching a Two Minute Tribute Song to Sergei
on YouTube.
To commemorate the fifth anniversary of Sergei
Magnitsky’s death in Russian police custody today, please join us by
watching a short song on YouTube devoted to Sergei’s life and his
sacrifice    WhKKpMzvc.

Sergei Magnitsky was a 37-year old Russian anti-corruption lawyer who
uncovered a $230 million fraud perpetrated by Russian government
officials and organised criminals. After he implicated Russian police
officers in the crime, he was arrested by the very same officers,
tortured and brutally killed at Matrosskaya Tishina pre-trial detention
center in Moscow on 16 November 2009.

The Sergei Magnitsky tribute song says:

“Jailed for the words that he spoke

His name lives on

In the name of the music and the folks

Who fail to forget that rulers need

To show respect to the people they lead…

Sergei…You didn’t lose your life in vain –

Everyone on Earth will remember the name.”

The Sergei Magnitsky tribute song was written by a songwriter Samuel
Smith, and recorded as a result of a request made on, a
crowd-sourcing platform for human rights activists around the world. The
video directed by Alexandra Ageeva has been created by Russian civic
rights activists, including Pussy Riot, who conducted a series of
one-person protest actions around Moscow this summer.

The music video begins with an image of Russian President Vladimir Putin
at a televised press conference in December 2012, publicly denying that
Sergei Magnitsky had been tortured in pre-trial detention before his

Vladimir Putin: “Mr Magnitsky perished, died, not from torture, no one
tortured him.”
The Magnitsky music video also presents images of a young Sergei
Magnitsky, and of his resting place at a Moscow cemetery.

The video concludes with a photo of Sergei on holiday with his friends
and the byline: “Russian hero.”

While the killing of Sergei Magnitsky has ignited worldwide condemnation
and lead to numerous political and legal calls for justice around the
globe, five years on there has still been no justice for Sergei Magnitsky
in Russia. Instead, he himself was posthumously prosecuted in the first
posthumous trial in the history of Russia, with the judge presiding at
the trial immediately promoted by Russian President Vladimir Putin. The
Russian authorities also last year closed the investigation into his
death finding “no sign of crime,” and refused all applications from
Sergei Magnitsky’s mother to reopen the investigation into the evidence
of his torture and murder.

On Friday, the US State Department released a statement on the eve of the
fifth anniversary of Sergei Magnitsky’s death which says: “Despite widely
publicized, credible evidence of criminal conduct resulting in
Magnitskiy’s death, Russian authorities have failed to bring to justice
those responsible. We remain concerned about

impunity for this crime and the atmosphere of intimidation for those who
work to uncover corruption or human rights abuses in the Russian
Federation. On the fifth anniversary of Magnitskiy’s death, we continue
to call for full accountability for those responsible for his unjust
imprisonment and wrongful death and we will continue to fully support the
efforts of those in Russia who seek to bring these individuals to
justice, including through implementation of the Sergei

Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act of 2012.”

Sergei Magnitsky’s case and the impunity of the Russian officials
involved have become a symbol of the corruption and failing justice
system in Russia, and of the abuse of the rights of its citizens who
challenge the authorities.

For more information, please contact:

Magnitsky Justice Campaign

+44 2074401777   

Softly spoken, words bleed the truth

And help discover the broken and confused

The fight for justice and the path of one man

Bring new beginnings and take down corrupt plans


You can’t pass away from the people who know


Your words lead the way for the world to go

You didn’t lose your life in vain

Everyone on Earth will remember the name


Everyone on Earth will remember the name

Jailed for the words that he spoke

His name lives on

In the name of the music and the folks

Who fail to forget that rulers need

To show respect to the people they lead


You can’t pass away from the people who know


Your words lead the way for the world to go

You didn’t lose your life in vain Everyone

on Earth will remember the name


Everyone on Earth will remember the name