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Amnesty International calls for protest roadblock to be removed

BISMARCK - Amnesty International USA is calling on North Dakota officials to remove a roadblock to the Dakota Access Pipeline protest site and meet regularly with protesters and community leaders.

In a letter to Gov. Jack Dalrymple, the Morton County Sheriff's Office and the North Dakota Highway Patrol, Amnesty International said no parking signs on Highway 1806 and reduced speed limit warnings would ensure safety at the protest site without a roadblock.

The organization also urged state officials to regularly meet with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Council and other groups gathered at the protest site. Human rights observers from Amnesty International visited the protest site last week and the group plans to continue monitoring the situation.

"The U.S. government is obligated under international law to respect, protect, and fulfill the human rights of Indigenous people, including the rights to freedom of expression and assembly. It is the legitimate right of people to peacefully express their opinion," the letter reads. "Public assemblies should not be considered as the 'enemy.'"

The call from Amnesty International follow similar requests from the American Civil Liberties Union of North Dakota last week.

Law enforcement has said the roadblock restricting southbound traffic on Highway 1806 is necessary for safety due to protesters who have blocked the roadway or vehicles stopping to take pictures.

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