Kathryn Striffolino (center) at #Freedomhack in Mexico City (Photo Credit: Amnesty International).
This is the first post of a series: “Technology for Human Rights Protection” with new entries being published every week or so. We will be discussing the latest innovations for human rights protection and how the human rights community writ large is or can be utilizing science, technology and open innovation for human rights defense. Posts primarily by @katiestriff and @tanyaocarroll, who work in the intersection between technology, science and human rights defense for @Amnesty and @amnestyonline, with the occasional colleague and guest contributor.
The weekend of August 11 and 12 was unprecedented. Technology start-ups, NGOs, journalists, human rights defenders and technologists joined forces for good at the #Freedomhack. We connected to one another digitally; one group located in Washington, D.C. and the other in Mexico City and we collaboratively worked on identifying and developing secure digital reporting methods for journalists and human rights. In Mexico as you may know, it is a very complicated and extremely deadly environment for reporters of any sort.
People carry bags of cassiterite (tin ore), coltan, which is used in mobile telephones and computers, and manganese down a hill from the Mudere mine near Rubaya (Photo Credit: Junior D. Kannah/AFP/Getty Images).
By Audrey Gaughran, Director of Global Issues at Amnesty International
In some ways this is easy to do. Besides mining – mostly of copper and cobalt – little else happens in southern Katanga. But two very different methods are employed to extract these minerals. Industrial mining, involving large multinational companies, is managed from air-conditioned offices and carried out with heavy equipment; small-scale artisanal mining is frequently done in sweltering heat by men (and in some cases boys under the age of 18) working with basic tools.
An ‘Israeli only’ by-pass road that links Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, sitting below an Israeli settlement outside of Jerusalem (Photo Credit: Edith Garwood).
ALL Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) are illegal.
Israel’s long-running policy of settling civilians in occupied territory amounts to a war crime.
This needs to be clearly said now, without ambiguity. The United States government, as sponsor of the current ‘peace talks’ between Israel and Palestinians, must uphold rule of law and human rights. Despite the fact that the U.S. has historically taken the same position as the international community that Israeli settlements within the OPT are illegal, they have chosen to prevaricate in recent years, using words like ‘unhelpful’ or ‘illegitimate’ to describe settlement building by Israel.
Two young girls stand outside the remains of the infamous Union Carbide plant in Bhopal, India. Half a million people were exposed during the plant’s 1984 gas leak and 25,000 have died to date as a result of their exposure. More than 120,000 people still suffer from ailments ranging from blindness to gynaecological disorders caused by the accident and subsequent pollution (Photo Credit: Giles Clarke/Getty Images).
The survivors of 1984’s Bhopal gas disaster have won a significant step toward justice.
The Democratic Republic of Congo’s long war, which has claimed an estimated three million lives as a result of fighting or disease and malnutrition, was fueled by the regions vast mineral wealth (Photo Credit: Kuni Takahashi/Getty Images).
You know that phone you’re texting on? Do you know how its microchips are made?
Thanks to work by Amnesty International and partner organizations, companies that rely on certain minerals from the Democratic Republic of Congo or neighboring countries now have to investigate and report on whether those minerals fund armed groups.
And it’s about more than just smartphones – “conflict minerals” (tin, tantalum, tungsten, and gold) are used in products like your laptop and even your car. Public disclosure of companies’ sourcing practices can have a real impact on entire industries, pushing companies to take human rights into account as they do business. Can you hear me now?
Palestinian students celebrate during their graduation ceremony at Birzeit University. Birzeit is the university of choice for Azza, Suhair and Loujain. However, like many Palestinian students, they are restricted from attending because the university is in the West Bank and they live in Gaza (Photo Credit: Abbas Momani/AFP/Getty Images).
As I write this, an Israeli checkpointis fading into the distance behind me. In the past three days, I’ve been traveling between Israel and the occupied West Bank, learning about human rights conditions on the ground.
When I fly back to the United States, it will be with deeper insight into the experience of human rights defenders and activists in Israel and the occupied West Bank. Yet before I leave, there are three people who I know I won’t get a chance to meet: Azza, Suhair and Loujain.
This week brought a rare bit of good news for human rights in the poor, rural, tribal districts of eastern India. After spending over two years in jail on false charges, human rights activist Kartam Joga was finally acquitted of all charges. Like Binayak Sen, TG Ajay, Kopa Kunjam, Ramesh Agrawal, and Harihar Patel before him, the government of Chhattisgarh tried to silence Kartam Joga for daring to demand that human rights and democratic principles be respected in Chhattisgarh. And once again, the courts found that the state had no case.
An indigene of Bodo, Ogoniland region in Nigeria, tries to separate with a stick the crude oil from water in a boat at the Bodo waterways polluted by oil spills attributed to Shell equipment failure.(Photo credit: PIUS UTOMI EKPEI/AFP/Getty Images)
By Audrey Gaughran, Amnesty International’s Africa Programme Director
This week’s ruling by a Dutch court in a case brought by four Nigerian farmers against the oil company Shell for pollution damage represents a small victory – but also underlines the real-world challenges facing victims of pollution and human rights abuses involving multinational companies.
The four farmers who brought the case had seen their livelihoods destroyed by oil pollution from Shell’s operations.
The court found in favour of one plaintiff, stating that Shell Nigeria had breached its duty of care in that case by failing to take reasonable action to prevent third parties tampering with oil wells and causing oil spills. Shell will now have to pay compensation to the affected farmer.
Bangladeshi men carry the body of a victim after a fire in the nine-storey Tazreen Fashion plant in Savar, about 30 kilometres north of Dhaka on November 25, 2012. Rescue workers in Bangladesh recovered 109 bodies on Sunday after a fire tore through a garment factory, forcing many workers to jump from high windows to escape the smoke and flames. (Photo credit STRINGER/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama sits near Myanmar President Thein Sein as they participate in the US-Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) meeting in 2011. Photo credit: SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images
On the eve of President Obama’s historic visit to Myanmar (Burma), the first ever by a U.S. President, his host, President Thein Sein, has released 450 prisoners, a move surely calculated to curry favor with the United States. A smaller amnesty announced in September, just before the UN General Assembly convened, included about 60 political prisoners.
It remains to be seen whether any of an estimated 300 remaining political prisoners will be scattered among the latest batch of parolees. Nonetheless, the prisoner release is, by any measurement, an encouraging step. It says something important about the power and influence of the United States, and the desire of the new government of Myanmar to kiss up to President Obama and bask in the economic possibilities of a post-sanctions environment.