Everyone Has the Right to Seek Asylum

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Hundreds of Myanmar's Rohingya refugees arrived in Indonesia on May 15, 2015. Thousands more are believed to still be stranded at sea reportedly with no country in the region willing to take them in. (Ulet Ifansasti/Getty Images)

Hundreds of Rohingya refugees arrived in Indonesia on May 15, 2015. Thousands more are believed to still be stranded at sea reportedly with no country willing to take them in. Ulet Ifansasti/Getty Images

We all have an obligation to help

The right to flee from danger and seek safe haven ought to be something we all innately understand. And yet, one need only turn on the television, browse the Internet or pick up a paper to find arguments against it. Under international law, states have an obligation to help people fleeing persecution by not sending them back in to danger. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Real vs. Fake: How To Authenticate YouTube Videos

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Citizen Footage

During crises or disasters, YouTube is widely used to share footage – including a host of videos that are old or, in some cases, staged or faked. An enormous challenge for human rights workers, journalists or first responders alike is to separate fact from fiction. Now, there’s a website that can help.

The Citizen Evidence Lab – launched today – is the first dedicated verification resource for human rights workers, providing tools for speedy checks on YouTube videos as well as for more advanced assessment.

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Families Torn Apart in the Name of Security

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On World Refugee Day, we’re highlighting just some of the stories of millions of refugees around the world (Photo Credit: Reinnier Kaze/AFP/Getty Images).

On World Refugee Day, we’re highlighting just some of the stories of millions of refugees around the world (Photo Credit: Reinnier Kaze/AFP/Getty Images).

This piece was originally published by Daily Nation. To watch and read the testimonies of other refugees torn away from their families during Usalama Watch, visit www.tamuka.org and follow #1FamilyKenya on social media.

By Muthoni Wanyeki, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for East Africa.

Last month, 18-year-old Ayaan suddenly found herself at the head of her household. Her mother and father had been arrested in Nairobi as part of the counter-terrorism operation dubbed ‘Usalama Watch.’

They were detained in Kasarani stadium before being forcibly relocated to Kakuma refugee camp over 500 miles away, leaving Ayaan alone to look after her seven brothers and sisters – all under the age of 10.

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Kenya’s Withdrawal From The International Criminal Court and Why It Matters

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Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto arrives on September 23, 2013 at the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto arrives on September 23, 2013 at the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

On September 5, the Kenyan parliament passed a motion to withdraw Kenya from the International Criminal Court. The decision came about days before Vice President Samoei Ruto faced trial at The Hague following his indictment for committing crimes against humanity in the bloody 2007 elections violence.

Last week, the African Union announced it would hold a special session in early October to discuss whether the AU members should withdraw from the ICC even as they announced plans to request that the hearings be transferred to Nairobi. The case has raised a critical and ongoing challenge to human rights in Africa:

Can political leaders in Africa be held to account for committing serious human rights abuses?

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What Happens When You Cry Wolf to the Kenyan Crowd

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One of the recurrent challenges associated with utilizing social media outlets to report and monitor a situation during a period of time when ground events may or may not be rapidly developing (such as in Kenya): the situation is often times much more complex than 140 characters can convey, and the incorrect use of just a few words, could easily become an overflow of ingredients to an already bubbling human rights situation (Photo Credit: Till Muellenmeister/AFP/Getty Images)

One of the recurrent challenges associated with utilizing social media outlets to report and monitor a situation during a period of time when ground events may or may not be rapidly developing (such as in Kenya): the situation is often times much more complex than 140 characters can convey, and the incorrect use of just a few words, could easily become an overflow of ingredients to an already bubbling human rights situation (Photo Credit: Till Muellenmeister/AFP/Getty Images)

Like many others, I have been closely watching the Kenyan elections. In fact, these elections may be the most “watched” elections ever. I am not necessarily talking about observers on the ground. Digital tools, including social media outlets, have greatly enhanced remote monitoring capability, and have emerged as a major component in the Kenyan elections.

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Twitter to the Rescue? How Social Media is Transforming Human Rights Monitoring

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Syrian youths, inside a vehicle, film a protest against the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad with their phones in the northern city of Aleppo.

Syrian youths, inside a vehicle, film a protest against the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad with their phones in the northern city of Aleppo on October 12, 2012. (Photo: TAUSEEF MUSTAFA/AFP/Getty Images)

Social media is increasingly helpful to not only monitor emerging human rights emergencies, but also to uncover incorrect information. A recent example is when Twitter helped me to spot incorrect contextual information on a newly uploaded execution video from Syria. This is just one instance in which crowdsourced expertise from social media can open up new opportunities for human rights organizations. Having that said, the challenges and pitfalls are numerous. I thought about these issues a lot while preparing for a Truthloader debate last week on how citizen journalism is changing the world. Current case in point is the upcoming elections in Kenya, which are probably the best (citizen) monitored elections in history.

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Milestone for International Justice in Kenya

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Kenya police passout paradeOn Monday, the International Criminal Court (ICC) ruled that four out of six senior-level Kenyan officials must stand trial for crimes against humanity. This includes two presidential hopefuls, and all four are accused of complicity in the widespread violence that erupted in the aftermath of the bitterly disputed 2007 presidential elections which left over half a million Kenyans displaced and over 1,100 killed.

The ruling by the ICC marks an important milestone for victims of violence and their right to justice, truth, and reparations, and will also go far in setting a historic precedent in ensuring international justice for crimes committed against humanity worldwide. ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo stated:
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Horror and Hope in Kenya's Informal Settlements

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Man surveys the wreckage of his home

Man surveys the wreckage of his home

By Mariah Ortiz, Kenya Country Specialist for Amnesty USA

Imagine you are sleeping in your bed, and suddenly you hear the sounds of a bulldozer outside your window.  You have to run outside to avoid being crushed.  You escape, but your home is flattened before your eyes . . .

Now imagine that you are walking home, and the sewer suddenly ignites.  You cry out as people around you burst into flames . . .

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Kenyan Human Rights Defender Arrested in Wake of Kampala Attack

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A police post in Kampala, Uganda(c) Amnesty International

As the world was watching every dribble, pass, and shot of the World Cup final match, a bomb exploded in Kampala, Uganda killing 76 people. Now, Uganda is making matters worse by arbitrarily arresting and detaining Al-Amin Kimanthi, the head of the Muslim Human Rights Forum (MHRF) in Kenya.  Kimanthi was arrested on September 15 as he flew to Uganda to observe the trial of six other Kenyans on trial for the bombing. He was charged with terrorism and murder six days later.

Uganda and Kenya both have not followed international standards nor human rights law in their handling of Kimanthi’s case.  Beginning with his arbitrary arrest and six day detention without being charged, Kimanthi’s charge sheet has no evidence linking him to the bomb attack. Furthermore, Kenya has ignored his right to habeas corpus in his incognito transfer to Uganda.  Both Kenya and Uganda have failed to respect extradition procedures which require reciprocal warrants of arrests in both countries and judicial hearings.

It seems as though Kimanthi was arbitrarily arrested for carrying out his legitimate human rights work – providing legal support to the suspects charged in connection with the bomb attack.

Amnesty is calling on the Ugandan government to release Kimanthi or specify the charges against him. The perpetrators of the July, 2010 bombing in Kampala must be brought to justice, but this must not come at the expense of international human rights law and standards.