International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group
6 juin 2020
Reminder: The News Digest is now published once every two weeks
More Than 70 Children Killed in Just 10 Airstrikes In Afghanistan, Report Finds
The Intercept 03/06/2020 - One hundred and fifteen civilians died in just 10 airstrikes in the U.S. war in Afghanistan in the last two years; more than 70 of them were children. That’s the finding of a new investigation by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, or TBIJ, which offers a glimpse into the terrible reality of the conflict in Afghanistan. The strikes that the investigation focused on — conducted by the U.S. military and the U.S.-backed Afghan air force — represent just a handful of the total number of bombings during the period.

TBIJ crowdsourced information on particular strikes, then worked with an Al Jazeera film crew who traveled to Afghanistan to meet some of the survivors, confirming civilian casualties in some instances when the U.S. government had not admitted them. The 10 airstrikes analyzed in their report took place between 2018 and 2019. The fact that over 60 percent of those who died in the bombings were children reflects Afghanistan’s overwhelmingly young population and a culture in which large families tend to live together in big housing compounds.

There is no official explanation for four of the 10 strikes TBIJ investigated. As for the others, according to details provided by the U.S. military or contained in United Nations reports, the U.S. military invoked self-defense. But even in cases where fighting was occurring nearby, victims say the strikes that hit their homes and killed their families were unjustified. Compounding their pain, they have never received any accountability or even an explanation for their loss. Read more - Lire plus

Ethiopia: Security forces 'must face justice for horrific human rights violations' - New Report
Amnesty International UK 29/05/2020 - At least 10,000 people were arbitrarily arrested and detained last year as part of the government’s crackdown on armed attacks and violence in Oromia Region. Ethiopian security forces committed horrendous human rights violations including burning homes to the ground, extrajudicial executions, rape, arbitrary arrests and detentions - sometimes of entire families - in response to attacks by armed groups and inter-communal violence in Amhara and Oromia, Amnesty International said today.

In a new report, Beyond law enforcement: human rights violations by Ethiopian security forces in Amhara and Oromia, Amnesty documents how security forces committed grave violations between December 2018 and December 2019, despite reforms which led to the release of thousands of detainees, expansion of the civic and political space and repeal of draconian laws - such as the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation - which were previously used to repress human rights.

Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Director for East and Southern Africa, said:
“The Ethiopian authorities have made notable progress in changing the country’s bleak human rights record. However, it is unacceptable that the security forces should be allowed to carry on committing human rights violations with impunity. The authorities must ensure that those responsible for these callous and brutal acts face justice. “The authorities must also recognise that holding diverse political views and opinions is legal. Everyone has the right to choose whom to support and these rights to freedom of expression must be guaranteed, upheld and protected. The authorities must stop killing and criminalising people for their political choices. “With elections on the horizon, these violations and abuses could escalate out of control unless the government takes urgent measures to ensure security forces act within the law and remain impartial in undertaking their duties.”

Amnesty has documented the extrajudicial execution of at least 39 people in Oromia, including 17-year old Seid Sheriff who was shot in the head outside a café in Harqelo, Goro Dola. He was allegedly alerting a motorcyclist to an impending arrest. In Finchawa, Dugda Dawa, two truckloads of soldiers drove into town and indiscriminately shot at people for an hour, killing 13. Read more - Lire plus
Huseyin Celil: The Forgotten Canadian in China | Alex Neve
Let the Quran Speak 26/03/2020 - For thirteen years, Canadian citizen Huseyin Celil has languished in Chinese jail, largely ignored by the Canadian public. Amnesty International Canada has been working on his case since 2009. Earlier this year, Safiyyah Ally was joined by Secretary General, Alex Neve, to discuss the Canadian government’s responsibility to protect the rights of citizens like Celil abroad.

Opinion: Terrorism laws have long been used against brown and black men. When will they be used to protect them?
Maclean's 20/05/2020 - While we know how law enforcement determines who is considered a terrorist in individual cases, what we often don’t know is how they determine who isn’t a terrorist. The oft-repeated line after mass murders is that motivation was too difficult to determine. In the case of Alexandre Bissonnette, who walked into a Quebec City mosque and fatally shot six men, a Crown psychiatrist who evaluated the shooter described his act as one “too egotistic to be a terrorist act. But it is a crime steeped in racism even if he doesn’t see it.” It’s a confusing way to say the crime was a racist act but not one motivated by ideology. 

Part of the problem is unfounded bias; who society deems capable of holding a certain ideology. “We are much more inclined to think that brown people are more prone to ideological thinking whereas white people are ideology-free or kind of structurally incapable of having an ideology,” says Amarnath Amarasingam, an extremism researcher and assistant professor at Queen’s University. Amarasingam believes the massage parlour case as a step in shifting that thinking, one that will force conversations about how ideology is recognized in crime. While the incel movement is a relatively new expression of violent misogyny, I asked Amarasingam why white supremacist movements have been so difficult for authorities to identify, given their history and organizing power in this country, from the Ku Klux Klan making its way into Canada in the 1920s to the Heritage Front in the 1990s, to the Canadian Nationalist Party qualifying as a political party in the last election. Amarasingam attributes part of the problem to living in a society centred around what he calls “white structural privilege”. 

While groups like the Ku Klux Klan are over a century old, there are newer white supremacist groups, particularly those with strong online communities, that don’t fit the image of a traditional terrorist group. “It’s hard for the powers that be to fully understand the movements within their own racial group,” he says. A 2018 internal report unearthed by a Montreal radio station CHMP-FM revealed that 37 members of the Canadian Armed Forces belonged to hate groups or made racist statements between 2013 and 2018. Sixteen were linked to six extreme right-wing groups that espoused “specifically anti-Islam and/or white supremacy” beliefs, including the Proud Boys, the Soldiers of Odin, and Quebec-based La Meute, which was founded by two former members of the armed force s.
Last year, the Department of National Defence came under fire for lack of transparency after it didn’t share how these cases were handled with the public. It then revealed that seven people who belonged to hate groups were no longer with the armed forces and 16 were subject to “counselling, warnings and disciplinary measures,” according to a CBC report . “Imagine if someone said there were five ISIS supporters in the Canadian Armed Forces,” says Amarasingam. The institutional reaction to discovering neo-Nazis and extreme right-wing elements in the military should be the same, but in this case, Amarasingam says it amounted to a bit of a shrug: “Everyone is like, ‘huh, cool, interesting.’” This nonchalance reveals how central whiteness is to our understanding of national security. Who is seen as a danger to society depends on who you think is worth protecting. The lack of prosecution of white supremacist violence as terrorism is particularly depressing given that most terrorism charges are handed to brown and black men.

These laws been used to subject brown and black men to surveillance and prosecution over two decades, resulting in devastating damage like the wrongful detention of Canadian Muslims in foreign prisons like Maher Arar . Surveillance has also impinged on the everyday lives of Muslims, with reports of CSIS agents being sent into mosques to look for informants and also turning up at the homes of university students  who appear to have one thing in common—Muslims names. This heightened scrutiny goes hand-in-hand with rising Islamophobia, feeding stereotypes that spike hate crimes against Muslims year after year . While Canada’s terror law itself defines ideology and motive broadly, it’s clearly applied differentially. In the case of Bissonnette, a 2018 public safety report on the threat of terrorism plainly states “Bissonnette was motivated, at least in part, by his self-admitted fear of Muslims,” yet it was not prosecuted as an act motivated by white-supremacist ideology. 

“It’s really troubling and puzzling why the court would conclude in Bissonnette’s case that his hatred of Muslims was irrelevant to the fact that he shot Muslims,” says Reem Bahdi, an associate law professor at the University of Windsor. In a recent paper on racial profiling for the Osgoode Hall Law Review, Bahdi writes about the practice of reading the “silences” in the law: “the unsaid can reveal as much about legal values, priorities, imaginations and possibilities as the stated word.” I asked where she thinks the “silences” are in Canadian terrorism laws. “That terrorists are Muslims,” she notes. “That violence associated or perpetuated by Muslims is terrorism. Violence perpetuated against Muslims is not as easily identified as terrorism.” The new use of terror charges against an alleged incel is being celebrated as a sign this will change, that we’re already seeing a more equitable application of the law. But the legacy of law enforcement’s use of these charges leaves me cautious. This case raises an interesting question, but one that remains unanswered: Can a law rooted in racist application ever be applied equitably? Read more - Lire plus
Charging incels with terrorism won't protect sex workers
Now Toronto 28/05/2020 - At first glance, the terrorism charge laid in the murder of a Toronto massage parlour worker looks like a progressive step. On May 17, the RCMP charged a 17-year-old accused of stabbing a woman to death with a machete inside the Crown Spa with first-degree murder – terrorist activity. The victim was identified as 24-year-old Ashley Noelle Arzaga. The parlour owner and another man were also injured in the February attack.

Police allege he carried out the murder in the name of the "incel" movement, the misogynistic but loosely defined online group of “involuntary celibates” who post in online forums Reddit and 4chan. The arrest has captured international attention, but sex worker advocates say that while the RCMP is making a show of the case, the government is evading practical change to protect sex workers – namely, by decriminalizing their occupations. “Laying a terrorism-related charge here actually makes it look like we’re more concerned about sex workers' deaths,” says international criminal law professor Heidi Matthews. “In reality that’s not true. We still have a whole matrix of criminal laws that make their existence and their work more precarious and less safe," Matthews says. "Focusing on the terrorism part of it distracts us from the much more internally contentious question of criminal law around sex work.”

Matthews, an assistant professor at York University’s Osgoode Law School and co-director at the Jack and Mae Nathanson Centre on Transnational Human Rights, Crime and Security, is not the only one who believes that it's government policy that has put sex workers at risk and that changes to laws regulating the sex trade would do more to protect those in the industry. Channelle Gallant, fundraising director at Butterfly: Asian and Migrant Sex Workers Support Network, says, “I have been working with and advocating alongside migrant sex workers for years now and none of them have ever expressed the need for the protection from a federal counter-terrorism unit. But they have been very clear about the need for better labour and human rights protections in their workplaces." [...]

“Once you start charging people for terrorism, the government apparatus also responds,” says Amarasingam. “The funding for research and counter-radicalization programming in public safety all get activated. [These groups] get approached differently by CSIS and the RCMP. They become interesting from a national law enforcement perspective to the extent that a killing in a massage parlour wouldn’t be if it wasn’t painted with a terrorist brush.” Gallant offers that incel is just an extreme version of patriarchal ideas, an entitlement to sexual access that every woman deals with, whether it’s on the street or the workplace.
Butterfly founder Elene Lam adds that such entitlement is also a factor in domestic abuse situations. But as widespread and indiscriminate as mis gynistic attitudes and violence appear to be, Lam says there remain very specific danger sex workers face because they are criminalized by the law and have no access to its protections.

“Why do people choose sex workers as targets? Why do serial killers target sex workers? Because they know that they are the most vulnerable people. Criminalization promotes discrimination against sex workers.” Two years ago, Butterfly in concert with organizations like the Coalition Against Abuse By Bylaw Enforcement and Maggie’s Toronto Sex Workers Action Project produced a report after surveying Asian holistic practitioners . More than half surveyed answered that by-law enforcers “have been abusive, oppressive, or humiliating." Some 12 per cent alleged they were “physically or sexually assaulted by law enforcement officers” and 65 per cent reported that their biggest concern working in their trade was law enforcement. “Law enforcement is the biggest terrorist [for sex workers],” says Lam. “They are the people who target them and use the law to oppress them.” 

Butterfly, Maggie’s and others also signed an April 2019 submission to the City Of Toronto’s body rub parlour and holistic centres by-laws review. Among 16 recommendations in the submission are proposals that would give employees more autonomy, like the ability to be licensed as individuals and accept payment, and offer more protection, like locking doors. “We have gone to city councillors to demand changes that would have made Ashley Arzaga’s workplace safer,” says Gallant. “They have rejected and refused those. Instead, we’re being offered these terrorism charges, which do not address the actual needs of women in massage parlours. It’s a complete dodge by the government.” [...] Matthews's skepticism goes further. She’s concerned about the invocation of the terrorist label, especially because it’s so susceptible to partisan politics while being used to justify surveillance, intense policing and U.S.- based Patriot Act-style impositions on civil liberties. Read more - Lire plus

Invoking “Terrorism” Against Police Protestors
Just Security 03/06/2020 - Much of the legal commentary focuses on the lack of presidential authority to designate Antifa, a loose network of anti-racist and anti-authoritarian protestors, as a terrorist organization under existing law (which only applies to foreign threats). Such analyses, though correct, do not fully capture two important points: first, terrorism frameworks for responding to a problem can have important legal, political, and cultural implications regardless of the lack of formal designation authority; and second, many on the "left" have irresponsibly advocated expanding such frameworks in recent years, despite concerns expressed by civil rights groups and communities of color about such an expansion. [...]

Beyond JTTF or FBI activities [improperly classifying lawful protest activities as terrorism], the invocation of terrorism signals to state actors and ordinary people that police protestors are enemies of the state against whom extraordinary violence is acceptable. As press reports noted, Rep. Matt Gaetz tweeted: “Now that we clearly see Antifa as terrorists, can we hunt them down like we do those in the Middle East?” Sen. Tom Cotton stated, “[L]et’s see how tough these Antifa terrorists are when they’re facing off with the 101st Airborne Division.” With police all over the country armed to the teeth with armored vehicles, riot gear, and grenade launchers, it doesn’t take deployment of the U.S. military to unleash military lethality on communities. [...]

While long-overdue concern over white supremacist violence has prompted these proposals, such calls have neglected the many concerns that civil rights groups like the Leadership Conference on Civil & Human Rights or the Brennan Center for Justice have expressed over expanding terrorism frameworks. Much of the civil rights opposition to expanding terrorism frameworks is rooted in the view that anti-terrorism activities—like law enforcement activities in general—especially target people in communities of color and others who challenge existing racial and socioeconomic power structures. There is ample historical support for such concerns, based both on post-9/11 U.S. responses to terrorism and on the much longer history of domestic national security enforcement. And contemporary examples confirm that powerful economic interests promote such policing: as one example, the oil and gas industry and its congressional supporters—including some sponsors of domestic terrorism bills—have urged the Trump administration to launch “anti-terrorism” investigations against protestors who disrupt oil pipelines.

In advocating for new federal domestic terrorism laws, some Democrats remarkably seem to believe that FBI agents, DOJ officials, and U.S. attorneys can generally be trusted with expanded powers—even when the head of the Justice Department is Jeff Sessions or Bill Barr. The deeper problem seems to be the belief that anti-terrorism activities were generally fine during the Obama administration, and that only the Trump administration’s bad faith misuse of legal authorities—as in attempted Antifa designations—raises concern.
That belief is profoundly misguided. If the events of recent weeks demonstrate anything, it is that many U.S. law enforcement institutions and officials see black and brown people as dangerous and are willing to deploy exceptional violence in response to them (or to others who seek to support them). While those on the left may now oppose the administration’s calls to treat Antifa activists and others related to the protests as terrorists, some have long supported the expansion of punitive criminal and national security frameworks that make possible such treatment in the first place. Rolling back those frameworks is the real need, not merely pointing out that Antifa can’t be formally designated. Read more - Lire plus

Public doesn't want encryption backdoors: government doc
The Wire Report 26/05/2020 - Chris Parsons, senior research associate at the Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs, said in a phone interview that previously, Canadian governments’ policies on cryptography hadn’t changed since the late 90s, and were generally in favour of strong encryption. But in the past few years, there has been a shift in the attitude of Five Eyes countries.

In September 2018, Canada joined its Five Eyes counterparts — Britain, the United States, Australia, and New Zealand, with which it shares national security data and intelligence — in issuing a warning about access. The five countries said if governments continue to face difficult hurdles to lawful access to data created by encryption without private sector “solutions,” they “may pursue technological, enforcement, legislative or other measures” to get around that. Last summer, they called for access to encrypted materials. 
In recent years, Parsons said, “we saw our allies routinely come out and advocate for there to be backdoors or ways of decrypting strongly encrypted communications.” Blair’s briefing binder notes that encryption “protects the integrity of critical national infrastructure, individuals, and businesses, from malicious intrusion, including everything from telecommunications and transportation systems to financial services and the energy sector.”

It states that “Canada’s position is to support safeguarding encryption while being a proponent of mitigating its challenges through cooperation and positive relations with industry.” But strong encryption and options for additional access are mutually exclusive, according to Parsons. “You can’t have it both ways. You either want strong encryption or you want backdoors.” If we insert backdoors to gain access to, say, a criminal’s phone, “we’re also inserting the exact same backdoor into the tool and communications and structure that’s used by journalists, by prime ministers, by security officers and so forth. So we really can’t add in a back door and only have it used to target bad persons. It will be exploited by other persons,” Parsons said. The ramifications would be international — those backdoors would not only be open to Canadian law enforcement and security agencies, but also those in countries like Russia or China.

The materials prepared for Blair say encryption has “seriously impeded law enforcement and national security agencies’ ability to investigate in cyberspace, even when the agencies obtain the appropriate authorization from a judge to intercept the communication of a suspect.” Parsons said if the government is serious in its arguments, they have been told “by many groups, many times, that they can start producing information and numbers,” about the extent of the issue. He said that producing “statistically relevant and statistically viable data” would be one way for the RCMP to “at least open up the debate so it’s a little bit less of ‘we have secret numbers that tell us bad things, you must do what we say’.” Read more - Lire plus

A Deep Dive into Canada’s Overhaul of Its Foreign Intelligence and Cybersecurity Laws
Just Security 02/06/2020 - The CSE Act added two aspects to the establishment’s mandate in the form of “defensive cyber operations” and “active cyber operations.” They are included together because the activities that can be authorized and their authorization frameworks are broadly similar.
The “defensive cyber operations” aspect of the mandate enables the CSE to conduct activities “to help protect federal institutions’ electronic information and information infrastructures” as well as other electronic information and information infrastructures which have been designated as being of importance to the Government of Canada under subsection 21(1) (CSE Act, section 18).

The “active cyber operations” aspect enables the CSE to carry out activities “to degrade, disrupt, influence, respond to or interfere with the capabilities, intentions or activities of a foreign individual, state, organization or terrorist group as they relate to international affairs, defence or security” (section 19). Under section 31, the activities that can be authorized under either aspect of the mandate are the same and may include:
(a) gaining access to a portion of the global information infrastructure;
(b) installing, maintaining, copying, distributing, searching, modifying, disrupting, deleting or intercepting anything on or through the global information infrastructure;
(c) doing anything that is reasonably necessary to maintain the covert nature of the activity; and
(d) carrying out any other activity that is reasonable in the circumstances and reasonably necessary in aid of any other activity, or class of activities, authorized by the authorization.

The aforementioned “activities” are quite permissive and set out the legal basis to authorize state-sponsored hacking and other activity backed by “anything that is reasonably necessary.” [...]

The legislation raises several questions. For example, potential risks may arise from the fact that the intelligence commissioner is not required to approve CSE offensive or defensive cyber operations. Also, whether or not the NSIRA will truly have access to all of the information related to actions taken by the CSE in concert with foreign allies, when CSE itself may not have access to these documents, remains to be seen. Moreover, it is unclear what is meant by the CSE’s updated ability to “degrade, disrupt, influence, respond to or interfere with the capabilities” of non-Canadian entities “as they relate to international affairs, defence or security” (CSE Act, section 20). Other questions revolve around definitions of key terms, like “publicly available information,” “reasonable,” “acquire,” and “international affairs,” including the question of the extent to which some terms should be intentionally vague so as to allow flexibility.

As newly minted legislation, how it will be applied in practice remains to be seen. C-59 is to be examined upon parliamentary review every three years, meaning its first review should occur by 2022. The utility of that review will, in part, depend on the effectiveness of the new review apparatus that was created alongside the update to the CSE’s mandate, guaranteeing that some of the most important actors in how the CSE Act is evaluated in 2022 will depend on the dedication, competence, and potential willingness to speak truth to power by the CSE’s review and oversight bodies. Read more - Lire plus

On Contact-Tracing Apps: After COVID-19, Will We Live in a Big Brother World?
CIGI 01/06/2020 - T echnologists have been warning us for years — long before the outbreak late last December of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) — about the sophisticated surveillance technology increasingly applied to our everyday lives, as businesses watch our every move, predict our behaviour, and sell us the products and services we rely upon. While this “ surveillance capitalism ” has already raised the ire and concern of privacy and civil liberty advocates, the global pandemic is ushering in a far more ominous trend in sacrificing personal privacy, in the name of allowing governments to efficiently conduct contact tracing. This Orwellian transformation is taking place without any real public debate.While a “Big Brother” dystopia might once have seemed reserved for authoritarian governments — such as China’s, which has used facial recognition technology and the monitoring of individuals’ digital footprints to control, surveil and pacify its Uyghur minorities in Xinjiang — liberal democratic governments are now also deploying digital technologies, such as contact-tracing apps, that are raising valid concerns about civil liberties.

In an effort to get the spread and outbreak of COVID-19 under control, public health authorities and governments worldwide are looking to adopt modern and efficient means of contact tracing, a core disease control measure. The purpose of contact tracing is to find all those who came into contact with an infected person and to either test or isolate those contacts to prevent further spread of the disease. An analog process is labour intensive, both expensive and slow, requiring public health agents to conduct telephone interviews with all individuals who may have been in contact with an infected person; it is also prone to inaccuracy, if individuals cannot recall where they were or who they interacted with over a course of time. Enter our ubiquitous smartphones, which hold data about our location and are often on our person outside of our homes. One of the most common ways governments deploy digital contact tracing is through a sanctioned app that users download. Many countries started their digital surveillance programs by making contact-tracing app downloads voluntary, noting that people could opt out of downloading them and that their use would be temporary to stem the spread of COVID-19.

To no surprise, a number of autocratic countries, such as China, Iran and Turkey, had made downloading the apps mandatory. While one would expect these manoeuvres by undemocratic polities, India, the world’s largest liberal democracy, has also effectively mandated that citizens download its contact-tracing app, Aarogya Setu , or risk losing their jobs or being arrested or fined. This app has already raised red flags, and India’s legal scholars argue that the app is unconstitutional . There is added concern that this is being deployed under Narendra Modi’s government, powered by an ultranationalist party that has backed cracking down on its once liberal and vibrant media sector for several years and on enforcing a draconian lockdown in Kashmir. The slippery slope toward making the apps mandatory is just a matter of time. After all, voluntary app download measures will render the app ineffective. As Oxford’s Big Data Institute’s report noted, 80 percent of mobile phone users need to download the app to make it useful — a threshold difficult to achieve when using the app is voluntary. Indeed, Singapore was among the first of countries to try a voluntary download of its app,  TraceTogether , but with such low uptake (just 29 percent) the app was rendered useless. Iceland’s Raknin C-19 app has the highest download rate among the voluntary approaches utilized globally, but was only able to get 38 percent of its population to install it.

Increasingly, global use of digital surveillance tools could be mandated on citizens to monitor people’s movements, and this should worry us all. What harm would there be in having our governments know our whereabouts? Surveillance measures can become opaque without independent oversight of an ombudsperson or privacy commissioner. Without adequate controls, they can become invasive, straying into tracking the movements of political activists, critical journalists and political opponents. Ultimately, these apps can become seductive tools that governments will want to keep well beyond the containment of COVID-19. Consider the case of Moscow, where the mayor’s office has permitted residents to leave their homes, use the streets and pass police checkpoints during a city quarantine if they downloaded a scannable QR code pass onto their smartphones. At first, the mayor’s office noted this pass would be used to allow essential workers to show law enforcement officers that they had permission to break lockdown orders. The Moscow Times soon noted , however, that Putin’s political allies, journalists in friendly state-owned media and employees of rich business tycoons connected to the Kremlin were also being issued these QR passes. Similarly, Saudi Arabia’s Tawakkalna app is being used to authorize people to leave their homes during quarantine and curfews. The creation of different classes of those permitted to leave their homes and those who are not, based on political or loyalty-based factors, is a legitimate concern for civil liberties.

Moreover, questions about where and for how long data is being stored and whether it is being shared with other government agencies, such as law enforcement or intelligence services, need to be publicly debated in healthy liberal democracies. Consider the case of Israel, a long-time exporter of sophisticated digital surveillance technology to Arab Gulf clients who use the technology to suppress their populations’ civil liberties and political activities. Israel has now allowed its internal security service to use smartphone location data to monitor the movement of citizens and to alert users of their risk of contact with an already infected person. Political activists who support Palestinian rights, those who opposed the autocratic tendencies of the right-wing government of Benjamin Netanyahu, and others who question the mission creep of state authority are among those who fear that data being shared with intelligence services and law enforcement could be used to stifle and silence their opposition to government policies. Vulnerable communities, who may have been targeted by law enforcement in the past, also fear digital surveillance tools will become permanent, as these tools are cheaper and more efficient in policing areas with restive populations or high crime rates. If outbreaks occur in poorer neighbourhoods, which are more likely to be densely populated, intra-generational and, hence, prone to virus spread, these already vulnerable communities may face additional discrimination, stigmatization or socio-psychological harm .

The technology and its applications are not perfect. What happens when the app generates false positives and false negatives? The elderly are the most vulnerable to the disease and their smartphone penetration is lower than the average consumer. How do we ensure that individuals will not use the self-reporting feature to harm others with false reports of infections , for example, a political rival or foreign agent using the app to spoil a political candidate’s rally? Disinformation and the weaponization of information for malicious political and economic gain need to be concerns for those who see a technological solution to the crisis we are in. Moreover, as technologists note, what happens to all the data collected on citizens? How is data aggregated, stored, destroyed or anonymized ? Cryptographers argue that the gold standard is to keep the data stored on the phones rather than send it to government servers. Making these apps open source and having the code scrutinized by technical experts is key. Read more - Lire plus

Canadian government must work urgently within international community to head-off imposition of China’s national security law in Hong Kong
Amnesty International 02/06/2020 - On Thursday, China’s National People’s Congress approved legislation targeting “separatism, subversion of state power, terrorism and foreign interference.” It would also allow central government agencies responsible for national security to operate in Hong Kong, posing a clear threat to human rights in the city. With this new legislation looming, human rights groups in Canada say there is a mounting crisis in Hong Kong, with implications for Canada’s relationship with China, an increasingly urgent situation for refugees and immigrants and a pressing need for strong multilateral action. Avvy Go, Clinic Director at the Chinese and Southeast Asian Legal Clinic, said, “As the erosion of fundamental human rights in Hong Kong continues, the Canadian government should consider accepting more immigrants and refugees from that city, given the strong ties between Canada and Hong Kong.” [...]

The Canadian government must advance consistent and globally-coordinated action to reverse China’s deeply problematic decision to apply its national security laws to Hong Kong. This troubling move poses extremely dangerous implications for the people of Hong Kong, said several human rights defenders and federal politicians in a press conference today.Last week, the Canadian government released a joint statement – along with the United Kingdom, the United States and Australia – condemning the new legislation. Alex Neve, Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada’s English branch, said “it is now vital to deepen and expand on this joint declaration of concern, through consistent and forceful diplomacy with China, with other governments around the world, and in all available multilateral fora.” 

“As we prepare to mark the somber 31st anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre, more governments must be pressed to join in urging China to relent from taking this deeply troubling step,” Neve said. “For Canada, this needs to be part of an overall coordinated approach taking account of the many areas of human rights concern in our relationship with China, including unjust imprisonment and death sentences against at least six Canadian citizens. The Canadian government must work across all aspects of our relationship with China, including trade and investment, and more recent challenges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Last year, millions of people took to the streets in protest of a bill that would have allowed extraditions to mainland China. Hong Kong police responded with batons, tear gas, pepper spray, rubber bullets and water cannons. In recent days, thousands of people have protested the national anthem bill, which would criminalize “insulting” or “misusing” the Chinese national anthem. Many of those demonstrators faced arrest or police pepper pellets, a sign that another summer of repression is looming in Hong Kong. “We have already seen the heavy-handed tactics that Hong Kong police have wielded against demonstrators,” said France Isabelle-Langlois, Directrice générale, Amnistie internationale Canada francophone. “This new legislation gives Chinese authorities the green light to further clamp down and silence dissent in the city. Canada must urge more governments to join in its call urging China to back down from this dangerous national security law. If something isn’t done, we fear this will mark the beginning to the end of Hong Kong as we know it.” Read more - Lire plus

Refugee who helped hide Edward Snowden in Hong Kong struggles to build new life in Canada
CPO magazine 29/04/2020 - When she and daughter Keana first set foot on Canadian soil last year, Vanessa Rodel couldn’t stop smiling, despite just getting off a 15-hour flight. Rodel had left behind an increasingly precarious life in Hong Kong, where she helped hide U.S. whistleblower Edward Snowden, then faced years of alleged harassment for her role in one of the biggest news stories of the decade. Accepted as a refugee by Canada, she looked forward to a new existence in Montreal. “We are safe and free,” she declared then .

Rodel is still hopeful for her and Keana’s future, but a year later has come to realize that life in her new haven can be a challenge, too. She has toiled to learn a new language — French — dealt with some of urban Canada’s chilliest winter weather and then had to single-parent in the midst of a pandemic that ground the economy to a halt. COVID-19 hit as her sponsor’s financial obligations ended, though the cash-strapped not-for-profit managed to extend her allowance for an extra two months. “I was in a very, very bad situation in Hong Kong for 14 years,” said Rodel, 48. “Now in Canada, for my daughter and I, I don’t want it to happen again.”

Meanwhile, the other five refugees who helped Snowden, including a former partner who is Keana’s father, remain in Hong Kong waiting to learn if Canada will accept them as well. In the midst of turbulent times in the enclave. The asylum-seekers’ sponsor, the group For the Refugees , must now focus on those five, who have been denied any kind of government funding in Hong Kong. With the pandemic putting its fundraising plans on hold, the NGO has only enough money to support them for another few months. The lawyers who set it up have worked pro-bono on the cases.

Rodel is now eligible for social assistance in Quebec. But lawyer Rob Tibbo, who represented Snowden and convinced his refugee clients to conceal the American for two weeks, is setting up a separate group — Help Vanessa and Keanna — to raise money for the Filipino woman until she starts working. “Vanessa did the extraordinary in her selfless acts to shelter and help the most significant whistleblower of the 21 st century and she was persecuted for that,” said Tibbo. “It is simply unconscionable to have a single mother with a stateless child in the middle of COVID-19 become destitute again.” Read more - Lire plus

#JunkTerrorBill: Sign this petition to help uphold human rights
Rappler 03/06/2020 - As Congress rushes to pass the anti-terrorism bill, thousands have called on the government to junk the proposed policy feared to clamp down on Filipinos' basic freedoms.Set up on May 29, a petition against the bill has garnered more than 116,000 signatures as of Monday afternoon, June 1. Defend UPLB – an alliance of University of the Philippines Los Baños student councils, allied institutions, and member-organizations – led the petition in a bid to uphold human rights.

While the bill is packaged to strengthen systems to fight and catch terrorists, Defend UPLB warned that it has the potential to silence critics. Through the anti-terrorism bill, a council of top cabinet officials will be able to do functions usually reserved for the courts, such as warrantless arrests and detention of people and groups perceived to be terrorists.
Under the measure, a suspect can be detained without a warrant of arrest for 14 days, extendable by 10 more days. They can also be placed under surveillance by the police or the military for 60 days, extendable by up to 30 more days. Defend UPLB called this a violation of the Philippine Constitution, which states that the accused is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt. Besides extremist groups like ISIS, the Abu Sayyaf, and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, the government also considers communist rebels “terrorists.”

A sentence equivalent to life imprisonment without parole can be given to persons who provide support to terrorists and recruit others to be members of a terrorist organization.
Over the past year, the government has increasingly “red-tagged” progressive groups as legal front organizations for the Communist Party of the Philippines and its guerrilla force, the New People’s Army. Defend UPLB pointed out that the toughened anti-terrorism bill uses an “overbroad definition” of terrorism that might end up tagging political activities, mass mobilizations, and major protests by progressive formations as “terrorist acts.” “Under this law, press freedom is a terrorist act,” Defend UPLB said in its petition. “It criminalizes advocacies and our right to organize in belief of our advocacies. Our academic freedom, right to organize, and freedom of expression can be labeled as terrorism.”

Defend UPLB added that the bill will enable the government to “silence any dissenter or organizer” and slammed the push for the measure “when the time calls for a health-based response to the pandemic.” “These turbulent times call for the widest unity among individuals and communities in order to deny such a policy that can and will trample our human rights,” they asserted. The House committee on public order and safety has recently adopted the Senate version, sparking suspicions of a possible railroading of the bill in Congress. Hardly a week later, Duterte has certified the anti-terrorism bill as urgent on June 1. To show your support to junk the anti-terrorism bill, make sure to sign this petition and invite your friends to take a stand. Read more - Lire plus

European Parliament slams Modi govt for silencing activists & portraying protesters as terrorists
National Herald India 30/05/2020 - In a severe indictment of the Modi government, European Parliament has come down heavily on union home minister Amit Shah over the systematic violation of human rights in India and misuse of anti-terror laws such as the UAPA.

Head of the European Parliament’s Subcommittee on Human Rights (DROI), Maria Arena shot off a letter to Shah on May 28, expressing her concerns over the arrest of activists Gautam Navlakha and Anand Teltumbde. “It is particularly alarming to note that human rights defenders cannot conduct advocacy activities, notably in favor of India’s poorest and most marginalized communities,” said Arena in her letter. Arena slammed the Modi government for portraying anti-CAA protesters as terrorists also.

“To date, the European Parliament has noticed that various forms of legitimate peaceful protests against laws, policies and governmental actions, including the Citizenship Amendment Act, have been portrayed as terrorist activities under this legislation, resulting in a number of arrests under this umbrella,” reads the letter. She demanded, “India should do much more to ensure a safe and conducive environment for civil society working in the country also.” Read more - Lire plus
Protect our rights in the fight against COVID-19!
ICLMG - As all levels of government across Canada seek to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, they are considering using smartphone tracking or other mass public data collection to track infections or ensure compliance with rules.
The pressure to adopt extraordinary measures in response to extraordinary situations is understandably high. But government officials must make sure to protect our privacy, values and human rights by following seven straightforward principles on privacy & surveillance.

Federal, provincial and municipal officials are deciding NOW whether to bring in new surveillance measures to counter COVID-19. Send them a message telling them to follow these principles in any decisions they make.
Share and like on Facebook + Twitter + Instagram + YouTube
Stop CSIS from targeting everyday citizens & community groups
A recent report revealed that CSIS, Canada’s spy agency, collected over 8,000 pages of documents, spying on citizens like you, people who exercise their democratic rights by attending a community meeting at a local church or taking peaceful action for what they believe in. And CSIS shared this info with Big Oil corporations.

Sign this petition to tell the govt to stop using taxpayer money to unconstitutionally spy on Canadians part of peaceful community groups.
Stop Facial Recognition in Canada
Facial recognition is invasive, biased and unreliable. But Canadian law enforcement and agencies have started using the tech despite its dangers. Canada’s out-of-date privacy laws don’t yet cover facial recognition tech, leaving our government free to experiment on us with no oversight or regulations. We need to slam the brakes on this dangerous technology before it’s too late. Demand a moratorium on the use of facial recognition technologies and a full review of our privacy laws now.

Release Yasser Albaz from arbitrary detention in Egypt
It's been more than a year since Yasser has been detained without charge - take action now!

On February 18, 2019, my dad, Yasser Albaz, was stopped at Cairo airport, his Canadian passport was confiscated, and he was kidnapped by Egyptian State Security. My dad remains in the notorious Torah prison where he is forced to sleep on cold, concrete floor. He has not been charged and continues to receive 15-day extensions to his arbitrary detention.

Sign to tell PM Justin Trudeau to do everything in their power to bring this Canadian citizen home to his family.

Canada must act to end Islamophobia in Xinjiang, China
There is credible evidence that up to one million Uyghurs, Kazakhs and other mainly Muslim groups in China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region are being detained in secret internment camps. Detainees are brainwashed, tortured and are forced to renounce their religion and culture.

And send a message to Chrystia Freeland demanding that Canada actively support an independent and unrestricted international fact-finding initiative to Xinjiang.

Saudi Arabia: Free jailed activists
In Saudi Arabia, human rights violations are legitimized through the ‘Specialized Criminal Court’. The past 2 years have seen an unprecedented crackdown on Saudi activists, and this court acts to legitimize this oppression. Now is our chance to put pressure on King Salman to end grave human rights violations.

Sign the petition and demand that the King of Saudi Arabia, King Salman immediately and unconditionally releases all those who have been imprisoned for peacefully protesting.
All-in-one action page: Stop Mohamed Harkat's Deportation to Torture
Call PM Trudeau, write a letter to Public Safety Minister & your MP, and sign Sophie Harkat's petition to stop the deportation of Moe Harkat.

If sent back to Algeria, Moe faces detention, torture and death.

No one should be deported to torture. Ever.
Send a letter opposing cameras in the ByWard Market
Send a letter in support of CAMS Ottawa's response to Mayor Watson. While we share concerns about ongoing violence in the Market, installing surveillance cameras is not an appropriate solution. The very premise that CCTV can deter violent crime is highly doubtful. Video surveillance also raise significant concerns regarding the treatment of marginalized members of our community. We urge you to take the above problems and the following evidence into consideration and reconsider implementing such an ineffective, costly, and intrusive system.
Your phone is not safe at the border
Canada’s border agents can search your phone and laptop at borders and airports, including looking through your private photos, personal messages, and call history.

These ‘digital strip searches’ are allowed because our laws are incredibly out of date. But politicians are refusing to update them for our digital age.

Fight back with us: demand updated laws , learn more about your rights, and make a complaint if your privacy has been violated at the border.
OPP must be held accountable for violent repression of land defenders
The terrifying incident happened in April 2008 during a land occupation and road blockades by members of Tyendinaga Mohawk Nation, near Belleville, Ontario. Although the road blockades involved only a small number of community members – none of whom were armed -- the Ontario Provincial Police sent more than 200 officers, including the Tactics and Rescue Unit (TRU), tasked with responding to “the most serious threats to peace and order”. The UN Committee against Torture called on Canada to launch a thorough and impartial review to ensure accountability.
Five Eyes: Save encryption
Ministers from Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK, and the U.S. have gone public with their plans for a huge attack on our personal security.

They want to force companies to crush the encryption that protects our private data and messages. But ordinary people need and use encryption every day, in everything from online banking to personal messaging in apps like WhatsApp.

Tell ministers to stop their attacks, and commit to protecting our privacy and security.
Call on Justin Trudeau to ensure justice for Abousfian Abdelrazik
In September 2003, Canadian citizen Abousfian Abdelrazik was arrested in Sudan, while he was back in the country visiting his ailing mother. Over the next three years he was imprisoned for nearly 20 months and was held under house arrest for 12 months. He was denied a lawyer, and was never charged or brought before a judge. During that time he was badly tortured in three different prisons. Not only did Canada fail to take steps to protect him, CSIS officials frequently obstructed efforts to secure his release.
Make January 29 a National Day
On Jan. 29, 2017, a lone gunman entered a mosque in Quebec City and opened fire on dozens of Muslim-Canadian worshipers. By the time the shooting had ended, six had been tragically killed, and 19 more injured. 

 W e, citizens and residents of Canada, call on the government of Canada to henceforth designate January 29th as a National Day of Remembrance and Action on Islamophobia and other forms of religious discrimination or a National Day of Action against Hate and Intolerance .
2019 has been very busy, and we are looking at a busy year 2020! Before giving you the summary of what we've been up to in the second half of 2019, here are a few things we will do in 2020:

  • We will continue to call for justice for Dr. Hassan Diab’s case and for the reform of the Extradition Act.

  • We will monitor the implementation of the National Security Act, 2017 (formerly Bill C-59), especially around mass surveillance and immunity for CSIS employees, in order to protect our civil liberties.

  • We will continue to push for a strong and effective review mechanism for the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA).

  • We will continue advocating for the repeal of the Canadian No Fly List, as it violates mobility rights and due process, and for putting a stop to the use of the US No Fly List by air carriers in Canada for flights that do not land in or fly over the US, as it violates both our rights and Canada’s sovereignty.

Les opinions exprimées ne reflètent pas nécessairement les positions de la CSILC - The views expressed do not necessarily reflect the positions of ICLMG.
to our amazing supporters!
We would like to thank all our member organizations, and the hundreds of people who have supported us over the years, including on Patreon ! As a reward, we are listing below our patrons who give $10 or more per month (and wanted to be listed) directly in the News Digest. Without all of you, our work wouldn't be possible!

Kathryn Dingle
Mary Ann Higgs
Kevin Malseed
Brian Murphy
Karen Seabrooke
Colin Stuart
James Turk
Jo Wood
The late Bob Stevenson

Nous tenons à remercier nos organisations membres ainsi que les centaines de personnes qui ont soutenu notre travail à travers les années, y compris sur Patreon ! En récompense, nous nommons ci-dessus nos mécènes qui donnent 10$ ou plus par mois et voulaient être mentionné.es directement dans la Revue de l'actualité. Sans vous tous et toutes, notre travail ne serait pas possible!