Saumya Srivastava (Research Intern)
Vivek Baudoni (Jr.Associate Editor)
Vijayalakshmi Raju (News Editor)
CHINA: ZOOM MUST NOT BECOME A TOOL IN STATE SPONSORED CENSORSHIP
12th June 2020
Zoom, the video-talk application that jumped to popularity during the coronavirus episode, quickly blocked the accounts of Chinese human-rights pioneers who utilized the stage to arrange a remembrance of the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown between activists in the United States and China. Zoom actively accepted that this was done on the orders from Beijing saying these accounts were 'illegal'.
China controls what its people see and read online in part through a system of filters, known as the Great Firewall, that has cleaved off its internet from the rest of the world. But according to the statement released from the Amnesty International "Corporate responsibility to respect human rights exists independently of, and over and above, compliance with national laws and regulations."
The incident spotlights thorny questions for a company with operations in both countries. It vowed to censor accounts only within China. Amnesty International's Business and Human Rights Analyst William Nee said: "The Chinese government goes to great lengths to ensure that no one in China commemorates or even mentions those killed on 3-4 June 1989. By complying with Beijing's request to end meetings on the Tiananmen crackdown. Zoom risks contributing to this assault of freedom of expression. Zoom has said it will take steps to ensure users 'outside mainland China' are not targeted by such interventions in the future, but in so doing it seemingly turns a blind eye to the repression of users on the mainland. Tech firms such as Zoom must put principles before profit and defend internet freedom, rather than bowing to repressive governments' demands to stifle it. Zoom must respect human rights throughout all its business operations and not become a tool in China's powerful censorship system."
INDIA SEES HIGHEST COVID-19 DEATHS OF 2,003 CASES ACROSS 3.54 LAKH
17th June 2020
The Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare information uncovered on Wednesday, India saw the most noteworthy number of fatalities because of novel coronavirus (COVID- 19) cases in most recent 24 hours, with 2,003 individuals losing their lives to the pandemic and enrolled a spike of very nearly 11,000 cases taking the absolute count to 3.54 lakh. Around 10,974 new cases were recorded over the most recent 24 hours taking the complete count to 3,54,065 cases - the 6th back to back day indicating an expansion of more than 10,000 cases. An aggregate of 11,903 individuals have surrendered to the fatal ailment since the main case was accounted for on January 30, the Health Ministry information said.
For the ninth continuous day, the number of recuperations (1,86,934) stayed higher than the active ones (1,55,226). The recuperation pace of India has additionally crossed the 50 per cent mark. Maharashtra remained the most noticeably awful hit state in the nation with complete cases crossing the one lakh mark - 1,13,445 cases, including 5,537 fatalities. Precisely, 1,409 fatalities in the most recent 24 hours with 2701 new instances of COVID-19. Tamil Nadu with 48,019 cases and the national capital with 44,688 Covid-19 cases followed Maharashtra's lead. Delhi saw the development of 1,859 cases over the most recent 24 hours with a sum of 1,837 casualties. States with in excess of 10,000 cases incorporate Gujarat with 24,576 cases and 1,533 deaths, Uttar Pradesh (14,091), Rajasthan (13,216), Madhya Pradesh (11,083) and West Bengal (11,909).
The worldwide number of COVID-19 cases has expanded to over 8.1 million imprints, while the loss of life flooded to more than 4,41,000, as indicated by the Johns Hopkins University. The recovered number of cases remained at 81,55,266, while the fatalities expanded to 4,41,505, the University's Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) uncovered in its most recent update. With 21,37,707 cases and 1,16,962 casualties, the US proceeds. Followed by, Brazil which comes on the second spot with 923,189 cases. Trailed by Russia (5,44,725), India (3,43,091), the UK (2,99,600), Spain (2,44,328), Italy (2,37,500), Peru (2,37,156), France (1,94,347), Iran (1,92,439), Germany (1,88,252), Turkey (1,81,298), Chile (1,84,449), Mexico (1,54,863), Pakistan (1,48,921), Saudi Arabia (1,36,315) and Canada (1,01,085), the CSSE figures appeared.
IN A LANDMARK RULING, US SUPREME COURT BARS DISCRIMINATION AGAINST LGBT WORKERS
16th June 2020
The US Supreme Court conveyed a milestone triumph for the gay and transgender networks on Monday when it decided that businesses can't victimize employers in view of their sexual orientation. In a hit to the administration of President Donald Trump, the court managed by six votes to three that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which outlaws the oppression of workers in view of an individual's sex, additionally covers sexual orientation and transgender status also covering up their race, colour, national origin and religion.
Justice Gorsuch conceded that point in his opinion but said what mattered was the text of the law. He said "Sex plays a necessary and undisguisable role in the decision, exactly what Title VII forbids. The limits of the drafters' imagination supply no reason to ignore the law's demands." Conservative Justices Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas and Brett Kavanaugh dissented from the ruling. Writing in dissent, Justice Alito said the court had basically rewritten the law.
Speaking to the reporters at the White House, Mr Trump addressed this ruling as very powerful and said: "They've ruled and we live with their decision". LGBT activists and the only surviving plaintiff in the litigation lauded the ruling.
INDIA EXPECTS TO SAIL THROUGH UNSC VOTE INDIA EXPECTS TO SAIL THROUGH UNSC VOTE
17th June 2020
India hopes to cruise through as the 193-part United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) decides on Wednesday for contenders to five non-permanent seats at the UN Security Council for 2021-22. India is standing unopposed as the candidate for the Asia-Pacific seat, and needs 66% of UNGA individuals, or 129 votes, to be affirmed.
In its own crusade leaflet, India had featured its pledge to multilateralism; interest for straightforwardness in commands for UN peacekeeping missions; push for the Indian-drove Comprehensive Convention for International Terrorism (CCIT); and joint endeavours for UN change and the development of the UNSC. Former UN agent Asoke Mukerji says that the choice for India and different nations will be made by adjusting "favours" every nation accomplishes for others inside the UN framework, and not as much on ideological contrasts. The "secret polling system" often turns out to be decisive accordingly India is playing it safe with its battle, and has added to its conciliatory push among UN missions and through its international safe havens in various nations, with calls between PM Modi and his partners in excess of 60 nations and multilateral gatherings like SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) and NAM, just as many others made by External Affairs Minister Jaishankar, since March this year.
Mexico is additionally unopposed for the Latin American and Caribbean seat, while there is a straight challenge among Kenya and late participant Djibouti for the African seat. Everyone's eyes are, anyway on the challenge between Canada, Ireland and Norway, who are competing for the two seats dispensed toward the Western European and Others Group (WEOG), with each making a pitch for India's vote, remembering a call for Tuesday from Canadian PM Trudeau to PM Modi.
ZIMBABWE: PERSECUTION OF TORTURED FEMALE OPPOSITION LEADERS CONTINUES AS THEY ARE DENIED BAIL
15th June 2020
The three MDC-Alliance youth pioneers, Joana Mamombe (MP for Harare West), Cecilia Chimbiri (MDC Alliance Youth Assembly Vice-Chair) and Netsai Marova (Deputy Organizing Secretary for Youth) were captured on 10 June 2020 and accused of distorting their kidnapping and torment on account of suspected state security agents after they were captured at a barricade watched by the police and armed force at Warren Park. In the wake of giving point by point and realistic records of rehashed beatings, mortification and rape to nearby and worldwide media. The three ladies, all pioneers of the Movement for Democratic Change's childhood segment, have been held in the scandalous Chikirubi high-security prison since Friday. They face jail sentences of as long as 20 years or a fine. The state is adamant of not accepting any such charges against its agents and Kazembe, Zimbabwe's home issues serve, said a week ago that the administration "doesn't allow any of its foundations and offices to utilize torment, constrained vanishing or kidnappings" and that assessments by government specialists had not indicated any wounds that coordinated the three ladies' records.
The three ladies vanished subsequent to being confined by police and troopers a month ago after an exhibit in Harare and were found on a side of the road 60 miles from the capital two days after the fact, gravely harmed and damaged. Three female restriction activists gave point by point records of torment, mortification and rape by unidentified state operators and since then have been requested to stay in jail to deal with indictments that they developed their difficulty. Clad in jail attire, the three activists seemed feeble and upset as they moved out of a jail truck on Monday morning minutes before their bail hearing at Harare's focal officer's court. Family members and legal advisors have not been permitted to take food to the three ladies, leaving them without anything to eat for over three days, delegates said. Joined by Nation's Human Rights specialists have required the charges against the three ladies to be dropped.
In light of the present court choice to deny bail for three female pioneers from the restriction Movement for Democratic Change – Alliance (MDC-Alliance) and remand them in police care, Muleya Mwananyanda, Amnesty International's Deputy Director for Southern Africa, stated: "The proceeded with self-assertive confinement of Joana Mamombe, Cecilia Chinembiri and Netsai Markova sums to oppression through arraignment and is intended to send a chilling message to anybody setting out to challenge the Zimbabwean specialists. These ladies are casualties of a heightening crackdown on the privilege to the opportunity of articulation and the criminalisation of contradiction. Rather than mistreating them, the Zimbabwean specialists should concentrate their endeavours on considering those suspected to be liable for their alarming kidnapping, torment and rape to account."
TWITTER LAUNCHES TOOL TO CURB DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
17th June 2020
To help tackle the rise in Domestic Violence during the social distancing times in India, the social media app Twitter on Wednesday, launched a dedicated search prompt to serve the information and updates from the authoritative sources of domestic violence. The social media app has partnered with the Ministry of Women and Child Development, the National Commission for Women. India has to expand its efforts towards women research prompt which will be available on iOS, Android and on Mobile, the data shows that since the outbreak of a pandemic, the violence against women and girls has intensified in India and across the world accessing reliable information through the search prompt which could be a survivor‘s first step towards seeking help against abuse and violence, says the report.
when someone searches for certain keywords associated with the issue of domestic violence, a prompt will direct them to the relevant information and services which will be available on Twitter, the feature will be reviewed at regular intervals by the Twitter team to ensure that all the related keywords generate the proactive search from and also the violence against women and girls across the Asia Pacific is pervasive but at the same time it is widely under-reported. The initiative by the app provides big support to the survivors, who would otherwise be easily isolated without access as to the relevant information and help.
CONTACT TRACING APPS: MOST DANGEROUS FOR PRIVACY
Bahrain, Kuwait & Norway
16th June 2020
Bahrain, Kuwait and Norway have rolled out some of the most invasive pandemic contact tracing apps around the world, putting the privacy and security of hundreds and thousands of people at risk, an investigation report reveals.
As per the contact tracing apps from Europe, the Middle East and North Africa, including a detailed technical analysis of the 11 apps which ranges from bad to dangerous for human rights. The most alarming mass surveillance tools which are accessed by the three actively carrying out life or near live tracking of users which locations are frequently uploaded by GPS coordinates to a central server. The sensuality product of broadcasting the location of users to a government database in real-time which is unlikely to be necessary and proportionate in the contacts of a public health response. Technology can be useful in contact tracing while containing pandemic, but privacy was not another casualty as governments rushed to roll-out the apps.
Posing a great threat to privacy, their systems capture the location data through GPS and upload this to a central database, tracking the movement of users in real-time. Qatar 'EHTERAZ’ app is capable of optionally activating the live location tracking of all users or a specific individual.
CHINA: 86 NGOs CAME TOGETHER AGAINST PLANNED HONGKONG SECURITY LAW
17th June 2020
Following the latest developments in the direction of implementing new Hong Kong security law, a group of 86 NGOs that include Amnesty International, International Service for Human Rights, Hong Kong Unison Limited among others wrote a joint letter addressing Li Zhanshu, Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, China's top legislative body, demanding urgent scrapping of the proposed draconian law that aims to fetter the basic rights and freedoms of the people of Hong Kong.
The proposed national security legislation is likely to be discussed at this week’s National People’s Congress Standing Committee (NPCSC) session and could come into force as early as this month so that it can quickly be used to crack down on Hong Kong’s freedoms. Since the law bestows a vague definition of the term “offence”, it can encompass any fair criticism and peaceful protest against the government. Since the country has been witnessing large scale protests in Hong Kong in recent years, the new law is seen as a weapon to curb them in future. The decision to draft a national security law, passed by the National People’s Congress at its last session in late May, proposes to outlaw acts of “splittism, subversion, terrorism,” and activities of “foreign and overseas intervention in Hong Kong affairs”. The law proposes to establish “special courts” and the base of Chinese security centres in the city for the first time.
It should be noted that China is under obligation to respect the paradigm of “one country, two systems” agreed when the former British colony returned under the Chinese rule in 1997. Protecting the rights and freedoms of the people of Hong Kong, so that the city can develop as a global financial centre is the concomitant of that vow.
PRESIDENT TRUMP UNVEILED AN EXECUTIVE ORDER ENCOURAGING POLICE REFORMS
16th June 2020
President Donald Trump signed an executive order as part of what he called an administration commitment to address the national protests over-policing. The order aimed at guiding policy reforms after weeks of nationwide unrest over police killings of unarmed black Americans would create federal incentives through the Justice Department for local police departments that seek “independent credentialing”, to certify that law enforcement is seriously concerned about misuse of force by police and is determined to take necessary steps to remove lacunae.
The order would also encourage local departments to bring on experts in mental health, addiction and homelessness as “co-responders” to “help officers manage these complex encounters.” And it would encourage better information sharing to track officers with “credible abuses” to prevent them from moving from one department to the next. Section 2(c)(ii) of the order specifically prohibits the use of chokeholds except in those cases where the use of deadly force is allowed by the law. It is important to note here that this was the very reason of the death of George Floyd in the Minneapolis. The text of the order directs the Justice Department to create and maintain a database to track when officers have been terminated or decertified, have been criminally convicted for on-duty conduct or faced civil judgments for improper use of force. It notes that information-sharing related to use-of-force complaints would not apply in “instances where a law enforcement officer resigns or retires while under active investigation related to the use of force,” and emphasizes that the database would track only episodes in which an officer was “afforded fair process
But it does not address the issue of qualified immunity, a legal doctrine under which government officials performing discretionary functions are immune from civil suits unless the plaintiff shows that the official violated "clearly established statutory or constitutional rights of which a reasonable person would have known.” The president’s action swiftly drew criticism from activists for systemic reform for not going far enough and for a lack of teeth.
SC ISSUED NOTICE TO CENTRE, IRDA AGAINST EXCLUSION OF MENTAL ILLNESS FROM INSURANCE COVER
17th June 2020
The Supreme Court issued notice to centre and Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) in a plea seeking directions with respect to a violation of Section 21(4) of the Mental Healthcare Act 2017 whereby insurers are bound to provide medical insurance for treatment of mental illness.
Advocate Gaurav Bansal, while arguing that the exclusion violated the fundamental right to equality and non-discrimination, said that the insurance policies exempt mental illness despite Section 21(4) of Mental Health Act, 2017 clearly mandating otherwise. According to him IRDAI had issued a letter directing all the companies to comply with the statutory provisions but didn’t follow-up the compliance. The plea avers that the inclusion of section 21(4) was in consonance with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), an international treaty which identifies the rights of disabled people as well as the obligations on Parliament and the NI Assembly to promote, protect and ensure those rights. The treaty has been ratified by India in the form of legislation which includes the Mental Health Act, 2017. Article 21 of UNCRDP deals with health and clause (e) of the same deals with the prohibition of discrimination against persons with disabilities in the provisions of health insurance as well as life insurance.
According to petitioner, IRDAI instead of levying fines for non-compliance of the provisions of the MHA,2017 is taking a casual stance on the matter. So he moved to the apex court to direct IRDAI and centre to ensure compliance of the said act and submit the action taken report in the court. A bench comprising Justice Rohinton F. Nariman, Navin Sinha and BR Gavai heard the matter and issued notice to the Union Health Ministry and IRDAI.
SC DIRECTED CENTRE TO ORDER STATES/UTs TO PAY SALARIES OF HEALTH WORKERS ON TIME
17th June 2020
The Supreme Court directed centre to pass appropriate orders under Disaster Management Act, 2005 to the chief secretaries of all States/Uts to ensure compliance of the orders directing timely payment of salaries to doctors and health workers.
The court also ordered that the proper quarantine facilities must be made available to doctors and health workers even if they are not within the ambit of “high-risk exposure.” This was after the bench witnessed the centre’s notification mandating quarantine for only those workers which fall within the category of “high-risk exposure”. All these directions were passed by the bench comprising Justice Ashok Bhushan, Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Mr Shah in a plea filed by the Udaipur-based lawyer Arushi Jain seeking suitable accommodation and quarantine facilities for medical workers who are involved in saving precious lives amidst COVID-19.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta ensured the court that the non-compliance of the centre’s notification will attract penal consequences under the Disaster Management Act. He also told the court that many 5-star hotels have already been requisitioned for conversion as quarantine centres. It is important to note here that the apex court had slammed the government for its apathetic approach towards providing accommodation facilities and withholding the enumeration of doctors and healthcare workers. The bench had stated orally, “We cannot have dissatisfied soldiers in this COVID war. The doctors are not paid, these things are coming to light, what is this?”