Posts Tagged ‘monitoring’

Progress with the TrialWatch app of the Clooney Foundation

September 10, 2019

Illegitimate judicial proceedings are increasingly being used as a ‘rule-of-law-shield’ to fend off legitimate criticism,” says David Pressman, the Executive Director of the Clooney Foundation for Justice (CFJ). No overall system exists to monitor the fairness of trials around the world: some cases receive media attention and are well documented, whereas others are only followed by local activists. To bridge this gap, the CFJ, founded in June 2016, set up TrialWatch, an international monitoring program. Launched in April 2019, TrialWatch trains individuals in the basics of trial-monitoring, and equips them with the TrialWatch app, developed with Microsoft, to help them collect information about trials of interest in their areas. That information is then passed on to legal experts, such as international human rights lawyers, who assess it and write fairness reports. In time, this will contribute to a global justice index, ranking countries by the fairness of their legal system.

By early May 2019, TrialWatch was already monitoring 18 trials around the world, from Nigeria to Belarus, a number which the organisation wants to increase. “TrialWatch aims to solve the challenge of scaling trial-monitoring,” says Pressman. Trial-monitoring has been used by legal experts and lawyers for many years, because it increases transparency, creates a simplified record of the trial, and can facilitate reform. To make it easier to become a monitor, the CFJ developed a new set of guidelines accessible to non-experts, which were approved by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, the American Bar Association and Columbia Law School.

The TrialWatch smartphone app gives trial-monitors the tools to collect essential information, and store it securely in one place. The training that trial-monitors receive helps ensure that they record the right information, and straightforward yes/no questionnaires help them speed up collection. Within the app, trial-monitors can also take photos, shoot videos, and record audio – which is useful, given that many of the monitored trials happen in languages which aren’t widely spoken. Audio files are transcribed in the original language and then translated into English by Microsoft’s Azure Cognitive Services. All that is securely uploaded to the cloud, to be pored over by the CFJ’s legal experts.

Our hope is that TrialWatch can help expose states when they fall short,” Pressman says . “It can demonstrate the ways that states are instrumentalising the courts in an effort to legitimise human rights abuses.

https://www.wired.co.uk/article/amal-clooney-trialwatch-app

Human Rights Defender Ellecer Carlos’ take on Philippines – UN Human Rights Council

July 16, 2019

ABS-CBN News of 16 July 2019 carries an interview with Ellecer Carlos, spokesperson of iDefend or “In Defense of Human Rights and Dignity Movement” under the title: UN rights probe meant to stop ‘would-be tyrants’

Carlos urged the government to exert all means to prevent extrajudicial killings. He said the United Nations Human Rights Council decision to adopt the resolution calling for a report on Manila’s human rights situation, including extrajudicial killings under President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs, is “to stop the mini-Dutertes that are here, the mini mayors that are doing the very same thing, and the Duterte likenesses elsewhere in the world–Sri Lanka, Bangladesh–who have praised Duterte, who have praised the war on drugs here in the Philippines and that is put a stop to would be tyrants employing this violent approach for populist means,“. [see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2019/07/11/un-council-agrees-action-on-philippines-in-spite-of-vehement-objection/]

Carlos, meanwhile, welcomed Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jnr’s statement that the Philippines will stay in the United Nations Human Rights Council despite the vote. “This is a good development that they were able to rethink their slip-ups,” Carlos said.

But I find the statement very funny to teach Europeans and other countries manners. After the unbecoming statements, after the derogatory statements, after the behavior of the Philippine delegation led by Undersecretary [Severo] Catura…. Carlos said the Philippine delegation, led by Undersecretary Catura, walked out during the informal session on June 25 to discuss the Iceland resolution on the Philippines at the 41st session of the UNHRC in Geneva, Switzerland. (Duterte hits Iceland after UNHRC Resolution: ‘You have too much ice’). But the Times of Oman reports that President Rodrigo Duterte is “seriously considering” cutting ties with Iceland (https://timesofoman.com/article/1615850)

https://news.abs-cbn.com/news/07/16/19/un-rights-probe-meant-to-stop-would-be-tyrants-rights-group

OSCE Human Rights Monitoring and Security Training for Human rights defenders: apply soon

March 23, 2019

The OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) is pleased to offer a five-day training event on human rights monitoring and safety and security for human rights defenders (HRDs) working in three thematic areas: 1) human rights of Roma and Sinti, 2) human rights of people of African descent, and 3) environmental protection issues.
The objective of the training event is to enable human rights defenders (HRDs) to independently carry out quality and objective human rights monitoring activities in a safe and secure manner and taking into account relevant gender considerations. The event will take place in Montenegro from 27 to 31 May 2019, and will cover the human rights monitoring cycle and principles; physical safety and security of human rights monitors; and digital security, including secure information management. The language of the event will be English. The training will be based on interactive learning methods and requires a high level of active participation by all participants. During group exercises, participants will be divided based on their field of work/interest and coached by a senior professional expert. ODIHR will select up to eight participants per group.

The size of the entire group will be limited to 25 participants, selected according to the following criteria:
• Citizenship or residence in one of the OSCE participating States;
• Involvement as a human rights defender in one of the specified fields: environmental protection, human rights of Roma and Sinti, or human rights of people of African descent;
• Limited or no experience on human rights monitoring and reporting;
• No or limited previous training in safety and security (including digital security);
• Relevance of the training for future human rights activities in OSCE the region;
• Computer literacy;
• Fluency in English.

The OSCE/ODIHR recognizes as a human rights defender any person promoting and striving for the realization of human rights regardless of profession, age or other status. Human rights defenders carry out their human rights activities individually or jointly with others, as part of an informal group or as a non-governmental organization (NGO), and act in a voluntary capacity or professionally. ..The workshop is designed for activists with limited or no skills who can benefit fully from receiving the training. Accommodation and travel for the selected human rights defenders to attend the event will be covered by ODIHR.

Deadline for submission: 29th March 2019. If you have any questions about the content or the selection procedure of the training, please do not hesitate to contact David Mark david.mark@odihr.pl and Marine Constant at marine.constant@odihr.pl.

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSfQUm0t3S8vU3Kat8C46gbcRlxSaXQC6ZcMA7DwKmEyngknQA/viewform

See also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2019/02/28/human-rights-education-courses-also-exist-in-europe/

Important side event on Burundi on 4 March 2016 during UN Human Rights Council

March 2, 2016

logo_partners

DefendDefenders (East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project) together with the many NGOs, whose logos are shown above, will host the side event “Crisis in Burundi: Implementing Sustainable Solutions on 4 March 2016 (15h00 – 17h00), Room XXIV, Palais des Nations, Geneva.

Panelists:

  • Michel Forst, UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of Human Rights Defenders
  • Pierre Claver Mbonimpa, President of APRODH (and Laureate MEA 2007)
  • Tom GibsonRepresentative for Burundi and DRC at Protection International

Moderator:

  • Hassan Shire, Executive Director of East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project.

The situation in Burundi is terrible as is know from the many reports issued already and the December 2015 Special Session of the UN Human Rights Council, which culminated in the adoption of a strong resolution mandating the High Commissioner for Human Rights to deploy a mission by independent experts to visit the country to investigate human rights violations, represents an important step to ensuring greater accountability for violations of fundamental rights in Burundi. However, the Burundian Government’s refusal to facilitate this mission has severely hampered efforts to identify and implement a sustainable resolution to the crisis [https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2016/02/08/what-is-burundi-doing-in-the-un-human-rights-council/]. Although there is now a bit of hope as three investigators are due to visit Burundi for a week from March 1, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) said in a statement. The three experts — from Algeria, Colombia and South Africa — are members of the UN’s Independent Investigation on Burundi (UNIIB). “Our aim is to help the state fulfil its human rights obligations, ensure accountability for human rights violations and abuses, including by identifying alleged perpetrators,” said Christof Heyns, the UN’s Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary of Arbitrary Executions who is one of the investigators. The African Union (AU) said it would increase the number of human rights and military observers deployed. “The AU will deploy 100 human rights observers and 100 military monitors to Burundi to monitor the situation,” a statement on the South African presidency’s website said Saturday.

Source: HRC31: Side-event on Burundi on 4th March at 3pm – East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project

http://www.timeslive.co.za/africa/2016/02/29/UN-to-send-human-rights-team-to-Burundi

What is Burundi doing in the UN Human Rights Council?

February 8, 2016

Burundi is still one of the basket cases in Africa and since my lats post nothing has improved [https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2015/11/10/burundi-what-more-early-warning-does-one-need/].  The Special Session of the Human Rights Council in December 2015 mandated the High Commissioner for Human Rights to put together an expert mission to Burundi, to investigate abuses and make recommendations to the Council and the Burundian government on ways of ending serious human rights violations. But the follow-up is below par: Read the rest of this entry »

Amnesty’s Detekt: a new tool against government spying launched today

November 20, 2014

Screen Shot 2014-11-20 at 10.24.35

On 20 November 2014 Amnesty International launched a new tool that human rights defenders can use in their struggle against surveillance. It is calledDETEKT. As I have often expressed concern about digital security in this blog (see: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/tag/digital-security/\) here ARE major excerpts from the Questions and Answers that were provided in the press release:

What is Detekt and how does it work?

Detekt is a free tool that scans your computer for traces of known surveillance spyware used by governments to target and monitor human rights defenders and journalists around the world. By alerting them to the fact that they are being spied on, they will have the opportunity to take precautions.

It was developed by security researchers and has been used to assist in Citizen Lab’s investigations into government use of spyware against human rights defenders, journalists and activists as well as by security trainers to educate on the nature of targeted surveillance. Amnesty International is partnering with Privacy International, Digitale Gesellschaft and the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

Why are you launching Detekt now?

The latest technologies enable governments to track, monitor and spy on people’s activities like never before. Through the use of these technologies, governments can read private correspondence and even turn on the camera and microphone of a computer without its owner knowing it. Our ultimate aim is for human rights defenders, journalists and civil society groups to be able to carry out their legitimate work without fear of surveillance, harassment, intimidation, arrest or torture.

Has anyone used Detekt successfully to know if they were being spied on? 

Detekt was developed by researchers affiliated with the Citizen Lab, who used a preliminary version of the tool during the course of their investigations into the use of unlawful surveillance equipment against human rights defenders in various countries around the world.

For example, according to research carried out by Citizen Lab and information published by Wikileaks, FinSpy – a spyware developed by FinFisher, a German firm that used to be part of UK-based Gamma International– was used to spy on prominent human rights lawyers and activists in Bahrain.

How effective is this tool against technologies developed by powerful companies? 

Detekt is a very useful tool that can uncover the presence of some commonly used spyware on a computer, however it cannot detect all surveillance software. In addition, companies that develop the spyware will probably react fast to update their products to ensure they avoid detection. This is why we are encouraging security researchers in the open-source community to help the organizations behind this project to identify additional spyware or new versions to help Detekt keep up to date.

It is important to underline that if Detekt does not find trace of spyware on a computer, it does not necessarily mean that none is present. Rather than provide a conclusive guarantee to activists that their computer is infected, our hope is that Detekt will help raise awareness of the use of such spyware by governments and will make activists more vigilant to this threat.

In addition, by raising awareness with governments and the public, we will be increasing pressure for more stringent export controls to ensure that such spyware is not sold to governments who are known to use these technologies to commit human rights violations.

How widely do governments use surveillance technology?

Governments are increasingly using surveillance technology, and targeted surveillance in particular, to monitor the legitimate activities of human rights activists and journalists. Powerful software developed by companies allows governments and intelligence agencies to read personal emails, listen-in on Skype conversations or even remotely turn on a computers camera and microphone without its owner knowing about it. In many cases, the information they gather through those means is used to detain, imprison and even torture activists into confessing to crimes.

How big is the unregulated trade in surveillance equipment? What are the main companies and countries involved? 

The global surveillance industry is estimated to be worth approximately US$5 billion a year – with profits growing 20 per cent every year. European and American companies have been quietly selling surveillance equipment and software to countries across the world that persistently commit serious human rights violations. Industry self-regulation has failed, and government oversight has now become an urgent necessity.

Privacy International has extensively documented the development, sale and export of surveillance technologies by private companies to regimes around the world. Recipient countries include: Bahrain, Bangladesh, Egypt, Ethiopia, Libya, Morocco, South Africa, Syria and Turkmenistan.

Isn’t publicizing the existence of this tool giving governments a heads up about how they can avoid being caught (by adapting new equipment which avoids detection)?

The technologies that allow governments to efficiently and covertly monitor the digital communications of their citizens are continuously improving. This is happening across the world. The growing trend in indiscriminate mass surveillance on a global scale was laid bare by the Edward Snowden disclosures. In addition to mass surveillance technologies, many governments are using sophisticated tools to target specific human rights defenders and journalists who work to uncover abuses and injustice. The new spyware being developed and used is powerful and dangerous and putting many human rights activists and journalists at risk of abuse.

As surveillance technologies develop in sophistication, it is vital that civil society groups learn how to protect their digital communications. No one tool or intervention will be enough to do this. We hope Detekt will become a new approach for investigating surveillance while sensitizing people to the threats.

However, long term we must also demand that governments live up to their existing commitments to human rights and that they and companies put in place stronger protections to ensure that new technologies are not used to violate human rights.

Surveillance is also used to carry out legitimate criminal investigations, why are you against it? 

Targeted surveillance is only justifiable when it occurs based on reasonable suspicion, in accordance with the law, is strictly necessary to meet a legitimate aim (such as protecting national security or combatting serious crime and is conducted in a manner that is proportionate to that aim and non-discriminatory.

Indiscriminate mass surveillance – the widespread and bulk interception of communication data that is not targeted or based on reasonable suspicion – is never justifiable. It interferes with a range of human rights, particularly the rights to privacy and freedom of expression.

The Detekt tool can be downloaded from: Github page.

http://www.amnesty.org/en/news/detekt-new-tool-against-government-surveillance-questions-and-answers-2014-11-20

 http://gadgets.ndtv.com/internet/news/human-rights-group-amnesty-international-releases-anti-surveillance-tool-623484

Amnestys Detekt tool wants to help you thwart government spying | ZDNet.

Sudan HRD Ryan Boyette to Receive Human Rights First Award

October 12, 2014

HRF logo will honor Ryan Boyette, a human rights advocate based in Sudan, with its 2014 Human Rights First Award. Boyette is recognized for his courageous work documenting and drawing international attention to the ongoing attacks against civilians by the Sudanese government in conflicts largely hidden from worldview. The organization will present the Award at its annual gala on 22 October in New York. Human Rights First’s CEO Elisa Massimino stated: “We are inspired by Ryan’s commitment to keep the eyes of the world on the human rights crisis in southern Sudan.” Read the rest of this entry »

Internet guru Bruce Schneier will lecture on: Is it Possible to be Safe Online?

September 30, 2014

On 6 October 2014 Front Line Defenders will be hosting US computer privacy expert and “digital security guru” Bruce Schneier as the key-note speaker for their second Annual Lecture [for those in Ireland: at 6.30 pm in the Trinity Biomedical Science Institute – tickets are available at: https://bruceschneierdublin2014.eventbrite.ie].

This talk, entitled “Is it Possible to be Safe Online? Human Rights Defenders and the Internet”, will explore the issues faced by human rights defenders and everyday people on the ground as the use of computers and the Internet in their work is becoming increasingly commonplace and the threats posed by governments manipulating, monitoring and subverting electronic information, increased surveillance and censorship and the lack of security for digitally communicated and stored information is on the rise. Called a “security guru” by The Economist, Schneier has authored 12 books – including Liars and Outliers: Enabling the Trust Society Needs to Thrive – as well as hundred of article, essays and academic papers. His influential newsletter  Crypto-Gram and his blog Schneier on Security are read by over 250,000 worldwide.

via Is it Possible to be Safe Online? Human Rights Defenders & the Internet – lecture by Bruce Schneier – 06/10.

Kidnappings of human rights defenders in DRC continue unabated

September 16, 2014

Frontline NEWlogos-1 condensed version - croppedjust published two recent reports on kidnappings in DRC. The first is that on 13 September 2014, the corpse of human rights defender Mr Mutebwa Kaboko was found in a forest, eight days after he was kidnapped by an armed group. Mutebwa Kaboko was a training facilitator for the organisation Aide Rapide aux Victimes des Catastrophes – ARVC, created in 2008 to help disaster victims, especially women and vulnerable children. Now operating in the territories of Uvira and Fizi Walungu, the association has led a campaign against the phenomenon of forced marriage.  He was abducted by men suspected of belonging to an armed group known as Mayi Mayi Yakutumba. [On 20 June 2014, Mutebwa Kaboko was abducted in a similar way by elements of Mayi Mayi Yakutumba. He had apparently denounced their presence in the locality of Katete. They had held Mutebwa Kaboko in the open forest for five days before releasing him.]

On 14 September two other human rights defenders, Ms Neema Bitu and Mr Jacques Muganga, were found back after being kidnapped and held for two days by members of a rebel group. The two defenders are investigators of l’Action des Femmes Contre la Torture – AFCT (Action for Women Against Torture), an organisation defending the rights of women based in the village of Mwaba Kangando/Kiliba, tens of kilometers from the town of Uvira near the border between Burundi and the DRC. The perpetrators are this time  suspected of belonging to Forces Nationales de Libération du Burundi, a rebel group composed mostly of Burundian combatants and operating in parts of South Kivu in the DRC. On the night of 13 September 2014, the two defenders were able to escape from their captors while they were firing on the government army. Their colleagues found them at dawn on 14 September 2014 at approximately. During their captivity, they reportedly suffered terrible beatings and now require emergency medical treatment.

This follows the abduction and detention on 1 September 2014, of human rights defenders Mr Célestin Bambone, Ms Marie Amnazo and Ms Kongwa Tulinabo [from the Action Paysanne pour le Développement et la Promotion des Droits de l’Homme (Peasant Action for the Development and Promotion of Human Rights – APDPDH), a human rights organisation based in Mugutu, in the South Kivu province and specialising in the monitoring of human rights violations in Mugutu and surrounding villages].

 

British human rights investigators held in Qatar freed

September 9, 2014

The Guardian reported today that Krishna Upadhyaya and Gundev Ghimire, the two British human rights investigators detained in Qatar for almost nine days, have been released from custody (but have not yet left the country).

via UK human rights researchers held in Qatar freed | World news | theguardian.com.

https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2014/09/08/human-rights-investigators-in-qatar-are-now-confirmed-as-detained/