Civil Rights

The human cost of Turkey’s crackdown

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Today, if all goes to plan, I will step through the imposing metal gates of Şakran high security prison in Turkey. And there is nowhere else in the world I would rather be. Salil Shetty, Amnesty International I am in Turkey to attend tomorrow’s trial of our jailed Amnesty Turkey honorary chair, Taner Kılıç, in Istanbul. But before the hearing begins I have travelled to the seaside city of Izmir where I have been granted permission to visit Taner for ... Read More »

Turkey resists Erdoğan on social media as snap election approaches

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Turkey will soon go to the polls for the fifth time in less than four years. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced them on the same day that parliament extended the national state of emergency for the seventh time since the… Rabia Karakaya Polat The Conversation Erdoğan brought these elections forward to June 24 for his own political ends: to pre-empt an expected economic downturn, to take his rivals by surprise, and to ride a surge of nationalism stirred up by ... Read More »

Russia: Government vs. Rights Groups

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The Battle Chronicle For the past four years, the Kremlin has sought to stigmatize criticism or alternative views of government policy as disloyal, foreign-sponsored, or even traitorous. HRW It is part of a sweeping crackdown to silence critical voices that has included new legal restrictions on the internet, on freedom of expression, on the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people, and on other fundamental freedoms. An enduring, central feature has been the 2012 law requiring independent groups ... Read More »

Our democracy is more important than Facebook’s profits

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No one realised it at the time, but in 2004 a poison was created that is now spreading through and threatening the stability of democratic countries around the world. Lucy Battersby Brisbane Times The poison isn’t attacking government’s directly. Instead it infects the information flowing through society to the point that citizens are confused and misled away from making proper decisions. At its worst, this poison, this disinformation, prompts people to hunt down and hurt perceived enemies. Disinformation is spread ... Read More »

Action against Russian meddling cannot threaten our civil liberties

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The greatest threats to civil liberties often occur in the name of “national security.” Alex Baiocco The Hill History has shown that free political speech is almost always among the first rights to be curbed. In the ongoing debate surrounding appropriate remedies and responses to foreign election campaign interference, we must remain skeptical of any proposal that risks repeating this shameful history. This brings us to the Honest Ads Act. The bill’s sponsors in Congress are pitching their proposal as a… Action against ... Read More »

Can airport authorities search your phone or computer?

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At no other time in history has airport security been so rigorous: travellers have come to expect pat downs, bag screenings and random drug detection tests. RN – By Alexandra Fisher and Damien Carrick for Law Report ABC But you might be caught by surprise if you’re asked to surrender your phone or laptop for Australian Border Force (ABF) authorities to search. Zaahir Edries, the president of the Muslim Legal Network of NSW, says the ABF’s powers are “relatively broad”. How ... Read More »

U.S. expected to retreat from main U.N. rights forum: activists, diplomats

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GENEVA (Reuters) – Talks with the United States over how to reform the main U.N. rights body have failed to meet Washington’s demands, activists and diplomats say, suggesting that the Trump administration will quit the… Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Alison Williams A U.S. source, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Reuters the withdrawal appeared to be “imminent” but had no details. Diplomatic sources said it was not a question of if but of when the United States retreats ... Read More »

Vietnam cybersecurity law a devastating blow to freedom: Amnesty

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New law aims to prevent users from organising online for anti-state purposes and spreading false information. Al-Jazeera The passing of a new cybersecurity law by the Vietnamese parliament has led to criticism of its potential effect on freedom of speech and expression. Legislators said the new regulation, which will require tech companies to store data about Vietnamese users on local servers, will increase security in the country. But according to critics, this move could possibly stifle free speech for Vietnamese internet users ... Read More »

Security bill will muzzle human rights activists

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In this era of so-called “fake news”, civil society plays a critical role in holding governments to account. Claire O’Rourke Brisbane Times And yet, with Labor capitulating to the government on the proposed National Security Legislation Amendment (Espionage and Foreign Interference) Bill, it may soon become a crime to hold the Australian government to account on its human rights record. The truth itself would not be a defence. By joining regimes around the world in passing new, restrictive laws attempting ... Read More »

Countering the Challenge of Closing Civic Space

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Since 2012, 72 countries around the world have passed more than 144 pieces of legislation restricting civil society, according to a new report exploring how donors can effectively support civic space. Wendy Williams ProBono The report, Effective Donor Responses to the Challenge of Closing Civic Space published by The International Centre for Not-for-Profit Law (ICNL), set out to examine what can be done to respond to and counter the closing civic space challenge more effectively. It revealed there had been ... Read More »

Zimbabwe: Lack of Reform Risks Credible Elections

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President Mnangagwa Should Act on Pledge for Free, Fair Vote (Harare) – The Zimbabwe government’s failure to carry out legal and electoral reforms threatens the credibility of national elections scheduled for July 30, 2018. HRW Despite President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s repeated promises that elections will be free and fair, the ability of voters to freely choose their leaders is in serious doubt. Human Rights Watch research in May, including interviews across the country, found that security force involvement in the electoral ... Read More »

Teenager held in solitary confinement sues state government

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A young Aboriginal man is suing the state government for placing him in solitary confinement in an adult prison for three months when he was 16 years old. Tammy Mills The Age Wonyarna Edwards and two other teenagers were transferred to the Charlotte Unit of Port Phillip Prison in 2012 after a staff member was stabbed in the neck and injured when the inmates tried to escape from the Parkville youth detention centre. Mr Edwards was in solitary confinement in ... Read More »

The epic story of a 97-year-old Palestinian freedom fighter

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Born in 1921, Abu Nihad remembers the toughest battles against Zionist militias after the British left Palestine. Zena Tahhan AlJazeera Sur Baher, occupied East Jerusalem – In the village he defended from Zionist militias 70 years ago, Muhammad Mahmoud Jadallah is celebrated as a “blessing”. Born in 1921, the 97-year-old, known as Abu Nihad, witnessed the unfolding of what has been dubbed by some as “the world’s most intractable conflict”. He is one of the few Palestinian men who fought against ... Read More »

Religious freedoms should include spiritual beliefs too

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Nearly a third of Australians at the last census checked “None” when asked about their religion, up from 19% in 2006. What many people might not realise is that while some “Nones” are indeed atheists or agnostics, a substantial percentage do have faith. Jeremy Patrick The Conversation It’s just not in mainstream religion as we generally understand it. The number of people identifying as “spiritual but not religious” appears to be rising in the western world. A 2017 McCrindle report ... Read More »

Why the Supreme Court’s ‘gay wedding cake’ ruling won’t resolve religious freedom issues

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The U.S. Supreme Court has issued its long-anticipated ruling in Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. In a 7-2 decision, the justices sided with a Denver bakery owner who refused to make a wedding cake for a gay couple. David Mislin The Conversation The couple took the case to court in 2012 after the Christian baker turned down their business. A lower court ruled the baker violated Colorado’s public accommodations law, which forbids discrimination by businesses serving the ... Read More »

SNP’s Ian Blackford warns May over ‘new Windrush generation’

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Theresa May has been warned she risks creating a “new Windrush generation” by charging undocumented children living in the UK lawfully thousands of pounds. Paris Gourtsoyiannis The Scotsman The SNP’s Westminster leader Ian Blackford has written to the Prime Minister urging her to waive fees of up to £10,000 which risk denying more than 100,000 people their right to stay in the UK and become British citizens. Campaigners say the fees put tens of thousands of people, born in the ... Read More »