Big Brother in Practice: An Overview of Unlawful Surveillance

By Thomas Rozanov 

What George Orwell once fantasized in his novel ‘1984,’ is an actual threat today. Individuals are confronted with surveillance that interferes with private lives, and human rights. Big Brother tyranny is set into practice with modern widespread technology. “Telescreens” used by Oceania’s ruling party to constantly surveil citizens and prevent conspiracies and “thoughtcrimes” are now being replaced with unlawful access to online accounts, phone surveillance, cyberattacks, and hacking.

What once seemed like a dystopian plot, is now a reality. I suspect this dimension will play out more in the future, as individuals are becoming more technologically integrated and dependent. We should be warned to not only protect our physical human rights, but also the privacy of our virtual spaces and communication via technology. I draw attention to recent cases of unlawful surveillance and cyberattacks by governments targeting individuals in Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, and Belarus. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Abductions and Forcible Returns from Russia to Uzbekistan continue

By Ella Shen

A few weeks ago, Amnesty International, along with other international organizations, has expressed heavy concern over the possibility of danger, including torture amongst other human rights violations, to journalist Khudoberdi Nurmatov (also known as Ali Feruz), if forcibly returned to Uzbekistan. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Crimea: In the International Blind Spot

 

Russian security forces attempt to block the way of Crimean Tatars crossing a checkpoint in May 2014. REUTERS/STRINGER

By Viachaslau “Slava” Bortnik

Amnesty International recently released a public statement raising the worsening human rights situation in Crimea marking three years under Russian rule since the Peninsula’s unlawful annexation in March 2014.

Despite Amnesty’s call for human rights in last year’s briefing ‘Crimea in the dark: the silencing of dissent’, Russian and Crimean de facto authorities continue to intensify their persecution of political activists, dissenting voices, and ethnic Crimean Tatars. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Ethiopia: Zone 9

By Adotei Akwei and Miho Mitobe

At the end of 2016 Amnesty International published a report titled Ethiopia Offline: Evidence of Social Media Blocking and Internet Censorship in Ethiopia. This report documented how social media and networks in Addis Ababa and the Oromia region were being blocked by the Ethiopian government. Among the more alarming findings is that AI and the Open Observatory of Network Interference (OONI), who co-authored the report, detected the use of Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) technology, which can be used to monitor and filter internet traffic. The Ethiopian government appears to be using the technology for “mass surveillance internet censorship.” The government’s actions constitute a violation of Ethiopia’s obligations to protect freedom of expression under the African Charter and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and also drastically restricts access to information for the Ethiopian people. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

With Whom are Many U.S. Police Departments Training? With a Chronic Human Rights Violator – Israel

TOPSHOT - Baltimore County Sheriffs officers gather after Baltimore Officer Caesar Goodson Jr. was acquitted of all charges in his murder trial for the death of Freddie Gray at the Mitchell Court House June 23, 2016 in Baltimore, Maryland. Goodson, who drove the van in which Freddie Gray, a young African American, was transported before he died was acquitted of all charges including second degree murder and manslaughter. / AFP / Brendan Smialowski (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)

TOPSHOT – Baltimore County Sheriffs officers gather after Baltimore Officer Caesar Goodson Jr. was acquitted of all charges in his murder trial for the death of Freddie Gray at the Mitchell Court House June 23, 2016 in Baltimore, Maryland. (BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)

When the U.S. Department of Justice published a report Aug. 10 that documented “widespread constitutional violations, discriminatory enforcement, and culture of retaliation” within the Baltimore Police Department (BPD), there was rightly a general reaction of outrage.

But what hasn’t received as much attention is where Baltimore police received training on crowd control, use of force and surveillance: Israel’s national police, military and intelligence services. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

DatNav: How to Navigate Digital Data in Human Rights Research

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From online videos of war crimes, to satellite images of rights violations in areas as reclusive as North Korea, to eyewitness accounts disseminated on social media, we have access to more relevant data today than ever before.

These new data streams open up new opportunities for human rights documentation, and have a profound impact on how we conduct research at Amnesty International. For example, we recently used cell-phone video footage and satellite images to uncover a likely mass grave in Burundi. Due to lack of physical access, our work on Syria also relies heavily on content shared through social media and satellite image analysis. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Azerbaijan: Khadija, On Your Birthday, You Are Not Alone!

Khadija Ismayilova.jpgBy Ella Shen and Viachaslau “Slava” Bortnik, Eurasia Coordination Group at Amnesty International USA

**UPDATE: Khadija was freed on May 25th, 2016, however, her conviction is still yet to be overturned.

Renowned investigative journalist Khadija Ismayilova turns forty on Friday, May 27, celebrating her birthday for the second consecutive year in Baku’s Kurdukhani jail. Prior to the politically motivated charges and her imprisonment, Ismayilova worked as a senior investigator with the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project and as a political radio host at Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

Please join Amnesty International in wishing Khadija a happy birthday and declaring your support and solidarity with her. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Heading the Wrong Way: The Ever Closing Political Space in Ethiopia

Ethiopia human rights protest

By Adotei Akwei,Managing Director for Government Relations and Kayla Chen, Government Relations and Individuals at Risk Intern at Amnesty International USA

Sub-Saharan Africa is facing a growing trend of evaporating political space. Non-governmental organizations are being heavily and often violently restricted, and newspapers, bloggers and other voices of dissent or criticism are being silenced or intimidated into exile.
SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

IDAHOT 2016: LGBT Human Rights Around The World

IDAHOT

Today, May 17, Amnesty International celebrates International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia. This IDAHOT, Amnesty International condemns the ongoing discrimination, violence, and denial of fundamental human rights faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people around the world. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Russia: Stop the Foul Play

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By Viachaslau “Slava” Bortnik, Chair of Eurasia Coordination Group at Amnesty International USA.

The World Ice Hockey Championship is taking place in Russia from May 6-22. It is ironic that the championship started on the day of the fourth anniversary of the Bolotnaya Square events.

On May 6, 2012, tens of thousands of people marched through the center of Moscow and sought to gather in Bolotnaya Square in protest of the disputed results of the election in which Vladimir Putin had been re-elected Russia’s President. Most never got that far. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST