Month: February 2014

Report Human Rights Watch su Migrazione e Diritti Umani in Marocco

Report Human Rights Watch su Migrazione e Diritti Umani in Marocco

Report Human Rights Watch su Migrazione e Diritti Umani in Marocco

Soldato marocchino in addestramento

Human Rights Watch (HRW) ha recentemente ripubblicato un interessante report sugli abusi che i migranti provenienti da paesi Sub Sahariani subiscono dalle forze di sicurezza marocchine. La ripubblicazione del report intende portare l’attenzione del mondo su un fenomeno ciclico: la violazione dei dirtti umani e del diritto internazionale riguardante i migranti (argomento non distante dalla realtà italiana di Lampedusa).

Quando il rapporto è stato pubblicato il governo del Marocco ha cessato temporaneamente il maltrattamento dei migranti sapendo che l’attenzione internazionale era accesa. Dopo pochi mesi l’attenzione internazionale ha cambiato direzione e il Marocco ha ripreso le violenze. La risposta ufficiale del Marocco alla relazione di HRW (che si può trovare in fondo al report) non è convincente . Il Marocco afferma che le accuse formulate dal rapporto siano infondate nonostante le evidenze portate da HRW. L’Unione europea (UE) fornisce finanziamenti plurimilionari al sistema di gestione della migrazione del Marocco dal 2000 (vedi i programmi Meda e le politiche europee di vicinato).

L’UE ei suoi membri dovrebbero rivalutare l’adeguatezza dei loro programmi astenendosi dal firmare qualsiasi ulteriore accordo con il Marocco. Perché la sensazione è che l’Unione europea paghi il Marocco per violare il diritto internazionale e i diritti umani. Questo è inacettabile e ricorda molto il libro di Dambisa Moyo “Dead Aid” sul perché aiuti ai paesi africani non funzionano. Moyo sostiene che l’aiuto allo sviluppo ai governi africani promuove la dipendenza, incoraggia la corruzione perpetuando malgoverno e povertà.

Comunicato stampa:

Moroccan security forces commonly beat, otherwise abuse, and sometimes steal from sub-Saharan migrants in the northeastern part of the country, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. These abuses persist despite some improvements in the treatment of migrants since the government announced a new migration and asylum policy in September 2013. Since that time, the practice of summarily expelling migrants at the border with Algeria appears to have stopped.

Morocco should make clear to its security forces that migrants have rights,” said Bill Frelick, refugee program director at Human Rights Watch. “Morocco needs to call a halt to beatings and other abuse of migrants.”

Spanish security forces also use excessive force when they summarily expel migrants from Melilla, Human Rights Watch found. Spain should stop all summary returns to Morocco at the Melilla border, and suspend forcible returns to Morocco of migrants reaching Melilla until Morocco demonstrates that they are no longer at risk of beatings and other abuses upon their return and that their rights are protected.

Morocco’s new migration and asylum policy is based on recommendations by the National Human Rights Council (CNDH) and endorsed by King Mohammed VI. The reforms include granting legal residency to migrants whom the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has determined to be refugees. Once processed by the newly reactivated National Office for Refugees and Stateless Persons, the refugees obtain resident cards that give them the right to work and receive certain social services.

Morocco has also put into place an “exceptional” regularization procedure through 2014 to allow undocumented migrants who meet certain criteria to apply for a one-year renewable residency. It is unclear how many of the 25,000 sub-Saharan migrants estimated to be in Morocco will meet the criteria. A brief informal survey indicated that few of those living in makeshift camps in Nador and Oujda would qualify.

The government told Human Rights Watch that it is also drafting new laws on asylum, human trafficking, and migration.

The Human Rights Watch report is based on interviews with 67 sub-Saharan migrants in and around the cities of Oujda and Nador in November and December 2012. Human Rights Watch also interviewed officials, international agencies, and nongovernmental organizations and included in the report the government’s responses to written questions. In January and February 2014 Human Rights Watch interviewed an additional 14 migrants in Nador, Oujda, and Rabat.

Sub-Saharan African migrants leave their countries because of poverty; family and social problems; political upheaval and civil conflict; and, in some cases, fear of persecution. Many in northeast Morocco aim to reach Europe. Many of the migrants interviewed for this report lived in makeshift shelters outside of larger cities, surviving on meager resources, and in constant fear of police raids.

In December 2011, according to reports by nongovernmental organizations, Moroccan authorities stepped up the practice of raiding unofficial migrant camps in forested areas outside of Oujda and Nador. Gendarmes and Moroccan Auxiliary Forces destroyed migrants’ shelters and sometimes stole their valuables during these raids, migrants told Human Rights Watch. The security forces arrested male migrants, bused them to the Algerian border, and ordered them to keep walking, bypassing the administrative and judicial due process requirements for deportations under international and national law.

“Nicolas,” 39, from Cameroon, described being shoved toward Algeria as security forces yelled “Yallah! [Let’s go!].” “They treated me really badly, they kicked me so much that I am peeing blood as a result,” he said. Names of migrants interviewed were changed for their protection.

Interviews Human Rights Watch conducted in northeast Morocco in January 2014 with migrants and nongovernmental organizations working locally said that the summary expulsions to the border with Algeria had ceased and that police raids on migrants living in and around Oujda had eased since October 2013. However, police are still conducting raids in the Nador area. Migrants described raids that occurred as recently as January 29, 2014, when police destroyed makeshift migrant encampments and arrested and beat people trying to reach Melilla. Authorities rounding up migrants in Nador in recent months bused them to Rabat and other coastal cities, rather than to the Algerian border, as previously, migrants and nongovernmental groups told Human Rights Watch.

In relation to the expulsions documented in the report, the Moroccan government told Human Rights Watch that it did not expel people but rather carried out lawful “returns to the border.” However, the Moroccan-Algerian border remains formally closed, and migrants told Human Rights Watch that Moroccan security officers took them to isolated locations and used force or the threat of force to coerce them to walk toward Algeria.

Expelled migrants who encountered Algerian security forces faced additional abuses. Migrants said that some Algerian border authorities forced them back into Morocco, sometimes violently, after robbing them of their valuables.

Each expelled migrant interviewed who had managed to return to Oujda or Nador described expulsions that ignored basic due process requirements.

Article 23 of Morocco’s immigration law provides for the right to request a lawyer or an interpreter prior to expulsion. Article 22 of the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families, to which Morocco is a party, provides for an expulsion decision in writing and the opportunity to challenge that decision.

While noting positive features of Morocco’s new migration policy, Human Rights Watch remains concerned by new reports of police violence against migrants near the border with Melilla. The Moroccan government should ensure, as part of its reforms, that the security forces refrain from using excessive force toward migrants and respect the due process rights of every migrant they take into custody.

The Spanish government should stop summarily returning migrants who enter Melilla to Morocco. Spanish law requires security and border forces to follow deportation procedures in removing migrants who enter Spain illegally. These returns also violate international and European Union (EU) law, which prohibit countries from forcibly returning anyone to a place where they would face a real risk of being subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment. Spanish authorities should also ensure diligent investigations of allegations of excessive use of force by its own forces and exert pressure on Morocco to end the use of unwarranted force against migrants.

Human Rights Watch examined the treatment of migrants in Morocco in relation to the EU’s avowed goal of controlling its borders through the help of third countries neighboring the EU. Morocco and the EU have embraced a joint policy of preventing undocumented migration toward the EU, through financial cooperation, for example. Human Rights Watch urged the EU to ensure that it does not provide support for any programs or Moroccan forces that violate the rights of migrants as guaranteed by international human rights law.

“Morocco has apparently stopped dumping migrants at the Algerian border, but that’s not enough,” Frelick said. “Morocco needs firm procedures to make sure that the migrants’ due process rights are respected and to allow them to apply for asylum.”

For details about the January 2014 interviews, please see below.

Additional information from 2014 interviews
Two Human Rights Watch researchers conducted  individual interviews with nine migrants in Gourougou, Nador and five in Rabat. All of those interviewed were men – ten from Cameroon, two from Mali, and two from Gabon. Names of the migrants were changed for their protection.

In interviews with Human Rights Watch in Nador on January 29 and 30, and in Rabat on February 3, migrants said that security forces still frequently carry out raids on their camps in Gourougou, the forested mountain outside of Nador, overlooking Melilla, during which they destroy and burn migrants’ property and makeshift shelters.

Nador is a jumping-off point for many migrants trying to reach Melilla, either by inflatable boat or by climbing the fences surrounding it in large groups, sometimes several hundred migrants at once. Migrants who managed to enter Melilla said that Spain’s Guardia Civil summarily removed most of them and handed them over to Moroccan border patrols at the border. They said Moroccan authorities frequently beat the border crossers, including children, who were in their effective custody, and not resisting or attempting to flee.

At the Melilla border
Human Rights Watch interviewed five migrants in Rabat, who said that during an attempt to scale the Melilla perimeter fence in the early hours of February 2, the Spanish Guardia Civil and the Moroccan Auxiliary Forces employed excessive force against them.

Joseph, 31, from Cameroon, who limped and had a swollen eye, said:

We went toward the fence to go into Melilla and we tried to get in. A few of us managed to enter Melilla but the Guardia Civil stopped us. They hit us with clubs. They hit us very hard for 5 to 10 minutes. They handcuffed us [with plastic restraints], and then they opened the gate in the fence and handed us over to the [Moroccan] Auxiliary Forces.

The Auxiliary Forces hit us with clubs. While they hit us, they also searched us. They stole 250 dirhams [US$30] from me along with my mobile phone. They made us lie face down on the ground, still handcuffed. We stayed on the ground for an hour while they hit us. They hit me on the eye with a stick. They only stopped hitting us when more senior officers came.

Martin, 22, from Cameroon, said:

We arrived to the fence and sirens started wailing… I could see my friends who were inside [Melilla]. The Guardia Civil hit my friends with big sticks. Not police clubs, but sticks. They hit you until you faint… I retreated back to the Moroccan side. When I came back down, they [Moroccan Auxiliary Forces] hit me. They handcuffed me, and then made me lie down on the ground, face down. They searched me and stole my money, my phone, and even my shoes.

William, 24, from Cameroon, said:

In the night of December 24 [2013], there were 15 of us advancing toward the fence. As we were coming toward the fence, the Alit [Moroccan Auxiliary Forces] saw us and started throwing rocks and sticks at us. Nine Alits grabbed us; they took me to a hidden corner and hit me and other migrants there for 30 to 40 minutes, and then they took us to the commissariat. I was able to go to the hospital instead. I got medical attention for my injuries and came back the next day to Gourougou, with the help of NGOs [nongovernmental organizations].

Ahmed, 22, from Cameroon, was also part of this group:

We were all intercepted and arrested at the first fence. My feet were bleeding from the barbed wire and the auxiliary forces arrested me. They attached my hands behind my back with a cord and beat me everywhere on my body with batons. Some of them were jumping on my back to force me to lie on my stomach. At 8 a.m. they drove us to the police station in Nador. They didn’t ask us to provide any documents. They only asked us, as always, our names and nationality. They refused to take me to thehospital although I was bleeding. In the evening, they drove us in a bus to the bus station of Rabat.

Ill-Treatment of Sub-Saharan African Migrants in Morocco. © 2014 by Human Rights Watch.

Migration and Human Rights in Morocco

Human Rights Watch report on Migration and Human Rights in Morocco

Migration and Human Rights in Morocco

Moroccan soldiers pose

Human Rights Watch (HRW) has published an interesting report about abuses of Sub-Saharan African migrants in Morocco by security forces. The government of Morocco has temporarily ceased the mistreatment of migrants when the report was published bringing international attention to the problem. Then, after a few months international attention has changed direction and Morocco took over the ill-treatment. Morocco’s official response to the report of  HRW is not convincing. They say that the accusations made by the report are unfounded despite HRW evidence.

The European Union (EU) provides multi-millionare funding to Morocco’s migration management system since year 2000 (see Aeneas and MEDA programs). The EU and its members should reassess the adequacy of their programs refraining from signing any further agreement with Morocco. Because the feeling is that the EU pays Morocco to violate international law and human rights. This reminds me a lot of Dambisa Moyo’s book “Dead Aid” on why aid in African countries does not work. She argues that development assistance to African governments fosters dependency, encourages corruption and ultimately perpetuates poor governance and poverty.

Press release:

Moroccan security forces commonly beat, otherwise abuse, and sometimes steal from sub-Saharan migrants in the northeastern part of the country, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. These abuses persist despite some improvements in the treatment of migrants since the government announced a new migration and asylum policy in September 2013. Since that time, the practice of summarily expelling migrants at the border with Algeria appears to have stopped.

Morocco should make clear to its security forces that migrants have rights,” said Bill Frelick, refugee program director at Human Rights Watch. “Morocco needs to call a halt to beatings and other abuse of migrants.”

Spanish security forces also use excessive force when they summarily expel migrants from Melilla, Human Rights Watch found. Spain should stop all summary returns to Morocco at the Melilla border, and suspend forcible returns to Morocco of migrants reaching Melilla until Morocco demonstrates that they are no longer at risk of beatings and other abuses upon their return and that their rights are protected.

Morocco’s new migration and asylum policy is based on recommendations by the National Human Rights Council (CNDH) and endorsed by King Mohammed VI. The reforms include granting legal residency to migrants whom the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has determined to be refugees. Once processed by the newly reactivated National Office for Refugees and Stateless Persons, the refugees obtain resident cards that give them the right to work and receive certain social services.

Morocco has also put into place an “exceptional” regularization procedure through 2014 to allow undocumented migrants who meet certain criteria to apply for a one-year renewable residency. It is unclear how many of the 25,000 sub-Saharan migrants estimated to be in Morocco will meet the criteria. A brief informal survey indicated that few of those living in makeshift camps in Nador and Oujda would qualify.

The government told Human Rights Watch that it is also drafting new laws on asylum, human trafficking, and migration.

The Human Rights Watch report is based on interviews with 67 sub-Saharan migrants in and around the cities of Oujda and Nador in November and December 2012. Human Rights Watch also interviewed officials, international agencies, and nongovernmental organizations and included in the report the government’s responses to written questions. In January and February 2014 Human Rights Watch interviewed an additional 14 migrants in Nador, Oujda, and Rabat.

Sub-Saharan African migrants leave their countries because of poverty; family and social problems; political upheaval and civil conflict; and, in some cases, fear of persecution. Many in northeast Morocco aim to reach Europe. Many of the migrants interviewed for this report lived in makeshift shelters outside of larger cities, surviving on meager resources, and in constant fear of police raids.

In December 2011, according to reports by nongovernmental organizations, Moroccan authorities stepped up the practice of raiding unofficial migrant camps in forested areas outside of Oujda and Nador. Gendarmes and Moroccan Auxiliary Forces destroyed migrants’ shelters and sometimes stole their valuables during these raids, migrants told Human Rights Watch. The security forces arrested male migrants, bused them to the Algerian border, and ordered them to keep walking, bypassing the administrative and judicial due process requirements for deportations under international and national law.

“Nicolas,” 39, from Cameroon, described being shoved toward Algeria as security forces yelled “Yallah! [Let’s go!].” “They treated me really badly, they kicked me so much that I am peeing blood as a result,” he said. Names of migrants interviewed were changed for their protection.

Interviews Human Rights Watch conducted in northeast Morocco in January 2014 with migrants and nongovernmental organizations working locally said that the summary expulsions to the border with Algeria had ceased and that police raids on migrants living in and around Oujda had eased since October 2013. However, police are still conducting raids in the Nador area. Migrants described raids that occurred as recently as January 29, 2014, when police destroyed makeshift migrant encampments and arrested and beat people trying to reach Melilla. Authorities rounding up migrants in Nador in recent months bused them to Rabat and other coastal cities, rather than to the Algerian border, as previously, migrants and nongovernmental groups told Human Rights Watch.

In relation to the expulsions documented in the report, the Moroccan government told Human Rights Watch that it did not expel people but rather carried out lawful “returns to the border.” However, the Moroccan-Algerian border remains formally closed, and migrants told Human Rights Watch that Moroccan security officers took them to isolated locations and used force or the threat of force to coerce them to walk toward Algeria.

Expelled migrants who encountered Algerian security forces faced additional abuses. Migrants said that some Algerian border authorities forced them back into Morocco, sometimes violently, after robbing them of their valuables.

Each expelled migrant interviewed who had managed to return to Oujda or Nador described expulsions that ignored basic due process requirements.

Article 23 of Morocco’s immigration law provides for the right to request a lawyer or an interpreter prior to expulsion. Article 22 of the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families, to which Morocco is a party, provides for an expulsion decision in writing and the opportunity to challenge that decision.

While noting positive features of Morocco’s new migration policy, Human Rights Watch remains concerned by new reports of police violence against migrants near the border with Melilla. The Moroccan government should ensure, as part of its reforms, that the security forces refrain from using excessive force toward migrants and respect the due process rights of every migrant they take into custody.

The Spanish government should stop summarily returning migrants who enter Melilla to Morocco. Spanish law requires security and border forces to follow deportation procedures in removing migrants who enter Spain illegally. These returns also violate international and European Union (EU) law, which prohibit countries from forcibly returning anyone to a place where they would face a real risk of being subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment. Spanish authorities should also ensure diligent investigations of allegations of excessive use of force by its own forces and exert pressure on Morocco to end the use of unwarranted force against migrants.

Human Rights Watch examined the treatment of migrants in Morocco in relation to the EU’s avowed goal of controlling its borders through the help of third countries neighboring the EU. Morocco and the EU have embraced a joint policy of preventing undocumented migration toward the EU, through financial cooperation, for example. Human Rights Watch urged the EU to ensure that it does not provide support for any programs or Moroccan forces that violate the rights of migrants as guaranteed by international human rights law.

“Morocco has apparently stopped dumping migrants at the Algerian border, but that’s not enough,” Frelick said. “Morocco needs firm procedures to make sure that the migrants’ due process rights are respected and to allow them to apply for asylum.”

For details about the January 2014 interviews, please see below.

Additional information from 2014 interviews
Two Human Rights Watch researchers conducted  individual interviews with nine migrants in Gourougou, Nador and five in Rabat. All of those interviewed were men – ten from Cameroon, two from Mali, and two from Gabon. Names of the migrants were changed for their protection.

In interviews with Human Rights Watch in Nador on January 29 and 30, and in Rabat on February 3, migrants said that security forces still frequently carry out raids on their camps in Gourougou, the forested mountain outside of Nador, overlooking Melilla, during which they destroy and burn migrants’ property and makeshift shelters.

Nador is a jumping-off point for many migrants trying to reach Melilla, either by inflatable boat or by climbing the fences surrounding it in large groups, sometimes several hundred migrants at once. Migrants who managed to enter Melilla said that Spain’s Guardia Civil summarily removed most of them and handed them over to Moroccan border patrols at the border. They said Moroccan authorities frequently beat the border crossers, including children, who were in their effective custody, and not resisting or attempting to flee.

At the Melilla border
Human Rights Watch interviewed five migrants in Rabat, who said that during an attempt to scale the Melilla perimeter fence in the early hours of February 2, the Spanish Guardia Civil and the Moroccan Auxiliary Forces employed excessive force against them.

Joseph, 31, from Cameroon, who limped and had a swollen eye, said:

We went toward the fence to go into Melilla and we tried to get in. A few of us managed to enter Melilla but the Guardia Civil stopped us. They hit us with clubs. They hit us very hard for 5 to 10 minutes. They handcuffed us [with plastic restraints], and then they opened the gate in the fence and handed us over to the [Moroccan] Auxiliary Forces.

The Auxiliary Forces hit us with clubs. While they hit us, they also searched us. They stole 250 dirhams [US$30] from me along with my mobile phone. They made us lie face down on the ground, still handcuffed. We stayed on the ground for an hour while they hit us. They hit me on the eye with a stick. They only stopped hitting us when more senior officers came.

Martin, 22, from Cameroon, said:

We arrived to the fence and sirens started wailing… I could see my friends who were inside [Melilla]. The Guardia Civil hit my friends with big sticks. Not police clubs, but sticks. They hit you until you faint… I retreated back to the Moroccan side. When I came back down, they [Moroccan Auxiliary Forces] hit me. They handcuffed me, and then made me lie down on the ground, face down. They searched me and stole my money, my phone, and even my shoes.

William, 24, from Cameroon, said:

In the night of December 24 [2013], there were 15 of us advancing toward the fence. As we were coming toward the fence, the Alit [Moroccan Auxiliary Forces] saw us and started throwing rocks and sticks at us. Nine Alits grabbed us; they took me to a hidden corner and hit me and other migrants there for 30 to 40 minutes, and then they took us to the commissariat. I was able to go to the hospital instead. I got medical attention for my injuries and came back the next day to Gourougou, with the help of NGOs [nongovernmental organizations].

Ahmed, 22, from Cameroon, was also part of this group:

We were all intercepted and arrested at the first fence. My feet were bleeding from the barbed wire and the auxiliary forces arrested me. They attached my hands behind my back with a cord and beat me everywhere on my body with batons. Some of them were jumping on my back to force me to lie on my stomach. At 8 a.m. they drove us to the police station in Nador. They didn’t ask us to provide any documents. They only asked us, as always, our names and nationality. They refused to take me to thehospital although I was bleeding. In the evening, they drove us in a bus to the bus station of Rabat.

Ill-Treatment of Sub-Saharan African Migrants in Morocco. © 2014 by Human Rights Watch.

Uganda: Law Rolls Back Basic Rights

Uganda: Law Rolls Back Basic Rights

Uganda: Law Rolls Back Basic Rights

(Nairobi) – Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni’s signing of the Anti-Homosexuality bill into law is a deeply worrying infringement on the human rights of all Ugandans. The law, signed by Museveni in Kampala on February 24, 2014, increases penalties for some forms of consensual same-sex conduct between adults; curtails constitutionally protected rights to privacy, family life, and equality; and violates internationally protected rights to freedom of association and expression.

“President Museveni has dealt a dramatic blow to freedom of expression and association in Uganda by signing the Anti-Homosexuality bill,” said Maria Burnett, senior Africa researcher. “Attacking basic rights and criminalizing the expression of divergent views doesn’t bode well for anyone. This is yet another troubling sign of disregard for fundamental human rights in Uganda.”

Under the new law, the penalty for same-sex conduct is now life imprisonment. The “attempt to commit homosexuality” incurs a penalty of seven years as does “aiding and abetting” homosexuality. A person who “keeps a house, room, set of rooms, or place of any kind for purposes of homosexuality” also faces seven years’ imprisonment. Because the law also criminalizes the “promotion” of homosexuality, there are far-reaching implications beyond the increase in punishments for same-sex sexual conduct. A person could go to prison simply for expressing a peaceful opinion. Local and international nongovernmental organizations doing advocacy work on human rights issues could now be at risk of criminal sentencing of up to seven years. Public health promotion and prevention efforts targeting “at risk” groups might have to be curtailed, and health educators and healthcare providers could also face criminal sanction under the same provision.

Museveni’s government, over his 28 years in office, has increasingly suppressed freedom of assembly, expression, and association and threatened civil society groups working on a range of issues, including corruption, land, oil, and good governance.

Uganda: Law Rolls Back Basic Rights. © 2014 by Human Rights Watch.

Defender los Defensores

Defender los Defensores de Derechos Humanos

Se trata de un comercio de la muerte para las empresas que ponen estas tecnologías en manos de dictadores.” – Saeid Pourheydar, periodista de la oposición iraní torturado en la cárcel de Evin.

defender los defensores

Con demasiada frecuencia las autoridades de países no democráticos intentan silenciar las voces de los defensores de los derechos humanos, sancionar sus actividades y asustarlos, utilizando armas y tecnologías de los países democráticos occidentales. En lugar de proteger el papel sano que desempeñan en la promoción y protección de los derechos humanos, las agencias estatales pueden etiquetar a estos individuos como traidores subversivos con graves consecuencias para sus vidas y trabajos.

Las revelaciones de WikiLeaks y Edward Snowden han ilustrado la medida en que ciertas tecnologías son capaces de espiar a los móviles y dispositivos conectados a Internet a escala global, indicando nombres de empresas y países que participan en esta industria de vigilancia masiva por el valor anual de más de 5 mil millones de dólares, y que ha tenido un auge en 2001 a raíz de los ataques a las dos Torres de Nueva York. Esto incluye empresas que venden productos que pueden ofrecer al usuario final un control remoto en el equipo, al igual que los piratas informáticos, lo que permite interceptar las comunicaciones de masas.

La vigilancia masiva no tiene proporciones claras, lo que significa que estas tecnologías pueden dar lugar a la violación de los derechos humanos, especialmente el derecho a la privacidad y la libertad de expresión. Ataques de malware (software malintencionado) son un problema creciente para los grupos de los defensores de derechos humanos, que pueden ser especialmente vulnerables debido a los limitados recursos o la falta de conciencia de seguridad. Los que saben que podrian ser sujetos a ataques, deben ser cautos al utilizar el correo electrónico, Skype u otros sistemas de comunicación. En particular, en los correos electrónicos deben tener cuidado con los enlaces y archivos adjuntos, incluso si se trata de amigos.

defender los defensores

Para mantener un alto nivel de seguridad es crucial que los activistas y disidentes usen especiales precauciones  relacionadas con el tratamiento de datos sensibles, la navegación anónima en la web y la capacidad de eliminar permanentemente los datos. Un software libre que puede cifrar los datos se denomina TrueCrypt. Para la navegación anónima se puede usar Tor, de esta manera es posible eludir bloques para la navegación y utilizar funciones de servicio ocultos para crear blogs anónimos o sistemas de gestión de fuentes confidenciales. También la supresión definitiva de un archivo puede ser vital para un disidente, un software libre llamado Eraser puede borrar archivos correctamente.

Debido a la naturaleza secreta y confidencial de sus actividades, las empresas del sector de la seguridad privada han ganado una sensación de impunidad. Los productos de estas empresas fueron encontrados en Bahrein, Libia y Etiopía, entre otros países, y se han utilizado para combatir activistas que apoyan la democracia, periodistas y  activistas que hacen oposición política. Cuando los ciudadanos destituyeron a las dictaduras en Egipto y Libia, encontraron habitaciones debidamente equipadas para controlar sus actividades en internet y a través del teléfono, donde había dispositivos de diversas compañías extranjeras: los británicos de Gamma International, los franceses Amesys, VASTech de Sudáfrica y la china ZTE Corp.

Privacy International, una ONG que lucha por el derecho a la privacidad, ha creado una base de datos de libre acceso, que enumera 338 empresas con sede en países occidentales que venden tecnologías de vigilancia a países con regímenes represivos que tienen la intención de utilizarlo como instrumento de control político. Matthew Rice de Privacy International, explica que las empresas de vigilancia realizan la comercialización y venta de las más poderosas, peligrosas e invasivas tecnologías de vigilancia en el mundo, manteniendo relaciones con los regímenes represivos a los que han vendido sus productos. De la base de datos de Privacy International se pueden observar por lo menos 5 empresas en Milán directamente involucradas en la venta de servicios de vigilancia a gobiernos autoritarios: el RCS de Milán; Digint de Garbagnate Milanese, Spektra de Busto Arsizio; Area de Vozzola Ticino y Hacking Team de Milán.

Defender los Defensores

Hacking Team de via  della Moscova (Milán) declara en su sitio web que “no vendemos a las naciones en la lista negra de Estados Unidos, OTAN, UE”, pero “sólo a las agencias gubernamentales” con el fin de “luchar contra el crimen en 6 continentes.” Estas declaraciones están en marcado contraste con un estudio realizado en 2013 por la ONG Citizen Lab, que demuestra que Mamfakinch.com, blog de activistas disidentes marroquíes, y Ahmed Mansoor, activista de derechos humanos con sede en los Emiratos Árabes Unidos, han sido víctimas del sistema de vigilancia comercial vendido por Hacking Team.

La empresa Area, en cambio, estaba colocando un sistema de vigilancia en Siria por el importe de $ 13 millones, pero afortunadamente, después del comienzo de la Primavera Árabe, una encuesta de Bloomberg mostró los detalles del proyecto obligando Area a cambiar sus planes. No deberíamos sorprendernos de que las empresas italianas negocian con Siria dado que Italia es el país europeo que vende más equipamiento militar al Presidente siriano Bashar al-Assad, que los utiliza contra civiles y rebeldes.

La Unión Europea y sus miembros recibieron el Premio Nobel de la Paz en 2012 por “el progreso en la paz y la reconciliación” y por asegurar “la democracia y los derechos humanos.” Europa no puede hacer el doble juego de comportarse bien dentro y mal afuera. Cada empresa o país que vende tecnologías de vigilancia a regímenes no democráticos es cómplice de los crímenes de lesa humanidad. Su contribución a la violación de los derechos humanos ya no puede ser tolerada. En todo el mundo las empresas deben respetar los derechos humanos, incluidas las del sector de tecnología.

El mercado de las tecnologías de vigilancia es cada vez mayor, por lo que es necesario actualizar las normas para la exportación de estas poderosas herramientas de vigilancia electrónica. Las empresa italianas que venden tecnologías de vigilancia deben ser sujetas a las mismas leyes que rigen las empresas que exportan armas, es decir, la prohibición de la venta en países en conflicto, que violan los derechos humanos o que se definen “países pobres muy endeudados.” Internet es una gran oportunidad de nuestro siglo, ha dado nuevas oportunidades a todo el mundo. Es normal que algunas personas y empresas traten de ganar dinero a través de Internet, pero es intolerable que esto ocurra a daño de otras vidas humanas.

Flaviano Tarducci 20/02/2014

Publicado en Segnali di fumo – revista para los Derechos Humanos www.sdfamnesty.org

Denfending the Defenders

Denfending Human Rights Defenders

This is a commerce of death for the companies that place this technology in the hands of dictatorships.” – Saeid Pourheydar, Iranian opposition journalist tortured at Evin Prison.

difendere i difensori

Too often the authorities of non-democratic countries try to silence the voices of human rights defenders, penalizing their activities and intimidating them, using weapons and technology from western democratic countries. Instead of protecting the crucial role they play in the promotion and protection of human rights, state agencies can label these individuals as subversive or traitors with serious consequences for their lives and their work.

The WikiLeaks and Edward Snowden revelations have illustrated the extent to which certain technologies are able to spy on phones and devices connected to the Internet on a global scale, giving names of companies that have been involved in this industry of mass surveillance by the annual value of more than $ 5 billion, and that has had a boom in 2001 following the 9/11 attacks. This includes companies that sell products able to offer to the end user a remote control on computers, like hackers do, allowing mass interception of communications.

Mass surveillance does not have clear proportions, which means that these technologies can lead to the violation of human rights, notably the right to privacy and freedom of expression. Malware attacks  (malicious softwares) are an increasing problem for targeted groups of human rights defenders, who may be particularly vulnerable due to limited resources or lack of security awareness. Those who know they are vulnerable targets should be careful when using email, Skype or other communication systems. In particular, in the emails you need to be vigilant about file attachments and links, even from friends.

difendere i difensori

To maintain high security standards is crucial that activists and dissidents use special precautions concerned to handling sensitive data, anonymous surfing on the web and permanently deletion of data. A free software for data encryption is called TrueCrypt. For anonymous browsing you can use Tor, in this way you can get around with navigation blocks, or use hidden service functions to create anonymous blogs, leaking systems and management of confidential sources. Likewise the complete deletion of sensitive data from hard drives can be vital to a dissident – a free advanced security tool called Eraser could be of great help.

Because of the secret and confidential nature of their activities, companies in the private security sector have gradually gained a sense of impunity. The products of these companies have been found in Bahrain, Libya and Ethiopia, among other countries, and have been used to fight pro-democracy activists, journalists and political opposition. When citizens overthrew the dictatorships in Egypt and Libya, they found rooms properly equipped to spy them in their efforts both online and over the phone, where there were devices of various foreign companies: the British Gamma International, the French Amesys, the South African VASTech and the Chinese ZTE Corp.

Privacy International, a UK based charity that “defends the right to privacy across the world”, has created a freely accessible database, which lists 338 companies headquartered in Western countries that sell surveillance technologies to countries with repressive regimes that intend to use it as an instrument of political control. Matthew Rice of Privacy International said that sourveillance companies perform marketing and sales of the most powerful, dangerous and invasive surveillance technologies in the world, maintaining relations with repressive regimes to which they have sold their products. Examining the database turns out that at least 5 companies in the Milan area are directly involved in the sale of surveillance services to authoritarian governments: RCS from Milan; Digint from Garbagnate Milanese; Spektra from Busto Arsizio; Area from Vozzola Ticino and Hacking Team from Milan.

defending the defenders

Privacy International

Hacking Team located in via della Moscova in Milan declares on its website thath they “do not sell products to governments or to countries blacklisted by the U.S., E.U., U.N., NATO or ASEAN” but “only to government agencies” in order to “fight crime in six continents.” These statements are in stark contrast with a study carried out in 2013 by the NGO Citizen Lab, which shows that Mamfakinch.com, blog of Moroccan dissident activists, and Ahmed Mansoor, a human rights activist based in the United Arab Emirates, have been victims of the surveillance system sold by Hacking Team.

The Area company, was installing a $ 13 million worth surveillance system in Syria, but fortunately, after the start of the Arab Spring, a Bloomberg survey showed the underhand Area’s project forcing it back. We should not be surprised that Italian companies trade with Syria since Italy is the European country that sells more military equipement to Bashar al-Assad, whom use it against civilians and rebels.

The European Union and its members were awarded of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2012 for “progress in the peace and reconciliation” and for ensuring “democracy and human rights.” Europe can not make a double play behaving well inside and bad outside. Each company or country that sell surveillance technologies to non-democratic regimes is complicit in crimes against humanity. Its contribution to the violation of human rights can no longer be tolerated. All over the world companies must respect human rights, including those in the technology field.

The market of surveillance technologies is growing, it is therefore necessary to update the rules for the export of these powerful tools of electronic surveillance. Italian companies that sell surveillance technologies should be subject to the same laws of those companies exporting weapons, namely the prohibition on sale to countries in conflict, which violate human rights or so-called Heavily Indebted Poor Countries. The internet is a great opportunity of our century, has provided new opportunities to the world. It is normal for some people and companies to earn money using the internet, but it is intolerable that this happens at the expense of other human lives.

Flaviano Tarducci 20/02/2014

Published in Segnali di fumo – magazine for Human Rights www.sdfamnesty.org