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The Saker
A bird's eye view of the vineyard

offsite link Armenian-Azerbaijani War Rages In South Caucasus Mon Sep 28, 2020 22:47 | amarynth
South Front On September 27, a new regional war in South Caucasus arose from the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict over the contested Nagorno-Karabakh region. Pro-Armenian forces captured the region in the early

offsite link The mortal battle of the Perfidious Albion Mon Sep 28, 2020 19:40 | amarynth
By Katerina for the Saker Blog In this my third and hopefully last essay I will try to analyse an ingrained and totally unresolvable animosity between England and Russia. Here

offsite link Trump?s Surprising Alaska-Canada Rail Announcement: Might America Join the Polar Silk Road? Mon Sep 28, 2020 18:17 | amarynth
By Matthew Ehret for the Saker Blog On September 26, President Trump announced that a long-overdue project would receive Federal support which involves connecting Alaska for the first time with

offsite link Moveable Feast Cafe 2020/09/27 ? Open Thread Sun Sep 27, 2020 03:00 | Herb Swanson
2020/09/27 02:00:01Welcome to the ‘Moveable Feast Cafe’. The ‘Moveable Feast’ is an open thread where readers can post wide ranging observations, articles, rants, off topic and have animate discussions of

offsite link The world has gone absolutely insane! Fri Sep 25, 2020 22:36 | The Saker
[this column was written for the Unz Review] We all know that we are living in crazy, and dangerous, times, yet I can?t help being awed at what the imperial

The Saker >>

Public Inquiry
Interested in maladministration. Estd. 2005

offsite link Sarah McInerney and political impartiality

offsite link Did RTE journalists collude against Sinn Fein? Anthony

offsite link Irish Examiner bias Anthony

offsite link RTE: Propaganda ambush of Sinn Fein Anthony

offsite link Hong Kong and democracy Anthony

Public Inquiry >>

Human Rights in Ireland
A Blog About Human Rights

offsite link Right to Water Mon Aug 03, 2020 19:13 | Human Rights

offsite link Human Rights Fri Mar 20, 2020 16:33 | Human Rights

offsite link Turkish President Calls On Greece To Comply With Human Rights on Syrian Refugee Issues Wed Mar 04, 2020 17:58 | Human Rights

offsite link US Holds China To Account For Human Rights Violations Sun Oct 13, 2019 19:12 | Human Rights

offsite link UN Human Rights Council Should Address Human Rights Crisis in Cambodia Sat Aug 31, 2019 13:41 | Human Rights

Human Rights in Ireland >>

Spirit of Contradiction

offsite link The Party and the Ballot Box Sun Jul 14, 2019 22:24 | Gavin Mendel-Gleason

offsite link On The Decline and Fall of The American Empire and Socialism Sat Jan 26, 2019 01:52 | S. Duncan

offsite link What is Dogmatism and Why Does It Matter? Wed Mar 21, 2018 08:10 | Sylvia Smith

offsite link The Case of Comrade Dallas Mon Mar 19, 2018 19:44 | Sylvia Smith

offsite link Review: Do Religions Evolve? Mon Aug 14, 2017 19:54 | Dara McHugh

Spirit of Contradiction >>

Human Rights - Mon Aug 03, 2020 19:13
Ten years ago today, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution affirming that water and sanitation are fundamental human rights ?essential for the full enjoyment of the right to life.? Two months later, the UN Human Rights Council clarified that governments have the primary responsibility to deliver these new rights but called upon member ... Read more

Ten years ago today, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution affirming that water and sanitation are fundamental human rights ?essential for the full enjoyment of the right to life.? Two months later, the UN Human Rights Council clarified that governments have the primary responsibility to deliver these new rights but called upon member states and international organizations to assist countries of the global South who might struggle to fulfill their new obligations.

This was an historic development in the long search for water justice. Water was not included in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights as it seemed to be a limitless resource available to all. But a perfect storm of global water depletion and destruction, growing poverty and inequality, and rising water rates for residents ? often the result of the privatization of water services ? led to a full blown human rights crisis by the turn of the 21st century. With billions living without access to clean water and sanitation, the call for water justice was born.

The fight to recognize the human right to water was surprisingly fierce and bitter. It was opposed by the private water utilities and the bottled water industry, the World Bank that was promoting water privatization in developing countries, the World Water Council, and many wealthy countries of the North, including Great Britain, Canada and the United States.

Food & Water Watch played an important role in achieving this pivotal mandate. Wenonah Hauter (Executive Director)  and I attended many conferences around the world promoting the human right to water and stood up to the ?Lords of Water,? as I called them. I was in the balcony of the General Assembly on July 28, 2010, when it overwhelmingly adopted this historic resolution and I remember feeling that, in defining water and sanitation as an issue of justice rather than charity, the human family had just taken an evolutionary step forward.

There have been real and tangible results. Over four dozen countries have either amended their constitutions or introduced new laws to guarantee the human right to water. Communities in the global South have used the UN resolution to fight foreign companies destroying their water sources and gone to court to gain access to local water supplies.

The right to water has been used to fight water shut offs around the world and is a pivotal argument that Food & Water Watch has made to stop water shutoffs in U.S. cities during the time of COVID-19 and beyond. The human right to water is also the foundation of the WATER Act, which would ensure that every person has access to safe clean water in the United States.

To fight water privatization, many towns and cities have become ?Blue Communities,? a Canadian initiative that is spreading around the world. Almost 25 million people now live in official Blue Communities that have pledged to protect water as a human right, a public trust and public service and to phase out bottled water on municipal premises and at municipal events. These cities include Montreal, Vancouver, Los Angeles, Paris, Berlin and Brussels.

However, we are in a race against time as industries like fracking and bottled water divert, pollute, over-extract and mismanage the world?s dwindling water supplies. Massive drought is threatening lives and livelihoods around the world. The UN warns that two-thirds of the global population could be living in water-stressed countries in just five short years. Here in the U.S., drought is on the rise, as are water rates.At least 2 million Americans do not have access to running water and basic sanitation.

The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown a huge spotlight on the water crisis as half the population of the world has no place to wash their hands with soap and warm water. As a result, some of the aid money coming from northern countries and the UN will provide clean water and sanitation to those most in peril. Perhaps this will lead to real change. Last year, almost 2 million children died from dirty water and poor sanitation. This is a travesty.

Original Story : https://www.foodandwaterwatch.org/news/our-race-against-clock-affirm-water-hu...

 

 

Human Rights - Fri Mar 20, 2020 16:33
The way governments decide to respond to the pandemic will impact the human rights of millions of people. Amnesty International is closely monitoring government responses to the crisis. These are extraordinary times, but it?s important to remember that human rights law still applies. Indeed, it will help us get through this together. Here?s a quick ... Read more

The way governments decide to respond to the pandemic will impact the human rights of millions of people.

Amnesty International is closely monitoring government responses to the crisis. These are extraordinary times, but it?s important to remember that human rights law still applies. Indeed, it will help us get through this together.

Here?s a quick look at how human rights can help protect us, and what the obligations of governments are in relation to the pandemic.

The right to health

Most governments have ratified at least one human rights treaty which requires them to guarantee the right to health. Among other things, this means they have an obligation to take all steps necessary for the prevention, treatment and control of diseases.

In the context of a spreading epidemic, this means ensuring that preventive care, goods and services are available to everybody.

In Hong Kong, one of the first places to be hit, a local NGO noted that nearly 70% of low-income families could not afford to buy the protective equipment the government was recommending, including masks and disinfectant. If states are endorsing the use of such items, they must ensure that everyone can access them.

Access to information

This is a key aspect of the right to health, but we have already seen governments ignoring it.

In December 2019, doctors in Wuhan, China, where the virus was first reported, shared with colleagues their fears about patients with respiratory symptoms. They were immediately silenced and reprimanded by the local authorities for ?spreading rumours?.

Rights to and at work

People in precarious forms of labour are being disproportionately affected by the pandemic, which is already starting to have a massive impact on people and the economy. Migrant workers, people who work in the ?gig? economy, and people in the informal sector are more likely to see their rights to and at work adversely impacted, as a result and the measures to control it.

Governments must ensure that everyone has access to social security ? including sick pay, health care and parental leave ? where they are unable to work because of the virus. These measures are also essential to help people stick to the public health measures states put in place.

Health workers are at the frontline of this pandemic, continuing to deliver services despite the personal risks to them and their families, and governments must protect them. This includes providing suitable, good quality personal protective equipment, information, training and psycho-social support to all response staff. People in other jobs, including prison staff, are also at higher risk of exposure, and should be protected.

Disproportionate impact on certain groups

Anyone can get it, but certain groups appear to be at greater risk of severe illness and death. This includes older people and people with pre-existing medical conditions. It?s also likely that other marginalized groups, including people living in poverty, people with disabilities and people in detention, including migrants and asylum seekers, will face additional challenges in protecting themselves and accessing treatment.

For example, homeless people will find it more difficult to self-isolate, and people who do not have access to adequate sanitation will be at greater risk of contracting the virus.

In designing responses, states must ensure that the needs and experiences of specific groups are fully addressed.

Stigma and discrimination

According to media reports, people from Wuhan have faced widespread discrimination and harassment in China. This includes being rejected from hotels or barricaded in their own flats, and having their personal information leaked online.

There have also been widespread reports of anti-Chinese or anti-Asian xenophobia in other countries, including US President Trump repeatedly calling it a ?Chinese virus?. In London, a student from Singapore was badly beaten up in a racially aggravated attack. There is no excuse for racism or discrimination. Governments around the world must take a zero-tolerance approach to the racist targeting of all people.

Meanwhile President Trump has used the pandemic to justify racist and discriminatory policies, and is reportedly planning a blanket ban on asylum-seekers crossing from Mexico.

Such an outright asylum ban would go against the government?s domestic and international legal obligations, and would serve only to demonize people seeking safety. A similar 2018 ban was swiftly declared unlawful by every court to have considered it

 

Human Rights - Wed Mar 04, 2020 17:58
Turkish president called on Greece and other EU countries to comply with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on the Syrian refugee issue. “We call on, notably, Greece and all EU countries to respectfully treat the refugees, which came to their territories, in line with Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” Recep Tayyip Erdogan said at ... Read more

Turkish president called on Greece and other EU countries to comply with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on the Syrian refugee issue.

“We call on, notably, Greece and all EU countries to respectfully treat the refugees, which came to their territories, in line with Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” Recep Tayyip Erdogan said at his party’s parliamentary group meeting in the capital Ankara.

Erdogan slammed Greece by showing a photo displaying the help extended to the Greek people who fled Nazi attacks and took refuge in Syria during the World War II.

“One of the Greek boys or girls in this photo is maybe the grandparent of [Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos] Mitsotakis,” Erdogan said.

“A Greek, who tries every way possible to not accept refugees in its country […] should not forget that one day he could need that compassion,” he added.

Last week, Turkish officials announced that they would no longer try to stop irregular migrants reaching Europe.

Since then, thousands of irregular migrants flocked to Edirne to make their way into Europe.

Ankara has repeatedly complained that Europe has failed to keep its promises under the 2016 migration deal with Turkey to help migrants and stem further migrant waves.

Turkey, which already hosts some 3.7 million Syrian migrants, more than any country in the world, says it cannot absorb another refugee wave.

The decision was made after 34 Turkish soldiers were martyred by the regime forces in Idlib, northwestern Syrian late February.

The Turkish soldiers are working to protect local civilians under a 2018 deal with Russia, which prohibits acts of aggression in the region.

Erdogan said that Turkey would not leave its territory to the mercy of terror groups or the blood-stained hands of the Syrian regime, nor would it abandon the oppressed Syrians alone.

“With our latest operation [Spring Shield], I believe we have demonstrated once again that we are a country that knows how to fight but one that does not want to fight,” he said, referring to the fresh Syria operation announced on Sunday.

Human Rights - Sun Oct 13, 2019 19:12
Over the past few weeks amidst escalating trade war tension the United States has taken aim at numerous Chinese entities citing their involvement in alleged human rights violations occurring throughout China’s Xinjiang province. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Wednesday the measures target those ?who are believed to be responsible for, or complicit in, the ... Read more

Over the past few weeks amidst escalating trade war tension the United States has taken aim at numerous Chinese entities citing their involvement in alleged human rights violations occurring throughout China’s Xinjiang province.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Wednesday the measures target those ?who are believed to be responsible for, or complicit in, the detention and abuse of Uighurs, Kazakhs, or other members of Muslim minority groups? in Xinjiang, China.

The Trump administration has denounced China’s actions in Xinjiang for a little over a year, but no official action had been taken till now.

Last week, Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) issued a detention order against a Chinese apparel company with ties to the United States, claiming the company produced its products using forced labor in Xinjiang.

On Monday, U.S. Department of Commerce announced export restrictions on 28 Chinese entities, including regional government agencies, local police and security technology companies.

The State Department announced on Wednesday it would ban certain Chinese officials and their immediate family members from obtaining U.S. visas, citing their ties to human rights violations in Xinjiang.

The Chinese government is accused of turning Xinjiang into a mass-surveillance state — where the U.N. says it has detained over a million Muslims, some of whom are allegedly subject to forced labor according to the U.S. Department of Commerce.

The re-education camps

Located throughout Xinjiang are what the Chinese government calls “vocational centers.” These centers were established “to eradicate the breeding soil of extremism and terrorism,” according to the Chinese government.

Contrary to their title, human rights experts refer to these centers as “re-education camps,” while others call them “internment” or “concentration” camps. These camps currently house over a million Muslim people, according to the United Nations.

“These are truly internment camps where these people are being treated in ways that are fundamentally inconsistent with what China would have you believe, and in ways that ? when the world finds out ? we will all regret,” U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told ABC News earlier this year.

ABC News has spoken to several sources who claimed to have been in the camps. Each described different forms of torture — ranging from sleep deprivation to starvation. The Chinese government has denied all allegations of torture within these facilities.

Forced labor

CBP issued detention orders on goods imported from five countries based on allegations that people producing those items might be children or adults subjected to forced labor. The orders are used to hold shipping containers at U.S. ports of entry until CBP can investigate the claims of wrongdoing.

Heitan Taida, a Chinese apparel company, was one of the companies slapped with detention orders. Last year, The Associated Press reported that Heitan Taida was forcing Muslims to sew garments for U.S. importers inside a Chinese re-education camp.

Hetian Taida did not respond to emails from ABC News Wednesday. In a previous conversation with the AP, Wu Hongbo, the company?s chairman, said that although Hetian Taida was located in a compound shared by a camp, Hetian Taida was not involved in the camp?s activities.

See Source:

https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/us-holds-china-accountable-human-rights-viola...

Human Rights - Sat Aug 31, 2019 13:41
The undersigned civil society organizations, representing groups working within and outside Cambodia to advance human rights, rule of law, and democracy, are writing to alert your government to an ongoing human rights crisis in Cambodia and to request your support for a resolution ensuring strengthened scrutiny of the human rights situation in the country at ... Read more

The undersigned civil society organizations, representing groups working within and outside Cambodia to advance human rights, rule of law, and democracy, are writing to alert your government to an ongoing human rights crisis in Cambodia and to request your support for a resolution ensuring strengthened scrutiny of the human rights situation in the country at the upcoming 42nd session of the UN Human Rights Council (the ?Council?).

National elections in July 2018 were conducted after the Supreme Court, which lacks independence, dissolved the major opposition party, the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP). Many believe that this allowed the ruling Cambodian People?s Party (CPP) under Prime Minister Hun Sen to secure all 125 seats in the National Assembly and effectively establish one-party rule. Since the election, respect for human rights in Cambodia has further declined. Key opposition figures remain either in detention ? such as CNRP leader Kem Sokha, who is under de facto house arrest ? or in self-imposed exile out of fear of being arrested. The CNRP is considered illegal and 111 senior CNRP politicians remain banned from engaging in politics. Many others have continued to flee the country to avoid arbitrary arrest and persecution.

Government authorities have increasingly harassed opposition party members still in the country, with more than 147 former CNRP members summoned to court or police stations. Local authorities have continued to arrest opposition members and activists on spurious charges. The number of prisoners facing politically motivated charges in the country has remained steady since the election. The government has shuttered almost all independent media outlets, and totally controls national TV and radio stations. Repressive laws ? including the amendments to the Law on Political Parties, the Law on Non-Governmental Organizations, and the Law on Trade Unions ? have resulted in severe restrictions on the rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association.

It is expected that a resolution will be presented at the 42nd session of the Human Rights Council in September to renew the mandate of the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Cambodia for another two years. We strongly urge your delegation to ensure that the resolution reflects the gravity of the situation in the country and requests additional monitoring and reporting by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). Mandated OHCHR monitoring of the situation and reporting to the Council, in consultation with the Special Rapporteur, would enable a comprehensive assessment of the human rights situation in Cambodia, identification of concrete actions that the government needs to take to comply with Cambodia?s international human rights obligations, and would allow the Council further opportunities to address the situation.

 

Read More At: https://www.hrw.org/news/2019/08/30/un-human-rights-council-should-address-hu...

Human Rights - Mon Aug 26, 2019 18:49
Girls and women empowerment is fundamental in achieving equality in all segments of society. Minister for women Mereseini Vuniwaqa says Fiji has made huge strides in the area of women?s development and gender equality. Despite the ongoing empowerment programs in the country, Vuniwaqa highlighted that Fijian women are still faced with great violations of their ... Read more

Girls and women empowerment is fundamental in achieving equality in all segments of society.

Minister for women Mereseini Vuniwaqa says Fiji has made huge strides in the area of women?s development and gender equality.

Despite the ongoing empowerment programs in the country, Vuniwaqa highlighted that Fijian women are still faced with great violations of their human rights.

?Especially in the form of gender-based violence and this will remain an area of priority for Government so that we can fully realize the essence of Women?s Equality Day. This will need the participation and commitment of each and every one of us to break the silence on violence against women so that they can fully enjoy their human rights as they deserve to.?

Vuniwaqa says Fijian women are achieving great levels of educational attainment and breaking barriers informal sector employment, parliamentary representation, and entrepreneurship.

?This day is an important time to reflect on our achievements as a nation but also recognize the challenges and gaps and unite to work towards achieving women?s equality in all spheres.?

She adds the Government has a mechanism in the form of laws, international obligations, local policies, and government-led programs to achieve gender equality and for the empowerment of women.

Original Story: https://www.fbcnews.com.fj/news/fijian-women-still-face-human-rights-violatio...

Human Rights - Fri Aug 09, 2019 20:41
As millions of Muslims don robes and flock to Mecca for hajj, a small counter movement to boycott the pilgrimage in protest at Saudi Arabia’s politics has won limited support online. Although the numbers are dwarfed by the 1.8 million who have arrived in Mecca for Friday’s hajj, more than 100 Muslims from Australia to ... Read more

As millions of Muslims don robes and flock to Mecca for hajj, a small counter movement to boycott the pilgrimage in protest at Saudi Arabia’s politics has won limited support online.

Although the numbers are dwarfed by the 1.8 million who have arrived in Mecca for Friday’s hajj, more than 100 Muslims from Australia to Tanzania are contributing to a Twitter hashtag #boycotthajj in response to Saudi Arabia’s political record.

They cite its role in the war in Yemen, stance on human rights and unequal treatment of women among top concerns.

“#BoycottHajj is an important discussion for Muslims to have. It is about being critical and recognizing the atrocities that the Saudi regime commits against fellow Muslims,” Mariam Parwaiz, a public health doctor in New Zealand, said on Twitter.

For Ella, attending hajj now would be incompatible with Islam’s wider obligations to stand up to injustice.

“It’s Saudi foreign policy and the oppressive nature of Saudi society that’s stopping me,” the 28-year-old British academic told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

“It’s not me saying I don’t want to go – I would love to be able to fulfill my religious obligation. But for as long as that would mean being complicit in violence, I won’t do it.”

A Saudi-backed coalition has waged war in Yemen since 2015 and aid workers say some 24 million people – almost 80% of the population – will likely need humanitarian assistance in 2019.

The Gulf kingdom also faces heightened scrutiny over its human rights record after last year’s murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi agents.

And women – who have won some high-profile rights – face a barrage of male controls in this socially conservative kingdom.

Riyadh has urged Muslims to focus on worship, not politics.

A Saudi official dismissed the boycott as “unwise” and said its small number of backers stood in sharp contrast to the fact that more pilgrims chose to visit Mecca each year, with countries seeking ever larger hajj quotas.

Source:

https://www.haaretz.com/middle-east-news/muslims-call-to-boycotthajj-in-prote...

Human Rights - Mon Apr 15, 2019 19:19
With the official launch of his presidential campaign Sunday, Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana, is pitching to become the first openly gay US President in history. That prospect — albeit still a long shot — is attracting the growing attention of LGBT communities around the world, including in China where experts and activists ... Read more

With the official launch of his presidential campaign Sunday, Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana, is pitching to become the first openly gay US President in history.

That prospect — albeit still a long shot — is attracting the growing attention of LGBT communities around the world, including in China where experts and activists say sexual minorities face persistent discrimination as well as periodic government crackdowns.

There has been no coverage of Buttigieg on China’s strictly controlled state media, but some LGBT community leaders are following the Democratic hopeful, whose unexpected rise in the past weeks has dominated US political news, in overseas media.

“I know he’s 37 years old, once the youngest mayor in America, an Afghanistan war veteran and a Harvard graduate,” said Xiaogang Wei, a leading LGBT rights advocate in China who heads the Beijing Gender Health Education Institute.

“Any openly gay world leader is good news in terms of raising LGBT visibility,” he added. “But a gay US President would bring so much global visibility and that would be a very positive development for LGBT communities around the world.”

 

Original Story: https://edition.cnn.com/2019/04/15/asia/pete-buttigieg-china-lgbt/index.html

 

Human Rights - Mon Apr 08, 2019 07:31
The first version of the inaugural Geneva Declaration on Human Rights at Sea has been published by Human Rights at Sea after the initial drafting session was held in Switzerland in March 2019 at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva. The principal aim of the Declaration is to raise global awareness of ... Read more

The first version of the inaugural Geneva Declaration on Human Rights at Sea has been published by Human Rights at Sea after the initial drafting session was held in Switzerland in March 2019 at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva.

The principal aim of the Declaration is to raise global awareness of the abuse of human rights at sea and to mobilize a concerted international effort to put an end to it.

The concept of human rights at sea rests on  four fundamental principles:

  1. Human rights apply at sea to exactly the same degree and extent that they do on land.
  2. All persons at sea, without any distinction, enjoy human rights at sea.
  3. There are no maritime specific rules allowing derogation from human rights standards.
  4. All human rights established under treaty and customary international law must be respected at sea.

The Declaration recognizes established International Human Rights Law and International Maritime Law, highlights the applicable legal assumptions and reflects the emerging development and customary use of the increased cross-over of the two bodies of law.

The Declaration was first announced to students in Malta on April 4 at the IMO International Maritime Law Institute (IMLI) during the second Human Rights and the Law of the Sea workshop held in co-ordination with the Stockton Centre for International Law; and has now been briefed at the World Maritime University, Malmo, Sweden, during the Empowering Women in the Maritime Community conference by the charity?s Iranian researcher, Sayedeh Hajar Hejazi.

The core drafting team comprises: Professor Anna Petrig, LL.M. (Harvard), University of Basel, Switzerland, Professor Irini Papanicolopulu, University of Milano-Bicocca, Italy, Professor Steven Haines, Greenwich University, United Kingdom and David Hammond Esq. BSc (Hons), PgDL, Human Rights at Sea, United Kingdom. It is supported by Elisabeth Mavropoulou LL.M. (Westminster), Sayedeh Hajar Hejazi LL.M. (Symbiosis India).

The first drafting round was supported with input and observers from multiple U.N. agencies, leading human rights lawyers, international and civil society organizations.

The second drafting session will be held in Geneva in May.

 

Source: https://www.maritime-executive.com/article/first-geneva-declaration-on-human-...

Human Rights - Thu Mar 28, 2019 11:44
A free speech watchdog says it has no problem with the banning of the alleged Christchurch gunman’s manifesto. The Chief Censor at the weekend declared the 74-page document ‘objectionable’, meaning it’s now an offence to possess or share it. The maximum penalty for doing so is 14 years in jail. “Every time we classify a ... Read more

A free speech watchdog says it has no problem with the banning of the alleged Christchurch gunman’s manifesto.

The Chief Censor at the weekend declared the 74-page document ‘objectionable’, meaning it’s now an offence to possess or share it. The maximum penalty for doing so is 14 years in jail.

“Every time we classify a document as objectionable, that is a limit of free speech – and we take that very seriously,” Chief Censor David Shanks told The AM Show on Monday morning.

“We’ve applied exactly the same framework that we would apply to an [Islamic State] promotional pamphlet or another terrorist document.”

The decision, which came a few days after video of the attack shot by the killer and broadcast live on the internet was also deemed objectionable, has outraged free speech activists.

“This is a completely improper use of the censorship powers,” Free Speech Coalition spokesperson Stephen Franks said. “Most New Zealanders will have no interest in reading the rants of an evil person. But there is a major debate going on right now on the causes of extremism. Kiwis should not be wrapped in cotton wool with their news and information censored.”

But another free speech group, the NZ Council for Civil Liberties, says the Chief Censor’s decision falls “right in the middle” of what the law calls for.

“It’s not an extreme ruling or a novel interpretation of the law,” chairperson Thomas Beagle told Magic Talk on Monday.

“I think it’s important that people in New Zealand do know the basis for what has happened. I’m not sure whether they need the interpretations from the media, or go read it themselves. We believe that freedom of expression is important, but we also believe there should be limits to it, as is justifiable in a free and democratic society. And I can’t see this particular ban as being a serious impediment to that.”

Beagle said it wasn’t a “gross invasion” of free speech, and even if the document wasn’t banned, sharing it could contravene other laws – such as the Human Rights Act, which outlaws inciting racial disharmony. The manifesto details the gunman’s white supremacist and anti-migrant views.

Beagle said the Chief Censor’s ruling is more symbolic than practical. “It’s well out there by now. If you want a copy of it, you can get it on the internet. There’s no question about that.” And just possessing the document is unlikely to see anyone jailed for the full 14 years, he added.

“I think if someone actually got 14 years in jail it would be draconian. But the law allows for a lot more range. One consideration you might want to take into account is, how would you feel if someone printed off 10,000 copies of it and started handing it out, outside mosques? That would possibly be a case where you might want to look at the higher end of it.”

He said the law – the Films, Videos and Publications Classification Act 1993 – is the same one used to outlaw child pornography and other terrorist material – including that produced by Islamic State.

Other causes the NZ Council for Civil Liberties has taken up include backing David Seymour’s End of Life Choice Bill and the removal of New Zealand’s blasphemy laws, and fighting against spy agencies having greater access to Kiwis’ data.

The Free Speech Coalition said it wasn’t right to ban the manifesto while still allowing genocidal Nazi leader Adolf Hitler’s work Mein Kampf to grace bookshelves.

The Chief Censor said the difference between the two is the alleged gunman’s document contained specific threats, while Mein Kampf was a “reflection of evil ideas”.

“It’s a fine line, but we have that line prescribed in law,” said Shanks.

Beagle echoed that view, saying the manifesto was “more than just a political tract”.

“The Censor noted it essentially promotes and encourages criminal acts of terrorism, and it contains actual particular calls for people to do particular acts and particular attacks on particular people in the country. So it’s not just a political manifesto – it’s also a calling for violence.”

The Free Speech Coalition says it is seeking advice on how to “launch an effective challenge” to the Chief Censor’s ruling.

 

Source: https://www.newshub.co.nz/home/new-zealand/2019/03/there-should-be-limits-to-...

Human Rights in Ireland >>

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