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Prince Charles praised for raising plight of Saudi blogger

Prince Charles has been praised by Amnesty International for raising the plight of a jailed Saudi blogger with the country's new king.

The Prince of Wales attends a bilateral meeting with King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud. Credit: Arthur Edwards/The Sun/PA Wire

The Prince of Wales had faced calls from Amnesty International UK to use his influence with the Saudi royal family and intervene on behalf of Raif Badawi during his royal visit. And his decision to broach the subject yesterday during his first official meeting with King Salman was praised by the organisation.

This is of course very encouraging and very welcome news.

We always said we weren't expecting Prince Charles to give up the red carpets and state banquets and become a human rights campaigner, but we also hoped he'd use his unique position to pass on a few well-chosen words to his royal hosts about human rights in Saudi Arabia.

– Kate Allen, Amnesty director

Charles is coming to the end of a six-day tour of the Middle East that has already taken him to Jordan and Kuwait. Tomorrow he will visit Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.

Later today he will spend his final day in Saudi Arabia visiting the area in and around the ancient settlement of Al Ula, in the north west of the country, which is famed for its historic monuments.

Amnesty urges Prince Charles to raise flogging issue with Saudi King

Amnesty International has urged Prince Charles to raise the issue of the blogger Raif Badawi, who has been sentenced to flogging, when he meets members of the Saudi royal family today.

Kate Allen, director of Amnesty International UK, said "how can you be in that country, meeting the leaders of it, and not use the opportunities that there are?"

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Iran hangs woman despite international campaign

An Iranian woman convicted of killing a man she said tried to rape her has been executed, despite international campaign urging a retrial.

Reyhaneh Jabbari was executed for killing a man she said tried to rape her. Credit: Goalara Sajadieh/DPA/Press Association Images

Reyhaneh Jabbari, 26, was arrested in 2007 for the murder of Morteza Abdolali Sarbandi, a former employee of Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence.

She was sentenced to death in 2008 after what Amnesty International called a "deeply flawed investigation and trial".

Miss Jabbari admitted to stabbing the man, but said she acted in self defence after he tried to sexually abuse her.

"Her claims do not appear to have ever been properly investigated," Amnesty International said.

Reyhaneh Jabbari’s execution has been deferred a number of times, including last month.

Third shopper reveals Primark clothing 'SOS' message

A woman in Belfast is the third shopper to find what appears to be an SOS message in at item of Primark clothing.

The handwritten note, which claims to be from a prisoner in China working under slave labour conditions, was reportedly found inside a pair of trousers bought by Karen Wisínska in a Primark store in Belfast in June 2011.

The note, translated below, were found in a pair of Primark trousers bought in 2011. Credit: Amnesty International

Ms Wisínska said the trousers had remained unworn and in a cupboard until she discovered the message in them earlier this week and contacted Amnesty International.

The message, headed "SOS! SOS! SOS!" reads: "We are prisoners in the Xiang Nan Prison of the Hubei Province in China. Our job inside the prison is to produce fashion clothes for export.

"We work 15 hours per day and the food we eat wouldn't even be given to dogs or pigs. We work as hard as oxen in the field.

"We call on the international community to condemn the Chinese government for the violation of our human rights!"

Sudan woman sentenced to death for 'being Christian'

A woman who married a Christian has been sentenced to death for not reverting back to the religion of her birth, judicial officials and Amnesty International have said.

Meriam Ibrahim, 26, was convicted of apostasy at the weekend and given four days to switch back to Islam and thus avoid execution.

The woman is pregnant and married a Christian man from the south of the country in 2011 and took his faith. She has an 18-month-old child with her inside the jail, officials also say.

Ms Ibrahim was sentenced to death after that grace period expired, Amnesty said.

The court in the capital, Khartoum, also ordered that she be given 100 lashes for committing "zena" - an Arabic word for illegitimate sex - for having sexual relations with her husband.

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Amnesty: 'Programmes like Homeland glorify torture'

Speaking about the findings Kate Allen, director of Amnesty International UK, said:

These findings are alarming, we really didn't foresee this sort of response.

People have bought into the idea that their personal safety can be enhanced in some way through the use of torture. That is simply untrue.

Programmes like 24, Homeland and Spooks have glorified torture to a generation - but there's a massive difference between a dramatic depiction by screenwriters, and its real-life use by government agents in torture chambers.

We decided as a society, a long time ago, that torture is simply wrong and can never be justified in any circumstances.

– Kate Allen

The torture survey showed 15% of people in the UK, around three in 20, fear being tortured if they are detained by the authorities - while 86% agreed clear rules against torture were needed.

TV shows making 'torture acceptable' say Amnesty poll

More people in Britain believe torture can be justified than in Russia - thanks to popular TV shows such as 24, Homeland and Spooks, a new poll conducted by Amnesty International has said.

According to the poll, 29% in the UK think torture is sometimes necessary and acceptable to protect the public, compared to 25% in Russia.

One scene in popular TV show 24 shows a man tortured in the opening scene of the second episode. He is electrocuted by a machine that monitors his saline levels.

Selmin Caliskan, Secretary General of Amnesty speaks out against torture in Germany. Credit: Stephanie Pilick/DPA

The research is published as Amnesty launched a new Stop Torture campaign and revealed that 27 different types of torture were reported during 2013/14, in at least 79 countries so far.

US government 'spied on human rights charities'

Edward Snowden speaking to the Council of Europe in Strasbourg. Credit: Reuters

Whistleblower Edward Snowden has said that the US National Security Agency deliberately listened in on the activities and staff of prominent human rights organisations.

Addressing members of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg via video link from Moscow, Snowden said that the NSA had deliberately monitored bodies like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.

He told MEPs: "The NSA has targeted leaders and staff members of these sorts of organisations, including domestically within the borders of the United States." Snowden did not reveal which groups the NSA had bugged.

The Council of Europe invited the White House to give evidence but it declined.

Amnesty: Pakistan 'must reform its blasphemy laws'

Human rights campaigners have called for the immediate release of a British man sentenced to death under Pakistan's blasphemy laws.

A judge convicted and sentenced Mohammad Asghar, from Edinburgh, on Thursday following a trial. Amnesty International's deputy Asia Pacific director Polly Truscott said:

Mohammad Asghar is now facing the gallows simply for writing a series of letters. He does not deserve punishment. No one should be charged on the basis of this sort of conduct.

Pakistan must immediately release Mohammad Ashgar and reform its blasphemy laws to ensure that this will not happen again.

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