Derechos Humanos/ Human Rights

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IMG_0896Fuente: ONU

Colombia: la ONU señala que la protección de derechos es mayor en las ciudades que en zonas rurales

 27 de marzo, 2014 — La Oficina de la Alta Comisionada de la ONU para los Derechos Humanos destacó en su informe sobre Colombia que la protección de los derechos humanos es mayor en las ciudades que en las zonas rurales. En algunos municipios, las tasas de pobreza siguen siendo hasta cuatro veces superiores a las de algunas ciudades. El informe, correspondiente a 2013, señaló que durante ese año se intensificó la labor de la Oficina en ese país y se abrieron tres nuevas delegaciones en las ciudades de Quibdó, Barranquilla y Neiva. También subrayó que en el pasado año se produjeron 39 asesinatos de defensores de los derechos humanos en ese país y entre ellos de tres mujeres. Entre las víctimas había personas que reclamaban tierras, dirigentes de comunidades rurales, autoridades indígenas y militantes contra proyectos de minería e industria a gran escala. Aproximadamente 36 de esos activistas vivían o trabajaban en zonas rurales. Por otra parte, fueron asesinados dos periodistas, 58 recibieron amenazas y tres se vieron obligados a exiliarse.


Fuente: ONU

Ban: el derecho a la verdad es individual y colectivo

24 de marzo, 2014 — El Secretario General de la ONU subrayó hoy, al cumplirse el 34 aniversario del asesinato de Monseñor Romero en El Salvador, que el derecho a conocer la verdad después de situaciones de graves violaciones de los derechos humanos es tanto individual como colectivo. Con motivo del Día Internacional del Derecho a la Verdad en relación con Violaciones Graves de los Derechos Humanos y de la Dignidad de las Víctimas, que se observa cada 24 de marzo en memoria del arzobispo Óscar Arnulfo Romero y de su legado, Ban Ki-moon señaló que estas conmemoraciones “desafían el intento de sus asesinos de silenciar sus llamados a la justicia y refuerzan la importancia de apoyar con firmeza las libertades fundamentales”. “Este Día está dedicado también a honrar el recuerdo de todas las víctimas de graves violaciones de los derechos humanos y a apoyar a aquellos que promueven y protegen esas garantías básicas”, señaló Ban en un mensaje. Subrayó que las víctimas tienen derecho a conocer la verdad y cómo los abusos de sus derechos les afectan, al tiempo que destacó que una sociedad informada sobre las libertades fundamentales y de cómo están se han violado es una salvaguardia vital para evitar que vuelva a ocurrir. Recordó el apoyo que la ONU da a los esfuerzos para investigar violaciones de derechos, promover la justicia y las reparaciones a las víctimas y para reformar instituciones abusivas y aludió a este respecto a las comisiones de investigación puestas en marcha el pasado año para la República Centroafricana, Siria y Corea del Norte, entre otras iniciativas. El Titular de la ONU pidió con motivo de este Día “una implementación vigorosa” de todas las recomendaciones realizadas por comisiones de investigación y de la verdad respecto de graves violaciones de los derechos humanos y del Derecho internacional humanitario.

Fuente: Human Rights Watch

Rwanda: Justice Progress after Genocide

The Rwandan genocide was one of the most terrifying episodes of targeted ethnic violence in recent world history. On the 20th anniversary of these horrific events, Human Rights Watch stands in solidarity with the victims and with those who survived.

Daniel Bekele, Africa director

(Nairobi) – Significant progress has been made in national and international courts to bring to justice those responsible for the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, Human Rights Watch said today in a briefing paper marking the 20th anniversary of the genocide. The 20-page paper, “Justice After Genocide: 20 Years On,” focuses on the achievements of courts in Rwanda, at the UN’s International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), and in other countries, to hold to account those who planned, ordered, and carried out the genocide. “The Rwandan genocide was one of the most terrifying episodes of targeted ethnic violence in recent world history,” said Daniel Bekele, Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “On the 20th anniversary of these horrific events, Human Rights Watch stands in solidarity with the victims and with those who survived.” Between April and July 1994, Hutu extremists in Rwanda carried out a genocideaimed at wiping out the Tutsi minority, killing more than a half million people in just three months.  Many Hutu who attempted to hide or defend Tutsi and those who opposed the genocide were also killed. The briefing paper, based on Human Rights Watch field research and trial observation in Rwanda over many years, highlights the exceptional challenge of delivering justice in a country devastated by genocide. The Rwandan government embarked on an unprecedented and ambitious approach, using both conventional courts and community-based gacaca courts. The briefing paper outlines the achievements as well as the flaws of Rwanda’s conventional and gacaca courts, and the uneven standard of trials in both jurisdictions. In the immediate aftermath of the genocide, in particular, conventional courts convicted numerous defendants after unfair trials. In more recent years, the government has carried out   a range of legal and institutional reforms that have improved respect for due process, but concerns remain about the judiciary’s lack of independence.


Source: Human Rights Watch

Will technology transform the human rights movement?

March 26, 2014


Iain Levine

Published in: 


In recent times, human rights activists have been made very aware of technology’s downside. The recent NSA surveillance scandal and the revelations of the vacuuming up of metadata around the world show how technological developments have outpaced the capacity of the legal system to protect our privacy.

Technology is also allowing scientists and military experts to consider creating ‘killer robots’, weapons like drones or combat vehicles that operate autonomously and can kill without any human giving an order to do so.  And the use of unmanned drones for targeted killings without effective transparency, accountability or clear legal constraints raises important and, as yet, unanswered questions about human rights protection.

Yet technology also offers human rights organizations and activists tremendous opportunities. Human Rights Watch (HRW) increasingly recognizes its value in two critical pillars of its work: gathering information about human rights violations; and projecting that information into the public domain to influence the media and decision-makers in governments and international organizations. 

Technology helps in gathering new and different kinds of information to document human rights violations, especially from areas that are insecure and inaccessible. In doing so, it allows NGOs to tell stories that might otherwise not have been told.

HRW has used satellite imagery to document the massive destruction of civilian infrastructure in Syria, attacks against Moslem communities in Burma, and forced resettlement in Tibet. In the Central African Republic, HRW researchers confronted Seleka commanders with satellite images showing dozens of villages burned down by their forces, making it clear to them they were being watched and might be held accountable one day for their crimes.  Amnesty International has published satellite images showing North Korea’s prison campsand proving their continued expansion.

Video forensics – the detailed, frame-by-frame analysis of videos and other images – can also be used to catalogue violations. In Syria, HRW used this technique, as well as satellite imagery and eyewitness testimonies, to document in great detail the government’s use of chemical weapons in Ghoutta in August 2013, without setting foot on the ground. 

Regarding dissemination, much has been written about the ways that human rights activists have used social media to advance and draw attention to their causes. Twitter, Facebook and other social media have become essential tools for activists, allowing them to bring timely, relevant information to the attention of journalists, policy-makers, fellow activists and others who can help generate pressure on perpetrators of human rights violations – and on those whose actions or inactions aid and abet those violations.

In the Central African Republic, HRW faced the challenge of trying to draw attention to a very neglected crisis. Live-tweeting from the country by HRW staff and others, including humanitarian workers of the horrific violence, under the hashtag #CARcrisis, drew media attention and, ultimately, action from diplomats and humanitarian agencies. 

Technological advances may even have the potential to transform the human rights movement, allowing local activists armed with nothing more than a smartphone, a twitter account and a YouTube channel to become global distributors of information and images about human rights violations. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights – a small NGO based in the UK – has become the most-cited organization for casualty figures in the Syrian conflict, a situation unimaginable even five years ago.

But there are many reasons to be cautious – very cautious. Technology is not, and never will be, a panacea for resolving human rights issues. Even where it has been most effective – as with satellite imagery of destroyed villages – it cannot tell who burnt down the homes nor why, nor who gave the instructions. Only corroborating testimony from victims and other sources, including social media sources, can provide the context that allow those responsible to be identified. Further, there is little if any evidence that satellite imagery or other uses of technology can prevent human rights violations, rather than simply document them.

And there are clear risks. Mark Twain said that a lie could travel half way around the world while the truth is still putting on its shoes. In the digital age, that lie can shape the understanding of events around the globe in just minutes. In such a context, verifying and corroborating information becomes even more difficult. In the aftermath of the Boston marathon bombing in 2013, misinformed speculation and analysis led to a digital witch-hunt that caused massive harm to innocent people.

Crowdsourcing may be a way to gather important information about human rights violations, and it has demonstrated some success in identifying humanitarian need. But human rights groups need to remain very cautious. Crowdsourcing without verification, particularly in politically charged situations, is extremely vulnerable to manipulation, bias and inaccuracy.

Moreover, fulfilling ethical and security obligations to victims of – and witnesses to – human rights abuses is a critical responsibility for human rights fact-finders. Free and informed consent should be obtained from those interviewed, and steps taken to protect their security and the security of the information that they provide. In contexts where information is obtained via video forensics or crowdsourcing or satellite imagery, those obligations remain no less relevant. But they might be more difficult to fulfill since the relationships with the victims and witnesses is more remote and indirect.

We are still in the earliest days of understanding the power of technology for the human rights movement. The potential is enormous. But it is vital that activists take a ‘do no harm’ approach, characterised by rigorous, cautious and transparent approaches to the use of new technology.

If there is doubt as to its safety, reliability or the ethical implications of its use, it should not be used. And we must promote reasonable expectations about the potential application and capabilities of new technology, ensuring that we don’t oversell its value.



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