Derogations from the European Convention on Human Rights During Armed Conflict?

By Daragh Murray

The UK Joint Committee on Human Rights is currently conducting an inquiry into the Government’s proposed derogation from the European Convention on Human Rights during armed conflict.

Prof. Françoise Hampson, Prof. Noam Lubell and Dr. Daragh Murray of the Essex Human Rights Centre submitted written evidence to the Committee.

The submission addressed derogations from human rights law treaties in the context of military operations. It argued that the derogation regime does not nullify the applicability of human rights law, but rather allows for the modification of specific human rights obligations in response to emergency or exceptional circumstances.

The submission suggests that derogations play a key role within the international human rights law system and that derogations during military operations may be both appropriate and necessary. In particular, in situations of armed conflict, derogations may be required in order to ensure the coherent co-application of international human rights law and the law of armed conflict. As such, appropriate derogations permit the application of both human rights law and the law of armed conflict, ensuring the existence of a legal ‘bottom line’ that is appropriate to the situation.

The full text of the submission is available on the Committee’s website.


Disclaimer: The views expressed herein are the author(s) alone.

Why Malawi is not (currently) repealing anti-gay laws

By Alan Msosa

In recent years growing global advocacy calling for the repeal of anti-gay laws has faced fierce resistance especially in Africa. Proponents argue that decriminalisation of same-sex acts is necessary to end discrimination and facilitate protection of LGBTIQ persons’ human rights.

Same-sex sexual acts are illegal in 74 countries globally, that is 39% of United Nations’ member states. 93% of Commonwealth citizens live in jurisdictions where same-sex acts are a criminal offence. In Africa, such acts are criminal in 34 states, or approximately 62% of African Union member states.

In Malawi, same sex acts are criminalised under sections 137A, 153, 156 of the penal code on unnatural offences, indecent practices between males, and indecent practices between women respectively. In addition, the Marriages, Divorce and Family Relations Act makes it illegal to claim a gender identity other than that assigned at birth. Continue reading

International Human Rights News: Weekly Roundup

By Luiza Drummond Veado and Cecilia Grillo

Each week students at the University of Essex Human Rights Centre prepare an overview of the past week’s human rights related news stories from around the world



  • International

108 million people in food crisis countries face severe acute food insecurity – situation worsening – FAO

Unity within Security Council vital to prevent mass atrocities – UN chief Guterres – UN News Centre

Continue reading

Algorithmic Decision-Making and Human Rights

By Vivian Ng

Man Vs. Machine’. ‘How algorithms rule the world’. ‘How algorithms rule our working lives’. ‘How Machines Learn to be Racist’. ‘Is an algorithm any less racist than a human?’ ‘Machine Bias’. ‘Weapons of Math Destruction’. ‘Code-Dependent’. These are some of the recent headlines about the age of artificial intelligence, that seem to foreshadow a not-so-promising future for the human race in its rapid advancement. One thing is clear, algorithms have become increasingly prominent in our everyday lives. What is less clear is what we can do about that and deal with both the opportunities and risks it brings.

Algorithmic accountability is currently a topical issue in the space where discourse about technology and human rights intersect. As part of its work on the analysis of the challenges and opportunities presented by the use of big data and associated technologies, the Human Rights, Big Data and Technology Project is looking into the human rights implications of algorithmic decision-making. We contributed written evidence to the UK House of Commons Science and Technology Committee inquiry on ‘Algorithms in decision-making’. The submission outlined when and how discrimination may be introduced or amplified in algorithmic decision-making, and how the various stages in the algorithmic decision-making process offer opportunities for the regulation of algorithms to prevent and/or address potential discrimination. We were also at RightsCon 2017, discussing these precise issues. We followed the track on Algorithmic Accountability and Transparency, and also organised a panel discussion on ‘(How) can algorithms be human rights-compliant?’ We gained new insight and ideas from the experts who joined us. This post sets out some of our preliminary thinking, the issues we are working through from an inter-disciplinary perspective, and some critical questions to be addressed.

Continue reading

International Human Rights News: Weekly Roundup

By Luiza Drummond Veado

Each week students at the University of Essex Human Rights Centre prepare an overview of the past week’s human rights related news stories from around the world.


  • International

Developing nations’ demands for better life must be met, says World Bank head – The Guardian


  • Africa

WFP ‘outraged and heartbroken’ by killing of three workers in South Sudan city – UN News Centre

Ivory Coast conflict: Gbagbo ally jailed over Novotel hotel murders – BBC

Congo arrests two suspected of killing U.N. experts; one escapes -Reuters

97 missing after asylum seeker boat sinks off Libya – Aljazeera

Nigeria thwarts Boko Haram plan to attack US, UK embassies – The Washington Post

Ethiopia Supreme Court says two Zone 9 bloggers should face incitement charges – CPJ

Continue reading

The Police’s Data Visibility Part 2: The Limitations of Data Visibility for Predicting Police Misconduct

By Ajay Sandhu

In part 1 of this blog, I suggested that raising the police’s data visibility may improve opportunities to analyse and predict fatal force incidents. In doing so, data visibility may offer a solution to problems related to high numbers of fatal force incidents in the US. However, data visibility is not without limitations. Problems including the (un)willingness of data scientists and police organisations to cooperate and the (un)willingness of police organisations to institute changes based on the findings of data scientists’ work must be considered before optimistically declaring data visibility a solution to problems related to fatal force. In this blog, I discuss two addition limitations of data visibility, including low-quality data and low-quality responses to early intervention programs. Both are problems related to the prediction and intervention stages of using data to reduce fatal force incidents. Future blogs can discuss issues related to the earlier stages of using data to reduce fatal force incidents such as collection and storage of data about police work.

  Continue reading

The Police’s Data Visibility 1: how data can be used to monitor police work and how it could be used to predict fatal force incidents

By Ajay Sandhu

Editors note: This is the first of a two-part blog post examining the potential impact of data visibility on law enforcement.

The Counted, Fatal Force, and Mapping Police Violence websites each collect, store, and display data about people killed by police in the United States. These websites are just a few of the emerging platforms designed to address the significant gap in information left by US police organisations’ failure to create, maintain, and publically disclose data about “fatal force” incidents. When visiting any of the three websites mentioned above, visitors can access in-depth statistics, charts, graphs, and maps, which provide details about the number of fatal force incidents that have occurred, their locations, the identity of officers involved, and the demographics of victims. The availability of this information has solicited questions about if and how digital data can address persistent problems related to a lack of transparency and accountability in policing, and the lack of information about fatal force incidents:

  • Can data enable new opportunities to scrutinize fatal force incidents?
  • Can data provide an opportunity to discover trends associate with fatal force incidents?
  • Can data analysis provide the police with the knowledge required to reduce fatal force incidents?

This two-part blog focuses on the last question by considering the opportunities and limitations of using digital data to monitor police work, document fatal force incidents, and create intervention programs designed to reduce fatal force incidents.

  Continue reading