I started this blog for personal matters, to publish my art and literature, Now it seems I am turning this blog to a reporting media of Human abuse and Human being in wretched plight all around the World. I hope, We all citizen should rush to the crying and disturbing souls and help and support them. Protest and publicizing can help stop atrocities on public and bring safety measure to the mass under calamities.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

UK plans for secret courts 'dangerous'

9 May 2012

UK plans for secret courts 'dangerous'

The Queen unveiled the proposals in a speech to MPs and peersThe Queen unveiled the proposals in a speech to MPs and peers
© AFP/Getty Images
UK government plans to end centuries of open justice by allowing some court evidence to be heard behind closed doors are "dangerous", Amnesty International said.

The proposed legal changes, part of the Justice and Security Bill, could result in information and evidence of human rights violations by UK state representatives, being kept secret.

Plans by the government to introduce new legislation were confirmed in the Queen’s speech during Wednesday’s state opening of the UK Parliament.

“These proposals are dangerous and should be dropped," said Tara Lyle, Policy Adviser at Amnesty International UK.

“They will allow the government to throw a cloak of secrecy over wrongdoing, including matters as serious as the alleged involvement by UK officials in rendition, secret detention, enforced disappearances and torture."

The Bill would allow for the use of “closed material procedures” in future civil claims cases. This would allow the courts to consider secret material presented by UK authorities in closed sessions.

Claimants and their lawyers of choice would not have access to the material or the closed sessions and would, instead, have a court appointed Special Advocate to represent their interests.

The Special Advocate would be prohibited from discussing any part of the secret material with the claimant or taking instructions from them after seeing the material, seriously impeding their ability to serve the interests of the claimant.

Amnesty International considers that the use of Special Advocates fails to sufficiently mitigate the unfairness of “closed material procedures”.
 
Amnesty International believes the right to redress and a fair trial for victims of alleged human rights violations could be critically undermined by the proposals.

The proposals for the Bill come amid allegations that the UK has been involved in rendition, unlawful detention and mistreatment.

“After David Cameron promised to get to the bottom of allegations of complicity in human rights violations by UK officials, this Bill is a sell-out to the security services," said Tara Lyle.

“The victims of human rights violations as well as the general public have a right to learn the truth about whether and how government officials have been involved in rendition, secret detention, enforced disappearances and torture.”

“If members of the intelligence and security services are suspected of involvement in human right violations, the government should not be able to invoke ‘national security’ to avoid real accountability.”
Source : Amnesty

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Every email and computer click to be stored in huge expansion of surveillance state unveiled in the Queen's Speech

  • State will be able to people's internet browsing history and emails
  • Campaigners say there will be 'no scrutiny for them and no privacy for us'
  • Plans for secret courts watered down after opposition
By Rick Dewsbury

Controversial plans to snoop on emails and text messages came one step closer today after being unveiled in the Queen's Speech.
Police will be given powers to secretly access people's internet browsing history and see who they have been contacting, for how long and when.
The measures will be published in a draft form after the Queen unveiled the Communications Data Bill in the House of Lords today.
Campaigners immediately reacted with concern, saying the laws will 'allow no scrutiny for them and no privacy for us.'
Politicians of all parties should remember the values everyone is supposed to share before pushing through the reforms, civil rights group Liberty said.
Plans to enable courts to sit behind closed doors when considering issues of national security and powers to monitor emails and internet communications will all be part of the Government’s programme of reforms in the next 12 months.
Shami Chakrabarti, Liberty’s director, said: 'Two years ago, the coalition bound itself together with promises and action to protect our rights and freedoms.
'As the strains of governing in a recession begin to show, politicians of all parties should remember the values that we are all supposed to share.
'Whilst action on free speech is extremely welcome, proposals for secret courts and a snoopers’ charter risk allowing no scrutiny for them and no privacy for us.'
Under the draft Communications Data Bill, authorities would not be able to view the content of email and text messages, but could identify who someone was contacting, how often and for how long, and could also access internet browsing history.

Under surveillance: In future, every website visit via your iPad or laptop would be kept for a fixed period by your internet service provider
Under surveillance: In future, every website visit via your iPad or laptop would be kept for a fixed period by your internet service provider

The Government has said the plans are needed to tackle crime and terrorism and to ensure the police and security services can keep pace with developments in technology.
But they have already exposed tensions within the coalition over its stance on civil liberties.
The communications data will be kept for up to 12 months by service providers and the role of the Interception of Communications Commissioner will also be extended to oversee the collection of the data.
The Justice and Security Bill will also reform the way sensitive evidence from the security services is handled in national security cases. This bill will enable secret court cases.
The Queen said the plans would be brought forward, 'subject to scrutiny of draft clauses'.
£2bn scheme: GCHQ, in Cheltenham, where under new rules being brought in by the Government - along with secret courts - would allow an electronic 'listening' agency to see who a person is communicating with and when
£2bn scheme: GCHQ, in Cheltenham, where under new rules being brought in by the Government - along with secret courts - would allow an electronic 'listening' agency to see who a person is communicating with and when
It comes after Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg made clear the proposals could only proceed if they took into account and protected civil liberties.
Under the moves, a defendant or claimant and their lawyer would be barred from the closed part of the hearing, removing the adversarial nature of the justice system and leading to fears that evidence may not be tested properly and miscarriages of justice could take place.
Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke has said the powers were needed to ensure other countries, particularly the United States, were happy to share intelligence without fear of it being exposed in British courts.
It is also designed to ensure courts can fully consider all the evidence in civil claims made against the Government to prevent it being forced to settle cases which it believes has no merit.

It follows secret multi-million pound payouts to 16 terrorism suspects, including former Guantanamo Bay detainee Binyam Mohamed, last November after they claimed they had been mistreated by security and intelligence officials.
Nick Pickles, director of the civil liberties campaign group Big Brother Watch, said: 'The Home Office have been very good at saying what the problem is, but seem intent on keeping the technical details of what they are proposing secret.
'Is it any wonder that the public are scared by a proposal for online surveillance not seen in any other Western democracy?
'If someone is suspected of plotting an attack the powers already exist to tap their phone, read their email and follow them on the street.
'Instead of scaremongering, the Home Office should come forward and engage with the debate about how we improve public safety, rather than pursue a policy that will indiscriminately spy on everyone online while the real threats are driven underground and escape surveillance.'
A Home Office spokeswoman said: 'It is vital that police and security services are able to obtain communications data in certain circumstances to investigate serious crime and terrorism and to protect the public.
'We need to take action to maintain the continued availability of communications data as technology changes.
'Communications data has played a role in every major Security Service counter-terrorism operation over the past decade and in 95 per cent of all serious organised crime investigations.
'It is vital to law enforcement, especially when dealing with organised crime gangs, paedophile rings and terrorist groups.'
Clare Algar, the executive director of Reprieve, warned the introduction of closed courts 'will put the Government above the law'.
'The proposals for secret justice would massively skew courts in favour of ministers, and prevent the public from finding out the truth about serious wrongdoing,' she said.
'The reality is that these plans are designed to spare the intelligence agencies embarrassment. They are a recipe for unfair and unaccountable Government.'
Amnesty International UK said the proposals for secret courts were 'dangerous and should be dropped'.
Tara Lyle, the campaign group’s policy adviser, said: 'They will allow the Government to throw a cloak of secrecy over wrongdoing, including matters as serious as the alleged involvement by UK officials in human rights violations like rendition, secret detention and torture.
'After David Cameron promised to get to the bottom of allegations of complicity in human rights violations by UK officials, this Bill is a sell-out to the security services.'
A Ministry of Justice spokeswoman said: 'These proposals will extend civil (not criminal) justice so that cases which are currently not heard by the courts, are heard.
'They will mean that allegations made against the Government will be fully investigated and scrutinised by the courts, and that the Government will no longer have to settle cases which it believes have no merit.”
She added: 'Closed material procedures are already used in the UK justice system in several areas including immigration, employment, control order, parole board and proscription hearings.'

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SECRET COURTS TO GO AHEAD... BUT PLANS WILL BE WATERED DOWN WITH NEW CLAUSES

Controversial secret courts will go ahead amid strong opposition from civil liberties campaigners.
The Justice and Security Bill will reform the way sensitive evidence from the security services is handled in national security cases. This bill will enable secret court cases.
The Queen said the plans would be brought forward, 'subject to scrutiny of draft clauses'.
It comes after Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg made clear the proposals could only proceed if they took into account and protected civil liberties.
Under the moves, a defendant or claimant and their lawyer would be barred from the closed part of the hearing, removing the adversarial nature of the justice system and leading to fears that evidence may not be tested properly and miscarriages of justice could take place.
Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke has said the powers were needed to ensure other countries, particularly the United States, were happy to share intelligence without fear of it being exposed in British courts.
It is also designed to ensure courts can fully consider all the evidence in civil claims made against the Government to prevent it being forced to settle cases which it believes has no merit.
It follows secret multi-million pound payouts to 16 terrorism suspects, including former Guantanamo Bay detainee Binyam Mohamed, last November after they claimed they had been mistreated by security and intelligence officials.
 

Annual Report 2011 The state of the world's human rights

Annual Report 2011 The state of the world's human rights

The year 2010 may well be remembered as a watershed year when activists and journalists used new technology to speak truth to power and, in so doing, pushed for greater respect for human rights. It is also the year when repressive governments faced the real possibility that their days were numbered.
source : Amnesty
Information is a source of power, and for those challenging the abuse of power by states and other institutions, it is an exciting time. Since Amnesty International’s inception half a century ago, we have seen and shaped similar major shifts in the power struggle between those perpetrating abuses and the courageous and inventive individuals who expose their wrongdoing. As a movement dedicated to focusing global outrage in defence of beleaguered individuals, we are committed to supporting activists who imagine a world in which information is truly free and in which they can exercise their right to express dissent peacefully, beyond the control of the authorities.
For 50 years, Amnesty International has explored frontier technologies that can give voice to the powerless and abused. From teleprinters, photocopiers and fax machines through to radio, television, satellite communications, phones, emails and the internet, we have harnessed them all in support of mass mobilization. They have been tools that have aided the struggle for human rights, despite sophisticated government efforts to restrict the flow of information and censor communication.
This year Wikileaks, a website dedicated to posting documents received from a wide variety of sources, began publishing the first of hundreds of thousands of documents which were allegedly downloaded by a 22-year-old US Army intelligence analyst, Bradley Manning, who is currently in pre-trial detention and faces the possibility of more than 50 years in prison if convicted of espionage and other charges.
Wikileaks created an easily accessible dumping ground for whistleblowers around the world and showed the power of this platform by disseminating and publishing classified and confidential government documents. Early on, Amnesty International recognized Wikileaks’ contribution to human rights activism when Wikileaks posted information related to violations in Kenya in 2009.
But it took old-fashioned newspaper reporters and political analysts to trawl through the raw data, analyze it, and identify evidence of crimes and violations contained in those documents. Leveraging this information, political activists used other new communications tools now easily available on mobile phones and on social networking sites to bring people to the streets to demand accountability.
A compelling and tragic example of the power of individual action when amplified through the new tools of the virtual world is the story of Mohamed Bouazizi. In December 2010, Mohamed Bouazizi, a street vendor living in Sidi Bouzid, Tunisia, set himself on fire outside the City Hall to protest police harassment, humiliation, economic hardship and the sense of powerlessness felt by young people like himself in Tunisia.
As word of his act of despair and defiance spread around Tunisia via mobile phones and the internet, it galvanized the long-simmering dissent against the country’s oppressive government with unforeseen ramifications. Mohamed Bouazizi died from his burns, but his anger lived on in the form of street protests throughout the country. Activists in Tunisia – a group comprised of trade unionists, members of the political opposition, and youth – some of whom did their organizing via social networking sites – took to the streets to demonstrate their support for Mohamed Bouazizi’s grievances. Experienced hands joined with young protesters in using new tools to challenge a repressive government.
The Tunisian government sought to enforce a tight media blackout and shut down individual access to the internet but news quickly spread thanks to new technologies. The protesters made it clear that their anger was about both the government’s brutal repression of those who dared to challenge its authoritarianism as well as the lack of economic opportunity caused in part by government corruption.
In January, less than a month after Mohamed Bouazizi’s desperate act, the government of President Zine El ‘Abidine Ben ‘Ali collapsed and he fled the country, seeking refuge in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. The people of Tunisia celebrated the end of 20 plus years of unaccountable rule, setting the stage for the restoration of a participatory and rights-respecting government to be elected.
The fall of Ben ‘Ali’s government reverberated throughout the region and the world. Governments which rely on torture and repression to suppress dissent and which grow rich through corruption and economic exploitation were looking over their shoulders. The local elite and foreign governments which propped up these illegitimate regimes while pontificating on democracy and human rights, were also nervous.
In no time the upheaval in Tunisia triggered tremors in other countries. People took to the streets in Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Libya and Yemen.
The tools in 2010 were new but the grievances were the same: the quest for a life lived with dignity, with the full range of civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights. Activists around the world who have too long endured the threat and reality of imprisonment, torture and other brutality because of their political opinion and beliefs or identity, imagined a world of possibilities including freedom from fear and meaningful political participation. What was clearly shown by the postings is that the lack of economic opportunity experienced by many in the region resonated deeply with those who were supporting the activists in Tunisia.
The frustration of people living under repressive governments is never far beneath the surface. For example, in Egypt, Khaled Said died following an assault by two police officers in an internet cafe in Alexandria in June 2010. His death provoked a public outcry – what in hindsight appears to be an early harbinger of the massive demonstrations in 2011. The police officers were charged with unlawfully arresting and torturing him, but not charged with direct responsibility for his death. In Iran, government officials restricted access to outside sources of information such as the internet as the discontent following the disputed election in 2009 continued and the wounds created by a brutal crackdown on protesters festered.
In China, the government attempted to bury the story of a young man who, when stopped by police after killing one woman and injuring another while driving drunk, dismissed them by proclaiming his relationship to a senior police official. The cry, “My father is Li Gang” became shorthand for lack of accountability and the story behind the line was posted and reposted on the internet throughout China even as the authorities struggled for control.
For those politicians who argue the primacy of civil and political rights over economic, social and cultural rights – or vice versa – the clarity with which activists have defined their frustration as related to the lack of political and economic opportunities demonstrates that this is a false dichotomy that ignores the experiences of millions, if not billions, of people throughout the world living without both.
Amnesty International, which began as an organization dedicated to the rights of prisoners of conscience, has long understood that it is just as important to point out the underlying violations that spur activists to write and to take to the streets as it is to ensure an end to detention and abuse of the activists. Social networking sites may be new, but they are important because they are a powerful tool that can facilitate camaraderie and support between disaffected critics living under similarly abusive governments around the world.

Leaks and Revelations

In July, Wikileaks and several major newspapers began publishing nearly 100,000 documents related to the war in Afghanistan. Controversy regarding the content, the legality and the consequences of the leak erupted. The documents provided valuable corroboration of human rights violations documented by human rights activists and journalists – violations that the Afghan and NATO governments had denied. But human rights organizations were also alarmed when the Taleban announced that they were going through the documents on Wikileaks and would punish Afghans who had co-operated with the Afghan government or its international supporters. New technology, like all tools, presents risks as well as benefits; Wikileaks took steps to ensure that future document releases would incorporate the long-standing principle of ”do no harm”, a bedrock of Amnesty International’s work over the past 50 years.
In response, the governments implicated in the abuses invoked the age-old excuse of claiming that the leaked documents highlighting government violations and failures were a threat to national security and therefore illegal. By and large they simply ignored the revelation of evidence of crimes under international law and their failure to investigate these crimes and prosecute those responsible.
In October, Wikileaks released nearly 400,000 documents related to the war in Iraq. Again, Amnesty International and other human rights organizations pointed out that even as the implicated governments cried national security, they were failing to meet their responsibility to investigate and prosecute those responsible for war crimes and other crimes under international law. The documents also confirmed that even as these governments were dismissing the reports of these violations by Amnesty International and other human rights organizations, they were in possession of documents that clearly verified the accuracy of these reports.
But these leaks were dwarfed by the final chapter in 2010 when Wikileaks and five major newspapers started to simultaneously publish the first 220 of 251,287 leaked confidential – but not top secret – diplomatic cables from 274 US embassies, consulates and diplomatic missions around the world, dated from 28 December 1966 to 28 February 2010. The newly available information, analysed by veteran newspaper reporters as well as new but passionate bloggers, fed into existing movements and inspired new actors.

Tremors around the World

There are differing perspectives on the Wikileaks drama, with some commentators describing it as operating in “a moral void” while others see it as the modern equivalent of the release of the Pentagon Papers. What is clear, however, is the impact that the leaks have had.
While the “Jasmine Revolution” in Tunisia would not have happened without the long struggle of brave human rights defenders over the last two decades, support for activists from outside the country may have been strengthened as people scrutinized the Wikileaks documents on Tunisia and understood the roots of the anger. In particular, some of the documents made clear that countries around the world were aware of both the political repression and the lack of economic opportunity, but for the most part were not taking action to urge change. One leaked cable showed that the then Canadian envoy, the US ambassador and the UK ambassador all acknowledged that the Tunisian security forces torture detainees; that diplomatic assurances that the government will not torture detainees sent back to Tunisia are “of value” but unreliable; and that the ICRC does not have access to detention facilities run by the Ministry of Interior.
In another leaked cable, the US ambassador detailed how the Tunisian economy was in shreds due to the pervasiveness of corruption, ranging from shakedowns by the police to the long arm of “the Family” – that is members of President Ben ‘Ali’s immediate and extended family who used their power to amass wealth.
Which brings us back to Mohamed Bouazizi and so many other Tunisians who appear to have felt that all hope was lost in the face of torture, economic deprivation, government corruption, police brutality and the unrelenting repression of political opposition and any others who voiced dissent. He had no political avenue for demanding economic opportunities and when he tried to create his own by selling fruits and vegetables from a cart on the street, the police confiscated his goods. When he went to the political authorities to complain of police abuse, they declined to accept or investigate his complaint.
Mohamed Bouazizi’s complaints were hardly unique. But his act of self-immolation happened around the same time as Wikileaks published documents showing that Western governments which had allied themselves with Ben ‘Ali’s government were aware of all these issues but apparently unwilling to exert external pressure on the government to respect human rights. The combination of these two events seems to have triggered widespread support for protesters in Tunisia. People from neighbouring countries were particularly supportive – some of whom face the same obstacles to enjoying their civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights.

A Telling Response

Confronted with the situation in Tunisia and Egypt, the response of Western governments is instructive. The USA severed their long relationship with President Ben ‘Ali of Tunisia. The French Minister of Foreign Affairs initially proposed helping the Ben ‘Ali government to handle the protest, but outrage at such a position erupted in France and after Ben ‘Ali fled Tunisia the French finally came out in support of the protesters. Faced with similar protests in Egypt, the USA and many European governments appeared caught off guard and unwilling to support the protesters’ initial call for President Mohammad Hosni Mubarak to leave power.
The USA in particular has invested heavily in the stability of the Mubarak government despite ample evidence of its brutality over the last 30 years. In fact throughout the world, many governments that proclaim to value human rights and democracy explicitly supported political leaders, such as Hosni Mubarak in Egypt and Ben ‘Ali in Tunisia, whom they knew were corrupt, repressive and indifferent to the rights of their own citizens. In fact, the first extraordinary renditions (outsourcing of torture) happened under the Bill Clinton administration which sent detainees to Egypt – a place well known for its systematic use of torture. The evidence of this hypocrisy – reinforced by the many diplomatic cables available through Wikileaks – exposes these governments and casts doubt on their commitments to human rights. In the end, the courage of peaceful protestors riskng their lives on the streets of Cairo and other cities proved too much for President Mubarak and his allies.
In the wake of the leaked diplomatic cables, governments have been scrambling to figure out what crimes may have been committed by Wikileaks (and Bradley Manning). There are troubling aspects to this response. The US government, which has been most vehement in attacking Wikileaks, had a different view when it was supporting new advances in disseminating information about other countries. In January 2010, US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton gave a speech aimed at encouraging governments around the world to ensure that their residents had access to the internet, comparing internet censorship to the Berlin Wall. “Information has never been so free”, declared Hillary Clinton. “Even in authoritarian countries, information networks are helping people discover new facts and making governments more accountable.”
She went on to relate how, during his visit to China in November 2009, President Barack Obama had “defended the right of people to freely access information, and said that the more freely information flows the stronger societies become. He spoke about how access to information helps citizens to hold their governments accountable, generates new ideas, and encourages creativity.”
But the USA is not alone in wanting a well-behaved internet or in its willingness to use cyber technology to violate the right to privacy. The internet further exposes governments’ desire to control access to information, as they seek to censor those using the internet when the content is perceived by those in power to be a threat even as they add hacking and surveillance to their own arsenals.
It is, however, clear that governments are not necessarily in the driver’s seat, however much they might wish to be. In China, the so-called “Great Firewall” has played an important and damaging role in seeking to smother free discussion on the internet. Those who have overstepped the rules have been harassed or jailed. For example, in July 2010, Hairat Niyaz, a Uighur journalist and web editor, was sentenced to 15 years’ imprisonment for “endangering state security”. As evidence, the court cited interviews he had given to overseas media as well as his online translation of an overseas Uighur organization calling for protests against the government’s handling of an incident in which at least two Uighur were killed when Han Chinese workers attacked Uighur workers in Shaoguan, Guangdong province, southern China. Again and again, however, despite the most sophisticated technology, the Chinese authorities have found themselves unsettled or outwitted by internet users – a wild colt that cannot be tamed, in the words of Cuban blogger Yoani Sánchez.
Take Liu Xiaobo, the scholar and co-author of the dissident document Charter ‘08. He was inspired by the activity of Eastern European intellectuals fighting against Communist authoritarianism in the 1970s and 1980s. They too benefited from new technologies – copying machines and faxes – to disseminate their ideas and challenge, and ultimately topple, abusive governments.
Liu Xiaobo was little known to most ordinary Chinese even after he was sentenced to 11 years imprisonment on Christmas Day 2009. And yet, when he was awarded the Nobel peace prize in October 2010 online activists around the world went into overdrive in seeking to acknowledge his role.
Chinese authorities were eager to shut the discussion down. Caught off balance by widespread support for the man they had officially described as a “traitor”, they blocked searches for the phrase “empty chair” – a term many Chinese had begun to use in reference to the way that Liu Xiaobo was honoured at the prize-giving ceremony in Oslo, Norway.
Until Wikileaks, it appeared that governments believed they retained the upper hand. But when the companies that were necessary for Wikileaks to function withdrew their support – and it remains unclear whether this was as a result of direct government pressure – the companies and the governments that were condemning Wikileaks came under attack from hackers around the world.
This increased action by hackers and the continued dissemination of documents despite threats and outrage by various governments show how Wikileaks has changed the nature of the game with regard to who controls information. It also demonstrated a “take no prisoners” attitude among some hackers that threatened the privacy and security of individuals.
Getting the Right Balance – a Word of Caution
As we have seen before, the desire to publicize information, if not balanced against individual rights, can lead to problems of its own. In August, two women filed criminal complaints against Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks, under the Swedish sexual offences act. Hackers published the names and identities of the women who had been vilified in the media as stooges of the US and Swedish governments. This demonstrates that in the new virtual universe women continue to be treated as pawns – or even worse – as acceptable collateral damage. To be clear, the women deserve to have their complaints fully investigated and if there is sufficient evidence, to see the alleged perpetrator prosecuted. Julian Assange must be accorded the presumption of innocence and given due process protections and a fair trial.
Human rights law is clear on this issue. Governments must be transparent and may only curtail freedom of expression (and the right to receive and impart information) to promote respect for the rights or reputations of others and to protect national security, public order and public health or morals. The claims by governments that national security is a carte blanche to restrict information is never justified – especially when the restriction appears to be covering up human rights and humanitarian law violations. But government hypocrisy and deception equally does not justify hacking into the prosecutor’s office and violating the privacy of the women plaintiffs.

A Digital Future for Human Rights

There is nothing magical or deterministic about the internet and other communications technologies. Technology neither respects nor undermines human rights. It is and will continue to be a tool used by both those who want to challenge injustices around the world and those who want to control access to information and suppress dissenting voices. Arguably, FM Radio and mobile phones have done more to promote and protect human rights in Africa than most other conventional methods. Innovative use of crowdsourcing by the Ushahidi.com website in Kenya has opened up a whole new set of possibilities for conflict prevention.
Technology will serve the purposes of those who control it – whether their goal is the promotion of rights or the undermining of rights. We must be mindful that in a world of asymmetric power, the ability of governments and other institutional actors to abuse and exploit technology will always be superior to the grass-roots activists, the beleaguered human rights advocate, the intrepid whistleblower and the individual whose sense
of justice demands that they be able to seek information or describe and document an injustice through these technologies.
In the debate surrounding Wikileaks, the dissemination of documents with apparent insufficient concern regarding the security of those exposed and the controversy surrounding the sexual offences case against Julian Assange made moral clarity difficult. It is not a case that allows for the moral clarity that – at least in retrospect – we associate with the publication of the Pentagon Papers. For those who find Wikileaks amoral, it is important to note that when those who should be speaking truth to power fail, those who live with the daily abuses of power may understandably celebrate Wikileaks. Their last hope for accountability is disclosure – however messy, embarrassing and apparently counter-productive it may be.
Nonetheless, these are amazing times for Amnesty International and other human rights activists who see the possibilities offered by technology for revealing the truth and holding debates that may evade state censorship and connect us across borders. We imagine the promise of living in a truly flat world in which all people have access to information in a meaningful way, in which all people can participate fully in decisions affecting their lives and in which no injustice goes unchallenged.
In 2011, Amnesty International celebrates its 50th anniversary. Described by a contemporary critic as “one of the larger lunacies of our time”, the movement was ignited by a simple call to action from British lawyer Peter Benenson, asking society to remember “The Forgotten Prisoner”. His passion was inspired when he learned of two Portuguese youths who had been imprisoned for raising their glasses in a toast to freedom.
Fortunately, for thousands of forgotten prisoners since, such “lunacy” not only prevailed, but continues, and we and our allies remain determined to promote the right to information and freedom of expression. Together we have successfully campaigned for the release of thousands of prisoners of conscience – some of whom, such as Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf – are today heads of states. Together we helped bring about the November 2010 release of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, demonstrating yet again how unrelenting persistence can bring positive change. Together we have saved countless lives – most recently two activists challenging security forces of a mining operation who were about to stage a confrontation in order to rid themselves of activists who were willing to risk their lives by speaking truth to power.
Fifty years on the world has changed dramatically, but the imperative for individuals to stand together to fight injustice and protect the rights of human beings, wherever they may be, has not.
This anniversary is a moment to imagine how much individuals working together can achieve. If each of Amnesty International’s members, more than 3 million people, reached out to just one more person to join our work for justice, we would double our impact. As we have seen in the Middle East and North Africa, the collective actions of individuals united in their quest for fundamental fairness can have the power to bring down repressive governments.
The need for individuals who value rights and freedoms to work in concert within and across borders remains great as governments persist in persecuting those who challenge abuse of power. While brave and determined individuals claim their rights and freedoms, governments, armed groups, corporations, and international institutions seek to evade scrutiny and accountability.
We draw inspiration from the release of Aung San Suu Kyi, the courage of Liu Xiaobo, the resilience of thousands of prisoners of conscience, the courage of countless human rights defenders and the tenacity, against all the odds, of hundreds of thousands of ordinary Tunisians who, confronted with the tragic story of Mohamed Bouazizi, determined to ensure his legacy through organizing against the abuse of power that led to his death. At Amnesty International, we commit ourselves to redouble our efforts to strengthen the global human rights movement and struggle to make sure no one else ever feels so alone in his or her despair as to see no way out.

Global update

1 January to 15 May 2011

The first four months of 2011 witnessed an unprecedented surge of ordinary people speaking up for their rights and demanding change. Inspired by political upheavals in the Middle East and North Africa, protesters peacefully called for greater freedoms in Sudan and Azerbaijan, while online activists in China urged a ‘Jasmine Revolution’. But the authorities’ repressive attempts to silence these voices through arrests and detentions, ill-treatment and prison sentences continued.
Civilians elsewhere also paid a heavy price for exercising their civil and political rights. Hundreds were killed during Nigeria’s election period in April, and hundreds of thousands of people displaced by post-election violence in Côte d'Ivoire still fear reprisals if they return home.
In contrast, 2011 has seen some victories for international justice, such as the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia’s sentencing of three former generals for crimes committed during the Balkans war. Another step was made on the path towards ending the death penalty, as Illinois became the USA's 16th abolitionist state.
Yet entrenched human rights abuses and insecurity continued unabated in many countries. In Mexico, 11,000 migrants were abducted during a six-month period alone, and in Colombia, more human rights activists were killed. Amid increased Taleban attacks in Afghanistan, questions about security are also mounting following the killing of Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan.
Worldwide, the struggle for free expression, security and human rights is in sharper focus than ever.
Read more : Amnesty

 

 

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Women Problem: What Does It Take to Make a City, and Society, Safe?

New Delhi’s Women Problem: What Does It Take to Make a City, and Society, Safe?
 By Krista Mahr | May 2, 2012
Source : TIME


(
Kaushik Roy / India Today Group / Getty Images
Women attend the 'Besharmi Morcha' march or 'Slutwalk' in New Delhi on July 31,2011.)

One of the first things I heard when I moved to New Delhi was to be careful at night. I heard it from my real estate agent, my colleagues, from people I met at coffee shops and bars. I knew the incidence of rape in the Indian capital was high, but I largely interpreted the warnings as other people underestimating my ability to take care of myself. Let’s not linger too long on that weird reaction, but I will add that I’ve been living in relatively safe places for the past few years, and I had forgotten what it felt like to live in a place where, as a woman in public, you’re usually pretty aware that you are that: a woman in public.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Here, it can be. In a 2010 survey, nearly 80% of women in New Delhi reported being worried about their safety, and a quick glance at any paper in the morning will offer some insight as to why. Let’s take last Thursday. On April 26, the Times of India covered the following stories: an alleged rape by a Delhi cop, two separate cases of naked and mutilated female corpses being dumped in different parts of the city, and a husband who murdered his wife whom he suspected of infidelity.
(PHOTOS: India’s Wild East)
Other cities in the world have worse crime rates than Delhi, but the streets of the capital are by far the most dangerous public spaces for women in India, outstripping Mumbai in reported rapes by hundreds of cases each year. In 2009, 15.4% of the crimes against women committed in all of India were in the capital, according to the UN. And the problem, while unfortunately nothing new here, is getting steadily worse, both on the street and in the private space of women’s homes.
Part of the problem, in the public sphere anyway, has to do with the city’s spotty infrastructure and haphazard city planning. Things like not having enough street lights and overcrowding on train cars naturally create insecure situations, and the city is full of them. My personal assumption has been that urban spaces are safer for white collar workers like me, who keep semi-regular office hours and can afford to not walk home late at night. But Anne Stenhammer, the U.N. Women’s Regional Program Director in New Delhi, says the problem here is not so clearly divided along socio-economic lines. “It’s not about where you come from, or if you have blue or black eyes,” says Stenhammer. “It’s a bigger challenge.”
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The question of how women’s experiences of discrimination and violence translate across cultural and class lines is, of course, a complicated one, as evidenced by the controversy stirred up by the current Foreign Policy cover. In the article “Why Do They Hate Us?”, journalist Mona Eltahaway takes men across the Middle East to task for what she sees as the rampant discrimination against women in the region. She argues that whatever social or political progress was made in uprisings of 2011 will not be not complete until the chronic repression of women also ends: “Until the rage shifts from the oppressors in our presidential palaces to the oppressors on our streets and in our homes, our revolution has not even begun.” It’s an emotional piece of writing from a seasoned Middle East correspondent that immediately generated a large backlash. Critics called her argument“culturally regressive” and “offensive” for, among many reasons, playing into the hand of Western stereotypes about women (and men) in the Arab world. (See a video about Tunisia produced by Eltahaway for TIME.)
As a recent transplant, I’m not prepared to draw my own conclusions about the underpinnings of why such a large number of women feel so unsafe, particularly because it’s a problem I can’t wrap my head around in my own country. I lived in the U.S. with pepper spray in my bag and a key between my knuckles for years; it was only after living in northern Europe and East Asia that I understood there were parts of the world where it was normal to feel okay walking alone on a sidewalk at night.
(MORE: Indian Women Take SlutWalk to New Delhi’s Streets)
But there is no shortage of explanations that others have offered. Dark bus stops and poorly planned communities are among them. So, some say, is the population’s persistent mindset that women who don’t dress traditionally or abstain from drinking are making themselves targets. Some point to India’s backed-up court system being unable to uphold the rape laws that are on the books, or to the nation’s growing gender gap, a demographic testament to the much more entrenched problem of girls being seen as a social and financial burden. A recent study from the University of Toronto, based on 2011 census and earlier population data, estimates as many as 12 million girls have been aborted in the last three decades.
There is also no shortage of people offering solutions on how to make Delhi safer. In 1983, the Delhi Police set up the Crimes Against Women Cell, the first police force in India specifically tasked with handling violence directed at women, and the operation is still running today. NGOs and online campaigners are trying to bring awareness to the cause, calling for more CCTVs to be installed in areas where rapes are frequent, for better workplace safety and for new hotlines to be set up. Stenhammer says that the local government has been trying to make changes in Delhi, like setting up women-only subway cars, but creating safe spaces by separating men and women is not a long-term solution. “When we stay apart, then we create a totally different society, one that is not human-rights based,” she says. “We have to live in a common society and be together — women and men, boys and girls.”

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I am a Painter, an Author/poet and a Graphic Designer, I teach painting . My students are all senior-- art college students. and people who wants to be an artist, and those who wants to have little time with drawing and painting. I believe ' WE CAN MAKE THIS WORLD A BETTER PLACE !' I exhibit my paintings at galleries of different states in INDIA. You can buy my paintings, contact(+91) 9477773288,9330858536,9831445765 kolkata I LOVE TO HAVE PEOPLE AS FRIEND AND WORK FOR 'FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION ' , IMAGINE YOU WILL BE WITH ME someday

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