Friday, January 29, 2010
For media coverage, click here. (Clarification: Troy Elder is a Professor at FIU, not an attorney with Human Rights USA. As local counsel, Professor Elder and students from the FIU clinic also represented the plaintiffs in this case.)
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
Recently, Thailand has ramped up efforts to monitor lese majeste violations on the internet. Thailand’s Computer Crime Act of 2007 requires internet service providers to keep information about its users for 90 days and allows authorities to search this information free of judicial oversight. Since late 2008, thousands of websites have been censored. Indeed, within one month of taking control, the new government had entirely blocked 4,000 websites and noted that 10,000 sites contained "damaging remarks" about the monarchy. The new information minister even pledged 80 million baht (about 1.7 million euro) to develop an internet filtering system.
In addition to blocking websites, the police have used the new computer law to crack down on those accused of violating the oppressive lese majeste laws. In early 2009, an editor of a news website was arrested for allowing others to post comments about the monarchy to her website. A few months later, police arrested two people accused of using the internet to spread false rumors about the king’s health. One of the accused claimed that all she had done was translate an article from a financial news provider that linked the decline of the stock market to anxiety about the king’s poor health.
What's more, this law has been enforced against many non-Thai nationals who were arrested and sometimes convicted once they set foot on Thai soil. Human Rights USA is troubled to see such censorship and oppression of freedom of speech and expression. We urge the United States and foreign governments to work together to ensure the internet is free and safe for all users in the global community.
Saturday, January 23, 2010
We enjoy hearing from those of you following this case and appreciate your support. As many of you know, 2009 was financially unkind to many non-profits and, unfortunately, Human Rights USA was no exception. Thankfully, we have not had to close our doors… but we continue to face severe financial constraints in our efforts to uphold human rights around the world. Such efforts sometimes carry a large price tag, and this case is no exception. We believe the fight to support human rights is worth every penny. But if we are going to continue this work – WE NEED YOUR HELP.
We invite you to support a piece of history by sponsoring a part of this civil case. A donation of $2,600 covers the cost of one client's air travel from Liberia to Miami to testify at trial. $448 covers the cost of our attorney's vaccinations prior to travel to Liberia to meet with our clients and gather information for trial. $400 covers the cost of one client's or attorney's lodging over the course of the trial. Your donation of $350 would cover the cost of filing the Complaint. Each donation of $131 would cover the cost of one visa for entry from Liberia into the United States to participate in trial. $75 covers the cost of one of our attorney's "pro hac vice" appearance in the federal court. $40 would cover the cost of the bag lunches we made for our attorneys and clients during the trial. And a donation of $25 would cover the cost of producing photographic exhibits for trial. We ask you to take a moment to decide what amount you can afford to give and then click here to own a part of this case…and to continue assisting survivors of human rights abuses to hold the violators accountable.
Thursday, January 21, 2010
BREAKING NEWS: Secretary Clinton’s Address Regarding Internet Freedom – the Power to Energize or Destroy
Noting that the United States “stand[s] for a single internet,” Secretary Clinton stated that foreign governments who censor and limit the internet are creating an “Information Curtain” and contravening the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. (A recent victim of such activity, who was among many who have been targeted in Egypt for blogging, was present in the audience; more here). The freedom to connect, she explained, is the cyberspace version of the freedom of assembly and the United States is taking concrete steps to support that freedom, including addressing internet freedom in the first resolution it introduced after rejoining the UN Human Rights Council.
Though information is a powerful tool to create real change – from allowing word of atrocities in Iran to reach the rest of the world to locating a young girl amidst the rubble in Haiti – issues of hate speech and anonymous speech must be addressed. Secretary Clinton recognized that the internet is “not an unmitigated blessing” – it has the power to energize…but it also has the power to destroy. We encourage the American government, American companies, foreign governments and companies and you, internet users, to do your part to make the internet a force for good.
For more information on the topics covered in Secretary Clinton’s address, including the link between internet access and economic growth, the work in 40 countries to help those who are silenced, and the work of the European Commission on Cybercrime (see the Convention here and info from DOJ here), click here for coverage from Business Week, here for the AP, here for the New York Times, and here for CNN.
(With research assistance from International Justice Project interns Daniel Cousineau and Katie Miller)
Amidst the devastation of the earthquake, the protection of Haitians’ basic human rights should be the top priority. Natural disasters such as the Haitian earthquake may destroy infrastructure and order, but they do not alter human rights protections, which require specific protection in such precarious times. Haunting images from the streets of the capital, where thousands of Haitians are now forced to live, show people in great need of food, water, shelter, clothes, and medical supplies. Additionally, the lack of adequate law enforcement personnel in Haiti creates a serious security threat as widespread violence and looting have been reported in Port au Prince.
Because the Haitian government is currently unable to adequately address the needs of its people, the international community has assumed the government’s international obligations by providing humanitarian aid in the form of rescue teams, security troops, and supplies to protect Haitians’ rights to basic needs and security. As required by international standards of disaster relief, special attention must be given to Haitian women and children because of their vulnerability to human rights violations in such an environment. International actors must also ensure that their own activities do not further contribute to human rights violations; aid must be provided equally and indiscriminately.
After basic relief needs are met, protection of Haitians’ human rights must remain a priority. The international community must work with the Haitian government to provide rights beyond basic survival needs, such as the rights to education, health, and work, as well as other political, economic, and cultural rights. International attention must not fade when the initial surprise of the event does and the aftershocks cease. As other survivors of natural disaster will readily attest, the needs of the Haitian people will not end with provision of food, water, and shelter to the displaced persons. The international community should focus on strengthening and rebuilding the Haitian state to provide all human rights protections to its citizens.
The matter of Haitians who seek refuge in other countries, including the United States, must also be addressed. Under international law, individuals have the right not to be forcibly returned to the country they are fleeing if returning would post a threat to their life, security, or freedom. In this regard, the U.S. government has already temporarily suspended deportations to Haiti and has granted temporary protected status to Haitians currently in the U.S., allowing them to reside and work in the U.S. for an additional 18 months. Before initial relief efforts expire, however, the international community should plan how to respect the human rights of Haitian refugees.
The first independent nation in Latin America, Haiti is now widely known only as the Western hemisphere’s poorest nation. The recent earthquake is the latest in a series of hindrances to the country’s progress. To learn a bit more about Haiti, click here for a timeline of key events in Haitian history.
There are many ways for you to aid in Haitian relief efforts. A list of organizations accepting money donations can be found here. Organizations accepting these donations can be found here. For up to date information on Haiti and the relief efforts there, click here.
- By Kacey Mordecai, Legal Intern, International Justice Project
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
A large outcry of support followed Google’s January 12 announcement that it is no longer willing to continue censoring results on Google.cn. This statement by Google is a definite step in the right direction and shows the company’s willingness to take a hard line against the Chinese government. Google is optimistic that it can persuade the Chinese government to agree to changes that will allow the display of uncensored search results. As of Friday, January 15, 2010, Google had not set a deadline for an agreement and, while Google had alerted the Chinese Government to its plan, a spokesperson for Google did not know whether any additional meetings had been scheduled. Pending the results of any agreement with the Chinese government, business will continue as it did before last Tuesday’s announcement. However, while not confirmed as directly related to the dispute with the Chinese government, today Google postponed the launch of its mobile phone in China that was scheduled to occur tomorrow.
For now, the question remains whether Google will have the determination to hold its hard line and follow through on its threat to pull out of China if no acceptable agreement can be reached. Google’s willingness to relinquish a share of the largest internet market in the world would send a powerful message that the company is not willing to compromise the human rights of any people and set an example for other corporations currently doing business in China. We hope that Google will reverse the trend the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. noted so many years ago in stating, “Increasingly, by choice or by accident, this is the role our nation has taken, the role of those who make peaceful revolution impossible by refusing to give up the privileges and the pleasures that come from the immense profits of overseas investments.”
For more information on the debate surrounding whether Google will pull out of China click here.
~By Lindsey Ingraham, Legal Intern, International Justice Project
Thursday, January 14, 2010
"By announcing that it no longer plans to censor search results in China, even if that means it must withdraw from the country, Google is showing spine — a kind that few other companies or governments have shown toward Beijing ... Whatever the motivations, it marks a refreshing contrast to Yahoo assisting the Chinese government in sending four dissidents — Shi Tao, Li Zhi, Jiang Lijun and Wang Xiaoning — to prison for terms of up to 10 years."
A refreshing contrast, indeed. As most of our readers know, Human Rights USA represented Shi Tao and Wang Xiaoning in their lawsuit against Yahoo!, which settled in 2007.
For more information on the recent cyberattacks, the companies and people impacted, and the human rights community's reaction, click here.
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
Happy 2010 to all of you from all of us at Human Rights USA! We hope that your new year is off to a wonderful start. As many of you know, 2009 was financially unkind to many non-profits and, unfortunately, Human Rights USA was no exception. Thankfully, we have not had to close our doors… but we continue to face severe financial constraints in our efforts to uphold human rights around the world. And such efforts sometimes carry a large price tag, as a tally of the many expenses we incurred in recent months to bring the civil case against Charles Taylor, Jr. reveals. We believe the fight to support human rights is worth every penny. But if we are going to continue this work – WE NEED YOUR HELP.
We invite you to support a piece of history by sponsoring a part of the civil case. A donation of $2,600 covers the cost of one client's air travel from Liberia to Miami to testify at trial. $448 covers the cost of our attorney's vaccinations prior to travel to Liberia to meet with our clients and gather information for trial. $400 covers the cost of one client's or attorney's lodging over the course of the trial. Your donation of $350 would cover the cost of filing the Complaint. Each donation of $131 would cover the cost of one visa for entry from Liberia into the United States to participate in trial. $75 covers the cost of one of our attorney's "pro hac vice" appearance in the federal court. $40 would cover the cost of the bag lunches we made for our attorneys and clients during the trial. And a donation of $25 would cover the cost of producing photographic exhibits for trial. We ask you to take a moment to decide what amount you can afford to give and then click here to own a part of this case…and to continue assisting survivors of human rights abuses to hold the violators accountable.
Go Google. We hope other corporations take notice.
Tuesday, January 5, 2010
We encourage our supporters to read the article to learn more about Ms. Harrison's achievements and the long process that brought Mr. Nken's case before the Supreme Court.