HRBDT Weekly News Circular

By Manuel Fernandez Sierra

Each week the Human Rights, Big Data & Technology Project, based at the University of Essex Human Rights Centre, prepares an overview of related news stories from the week. This summary contains news articles from 7-14 June 2019.

You can follow the HRBDT Project on twitter: @hrbdtNews. Continue reading


‘The Birmingham LGBT protests’: A reimagining of the decision in Lee v Ashers

By Damilola Ojuri

On 31 May, an interim injunction was granted to Birmingham City Council in its claim against the Anderson Park Primary School “LGBT teaching” protesters, led by Shakeel Afsar. The without notice claim was brought to “protect staff and pupils” who encountered the protesters. On 10 June, the interim injunction was quashed, and was replaced by an interim order which bans the lead protestors, including Mr Afsar, from engaging in or coordinating the protest.

The protests have garnered much media attention, with some campaigners alluding to a dismissal of their Article 10 right to Freedom of Expression. Save for examinations of the conditions of the injunction, the legal world has yet to consider the practical merit of the two sides of argument as it relates to discrimination law and human rights law.

Such cases, where two sets of rights are opposed, have the potential to engage the age-old debate of the superiority of certain liberties over others. Continue reading

Essex Human Rights Clinic Digital Verification Unit Participates in Amnesty International Summit in Hong Kong

By Daragh Murray

From Sunday 2 June to Wednesday 5 June 2019, the Human Rights Centre Clinic Digital Verification Unit participated at the annual Amnesty International Digital Verification Corps (DVC) Summit, held this year in Hong Kong.

The summit was organised by Amnesty International, and hosted by the Human Rights Hub at Hong Kong University. Students from the University of Essex, the University of Pretoria, the University of Toronto, the University of Cambridge, Hong Kong University, and the University of California Berkeley all participated, along with expert speakers from Amnesty International’s Crisis Response Team, Witness, the Mekong Club, Diginex, and Amnesty International China.

The purpose of the summit is to bring together student teams from around the world in order to share their experiences of working within the Digital Verification Corps, to identify lessons learned, and to plan for the coming years. The first annual summit was held in Berkeley in 2017, with the second event taking place in Cambridge in 2018. The Essex Digital Verification Unit is one of the founding members of the Corps, and has been undertaking work in this area since 2016.

Continue reading

Businesses and Enforced Disappearances: The Mexican State of Coahuila transfers its human rights obligations to business actors

By Paulina Madero Suarez

The international humanrights frameworkdefines enforced disappearance as a deprivation of liberty by the State or persons acting with its authorisation, followed by the refusal to acknowledge the deprivation of liberty and the concealment of the whereabouts of the disappeared person, placing the individual outside the protection of the law. Enforced disappearances place specific international legal obligations on the State, including the duty to provide victims with reparation.

Human rights law primarily concerns States, although there is a growing international consensus that non-state actors, including corporations, should respect human rights. An interesting question that arises, however, is whether States can transfer their human rights obligations to private entities? Continue reading

HRBDT Weekly News Circular

By Sabrina Rau

Each week the Human Rights, Big Data & Technology Project, based at the University of Essex Human Rights Centre, prepares an overview of related news stories from the week. This summary contains news articles from 8-15 March 2019.

You can follow the HRBDT Project on twitter: @hrbdtNews.


Social media
Content regulation
New Tech

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

Google’s pay audit and the meaning of ‘equality’

By Laura Carter

In March of this year, Google found that they were paying men and women unequally: but not in the way you might have expected. Their internal audit found that they were paying men less.

This seems to fly in the face of statistics, which continue to show that companies and organisations pay women less. In 2018, women in the UK earned on average 8.6% less than men per hour, and women in the USA earned only 85%of what men did. In the UK, since last year, companies with over 250 employees are required to publish their pay gaps: Google’s median pay gap rose to 20% in 2019. Continue reading

New HRC Publication: Torture and Human Rights in Northern Ireland – Interrogation in Depth

Dr. Aoife Duffy, based at the Human Rights Centre, has just published the new book ‘Torture and Human Rights in Northern Ireland – Interrogation in Depth‘.

The blurb reads as follows:

This book presents a compelling and highly sophisticated politico-legal history of a particular security operation that resulted in one of the most high-profile torture cases in the world. It reveals the extent to which the Ireland v. United Kingdom judgment misrepresents the interrogation system that was developed and utilised in Northern Ireland. Finally, the truth about the operation is presented in a comprehensive narrative, sometimes corroborating secondary literature already in the public domain, but at other times significantly debunking aphorisms, or, indeed, lies that circulated about interrogation in depth. The book sets out the theoretical reference paradigm with respect to the culture and practice of state denial often associated with torture, and uses this model to excavate the buried aspects of this most famous of torture cases. Through the lens of a single operation, conducted twice, it presents a fascinating exposé of the complicated structures of state-sponsored denial designed to hide the truth about the long-term effects of these techniques and the way in which they were authorised.

The book is now available with Routledge Press/

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

Command Responsibility for Bloody Sunday?

By Aoife Duffy

Recently, Lance Corporal F of the British Army’s 1st Parachute Regiment was charged with the murders of James Wray and William McKinney, and the attempted murders of Joseph Friel, Michael Quinn, Joe Mahon, and Patrick O’Donnell in Derry on January 30th, 1972. Events surrounding ‘Bloody Sunday,’ the ten-minute window in which the shootings occurred, and the official response to the killings are critical to any understanding of the Northern Ireland conflict. 13 people were left dead (half of the victims were 17) and 16 more were injured by multiple shooters from the 1st Parachute Regiment’s Support Company.

Speaking more generally about the use of lethal force by the security forces in Northern Ireland, the Northern Ireland Secretary, Karen Bradley, recently stated in the House of Commons, ‘the fewer than 10% [of conflict related killings] that were at the hands of the military and police were not crimes. They were people acting under orders and under instructions and fulfilling their duties in a dignified and appropriate way.’ Although she later apologised for her comments, it is interesting to focus on the ‘orders’ and ‘instructions’ that framed the military operation in the Bogside, because there is a view that Lance Corporal F is being scapegoated for Bloody Sunday. Continue reading