An Independent Investigative Mechanism: Identifying Ways To Combat Impunity In Georgia

By Mariam Uberi

According to a number of civil society and human rights commentators, Georgia requires an effective independent body to deal with the investigation of torture perpetrated by law enforcement officials.

Between 2013 and 2015, the Public Defender’s office made 58 referrals to the General Prosecutor’s office to investigate alleged ill treatment of prisoners either by the police or prison staff. Some reports indicate that the Prosecution office has either dropped some investigations or did not provide any information during the course of the investigation.

In 2016, the number of alleged acts of ill treatment committed by the police was higher than that perpetrated by prison staff. The number of referrals for investigations into ill treatment in prisons dropped by one third. Reportedly, only two of 173 allegations of ill treatment perpetrated by police were brought to the court.

These statistics raise serious questions around whether the investigative powers vested to the State security services, the Ministry of Corrections and the Ministry of Internal Affairs lack adequate guarantees of independence and impartiality to address legal wrongs by its public authorities. Further, the Public Defender’s office and various UN human rights bodies have highlighted trends of either dismissing allegations of ill treatment against state agents or instigating charges that carry lesser sentences.

This post will review the national legislative framework on torture and ill treatment and how it is implemented. It will then provide an overview of pertinent human rights obligations and will review a draft law on independent investigative mechanisms aimed at ending impunity by law enforcement agents.

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ALMA-ATA at 40: Its Values are Relevant to the Data Economy

By Carmel Williams

In 1978 when the Alma-Ata Declarationcalled on urgent action by all governments to protect and promote the health of all, primary health care was described as ‘essential health care, based on practical, scientifically sound and socially acceptable methods and technology made universally accessible … and at a cost that the community and country can afford to maintain…’. It was also, in the first paragraph, acknowledged as a fundamental human right.

Forty years ago, achievement of primary health care for all was seen to be dependent upon a “New International Economic Order”. The Declaration twice referenced the UN declaration adopted in 1974 that aimed to rebalance power (and trade) by restructuring some fundamentals in the world economy, and providing greater benefits and participation to poorer countries. In comparison, the Astana Declaration on primary health care, due to be released in October 2018, shies away from such bold comments and instead states its commitment to ‘enabling people and communities to pursue the knowledge, skills and resources needed to take care of their own health, including the use of digital technologies.’

Predating neo-liberalism, Alma-Ata made no mention of the private sector, or partnerships with business. Rather, it proclaimed that ‘Governments have a responsibility for the health of their people which can be fulfilled only by the provision of adequate health and social measures.’ In contrast, the 2015 founding document of the Sustainable Development Goals(SDGs), identifies universal health coverage(not care) as an SDG, and stresses the importance of the private sector in the achievement of it, and in all other goals. “We recognize that we will not be able to achieve our ambitious Goals and targets without a revitalized and enhanced Global Partnership…bringing together Governments, civil society, the private sector…”. Similarly, the Astana Declaration states, ‘We have more partners and more stakeholders, both public and private, working toward common goals…’ downplaying the essential role of government in achieving primary health care for all, and not acknowledging human rights obligations of states. Continue reading

International Human Rights News: Weekly Roundup

By Nina Giraudel, Sweekruthi Keshavamurthy, Manon Clayette,  Ayushi Kalyan 

International

Democracy ‘showing greater strain’ than at any time in decades, UN chief – UN News

Hurricane Florence vs. Typhoon Mangkhut: The difference between the 2 major storms – Global News

Global hunger continues to rise, new UN report says – UNICEF News

Security Council extends mandates of UN peace operations in Libya, Colombia through next September – UN News

Extreme Hunger Could Kill 600,000 Children in War Zones This Year – Save the Children News

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Big Brother Watch and Others v. the United Kingdom – Some initial thoughts

By Daragh Murray & Vivian Ng

On Thursday, 13 September 2018, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) handed down their decision in Big Brother Watch and Others v. the United Kingdom. This decision addressed the legality of the United Kingdom’s (UK) bulk interception programme, intelligence sharing, and the obtaining of communications data from communications service providers and was prompted by the 2013 Snowden revelations.

This is a complex decision which is likely to have significant ramifications for mass surveillance programmes. As such, it is too early to offer detailed analysis, and this post intends to highlight some of the interesting elements that we will be thinking over in the coming weeks and months. Our focus here is on the bulk interception programme.

For an excellent initial post on the implications for the UK’s Investigatory Power’s Act, please see ‘Big Brother Watch v UK – implications for the Investigatory Powers Act?’ at Cyberleagle. Continue reading

International Human Rights News: Weekly Roundup

By  Besir OzbekAgathe ArtusÖvünç GüneşFrancesca Fazio

International

International Criminal Court says it has jurisdiction over alleged crimes against Rohingya – Reuters

‘Legally binding’ nuclear-test ban essential to prevent ‘catastrophic impact’ says UN chief – UN News

“Good progress” at Bangkok climate talks on draft Paris accord rules – UN official – Reuters

UN media seminar on peace in the Middle East, highlights ‘power of words over weapons’ – UN News

‘5 Minutes to Midnight’: Amnesty Warns Catastrophic Climate Change Is Near – Global Citizen

With AI, jobs are changing but no mass unemployment expected – UN labour experts – UN News

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As Myanmar sends journalists to jail, pressure mounts on Aung San Suu Kyi

By Dr Andrew Fagan

This blog originally appeared on The Conversation

Aung San Suu Kyi.jpg

Image: Aung San Suu Kyi, Shutterstock

The government of Myanmar and its de facto head, Nobel peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, are facing renewed international condemnation after two Reuters journalists, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, were sentenced to seven years in prison for breaking an official secrets law. Their crime: receiving documents detailing the killing of ten Rohingya men and boys by Myanmar security personnel in 2017, during the military’s genocidal response to isolated attacks conducted by Rohingya militants.

Unusually, the authorities admitted that the killings did take place, and a military tribunal has sentenced the perpetrators to prison and hard labour. For their part, the two Reuters journalists were detained by police moments after receiving the documents, adding credence to the suspicion that they were the victims of a somewhat bizarre conspiracy against Myanmar’s already very vulnerable press.

The UN, the EU and various governments who’ve been particularly supportive of Myanmar’s stuttering democratic reforms have all condemned the verdict. But given how little concern Suu Kyi and her government have shown in response to allegations of genocide and ethnic cleansing, it’s hard to see another wave of international criticism turning the government away from its potentially disastrous current direction.

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A Brief Review of the OHCHR Consultation on the Right to Privacy in the Digital Age

By Vivian Ng

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) conducted a consultation on the right to privacy in the digital age, convening an expert workshop in Geneva from 19-20 February 2018 and invited relevant stakeholders to submit contributions for a report on the right to privacy in the digital age. The Human Rights, Big Data and Technology Project participated in the expert workshop and submitted inputs to OHCHR. The report has now been published. This post will highlight the key elements of the expert workshop, outline HRBDT’s contributions, and summarise OHCHR’s outcome report.

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International Human Rights News: Weekly Roundup

By Nina Giraudel, Sweekruthi Keshavamurthy, Manon Clayette,  Ayushi Kalyan 

International

US military to cancel $300m in Pakistan aid over terror groups – The BBC

Donors to increase UNRWA support and funding despite US cuts – Al Jazeera

Governments Pressure Russia to Act on Chechnya Abuses – Human Rights Watch

As conflicts become more complex, ‘mediation is no longer an option; it is a necessity’, UN chief tells Security Council – UN News

Iran Takes US to Court Over Alleged Treaty Breach – Human Rights Watch

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International Human Rights News: Weekly Roundup

By  Besir OzbekAgathe ArtusÖvünç GüneşFrancesca Fazio

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

Remembering slave trade offers chance to raise awareness, ‘oppose all forms of modern slavery’ – UNESCO – UN News

UN remembers Kofi Annan: A leader who put people at the centre of the Organization’s work – UN News

UN/Tokyo: Brazen treaty violations overshadow arms control conference – Amnesty Canada News

Big Cities Are Vowing to Make New Buildings Carbon Neutral by 2030 – Global Citizen

Embrace ‘people-centered multilateralism,’ UN-civil society forum urges – UN News Continue reading

International Human Rights News: Weekly Roundup

By Sweekruthi Keshavamurthy, Manon ClayetteNina GiraudelAyushi Kalyan 

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

Former UN chief Kofi Annan dies at 80 – Al Jazeera

Ukraine, Iran and human rights on agenda for talks with Putin – Merkel – Reuters

China ‘training for strikes’ on US targets – The BBC

Terrorists potentially target millions in makeshift biological weapons ‘laboratories’, UN forum hears – UN News

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