Chilean Protestors Human Rights are Diminished Amid Governmental Use of Excessive Force

By: Ann Ciancia

Journal of Global Rights and Organizations, Associate Articles Editor

SANTIAGO, Chile – On October 18, thousands of Chilean people commenced protesting the government’s announcement of increasing public transportation costs. One day later, a state of emergency was declared as violence escalated within the country of Chile. The U.N. has reported over 20 deaths and 2,300 injuries of protestors since their fight for fair costs and equality began a month ago. The escalation of violence continues to grow daily in Chile.

Protestors in the Streets of Chile. Photo Courtesy of Martin Bernetti/AFP via Getty Images.

Chile’s President, Sebastián Piñera, declared a state of emergency with night-time curfews, positioning tanks, and troops to face what he considers a “war with a violent enemy.” Many believe the excessive use of law enforcement was not necessary and has put the lives of many at a risk of safety. President Piñera has engaged in violating human rights through military demonstrations of arson, riots, rubber bullets, and tear gas. Many individuals have been blinded by these attacks.

Many victims have fallen short against the excessive force used by police. Children are being treated poorly, beaten, and detained. Amnesty International has reported over 7,000 people being detained since the beginning of the protests. Many women have reported being victims of sexual violence and being raped while in detainment. Active protestors of the country are being tortured for speaking out.

The Chilean people are being beaten for expressing their thoughts about change for their country through protests. A nationwide movement of peaceful demonstrations has led to violent riots. This has caused havoc throughout the country and has led to over a billion dollars’ worth of damage to the infrastructure of the nation. The violence against protestors in Chile has caused mass destruction in this country.

“Violence can never be the answer to people’s social and political demands.”

One particular protestor, Alex Nunez, was chased by three police officers and was severely beaten. The injuries he sustained that night, where only 5% of his brain was working, resulted in his death.

Prosecutors in Chile are investigating over 1,000 cases of abuse alleged by protestors. The abuse victims have faced range from sexual violence, to assault and torture. All of these injuries were sustained by victims from police and military members. The National Human Development Initiative collected over 50 cases in connection with homicide and sexual violence involving the Chilean security agents. A Chilean prosecutor was selected to investigate the crimes against human rights violations within the districts of Santiago.

Amnesty International is continuing to investigate possible violations of human rights law and crimes against protestors of Chile. Due to the amount of deaths and injuries, it is evident that Chilean authorities have used excessive force against these protestors. The world continues to call out President Piñera to take action to stop harmful force used against victims by police and military members and to allow protestors to use their platform for a movement to fight against inequality.

For further information, please see:

Reuters – Human rights abuse accusations proliferate in Chile unrest – 15 Nov. 2019

Amnesty International – Chile: Amnesty International denounces human rights violations to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights – 11 Nov. 2019

UN News – Violence can ‘never be the answer’: UN rights experts condemn excessive force during Chile protests – 8 Nov. 2019

The Guardian – Chile protests: UN to investigate claims of human rights abuses after 18 deaths – 24 Oct. 2019

 

 

Update: Bosco Ntaganda Sentenced to 30 Years Imprisonment

By: Madison Kenyon 

Impunity Watch Staff Writer 

KINSHASA, Congo — On November 7, 2019, the Trial Chamber VI of the International Criminal Court (ICC) unanimously sentenced Bosco Ntaganda, nicknamed the “Terminator of the Congo,” to 30 years imprisonment. The time Ntaganda spent in the ICC’s custody, which is between March 22, 2013 to November 7, 2019, will however be deducted from this sentence. This sentence arose from the court’s previous decision in July 2019, which found Ntaganda guilty of 18 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Bosco Ntaganda awaiting his verdict in the ICC’s courtroom. Photo courtesy of NPR.

Ntaganda’s conviction and sentencing are hallmark occasions for the ICC for a couple of reasons. First, Ntaganda is the first person the court has convicted of sexual slavery and crimes of sexual violence against his own troops. Second, this is the longest imprisonment sentencing the court has ordered since its creation. Many international human rights organizations find this decision and sentencing to be quite promising for future cases brought against international criminals. Specifically, Ida Sawyer, the deputy Africa director of Humans Rights Watch, stated that Ntaganda’s sentence “sends a powerful message that those who commit serious crimes against the people, no matter their positions, can be held to account.”

Despite the court not finding any real mitigating factors for Ntaganda’s case, the Trial Chamber believed that the conditions present did not warrant life imprisonment. As specified by the Rome Statute, life imprisonment may only be provided “when justified by the extreme gravity of the crime and the individual circumstances of the convicted person.” Thus, the Trial Chamber determined that the maximum sentence of 30 years allotted by the Rome Statute would suffice. The court also held that it would not be appropriate to impose a fine or forfeiture of proceeds in addition to the imprisonment.

Although the defense has 30 days to appeal this sentence, Ntaganda and his lawyers have already moved to appeal this. Also, the court still must determine how much compensation the victims should be awarded. Therefore, this is not the last time the ICC will hear Ntaganda’s name in its chambers.

For further information, please see: 

ICC – Bosco Ntaganda Sentenced to 30 Years’ Imprisonment – 7 Nov. 2019 

NPR – ‘Terminator’ of Congo, Bosco Ntaganda, Gets Historic 30-year Sentence for War Crimes – 7 Nov. 2019 

BBC News – Bosco Ntaganda Sentenced to 30 Years for Crimes in DR Congo – 7 Nov. 2019

Impunity Watch – Bosco Ntaganda Convicted: A Long-Awaited Victory by the ICC – 19 Sept. 2019 

ICC – Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court – 1 July 2002 

ECHR Rules Supermarket Cameras Don’t Violate Right to Privacy

By: Genna Amick

Journal of Global Rights and Organizations, Associate Articles Editor 

MADRID, Spain — On October 17, 2019, the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights found that the right to privacy of supermarket employees was not violated by the supermarket using visible and hidden cameras to record areas of the store where it suspected theft by employees.

The manager of a Spanish supermarket noticed that stock valued at upwards of €20,000 was missing. He decided to install cameras without informing any of his employees. The cameras focused on exits, entrances, and checkout counters. Based on the surveillance footage, the manager discovered that a number of his employees were taking goods without paying for them and helping customers to steal. He fired 14 of his employees, five of which are the applicants in this case.

The applicants argued that they were dismissed unfairly and that their right to privacy was violated by the installation of the cameras without their knowledge. The Spanish Employment Tribunal found that the dismissal was valid and that the applicant’s right to privacy had not been violated. After the Spanish High Court affirmed the Employment Tribunal’s ruling, the applicants submitted a complaint to the European Court of Human Rights.

In January 2018, a chamber of the European Court of Human Rights found that the employee’s right to privacy under Article 8 of the European Convention had been violated because they had not been informed of the installation of the cameras. However, the chamber did not find that the applicant’s right to a fair trial under Article 6 of the European Convention had been violated.

The case was then accepted and reviewed by the Grand Chamber which found that applicant’s Article 8 right to privacy was not violated nor was their Article 6 right to a fair trial. Delving into the right to privacy, the Grand Chamber held that employers are not required to notify employees of surveillance equipment if it was installed to protect a “significant” interest.

Applicant’s also argued that the State had a positive obligation to protect their rights against the actions of a private company. The Grand Chamber found that since there were a number of domestic laws in place intended to safeguard the applicant’s right to privacy which they could have sought legal remedies under, the State had acted within its margin of appreciation. The Grand Chamber concluded that the applicant’s Article 8 right to privacy had not been violated.

The Grand Chamber also concluded that applicant’s Article 6 right to a fair trial was not violated. In this case, the applicants attempted to argue that using their former employer’s video recordings of them stealing was inadmissible. The Grand Chamber held that using the videos as evidence did not undermine the fairness of the proceeding for two reasons. First, applicants had the ability to challenge the quality and accuracy of the videos. Second, the recordings were not the only evidence that was used by the Spanish domestic courts.

For further information, please see:

International Justice Resource Center – European Court Holds Secret Surveillance Did Not Violate Employees’ Privacy – 24 Oct. 2019

Warner Goodman – Employment Law Case Update: Lopez Ribalda and others v Spain – 24 May 2018

Separatist Movement In Cameroon has International Consequences

By: Jordan Broadbent

Impunity Watch Staff Writer

YAOUNDE, Cameroon —  On November 1, 2019, Cameroon language barriers and crackdowns incited violence and human rights abuses that have captured international attention. 

Map depicting the Anglophone region in Cameroon. Photo Courtesy of the Washington Post.

Cameroon, a former French colony, is divided between 80% French speakers and 20% English speakers and for decades the two lived in relative peace. However, since 2017 that peace has been disturbed. Along the Nigerian border an armed group of armed English-speaking separatists have demanded independence from Cameroon to form Ambazonia, an English-speaking country. The separatists claim that the Cameroon government has killed hundreds of unarmed civilians in a series of raids. They further claim that government troops came in to the area, burned down a village, killed hundreds of people and have displaced hundreds of others in an attempt to keep the anglophones under their control.

The UN embassy in Cameroon stated that in a series of raids in February and March 2019 the Cameroon government started to disappear several leaders in the separatists’ movement. The Cameroon government has claimed that these separatist groups have terrorized civilians and disrupted peace in the country that has sparked a government crackdown. The government has denied the claims of killing civilians and burning down villages, stating instead that the troops are stationed in the west to protect Cameroonians.

The United Nations and Amnesty International warned Cameroon that this military crackdown would lead to unrest. Since the warning, tens of thousands of refugees have fled to Nigeria to avoid the violence that is erupting in western Cameroon. The African Union has pleaded with both parties to end the violence as the influx of refugees continues to grow.

Cameroon is an ally of the United States and a key player in the fight against Boko Haram, a terrorist organization in western Africa. The United States Department of Defense issued a warning to Cameroon that the destabilization of the country could hurt the fight against the terrorist group.

The United States Department of Defense and State Department have worked with both groups in an attempt to end the violence in the region. Cameroon’s failure to make an attempt to stop the perceived human rights violations sparked reactions from the United States. As recently as at November 1, 2019, President Trump announced he will will remove Cameroon from a trade program that allows several African countries to trade duty free with the United States, citing human rights violations. If Cameroon does not take measures to change the current situation, Cameroon will be removed from the program on January 1, 2020. The Cameroon government has yet to respond to President Trump’s announcement. 

For further information, please see:

Washington Post- Trump Ends Trade Benefits for Cameroon over “persistent  human rights violations” – 1 Nov. 2019

Committee to Protect Justice – African Union Must Act on Cameroons Human Rights Violation – 29 Oct. 2019

Washington Post-Divided by Language – 5 Feb. 2019

Man In Turkmenistan Is Missing After Revealing Sexual Orientation

By: Melissa Berouty

Journal of Global Rights and Organizations, Associate Articles Editor

ASHGABAT, Turkmenistan — According to Freedom House’s index of basic freedoms, Turkmenistan is rated below North Korea and only above Syria. Under Turkmen law, the government has the authority to regulate behavior in an attempt to “construct the model Turkmen citizen.” Turkmen authorities exercise its control by brutally punishing any form of religious or political expression that does not align with the Turkmen government. Additionally, the Turkmen government limits the nature of print and electronic media available to its citizens.

The Turkmen government has a long history of enforced disappearances, where individuals’ whereabouts or fates serving long sentences in Turkmenistan are unknown. For more than ten years, the Turkmen government has prohibited loved ones, lawyers, and the outside world access to the imprisoned. Prove They Are Alive, a campaign committed to ending enforced disappearances in Turkmenistan, has reported at least 121 cases of enforced disappearances. Of these 121 cases, many are suspected to be detained in the Ovadanepe prison, which has a reputation for extreme conditions.

On October 24, 2019, it was reported that Kasymberdy Garayev was feared to be missing after allegedly revealing his sexual orientation, under a pseudonym, on Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. In Turkmenistan, homosexual conduct is a criminal act that can result in up to a two-year prison sentence. Today, approximately sixty-eight countries have laws that criminalize homosexual conduct between consenting adults. According to Human Rights Watch, sentencing in these sixty-eight countries “range from fines to life imprisonment and even the death penalty.” Rachel Denber, the deputy Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch, expressed her extreme concern for Garayev stating that “given Turkmenistan’s appalling human rights record, including enforced disappearances, we have every reason to fear for his safety and well-being.”

Kasymberdy Garayev is a 24-year-old cardiologist, who was employed at an elite clinic in Turkmenistan. On October 21, 2019, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty released a narrative, where Garayev allegedly reflected on his life in Turkmenistan stating that “since childhood, I knew that I was gay and it was hard for me to accept.” In 2018, Garayev was allegedly detained by Turkmen authorities upon a scheduled meeting with an online male love interest, which turned out to be a police officer. Here, Garayev allegedly stated that on the way to the police station, officers beat him, used a stun gun, and demanded that he make a statement on camera confirming his sexual orientation.

On October 24, 2019, Turkmen authorities allegedly requested Garayev’s presence for a background check.  From October 24, 2019 to November 6, 2019, Garayev’s whereabouts were unknown. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty was also unable to locate Garayev’s family. According to Human Rights Watch, when an individual summoned by Turkmen authorities goes missing, “there is a real risk they could be the victim of an enforced disappearance.”

On October 31, 2019, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty released a video recording of Garayev2 speaking, where he disclosed his real name, expressed his fear of going missing, and begged for his family’s forgiveness.

During the time Garayev was feared to be missing, Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, the president of Turkmenistan, visited Rome. During Berdymukhamedov’s visit, several Italian LGBTQ+ activist groups urged Rome to speak out on Garayev’s disappearance. On November 6th, Italian Senator Monica Cirinna released a statement demanding the government press Berdymukhamedov on the details of Garayev’s disappearance. Later that day, Garayev returned home.

Since then, Garayev denies any communication with Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Garayev claims that the video farewell was recorded for a different purpose and sent mistakenly to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Additionally, after the release of Radio Free Europe/Radio Free Liberty’s narrative, Garayev is no longer employed by the prestigious clinic in Turkmenistan where he once worked. Since Garayev’s alleged return home, several LGBTQ+ activist groups have started campaigns seeking to protect Garayev.

For further information, please see:

Human Rights Watch – Turkmenistan: Gay Man Missing After Coming Out Online – 1 Nov. 2019

Radio Free Europe/Radio Free Liberty – ‘If I Disappear, Forgive Me’: Missing Gay Turkmen’s Plea – 31 Oct. 2019

Radio Free Europe/Radio Free Liberty – Gay man from Turkmenistan wants to make a statement to start a discussion – 21 Oct. 2019

Radio Free Europe/Radio Free Liberty – The Turkmen President Is Alive, But What About His Prisoners? –  20 Aug. 2019

Human Rights Watch – Turkmenistan Events of 2018

Human Rights Watch –#OUTLAWED “THE LOVE THAT DARE NOT SPEAK ITS NAME”