Posts Tagged ‘Canada’

Impunity with Canadian flavor

February 5, 2019

Brent Patterson posted on Rabble.ca on 4 February, 2019 a piece entitled: “Impunity for human rights violations must be challenged from Guatemala to the Wet’suwet’en territories“. It looks at the concept of impunity, especially in the context of indigenous people in Latin America and..Canada. Read the rest of this entry »

China and its willingness to detain anyone anytime should generate more reaction

January 4, 2019

Michael Caster, human rights advocate and author of The People’s Republic of the Disappeared, is co-founder of the human rights organisation Safeguard Defenders. He wrote in the Guardian of Friday 4 January 2019 “China thinks it can arbitrarily detain anyone. It is time for change”

Canada’s foreign minister, Chrystia Freeland, has called China’s detention of Canadian citizens Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor a “worrying precedent” but for many China watchers it is all too familiar. It reminds us of the detentions of other foreign citizens, such as Canadian Kevin Garratt, Briton Peter Humphrey, Sweden’s Gui Minhai, or Taiwanese Lee Ming-che, and that over the years China has institutionalised arbitrary and secret detention affecting innumerable Chinese citizens, and with little international consequence. China feels emboldened to place literally anyone under arbitrary and secret detention, regardless of citizenship. It is now long overdue for the world to stand up. While Kovrig and Spavor have been granted consular access, it is reportedly limited to one visit a month. Consular access, like access to a lawyer, is a procedural safeguard against abuse in custody. In China, where abuse in custody, especially in the first few weeks of detention, is well documented, the importance of consular or legal access cannot be over emphasised. There are reports Kovrig is being denied access to a lawyer.

China routinely denies such fundamental rights through its system for arbitrary and secret detention. This includes residential surveillance at a designated location (RSDL) [see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2018/01/10/more-on-residential-surveillance-in-a-designated-location-rsdl-in-china/]….

Canadian Michael Spavor
Pinterest Canadian Michael Spavor is one of the latest victim of China’s system of arbitrary detention. Photograph: AP

…Conditions are less severe for foreigners than for Chinese citizens, but they are never free from abuse. Sadly, reports indicate Kovrig is being interrogated morning, noon, and night, and subjected to sleep deprivation. Because of such abuse, the United Nations committee against torture, as early as 2016, called on China, as a matter of urgency, to repeal domestic provisions allowing for RSDL and other forms of secret detention. Earlier this year, human rights groups Safeguard Defenders, the International Service for Human Rights, Network for Chinese Human Rights Defenders, and Rights Practice sent a submission on RSDL to the UN. In their response, experts from the Human Rights Council noted that RSDL exposes its victims to torture and that exceptions in the law make it tantamount to an enforced disappearance, grave crimes under international law.

…..In each case where China has not been held accountable, it virtually guarantees the next.

Any country that systematically denies the rights of its own citizens, and flaunts international norms, should worry us all because such abuses, as we are increasingly seeing, don’t stop at the colour of one’s passport. That China has now arbitrarily detained several Canadian citizens in thuggish pursuit of Communist party interests should clearly be denounced, and their immediate release demanded, but it should surprise no one considering China has institutionalised just this type of abusive behaviour with effectively no international repercussions. It is time for change.

And then there is the remarkable reaction by the same Government when it concerns a Chinese citizen as in the case of Huawei’s Meng Wanzhou: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2018/12/06/chinese-government-quote-of-the-year/

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/jan/04/china-thinks-it-can-arbitrarily-detain-anyone-it-is-time-for-change

Allard Prize for International Integrity 2019: nominations close on 15 January

January 2, 2019

The Allard Prize for International Integrity (CAD $100,000) goes to an individual, movement or organization that has demonstrated exceptional courage and leadership in combating corruption or protecting human rights, especially through promoting transparency, accountability and the Rule of Law. For more information on this and other awards see: http://trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/awards/allard-prize-for-international-integrity

The deadline is on January 15, 2019.

Visit the Submissions Page to apply.

You can visit the official page of the Allard Prize for more information

UNESCO-Madanjeet Singh Prize 2018 shared by Canadian film maker and Kenyan NGO

September 30, 2018

© Timea Hajdrak / The Coexist Initiative

On 16 November 2018, UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay will award the 2018 edition of the UNESCO-Madanjeet Singh Prize for the Promotion of Tolerance and Non-violence to filmmaker Manon Barbeau (Canada) and the NGO The Coexist Initiative (Kenya). An international jury recommended the two laureates in recognition of their work in human rights, promotion of tolerance and inclusion.

Manon Barbeau, an innovative social entrepreneur and filmmaker, is awarded for her defense of human rights and tolerance through the art of cinema and a wide range of activities that she develops through Wapikoni Mobile Studios, amplifying the voices of indigenous people. Wapikoni hosts educational workshops and film screenings to raise awareness and educate the wider public about indigenous cultures, languages and identities. It also provides mentorship and capacity building in audiovisual creation to indigenous youth, allowing them to master digital tools by directing short films and musical works.

The Coexist Initiative is awarded the Prize for its promotion of gender equality, social justice and human rights, with particular focus on women and girls. The Coexist Initiative is a non-profit organization working to end violence against women, particularly through an approach that tackles harmful cultural practices and negative stereotypes based on gender. It moreover advocates for the rights and empowerment of women and girls by better involving men, boys and community leaders in the work of the association.

For more on this award: http://trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/awards/unesco-madanjeet-singh-prize-for-the-promotion-of-tolerance-and-non-violence

https://en.unesco.org/news/canadian-filmmaker-and-kenyan-ngo-receive-unesco-madanjeet-singh-prize-2018

http://www.uniindia.com/canadian-filmmaker-and-kenyan-ngo-to-receive-unesco-madanjeet-singh-prize/world/news/1364773.html

Where is the international support for Canada in its row with Saudi Arabia

August 27, 2018

The tension between Saudi Arabia and Canada began when Canada’s Global Affairs Twitter account tweeted this 3 August 2018 statement concerning human rights abuses: Canada is gravely concerned about additional arrests of civil society and women’s rights activists in , including Samar Badawi. We urge the Saudi authorities to immediately release them and all other peaceful activists.

The excessive response by Saudi Arabia and the various issues at stake have been sufficiently described  in the media (see several links below) but what is most disturbing is what one commentator called “Not a shred of solidarity was on offer anyway: it was all just a dispute between “friends” and “allies.” Weak EU response with obviously no support from the Trump government, has left the Canadian government close to mulling a kind of apology “Canada will of course continue to “speak out,” Trudeau said last Wednesday, but he also said this of Saudi Arabia: “This is a country that has some importance around the world. It is making progress when it comes to human rights.” There is no need for mediation,” said Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir. “…Canada has made a mistake and needs to fix it.” Al-Jubeir’s views were then immediately expanded by former Conservative foreign affairs minister John Baird in an interview broadcast by the Saudis’ own Al-Arabiya network.

On 9 August a number of Canadian organizations expressed their support to Canada for its recent position on the detention of women human rights defenders in Saudi Arabia. “and urged the international community to join Canada in calling for the unequivocal respect of women’s rights in Saudi Arabia.”

With Russia and quite of few other countries coming out openly to express solidarity with Saudi Arabia it is time to ask where the like-minded solidarity is and what international NGOs do to support courageous Canada??

[with exception for HRW https://www.hrw.org/news/2018/08/08/saudi-arabia-punishes-canada-criticizing-human-rights-defenders-arrests and AI https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2018/08/saudi-arabia-international-community-must-speak-up-for-human-rights-defenders-after-canadian-ambassador-expelled/]

———

http://www.mediafiledc.com/saudi-canadian-duel-takes-place-on-multiple-platforms/

https://www.economist.com/middle-east-and-africa/2018/08/11/saudi-arabia-picks-a-pointless-fight-with-canada

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/article-canada-owes-no-apology-to-the-saudis/

https://www.macleans.ca/politics/worldpolitics/the-trudeau-government-is-losing-its-human-rights-battle-with-the-saudis-and-missing-a-huge-opportunity/

https://interpares.ca/news/joint-statement-canadas-support-women-human-rights-defenders-saudi-arabia

 

Citizen Lab at big RIGHTSCON in Toronto

May 12, 2018

 RightsCon, held this year in Toronto from 16 – 18 May 2018, brings together an international audience to discusses all topics related to human rights in the digital age, such as surveillance, AI, censorship, access to the internet, etc. Citizen Lab researchers, fellows, and associates will be participating in panels and events throughout the week.Citizen Lab is the organization that helped Ahmed Mansoor with his iPone spyware in 2016: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2016/08/29/apple-tackles-iphone-one-tap-spyware-flaws-after-mea-laureate-discovers-hacking-attempt/.
 on 11 a run-down of topics and where you can find them:

Session name Citizen Lab participant(s) Date Time Room location
Artificial Intelligence: Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems and Peace Time Threats Ron Deibert Wednesday, May 16 14:30 – 15:45 206B
Access My Info: Exposing Disconnects Between Data Protection in Theory and in Practice Masashi Crete-Nishihata, Chris Parsons, Bram Abramson Wednesday, May 16 16:00 – 17:00 200C
Do We Need Free Speech Legislation like We Need privacy Laws? Moses Karanja Wednesday, May 16 16:00 – 17:00 201A
Scrutinizing the Little Brothers: Corporate Surveillance and the Roles of the Citizen Consumer and Company Chris Parsons Wednesday, May 16 17:15 – 18:15 203B
Crypto Wars Revisited? Hosted by the Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic & Citizen Lab Wednesday, May 16 17:15 – 18:15 206C
Who Did it? Why We Need an International Cyber Attribution Organization to Address Nation-State Attacks in Cyberspace Ron Deibert Thursday, May 17 12:00 – 13:15 200C
Access My Info: Running a Personal Data Access Campaign Andrew Hilts Thursday, May 17 14:30 – 15:45 200A
Disappearing Space, Disappearing Voices: How the Chinese Government & Big Tech are Silencing Tibetans Online Masashi Crete-Nishihata Thursday, May 17 16:00 – 17:00 203B
Understanding Freedom of Expression in Southeast Asia: Internet Freedom and Online Censorship Irene Poetranto Thursday, May 17 16:00 – 17:00 TBA
Coders Free Speech Rights in The Americas at Risk Sarah McKune Thursday, May 17 16:00-17:00 201C
Journalism Free Expression and Digital Security Masashi Crete-Nishihata Thursday, May 17 17:15 – 18:15 205A
Beyond Security Updates: Providing Relevant, Accessible, and Sustainable Digital Security Advice Online Christine Schoellhorn, John Scott-Railton Thursday, May 17 17:15 – 18:15 201C
The Surveillance Tool We Love to Carry: Cell Phones, Searches, and Privacy in the Evolving Legal Landscape Lex Gill, Jon Penney Thursday, May 17 17:15 – 18:15 204A
How to win the privacy/surveillance debate Jon Penney Thursday, May 17 17:15-18:15 206A
How does the Kremlin Manipulate the Russian IT Industry to Exert Control over the Internet Ksenia Ermoshina, Jakub Dalek Friday, May 18 9:00 – 10:15 203A
A Technologist, a Policy Wonk, and an Internet Advocate Walk into a Bar: Assessing how Internet Communities Build Bridges for Human Rights Moses Karanja, Masashi Crete-Nishihata Friday, May 18 10:30 – 11:45 200A
My First Transparency Report Bram Abramson, Chris Parsons Friday, May 18 10:30 – 11:45 206A
What have We Learnt about 5 Years of Internet Disruptions in Africa? Moses Karanja Friday, May 18 12:00 – 13:15 201A
Tech Against Terrorism – Respecting Human Rights in Tackling Terrorist Exploitation of the Internet Irene Poetranto Friday, May 18 12:00 – 13:15 201B
Frontiers of Feminist Issues Online: Understanding the Tensions and Opportunities at the Intersection of Innovations, Digital Rights, and Security Irene Poetranto Friday, May 18 14:30-15:45 203A
Have We Entered a Brave New World of Global Content Takedown Orders? Jon Penney Friday, May 18 16:00 – 17:00 206C
CLE: Ethical Duties in the Digital Age: Encryption Done Dirt Cheap Sarah McKune Friday, May 18 16:00-18:00 206A
Online Anonymity: Key Lessons & Emerging Threats Bram Abramson Friday, May 18 17:15 – 18:15 200A
Chilling Effects, Surveillance, and the Future of Automation and the Law Jon Penney Friday, May 18 17:15 – 18:15 TBA
Big Brother is Really Watching: Digital Surveillance & Gender-based Violence Irene Poetranto Friday, May 18 17:15 – 18:15 206D

For previous event see: https://citizenlab.ca/2016/02/citizenlab-partners-rightscon-2016/

Professor Kavous Seyed-Emami, Iranian environmentalist, dies in prison under suspicious circumstances

March 7, 2018

On 6 March, 2018 Scholars at Risk (SAR) reported the death in custody of Professor Kavous Seyed-Emami, a scholar of sociology and an environmentalist in Iran who was arrested in January 2018 on charges of espionage.

Professor Seyed-Emami was a professor of sociology at Imam Sadiq University and a co-founder of the Persian Wildlife Heritage Foundation. A dual Canadian-Iranian national, he was an environmentalist who led camping trips for Iranian youth in his spare time. SAR understands that, on January 24, 2018, Iranian authorities arrested Professor Seyed-Emami, along with at least seven others, who Iranian authorities claimed were “collecting classified information about the country’s strategic areas under the guise of carrying out scientific and environmental projects.” The information released by authorities does not make clear what classified information Professor Seyed-Emami and others were alleged to have collected, who they were allegedly working for, or what evidence supports these allegations.

On February 9, authorities reportedly notified Professor Seyed-Emami’s wife of her husband’s death. The following day, authorities announced the arrests and Professor Seyed-Emami’s death, claiming it was a suicide. SAR understands that Professor Seyed-Emami’s family was pressured to bury him quickly. Human rights groups have called for an autopsy and investigation, pointing to the suspicious circumstances of his death. Professor Seyed-Emami’s death follows two other recent incidents in Evin Prison in which activists died and authorities later ruled their deaths suicides.

SAR demands an investigation of Professor Seyed-Emami’s deeply troubling death and generally that the ability of intellectuals in Iran to exercise their right to academic freedom be guaranteed. To join the action, follow the link below:

http://salsa4.salsalabs.com/o/50943/p/dia/action4/common/public/?action_KEY=24470

See also my post: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2017/08/23/rouhanis-iran-disappoints-massively-on-human-rights/

“Crazy nurses” from Canada stress importance of recognizing non-state torture

March 1, 2018

With all the high-level segment statements by political figures in the first week of the UN Human Rights Council one tends to overlook more down to earth work such as this – proudly reported by the CBC on 28 February 2018: Once dismissed as ‘crazy nurses,’ Jeanne Sarson, Linda MacDonald from Canada travel to Switzerland to address UN Human Rights Council:

Jeanne Sarson and Linda MacDonald travelled to Switzerland where they were one of four so-called “civil society representatives” selected to address the UN Human Rights Council.

Jeanne Sarson reading statement at UN

Jeanne Sarson reading a statement written by her and Linda MacDonald at the UN 37th session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva. (UN Web TV screen capture)

Their long-repeated message has been that torture isn’t just meted out by government officials and agents. Women and girls can be tortured by parents and family members, with atrocities including human trafficking, prostitution, enslavement or pornographic victimization. Naming it torture gives continuing crimes against family members the attention and weight it deserves, they believe. “Non-State Torture is identified as a distinct and specific crime and human rights offence which must not be misnamed as being another form of crime such as an assault causing bodily harm or abuse,” their website nonstatetorture.org says.

MacDonald said it felt “very affirming” for her and Sarson to make the joint statement to the council. Their story of activism began in 1993 when they met a woman who revealed she had been tortured and trafficked since she was a toddler. The nurses turned human rights defenders have now been in touch with 5,000 women around the world who say they are victims of domestic torture. .

But Sarson said she felt nervous reading the statement before the council as “non-state torture was probably a new concept for many of them.” She thought that many would be closing their ears to their message. Sarson and MacDonald’s statement urged the UN Human Rights Council’s countries to recognize non-state torture against women and girls as a gender-based human rights violation and crime. Their message received encouragement from the UN deputy high commission of the human rights council. “She said: ‘Keep pushing. We need civil society to campaign like you’re doing so society will transform,'” said MacDonald. There’s still work to be done at home. The pair have been pushing the federal government for years to include non-state as a human rights violation, but to date there has been no commitment.

MacDonald acknowledged that some members of the UN human rights council have poor records in upholding human rights, but that wasn’t her focus. She said until Canada recognizes non-state torture in its Criminal Code, “we have no room to criticize other countries.”

 

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/nova-scotia/truro-nurses-non-state-torture-1.4555659

Student dissertation award in the Netherlands goes to Canadian study on Police failures to combat sexual assault

February 14, 2018

This blog has a keen eye for all human rights awards, so I report with pride rather than embarrassment that the 7th Thoolen NJCM Dissertation Prize 2017 goes to Sylvie McCallum Rougerie. Sylvie wrote her dissertation on ‘Police Failures to Combat Sexual Assault: Lessons from International and Regional Human Rights Law for Improving Accountability under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms’.

No less than four student dissertations made the final cut this time. They were assessed on the following criteria: originality of the chosen human-rights based theme, development thereof; academic level; degree of innovative insight; and accessibility.  Tied for second place are Jordi Bierens and Danielle Snaathorst. Jordi wrote his dissertation on the growing influence of fundamental rights on European copyright rules. Danielle wrote about ‘The Curious Case of the Legitimate Aim. Understanding the “Legitimate Aim” Test of the European Court of Human Rights in Cases Concerning Freedom of Religion’. The third place goes to Jake Tingen. He wrote his dissertation on the tension between the freedom of information and the Dutch Public Access to Government Information Act.

The prize for winning the Thoolen NJCM Dissertation Prize is the publication of the winning dissertation by NJCM’s publishing house, Stichting NJCM-Boekerij. The award ceremony will take place during NJCM’s seminar on 12 April 2018 in The Hague (from 7.00 to 8.30 pm).

See also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2016/03/03/dissertation-on-social-rights-and-austerity-wins-thoolen-njcm-award-2016/

https://njcm.nl/actueel/and-the-thoolen-njcm-dissertation-prize-2017-goes-to/

Commercial spyware out of control and becoming threat to human rights defenders

December 6, 2017

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