Derechos Humanos

Saudi women's rights activist Loujain al-Hathloul is seen in an undated photo. (Reuters)

This week, some of the most powerful women from around the world attended the virtual Women20 (W20) conference, part of the Group of 20 summit, hosted by Saudi Arabia. But who was missing? For one, my sister Loujain al-Hathloul, an award-winning women’s rights activist, who is in a maximum-security prison cell only 25 miles from Riyadh.

In recent years, my sister was one of the only Saudi women who dared to attend international conferences outside of the kingdom to discuss the truth about women’s rights in Saudi Arabia. She spoke out about the injustice of the repressive patriarchal systems in the kingdom, which grant men almost total superiority before the law and give them the absolute right to guardianship over their wives and children.…  Seguir leyendo »

La pandemia de covid-19 ha expuesto las nefastas consecuencias de décadas de privatización y mercantilización. De un día para otro, vimos hospitales desbordados, personal sanitario sin equipo de protección, asilos convertidos en morgues, esperas de semanas para acceder a las pruebas y escuelas que se esfuerzan para conectar con niños confinados en sus casas. Durante todo este tiempo, se instaba a la gente a quedarse en casa, cuando en realidad muchos no tenían una vivienda adecuada ni acceso a agua y saneamiento, ni protección social.

Necesitamos un cambio radical de dirección. Décadas de transferir la provisión de bienes y servicios sociales a entes privados ha resultado, a menudo, en ineficiencia, corrupción, disminución de la calidad, aumento de los costos y el consiguiente endeudamiento de los hogares.…  Seguir leyendo »

En septiembre de 2019, el Consejo de Derechos Humanos de las Naciones Unidas nos encomendó investigar las presuntas violaciones de los derechos humanos en Venezuela, específicamente, ejecuciones extrajudiciales, desapariciones forzadas, detenciones arbitrarias y tortura y otros tratos crueles, inhumanos o degradantes. El mes pasado, presentamos nuestro informe al Consejo.

Nuestros hallazgos son claros: los actores estatales venezolanos han cometido violaciones de los derechos humanos a gran escala, algunas de las cuales equivalen a crímenes de lesa humanidad. El informe nombra al presidente Nicolás Maduro y a los ministros de defensa e interior como funcionarios que contribuyeron a estos abusos. Los directores de varias fuerzas de inteligencia, seguridad y policía también fueron responsables, y tenemos una lista de personas que deberían ser investigadas más a fondo, debido a su posible participación.…  Seguir leyendo »

El candidato Feliciano Mamani del Partido de Acción Nacional Boliviano (PAN-BOL) se encuentra en su atril junto a otro vacío, designado para Luis Fernando Camacho del partido Creemos, durante el debate de la campaña presidencial boliviana 2020 en La Paz, Bolivia, 4 de octubre de 2020. (David Mercado/REUTERS)

Mientras que Bolivia se prepara para las elecciones presidenciales del 18 de octubre, el país atraviesa una de las más graves crisis sociales, políticas y de derechos humanos de su historia reciente. Ha transcurrido un año desde las fallidas elecciones del 20 de octubre de 2019, con las que se desató esta crisis postelectoral que dejó como saldo más de 35 personas muertas y 800 heridas, además de denuncias de detenciones arbitrarias y tortura, entre otras violaciones de derechos humanos.

Ha sido un año turbulento en el que el país se ha sumido en la polarización política y la incertidumbre socioeconómica.…  Seguir leyendo »

Human rights activist Yuri Orlov speaks at the American Jewish Committee's annual meeting on May 14, 1987, at New York's Grand Hyatt Hotel. Orlov, a Soviet dissident, spoke of the meaning of Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev's reforms in the Soviet Union. (Marty Lederhandler/AP)

The death of renowned Russian physicist and human rights advocate Yuri Orlov last week prompted tributes from governments across the world. The one notable exception, unsurprisingly, was Orlov’s own, in Russia, whose record on human rights is almost indistinguishable from that of the regime he defied in the Soviet era. Knowing Orlov as I did, I think he would consider this silence a more fitting recognition than any hypocritical statement the Kremlin could have made.

Born in 1924, Orlov witnessed firsthand what the 20th century had in store for our country — from Stalin’s forced collectivization, which Orlov saw as a child, to World War II, where he distinguished himself in combat against the Nazis.…  Seguir leyendo »

Policías usando máscaras caminan bajo una nube de polvo del Sahara por La Habana, Cuba, el 24 de junio de 2020. (Ramón Espinosa/AP Photo) (Ramon Espinosa/AP)

Mientras sentía el metal frío de las esposas que se me clavaba en las muñecas e intentaba acomodar mi cuerpo, porque me habían obligado a encorvarme hacia adelante, miraba mis zapatos y pensaba en cómo es posible que un gobierno le tenga tanto miedo a que su propia realidad salga a la luz, que es capaz de atropellar a alguien con semejante impunidad por tan solo contar esa realidad. Antes, tres agentes vestidos de civil de la Seguridad del Estado ya me habían desnudado para registrarme, ya me habían puesto de cara a una pared para llevarme las manos a mi espalda y esposarme, y en ese momento me trasladaban en un auto hacia su sede para interrogarme.…  Seguir leyendo »

Narendra Modi is trying to stifle Amnesty in India. Photograph: Sanjay Baid/EPA

Speaking truth to power has ever been a fraught and dangerous occupation, as Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny was recently reminded after he narrowly survived a poisoning plot he says was directed from the Kremlin.

Uncounted Kurdish activists languish in jail for challenging Turkey’s modern-day sultan. In Iran, human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh is punished mercilessly for championing women’s causes. In Zimbabwe, Catholic clergy who condemn abuses by Emmerson Mnangagwa’s regime are accused of treason.

When China jailed Ren Zhiqiang, a noted communist party critic who ridiculed emperor-president Xi Jinping as a “clown”, much of the world shrugged. What else to expect from an authoritarian dictatorship sustained by gulags and mass surveillance

But when supposed democracies behave in similar fashion, alarm bells ring.…  Seguir leyendo »

A woman walks past the Amnesty International India headquarters in Bangalore in 2019. (Aijaz Rahi/AP)

On Tuesday, Amnesty International, one of the most respected human rights nonprofits in the world, announced that it was halting its operations in India after the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi froze the organization’s bank accounts. The closing is another shameful blow to civil society, human rights and free speech in India.

“The continuing crackdown on Amnesty International India over the last two years and the complete freezing of bank accounts is not accidental,” said Avinash Kumar, the executive director of Amnesty International India. “The constant harassment by government agencies, including the Enforcement Directorate, is a result of our unequivocal calls for transparency in the government, more recently for accountability of the Delhi police and the government of India regarding the grave human rights violations in Delhi riots and Jammu and Kashmir.“…  Seguir leyendo »

It’s time for democratic change in Saudi Arabia

On Wednesday, as Saudi Arabia celebrated its National Day with regime propaganda extolling 90 years of prosperity and security, a group of exiles based in the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada and elsewhere announced the formation of the National Assembly Party (NAAS), a party rooted in democratic principles seeking to restore basic rights for Saudi society, such as freedom of speech, accountability, elections and respect international law.

We consider it a matter of urgency to break the silence over the Saudi regime’s ongoing domestic repression and violation of international norms.

Two years after Jamal Khashoggi’s brutal killing, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman continues to rule by the sword.…  Seguir leyendo »

Iranian lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh smiles at her house in Tehran in 2013. (Behrouz Mehri/AFP/Getty Images)

This past weekend, Iran’s most prominent human rights defender, Nasrin Sotoudeh, entered the hospital because of heart and respiratory problems resulting from a nearly six-week-long hunger strike. Sotoudeh is a veteran of this extreme form of protest, but this time the circumstances are much more dire for her and other political prisoners in the country.

On Aug. 12, the 57-year-old lawyer stopped eating to protest the scandalous mistreatment of prisoners of conscience currently detained in Iran. The refusal of Iranian authorities to take any meaningful precautions to protect the health of political prisoners during the novel coronavirus pandemic dramatizes the depths of the government’s contempt for civil society and basic human rights.…  Seguir leyendo »

Una madre sostiene el retrato de su hija fallecida, una de las víctimas mencionadas en el informe sobre Venezuela presentado ante la ONU de esta semana. Geraldin Moreno Orozco murió después de que la policía le disparó con una escopeta en la cara en una protesta contra el gobierno de Maduro en 2014. Credit Meridith Kohut para The New York Times

Hay palabras que se llevan más fácilmente que otras. Quizás son más manejables, tal vez permiten mayores matices. “Dictador”, al parecer, es una de ellas. Nicolás Maduro ha lidiado con esa palabra durante todos estos últimos años. Desde 2014, cuando anunció medidas de control y regulación de los medios de comunicación, y sentenció: “me van a llamar dictador, no me importa”; hasta enero de este mismo año, cuando tildó de “imbéciles” a quienes lo calificaban de esa manera, asegurando que “cuando me llaman dictador ofenden a todo el pueblo de Venezuela”.

Pero, a partir del informe de 443 páginas que la Misión Internacional e Independiente de Determinación de los Hechos sobre Venezuela presentó esta semana ante Consejo de Derechos Humanos de la Organización de las Naciones Unidas, Maduro deberá comenzar a lidiar con otras palabras, más difíciles y ásperas, que no permiten demasiadas manipulaciones: criminal, torturador, asesino.…  Seguir leyendo »

In July, Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio joined three Democratic colleagues, Patrick Leahy of Vermont, Tim Kaine of Virginia and Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, in a letter to President Trump urging action on a case that has gotten far too little media attention — the apparent detention of the son and daughter of Saad al Jabri.

The lawmakers expressed grave concern that Omar and Sarah al Jabri were being held against their will to compel their father’s return from Canada to Riyadh to face charges of corruption.

Mr. al Jabri served under former Minister of Interior Muhammad bin Nayef (widely known as MBN), the onetime next-in-line for the Saudi throne who has been displaced by now-Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman (MBS).…  Seguir leyendo »

“Some regimes oppress people so much that, one day, they are toppled for reasons that never occurred to them,” journalist Bahman Ahmadi Amouee writes in his devastating memoir, “Life in Prison,” in which he chronicles the years he spent as a political prisoner in Iran, from 2009 to 2014. Those words hold an important lesson for Iran today.

The arrest and long-term detention of prisoners of conscience is a tradition that goes back centuries in Iran — as it does everywhere. Now, mass arrests are experiencing a tragic revival, putting at risk thousands of people guilty of no other crime than protesting the Islamic Republic’s abuses of power.…  Seguir leyendo »

In the six years since Abdel Fatah al-Sissi assumed the presidency in Egypt, the country has devolved into the deepest human rights crisis it has experienced in decades. In the face of this downward spiral, it’s not surprising that many in the West have stopped paying attention. As more and more activists are exiled or jailed, human rights abuses in Egypt have become a dog-bites-man story.

But last week, the government crossed a dangerous new threshold in its crackdown on peaceful dissent, one that all who care about the global struggle against authoritarianism should note and condemn.

On Tuesday, for the first time since their creation, Egypt’s special counterterrorism courts sentenced a prominent human rights activist to the maximum penalty under provisions of a draconian new cybercrime law: 15 years in prison for criticizing the Sissi regime.…  Seguir leyendo »

Workers walk by the perimeter of a ‘vocational skills education center’ in Xinjiang, China. Photograph: Thomas Peter/Reuters

In April 2020, Amazon, the world’s wealthiest technology company, received a shipment of 1,500 heat-mapping camera systems from the Chinese surveillance company Dahua. Many of these systems will be installed in Amazon warehouses to monitor the heat signatures of employees and alert managers if workers exhibit Covid-19-like symptoms. Other cameras included in the shipment will be distributed to IBM and Chrysler, among other buyers.

While Amazon’s move to protect workers from Covid-19 is welcome, it acquired this technology from a company from a company researchers have shown is involved in human rights abuses. As Sanjana Varghese noted recently, the “humanitarian experimentation” work in pandemic surveillance of companies like Dahua doubles as technologies of population management.…  Seguir leyendo »

The human rights activist Azimjon Askarov during a courtroom hearing in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, in 2016. (Vladimir Voronin/AP file)

Azimjon Askarov, a human rights defender from Kyrgyzstan, may have died in prison on Saturday after contracting pneumonia, but it really was the cruel human rights abuses that ultimately got him. Prison officials confirmed the cause of death, but we must be very clear: What killed Askarov was 10 years of human rights violations compounded by cowardice, cruelty and negligence on the part of Kyrgyz authorities.

Askarov, a member of the ethnic Uzbek minority in Kyrgyzstan, was 69 years old. Before he was jailed, he documented and reported on police abuse of detainees and prison conditions in his hometown of Bazar-Korgon, in southern Kyrgyzstan.…  Seguir leyendo »

Teoría y práctica del odio

Hace unos días en Caracas fue detenido el politólogo venezolano Nicmer Evans, director del portal de noticias Punto de Corte. Funcionaros de la Dirección General de Contrainteligencia Militar y del cuerpo de investigaciones criminalísticas allanaron su vivienda y —al no encontrarlo— retuvieron a su familia y, después de unas horas, decidieron llevarse a su abogado “en calidad de testigo”. Es una práctica común de los cuerpos represivos del Estado venezolano. Como medida de presión ya antes se han llevado a padre, hijos menores de edad, e incluso mascotas de los ciudadanos que están buscando. Esa misma noche, Evans fue finalmente capturado.…  Seguir leyendo »

Patrick Meinhardt/AFP via Getty Images The widow of Cosmas Mutethia, who was killed by Kenyan police during a night curfew, helping to bear a symbolic coffin at a protest outside the Kenyan Parliament, Nairobi, Kenya, June 9, 2020

Not long after Kenya announced its first Covid-19 case on March 13, President Uhuru Kenyatta invoked the Public Order Act to activate a series of measures aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus, such as requiring face masks to be worn at all times, vehicles to run at half capacity, and the closure of religious centers, schools, and “non-essential” businesses. But it was the dusk till dawn curfew that became notorious.

The Independent Police Oversight Authority (IPOA), a civilian organization created to monitor police misconduct, says that it has received more than ninety-five complaints of police misconduct and has confirmed thirty deaths, many of which occurred while enforcing this curfew.…  Seguir leyendo »

The global coronavirus pandemic has revealed how dangerously dependent we have become on Internet access.

The education system quickly shifted online in March. Telemedicine visits have replaced various health-care services. For many people, earning a living or running a business is contingent on e-commerce and Zoom meetings. And certain contact tracing protocols rely on cellphone data to track anyone who has been in the vicinity of a person infected with the coronavirus.

But not everyone has Internet access, and some people have much better access than others. In the face of a growing reliance on connectivity, the digital divide has prompted scholars to question more seriously the Internet’s importance and whether the ability to access it is a human right.…  Seguir leyendo »

Garment workers hold stickers bearing US$177 during a demonstration to demand an increase of their minimum salary in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Photo by Omar Havana/Getty Images.

Trade policy is a blunt instrument for realizing human rights. Although many trade agreements now include commitments on human rights-related issues – particularly labour rights – not everyone agrees that linking trade to compliance with human rights norms is appropriate, let alone effective.

Sceptics point out that such provisions may become an excuse for interference or ‘disguised protectionism’ and admittedly anyone would be hard-pressed to identify many concrete improvements which can be directly attributed to social and human rights clauses in trade agreements.

This lack of discernible impact has a lot to do with weak monitoring and enforcement. A more fundamental problem is the tendency of trading partners to gloss over – both in the way that commitments are framed and in subsequent monitoring efforts – significant implementation gaps between the standards states sign up to, and the reality.…  Seguir leyendo »