By Margaret Huang
This letter originally appeared on Medium
Dear President-elect Trump:
By Margaret Huang
This letter originally appeared on Medium
Dear President-elect Trump:
By Margaret Huang, executive director of Amnesty International USA
In the very early hours of November 9, we voiced our grave concern about statements that President-elect Donald Trump made over the course of the election and his promises to ban Muslims from entering the U.S., build a wall on our country’s southern border, restrict access to healthcare and return to the practice of torture.
Already in the U.S. there have been reports of a spike in hate-driven actions and threats. This is not a coincidence – it is further proof that Trump’s irresponsible proposals must never become U.S. policy.
WASHINGTON – In response to the election of Donald Trump to the United States presidency, Amnesty International released the following statements.
Salil Shetty, Secretary General of Amnesty International, said: “President-elect Trump has provoked grave consternation at many points throughout his election campaign, and raised serious concerns about the strength of commitment we can expect to see from the United States towards human rights in the future. He must now put this behind him and both reaffirm and abide by the United States’ obligations on human rights, at home and abroad.”
Margaret Huang, Executive Director of Amnesty International USA, said: “In the lead up to this week’s election, the United States has witnessed disturbing and, at times, poisonous rhetoric from President-elect Trump and others. This rhetoric cannot and must not become government policy. The xenophobic, sexist and other hateful remarks made by Trump have no place in government.
As tensions escalate at the site of a disputed pipeline close to the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota, Amnesty International USA (AIUSA) has sent a delegation of human rights observers to monitor the response of law enforcement to protests by Indigenous communities.
AIUSA also has sent a letter to the Morton County Sheriff’s Department expressing concern about the degree of force used against the protests. The organization will also call on the Department of Justice to investigate police practices.
Arrests of protesters, who call themselves water protectors, have increased in recent weeks and law enforcement has employed a more militarized response to protests and encampments near the construction site of the Dakota Access Pipeline. The local Indigenous communities say the pipeline endangers their water supply and desecrates sacred land. This week, arrests have occurred at a camp that was recently established on federally-recognized private land near the construction site.
"If true, this news will greatly undermine trust in the internet. For a company to secretly search all incoming emails of all its customers in response to a broad government directive would be a blow to privacy and a serious threat to freedom of expression,” said Sherif Elsayed-Ali, head of technology and human rights at Amnesty International.
"Tech companies want us to believe that they are pushing back against intrusive government surveillance but these reports could cast their ability to do so - if not their willingness - into doubt."
“If true, this would demonstrate the failure of US government reforms to curb NSA’s tendency to try and indiscriminately vacuum up the world’s data. The NSA has clearly not changed its spots. This is a clear sign that people can trust neither their government nor their service providers to respect their privacy: only end-to-end encryption that keeps their communications away from prying eyes will do. Free speech online, and in society in general, cannot thrive in a world where governments can pry into our private lives at will.”
A prison disciplinary board has sentenced Chelsea Manning, who is currently serving a 35-year sentence at the United States Penitentiary in Leavenworth, to 14 days in solitary confinement following her suicide attempt in July.
She was found guilty of the charge of “conduct which threatens” for attempting to harm herself. Following is a statement from Justin Mazzola, researcher with Amnesty International USA:
“Chelsea Manning is already serving an exorbitant sentence, and this latest conviction is just more cruel and inhumane punishment from the government. It is unconscionable that instead of giving her the medical help she needs, the government has put her in solitary confinement.
“In addition to the cruelty of isolating someone who has just attempted suicide, this punishment will be reflected in Manning’s disciplinary records and could prevent her from being paroled.
“Manning’s previous treatment in prison before her trial and this most recent conviction pose serious risks to her mental health. We urge the government to give her the support she needs and to commute her sentence.”
By Joshua Franco, Researcher/Advisor on Technology and Human Rights. Follow Joshua on Twitter @joshyrama
Three years ago, when Edward Snowden was first revealed to be the source of news reports about unlawful mass surveillance programs by the US government, he said, “I don't want public attention because I don't want the story to be about me. I want it to be about what the US government is doing.”
Now, three years later, in the midst of a campaign by the ACLU, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and others to pardon Snowden, that risk appears to be greater than ever. A recent editorial by the Washington Post (and at least one other similar piece by Harvard professor Jack Goldsmith) are arguing against a pardon for Snowden. In doing so, they risk dangerously - and incorrectly - minimizing the gravity of the human rights abuses he revealed in an effort to deny a pardon to the whistleblower himself.
These arguments are based on a few flawed premises that need to be corrected.
Premise 1: There is no privacy overseas
US President Barack Obama should place himself on the right side of history by pardoning whistleblower Edward Snowden, who faces the possibility of decades in prison for speaking out to defend human rights, said Amnesty International, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Human Rights Watch and a host of other organizations and individuals as they launched a global petition today.
Ahead of an upcoming Oliver Stone film about Snowden’s whistleblowing and exile in Russia in 2013, the campaign is calling for a presidential pardon for the former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor before President Obama leaves office.
WASHINGTON, D.C.—In response to today’s release of the Presidential Policy Guidance—a document setting out U.S. standards that appears to apply to some drone and other air strikes overseas— Amnesty International USA’s Security & Human Rights Program Director Naureen Shah issued the following statement:
“While this policy guidance appears to set an important precedent for protecting civilians and limiting killings, it is impossible to assess whether and how it’s been followed. The Obama Administration has still never provided basic information needed to assess the drone program, including the names and identities of people killed in the strikes.
“The Obama administration’s disclosures are welcome but they only tell part of the story, and obscure disturbing practices. We still know extremely little about the standards that would govern signature strikes and so-called rescuer strikes, which have involved potentially unlawful killings.
Following the announcement that charges will be dropped against the three remaining officers to face trial in the death of Freddie Gray, Amnesty International USA called for the strengthening of laws governing lethal force by police in Maryland and across the country.
“In Maryland and every state in the nation, statutes regarding when law enforcement officers can use lethal force fall woefully short of international standards,” said Rachel Ward, managing director of the research unit of Amnesty International USA. “These standards state, simply, that lethal force should only be used as a last resort when faced with the imminent threat of death or serious injury. As it stands, lethal force laws are so broad that accountability will continue to be elusive.”
“Until widespread reform of lethal force laws happen, families will not be able to have faith that anyone will be held accountable for their loved ones’ deaths.”
CLEVELAND, OH – Amnesty International USA (AIUSA) has deployed human rights observers to monitor protests at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, OH, this week and will do the same at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, PA, next week. The following is a statement from Eric Ferrero, AIUSA’s Deputy Executive Director for Strategic Communications and Digital Initiatives, on the protests in Cleveland on July 21:
“Amnesty International USA's delegation of human rights observers were at protests and marches throughout the day and night Thursday. As they have all week, the observers saw mostly peaceful protests with police largely protecting the rights of people to take to the streets to express their opinions. The observers continue to gather and analyze information about several situations this week, including two dispersal orders and a number of arrests. The team is also compiling its records on some of the entrance or exit routes to protests. As they have throughout the week, the observers noted a heavy law enforcement presence, with police sometimes outnumbering protesters.
Amnesty International has deployed human rights observers to monitor protests at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, OH, this week and will do the same at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, PA, next week. The following is a statement from Eric Ferrero, Amnesty International USA’s Deputy Executive Director for Strategic Communications and Digital Initiatives, on the protests in Cleveland on July 20:
“Amnesty International's human rights observers were at several protests or marches today, including one where police ordered the crowd to disperse and arrested multiple people.”
“Our observers saw protests that appeared largely peaceful, with police for the most part fulfilling their duty to protect people's right to protest. Our observers gathered follow-up information and corroboration about several events they monitored, in order to better understand the context.”
Amnesty International has deployed human rights observers to monitor protests at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, OH, this week and will do the same at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, PA, next week. The following is a statement from Eric Ferrero, Amnesty International USA’s Deputy Executive Director for Strategic Communications and Digital Initiatives, following the second day of the convention:
"On the second day of observing protests in Cleveland, Amnesty International USA’s delegation noted a heavy police presence that sometimes outnumbered protesters. For the most part, police helped ensure that peaceful protesters representing a range of views could exercise their right to free expression. One protest in the late afternoon grew tense, and police issued a dispersal order. Our observers are gathering more information on that situation. We will continue to monitor protests throughout the week to ensure that everyone’s human rights are protected.”
CLEVELAND, OH – Amnesty International USA (AIUSA) has deployed human rights observers to monitor protests at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, OH, this week and will do the same at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, PA, next week. The following is a statement from Eric Ferrero, AIUSA’s Deputy Executive Director for Strategic Communications and Digital Initiatives, on the protests in Cleveland thus far:
"Amnesty International USA's delegation of human rights observers monitored four protests today in Cleveland. The protests today appeared peaceful, with police fulfilling their duty to protect people's freedom to come together and voice their opinion. Amnesty International's independent, impartial human rights observers will monitor protests the rest of this week in Cleveland and next week in Philadelphia. Our goal is to help protect the human rights that all people have to protest peacefully."
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Citing concerns about human rights violations at protests in the U.S. over the last couple of years, Amnesty International will deploy teams of human rights observers to both the Republic National Convention in Cleveland, OH, and the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, PA, to monitor any protests and law enforcement response.
Amnesty International has a long history and depth of expertise monitoring protests and investigating police conduct. Since the organization’s founding 55 years ago, it has deployed researchers and independent human rights observers to a range of situations, including the Gezi Park protests in Turkey and in Egypt for the Arab Spring protests. In the United States, AIUSA has recently monitored protests both in Ferguson, MO, and Baltimore, MD, in the wake of police killings – documenting multiple violations of the human rights of protestors, journalists, and others. After additional killings by police in the U.S. in recent weeks, protesters and journalists have reported a range of human rights violations.