Category Archives: human rights

The Trump Administration Is Keeping a U.S. Citizen Secretly Locked Up Without Charges

For nearly two months, the U.S. military has been detaining an American citizen at a secret jail in Iraq, denying him access to a lawyer and even refusing to release his name. The Trump administration is calling the citizen an “enemy combatant,” claiming he was fighting for ISIS in Syria, but it has not presented any evidence to back up its allegations.We went to court asking a judge to protect the citizen’s constitutional rights, including the right not to be imprisoned without charge and the right to challenge his detention in court. The Trump administration has told the court that it doesn’t have to respect these essential due process rights.The Pentagon and Justice Department ignored our initial request for access to the U.S. citizen so we could advise him of his rights and offer him the opportunity of legal representation. We then filed a habeas corpus petition on the citizen’s behalf in federal court in Washington, demanding that the government justify its detention of the unnamed American. All U.S. citizens have the right to habeas corpus no matter where the government holds them or what it accuses them of. And, as we know from the government’s practices in places like Guantánamo, when it tries to undercut this right it opens the door to abuses, including the arbitrary detention of innocent people.We also asked the court to order the government to connect the citizen with ACLU attorneys because he is facing grave threats to his liberty and possibly his life. The government could continue imprisoning him without charge, force him to confess to crimes he may not have committed, or, as a Human Rights Watch expert warns, hand him over to Iraqi custody, in which he would likely be subjected him to torture, an unfair trial, and possible execution.The government’s response is straight out of “Catch-22.” It is arguing that the ACLU cannot seek relief on the citizen’s behalf because we have never met him and don’t know his wishes. But that is a conundrum of the government’s own creation because it has provided no other way for this citizen to legally defend himself.Instead, the government is piling one speculation on top of another. Maybe, the government suggests, the American could have conveyed his needs to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) when it visited him in custody, and maybe that organization could have contacted his family, and maybe his family could have found a lawyer to file a case on his behalf. In fact, the American citizen has made his wishes clear. U.S. officials told The Washington Post that the citizen has repeatedly demanded a lawyer. The government has effectively denied that request. And, as a former ICRC official explains in our latest court filing, there are multiple reasons why the U.S. citizen is unlikely to obtain counsel by going through the ICRC. To begin with, the ICRC’s main purpose is to monitor conditions of detention, not to find lawyers for prisoners. The citizen may not have family he can contact, or he might be afraid of contacting family for fear they will suffer retaliation. It is also possible the citizen’s family might not welcome contact from him, or, even if it did, the family may not know how to navigate the U.S. court system.The bottom line is that the imprisoned American citizen clearly wants a lawyer and doesn’t have one, thanks to the roadblocks the government itself has put in place.Learn More About The CaseThe government also complains that allowing counsel to have access to the citizen wouldn’t be “easy.” But constitutional rights do not depend on the government’s convenience. Federal courts have ruled that citizens have a right to an attorney even when detained as enemy combatants at secure military facilities, whether in the U.S. or abroad. And for more than 13 years, courts have ensured attorney access to non-citizens imprisoned at Guantanamo, rejecting government attempts to restrict it. Even George W. Bush’s attorney general and former federal district court judge, Michael Mukasey, ruled that the government’s national security interests cannot override an American citizen’s right to a lawyer.By opposing the ACLU’s efforts in this case, the Trump administration is taking a very dangerous step: It is blocking an Americans citizen’s access to his own country’s courts. It is also undermining the bedrock guarantees of habeas corpus, which for centuries has served as the greatest check on unlawful government detentions. Now, we’re fighting to stop the government’s unconstitutional attempt to create a new rights-free zone.

Source: The Trump Administration Is Keeping a U.S. Citizen Secretly Locked Up Without Charges

Why is Twitter Protecting Violent Islamophobes While Banning Everyone Else?

Loomer, in contrast, has actively threatened the Muslim community with her tweets: wanting to deprive them of their citizenship and their livelihood – clear steps, regardless of her intent, upwards on the pyramid of hate leading up to eventual genocide. This is in a climate where the Muslim community in the United States already faces threats ranging anywhere from surveillance to vigilante and state violence. Loomer is using a public platform with which she speaks to over 100,000 followers to make comments that have a high likelihood of inciting physical violence. In addition – far more dangerous than a phone number – Loomer has tweeted pictures and videos (which are still up!) without consent, of course, of Muslim Americans in hijabs walking out in New York City, making them or other women in hijabs in New York clear targets of violence from any fanatical right-wing followers she might be radicalizing.Twitter’s selective use of the ban tool in order to suppress activists and prop up white supremacists is well documented, and it is clear the platform has a harassment problem. But this is just one more obvious instance where the company has shown what is laziness at best and active complicity in white supremacy at worst in how they chose to moderate their platform. After the McGowan controversy went down, CEO Jack Dorsey tweeted what seems – then and now – a hollow apology and a claim that the company is aiming to counteract the silencing of marginalized voices on their platform and strengthening their policy against abusers and bullies. Laura Loomer’s tweets and verified account – standing loud and proud on the internet – are a marker of proof that Dorsey and Twitter are full, apologies for the language, of horseshit.

Source: Why is Twitter Protecting Violent Islamophobes While Banning Everyone Else?

Attention Media: When Teachers Have Sex With Students It’s Actually Called “Rape” | Dame Magazine

I don’t know how to describe it other than to use the word creepy. It’s creepy. It’s creepy that, when a teacher abuses or assaults a student, so many people think of that crime as being a potential gray area — of teenagers or adolescents of being capable of consent or even pursuit — that “having sex,” the thing that consenting adults do together, becomes the standard descriptor.This is a symptom, of course, of a larger problem: We are a society steeped in rape culture. The normalization and minimization of sexual abuse, sexual assault and sexual violence persists thanks to a dizzying confluence of factors, not least among them the broad cultural suspicion — among adults of both genders — that victims and survivors are asking for it, because of what they wear or don’t wear, what they say or don’t say, what they drink or don’t drink, where they go or don’t go, how fat or thin they are, whether they work late or early, how many children they have or don’t have, how many partners they have or don’t have … the list goes on and on.

Source: Attention Media: When Teachers Have Sex With Students It’s Actually Called “Rape” | Dame Magazine

Nivea’s latest ‘white is right’ advert is the tip of a reprehensible iceberg | Media | The Guardian

Shadism, pigmentocracy – the idea of privilege accruing to lighter-skinned black people – and other hierarchies of beauty are a complex picture in which ads such as Nivea’s are only the obvious tip of an insidious iceberg. Celebrities with darker complexions, such as the Sudanese model Nyakim Gatwech – nicknamed Queen of the Dark – and actors such as Lupita Nyong’o, are so often discussed in the context of having achieved the seemingly impossible by being both dark and beautiful, that they become the exceptions that prove the rule.It is often observed that light-skinned black women are more likely to become global superstars, the Beyoncé-Rihanna effect. They are, however, still black women and therefore not immune from the pressure to lighten – most recently by fans following a new Photoshopping trend of posting pictures of whitened versions of their faces and remarking upon the improvement.In countries such as Ghana, the intended audience for the Nivea ad, and Nigeria – where an estimated 77% of women use skin-lightening products – the debate has so far, understandably, focused on health. The most toxic skin-lightening ingredients, still freely available, include ingredients such as hydroquinone, mercury and corticosteroid. It’s not unusual for these to be mixed with caustic agents ranging from automotive battery acid, washing power, toothpaste and cloth bleaching agents, with serious and irreversible health consequences. There is no suggestion that global brands such as Nivea or Lancôme are using any of these illegal and harmful ingredients, and African countries are moving towards greater regulation of the products themselves. Ghana, for example, has banned hydroquinone.These powerful corporations are, however, still freely operating in a context where millions of low-income women experience the high-end messaging of their glossy billboards, but can only afford to opt for cheaper, black market products. Advertising standards have been enforced against beauty conglomerates for adverts that are overly retouched, but only India, another of the biggest markets for skin lightening products, has banned adverts depicting people with darker skin as inferior. Maybe it is time that changed. This is an industry expected to reach $31bn by 2024, as growing awareness of dangerous, toxic products drives extra demand for a “fairness solution with natural, herbal and organic ingredients”, according to market analysts.

Source: Nivea’s latest ‘white is right’ advert is the tip of a reprehensible iceberg | Media | The Guardian