CIA Backed Forces In Afghanistan Implicated In War Crimes

The more things change, the more things basically stay the same. This time, Human Rights Watch has just publishing findings from an independent investigation linking CIA backed forces in Afghanistan to assassination, targeted disappearances, an increase in civilian casualties resulting from continued drone strikes and much more – some even amounting to War Crimes. Entitled “They’ve Shot Many Like This’: Abusive Night Raids by CIA-Backed Afghan Strike Forces,” the 53 page report documents the aforementioned crimes carried out by CIA backed forces inside Afghanistan across 2017 to 2019, specifically under Donald Trumps command.

In a statement published on their website this morning representatives from Human Rights Watch said “United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)-backed Afghan forces have committed summary executions and other grave abuses without accountability.” Perhaps most worrisome of the problems however is the continued use of drone strikes on or near civilian populations, a problem that Barack Obama once also encountered in the region. HRW goes on the explain how “these strike forces have unlawfully killed civilians during night raids, forcibly disappeared detainees, and attacked healthcare facilities for allegedly treating insurgent fighters. Civilian casualties from these raids and air operations have dramatically increased in the last two years.” I could write more, or you could just consume all the resources for yourself – enjoy!

Executive Summary: https://www.hrw.org/report/2019/10/31/theyve-shot-many/abusive-night-raids-cia-backed-afghan-strike-forces
Download Full Report: https://roguemedia.co/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/afghanistan1019_web.pdf

Browse Full Report:

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** If you can not browse the document hover over the pdf (above) and notice the up and down arrows on the bottom left. These will help you flip through the pages **

Interestingly enough, the same day the report was first released, the CIA issued a response to the report, essentially accusing Human Rights Watch of over simplifying the situation as the US continues its Was against the Taliban. You can read the CIA’s full 5 page response below…

Download CIA Doc: https://www.hrw.org/sites/default/files/report_pdf/afghanistan1019_appendices.pdf

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Investigative Report: How Mass Surveillance Works Inside China

(HRW) – Chinese authorities are using a mobile app to carry out illegal mass surveillance and arbitrary detention of Muslims in China’s western Xinjiang region. The Human Rights Watch report, “China’s Algorithms of Repression’: Reverse Engineering a Xinjiang Police Mass Surveillance App,” presents new evidence about the surveillance state in Xinjiang, where the government has subjected 13 million Turkic Muslims to heightened repression as part of its “Strike Hard Campaign against Violent Terrorism.

Between January 2018 and February 2019, Human Rights Watch was able to reverse engineer the mobile app that officials use to connect to the Integrated Joint Operations Platform (IJOP), the Xinjiang policing program that aggregates data about people and flags those deemed potentially threatening. By examining the design of the app, which at the time was publicly available, Human Rights Watch revealed specifically the kinds of behaviors and people this mass surveillance system targets.

Download Full Report: https://www.hrw.org/sites/default/files/report_pdf/china0519_web3.pdf

Our research shows, for the first time, that Xinjiang police are using illegally gathered information about people’s completely lawful behavior – and using it against them,” said Maya Wang, senior China researcher at Human Rights Watch. “The Chinese government is monitoring every aspect of people’s lives in Xinjiang, picking out those it mistrusts, and subjecting them to extra scrutiny.

Human Rights Watch published screenshots from the IJOP app, in the original Chinese and translated into English. The app’s source code also reveals that the police platform targets 36 types of people for data collection. Those include people who have stopped using smart phones, those who fail to “socialize with neighbors,” and those who “collected money or materials for mosques with enthusiasm.

The IJOP platform tracks everyone in Xinjiang. It monitors people’s movements by tracing their phones, vehicles, and ID cards. It keeps track of people’s use of electricity and gas stations. Human Rights Watch found that the system and some of the region’s checkpoints work together to form a series of invisible or virtual fences. People’s freedom of movement is restricted to varying degrees depending on the level of threat authorities perceive they pose, determined by factors programmed into the system.

A former Xinjiang resident told Human Rights Watch a week after he was released from arbitrary detention: “I was entering a mall, and an orange alarm went off.” The police came and took him to a police station. “I said to them, ‘I was in a detention center and you guys released me because I was innocent.’… The police told me, ‘Just don’t go to any public places.’… I said, ‘What do I do now? Just stay home?’ He said, ‘Yes, that’s better than this, right?

The authorities have programmed the IJOP so that it treats many ordinary and lawful activities as indicators of suspicious behavior. Some of the investigations involve checking people’s phones for any one of the 51 internet tools that are considered suspicious, including WhatsApp, Viber, Telegram, and Virtual Private Networks (VPNs), Human Rights Watch found. The IJOP system also monitors people’s relationships, identifying as suspicious traveling with anyone on a police watch list, for example, or anyone related to someone who has recently obtained a new phone number.

Based on these broad and dubious criteria, the system generates lists of people to be evaluated by officials for detention. Official documents state individuals “who ought to be taken, should be taken,” suggesting the goal is to maximize detentions for people found to be “untrustworthy.” Those people are then interrogated without basic protections. They have no right to legal counsel, and some are tortured or otherwise mistreated, for which they have no effective redress.

The IJOP system was developed by China Electronics Technology Group Corporation (CETC), a major state-owned military contractor in China. The IJOP app was developed by Hebei Far East Communication System Engineering Company (HBFEC), a company that, at the time of the app’s development, was fully owned by CETC.

Under the Strike Hard Campaign, Xinjiang authorities have also collected biometrics, including DNA samples, fingerprints, iris scans, and blood types of all residents in the region ages 12 to 65. The authorities require residents to give voice samples when they apply for passports. All of this data is being entered into centralized, searchable government databases. While Xinjiang’s systems are particularly intrusive, their basic designs are similar to those the police are planning and implementing throughout China.

The Chinese government should immediately shut down the IJOP platform and delete all the data that it has collected from individuals in Xinjiang, Human Rights Watch said. Concerned foreign governments should impose targeted sanctions, such as under the US Global Magnitsky Act, including visa bans and asset freezes, against the Xinjiang Party Secretary, Chen Quanguo, and other senior officials linked to abuses in the Strike Hard Campaign. They should also impose appropriate export control mechanisms to prevent the Chinese government from obtaining technologies used to violate basic rights. United Nations member countries should push for an international fact-finding mission to assess the situation in Xinjiang and report to the UN Human Rights Council.

Full 78 Page Research Presentation:

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This article was originally published by Human Rights Watch on May 2nd 2019. It was republished, with permission, using a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND 3.0 US License, in accordance with the Terms & Conditions of Human Rights Watch | Formatting edits, Teets, Videos and pdf added/embedded by Rogue Media Labs

Court Rules Criminal Complaint Against UK Parliament for Arming Saudi Arabia In Yemen Civil War Can Move Forward

(HRW) – Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and RW UK intervened in a court case beginning today that is challenging the United Kingdom’s continued sale of arms to Saudi Arabia. The case is being heard by the Court of Appeal for three days starting on April 9, 2019.

Copy of Criminal Case Against UK: https://www.hrw.org/sites/default/files/supporting_resources/ngos_challenge_saudi_arms_sale.pdf

The landmark case, brought by the UK-based Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT), seeks to establish that the UK government is breaking its own arms export licensing criteria by continuing to sell weapons to Saudi Arabia, given the clear risk that the weapons would be used to commit serious violations of international humanitarian law in Yemen. The High Court in London dismissed the case in 2017, but the Campaign Against Arms Trade won the right to appeal, and the three groups, along with Oxfam, again received permission to intervene.

The UK government says it has very rigorous arms controls, yet weapons continue to be sold to Saudi Arabia despite considerable evidence of Saudi-led coalition abuses in Yemen,” said Clive Baldwin, senior legal adviser at Human Rights Watch. “This case is a key opportunity to make sure that the UK rules on arms sales are being properly applied to Saudi Arabia.” The three organizations are intervening to address the meaning of the term “clear risk” of a serious violation of international humanitarian law, which governs when arms sales should not take place. They also intend to set out the importance for the UK government and other decision-makers to take into consideration research and reports on the abuses in the war in Yemen by the United Nations and by nongovernmental groups.

Since the coalition began its aerial campaign in Yemen in March 2015, the UK has licensed at least £4.7 billion (US$6.1 billion) worth of arms sales to Saudi Arabia. Human Rights Watch researchers have regularly visited Yemen and documented the use of weapons, including weapons made in the UK, in strikes that appeared to be unlawful. The UN, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and Yemeni rights groups have repeatedly documented unlawful attacks by the coalition that have hit homes, markets, schools, and hospitals, and killed and wounded many civilians.

Since 2016, Human Rights Watch has called for all countries to end arms sales to Saudi Arabia until the Saudi-led coalition ends its unlawful attacks and credibly investigates those that have already occurred. A growing number of European countries have halted sales of weapons to Saudi Arabia, including Germany, the Netherlands, and Austria.

The organizations are represented by Deighton Pierce Glynn, Jemima Stratford QC, Nikolaus Grubeck and Anthony Jones.

Browse Full Case:

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This article was originally published by Human Rights Watch on April 9th 2019. It was republished, with permission, using a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND 3.0 US License, in accordance with the Terms & Conditions of Human Rights Watch | Formatting edits, Tweets & Documents added/embedded by Rogue Media Labs

Joining Countries from Around The World, Singapore Officially Introduces ‘Fake News’ Bill To Parliament

(HRW) – – Singapore’s proposed law on “online falsehoods” is sweepingly broad and threatens to stifle discussion on websites worldwide, Human Rights Watch said today. The government should withdraw the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation bill, introduced in Parliament on April 1, 2019, and significantly revise it to comply with international protections for freedom of speech.

The proposed law would authorize Singapore to order “corrections” to online content hosted anywhere in the world if a minister determines that a statement is false in whole or in part, that it is being communicated in Singapore, and that it is in the public interest to issue such a correction. The bill defines public interest broadly to include protecting Singapore’s “friendly relations” with other countries; preventing the diminution of public confidence in the government, any statutory board or part of the government; or protecting “public tranquillity.” The proposed law provides no guidance on how the minister will make a determination whether a statement is true or false or what standards are to be used in doing so.

Singapore’s ministers should not have the power to singlehandedly decree what is true and what is false,” said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director. “Given Singapore’s long history of prohibiting speech critical of the government, its policies or its officials, its professed concerns about ‘online falsehoods’ and alleged election manipulation are farcical.

Under the proposed law, any minister could order the issuance of a “correction direction” that requires the person or website that posted the material deemed false by the minister to post a “correction” in language specified by the minister or a body appointed by the minister indicating that the statement at issue is “false.” The direction can be ordered regardless of whether the person who posted the material is in Singapore, as long as the material can be accessed in Singapore. Failure to comply with such a direction can be punished with up to 12 months in prison and a $20,000 (US$14,800) fine.

The minister could also authorize an order requiring an individual to stop communicating a particular statement in Singapore and to ensure that the statement is no longer available anywhere on or through the internet to end-users in the country. These provisions could easily be abused to silence or declare “false” criticisms of government actions or policies, or criticism of individual ministers.

While the individual subject to such orders could appeal to the High Court, such an appeal can only occur after an application to the minister has been heard and refused, and the order would remain in place for the duration of any such appeal. The High Court could only overturn a correction or stop order if it finds that the statement found objectionable is not a statement of fact, that it is true, or that it is technically impossible to fulfill the order.

The proposed law also authorizes the minister to order internet service providers to post statements indicating that content is false, or to disable access to certain content in Singapore, if the minister finds that the content is not true and that it is in the public interest to issue such an order. An internet service provider that fails to comply with such an order within the specified period of time could be fined up to S$1,000,000 (US$738,000).

When a website is the target of three active orders under the law, the government is empowered to restrict access to funding for the site through a “declaration of online locations.” Once the declaration has been made, internet service providers, digital advertising intermediaries, and certain other companies would be required to ensure that no paid content on that site or promoting that site is communicated in Singapore. It would also be a criminal offense to provide financial support to promote the website that is the subject of a declaration, or to receive any material benefit for operating such a website, making any paid employees of such a website potentially subject to criminal liability.

The law would make it a criminal offense to communicate a false statement of fact that reaches users in Singapore, knowing or having reason to believe the statement is false, if that statement is deemed likely to be prejudicial to Singapore’s security, public health, public safety, or public finances; to, diminish public confidence in the government, to incite ill-will between communities, or to have one of several other effects in the country. Violations would be punishable by up to five years in prison and a S$50,000 (US$36,900) fine.

A body appointed by the minister could also issue a binding code of practice covering internet intermediaries and digital advertising intermediaries that would mandate various forms of due diligence, reporting and record keeping. Intermediaries who do not abide by the code could face fines of up to S$1,000,000. “Singapore’s government wants to be the arbiter of what anyone can say about Singapore anywhere in the world,” Robertson said. “The draft law is a blatant violation of free speech and an affront to freedom of the internet, and governments and businesses around the world should call on Singapore to withdraw it immediately.

Download Copy of Bill: www.parliament.gov.sg/docs/default-source/default-document-library/protection-from-online-falsehoods-and-manipulation-bill10-2019.pdf

Browse Full Copy of Bill:

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This article was originally published by Human Rights Watch on April 2nd 2019. It was republished, with permission, using a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND 3.0 US License, in accordance with the Terms & Conditions of Human Rights Watch | Formatting edits, PDF’s and Tweets added/embedded by Rogue Media Labs

Family Whom Housed Edward Snowden In Hong Kong Granted Asylum In Canada

(HRW) – Vanessa Rodel and her young daughter Keana are finally safe, some six years after they opened the door to a scared young man who was seeking shelter in Hong Kong. That man was Edward Snowden, introduced to the penniless refugee family by their shared lawyer, who needed his soon-to-be-famous client to disappear for a few days while they worked on the US National Security Agency whistleblower’s legal case.

Vanessa had wound up in Hong Kong after fleeing a violent and powerful sexual abuser in the Philippines. But her act of kindness, and her location in Hong Kong, unfortunately became known – to the world, and to her abuser – at some point after Oliver Stone released his movie on Snowden. Hong Kong then rejected her asylum claim, effectively giving the green light for her to be deported back to a place that offered no protection against her abuser. Fortunately, Canada accepted Vanessa and Keana, now 7, as sponsored refugees, ensuring she would not be returned to the Philippines.

But five more kindhearted people who also sheltered Snowden for a few days face the same danger that Vanessa and Keana just escaped.

Supun Kellapatha and his partner Nadeeka separately escaped death threats and politically motivated abuse in Sri Lanka, and met each other as they waited – in vain – for Hong Kong to grant them asylum. The couple now have two children, Dinath and Sethumdi, who are stateless. Ajith Debagama Kankanalamage escaped horrific and repeated torture by the Sri Lankan army, but his asylum request was also rejected by Hong Kong, which is ready to deport him to where his life is at risk. His family was threatened and harassed by police once his connection to Snowden, and location in Hong Kong, became known. Sri Lankan Criminal Investigation Department officers were spotted in Hong Kong searching for these five in late 2016, making the prospect of retaliation should they be repatriated all the more likely.

These five people, who live in daily fear, have sponsors ready and waiting in Canada. Their path to a secure life is clear. Vanessa and Keana have been saved by Ottawa’s decision to admit them. The authorities can save their friends from peril by allowing them entry to Canada.


This article was originally published by Human Rights Watch on March 26th 2019. It was republished, with permission, using a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND 3.0 US License, in accordance with the Terms & Conditions of Human Rights Watch | Formatting edits & Tweets added/embedded by Rogue Media Labs

Iraqi Parliament Proposes Draconian New Cybercrime Laws Designed To Crackdown On Political & Religious Extremism Online

Similar in many ways to laws being put forth in Jordan, the Iraqi parliament is actively debating passing a new cyber crime bill into law aimed at cracking down on religious and political extremism online. However, as Amnesty International is now warning, as written, the proposed laws could begin criminalizing acts that would otherwise fall under freedom of expression, freedom of the press and free speech in general. Official called the “Law On Informational Technology,” the new law will give Iraqi authorities excessive powers to impose harsh sentences, including life imprisonment, for vaguely worded offences such as undermining the country’s “independence, peace and political, military security and economic interests.

According to Razaw Salihy, Iraq researcher at Amnesty International, “if passed, this draconian cybercrime law will be a devastating blow for freedom of expression in Iraq,” because “the vague and overly broad wording of the law means it could easily become a tool for repression in a country where the space for critical voices is already severely restricted.” As a result, Amnesty International and 9 other human rights and technical organizations such as Access NowHuman Rights Watch, International Press Institute, Iraq Journalists Right Defence Association (IJRDA), Iraqi Network for Social Media (INSM), Iraqi Observatory for Human Rights (IOHR), MENA Rights Group, PEN International and PEN Iraq have each singed an open letter to the Iraqi Parliament asking them to abandon the law before it moves ahead any further.

Read or Download Full Open Letter: https://www.amnesty.org/download/Documents/MDE1499442019ENGLISH.pdf

Full Text – Law on Information Technology Crimes:

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Copy of Open Letter 03/01/2019:

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Colombian President Duque Promotes 9 Officials Guilty of War Crimes To Lead National Military Efforts

(HRW) – The Colombian government has appointed at least nine officers credibly implicated in extrajudicial executions and other abuses to key positions of the army, Human Rights Watch said today. At least three of the officers are under investigation, and prosecutors are investigating killings by forces under the command of the other six.

On December 10, 2018, the government of President Iván Duque appointed General Nicacio de Jesús Martínez Espinel as the new head of the country’s army. On December 21, Gen. Martínez Espinel and Defense Minister Guillermo Botero appointed other new commanders to key army positions. Human Rights Watch has identified evidence linking eight of these officers, as well as General Martínez Espinel, to “false positive” killings and other abuses. From 2002 through 2008, in the cases that have come to be known as false positives, army personnel carried out systematic killings of innocent civilians to boost body counts in the country’s long-running armed conflict.

The Colombian government should be investigating officers credibly linked to extrajudicial executions, not appointing them to the army’s top command positions,” said José Miguel Vivanco, Americas director at Human Rights Watch. “By appointing these officers, the government conveys the troubling message to the troops that engaging in abuses may not be an obstacle for career success.

Human Rights Watch reasearch has shown that patterns in false positive cases – including their systematic nature and the implausible circumstances of many of the reported combat killings – strongly suggest that commanders of units responsible for a significant number of killings knew or had reason to know about them. Under international law, commanders are not only responsible for war crimes or crimes against humanity that they directly order and carry out. They must also be held criminally responsible if they knew or had reason to know that subordinates under their effective control were committing such crimes and failed to take all necessary and reasonable steps in their power to prevent or punish the act.

Summary – Evidence of Senior Army Officers’ Responsibility for False Positive Killings in Colombia: https://www.hrw.org/report/2015/06/24/their-watch/evidence-senior-army-officers-responsibility-false-positive-killings#
Download Full 111 Page Report: https://www.hrw.org/sites/default/files/report_pdf/colombia0615_4up.pdf

The newly appointed officers credibly linked to abuses are Martínez Espinel, head of the army; Jorge Enrique Navarrete Jadeth, Head of General Staff for Human Resources and Logistics; Raúl Antonio Rodríguez Arévalo, Head of General Staff for Planning and Policies; Adolfo León Hernández Martínez, head of the Army Transformation Command; Diego Luis Villegas Muñoz, head of the Vulcano Task Force; Edgar Alberto Rodríguez Sánchez, commander of the Aquiles Task Force; Raúl Hernando Flórez Cuervo, commander of the National Training Center; Miguel Eduardo David Bastidas, commander of the 10th brigade; and Marcos Evangelista Pinto Lizarazo, commander of the 13th brigade. All of them are army generals.

Gen. Martínez Espinel was second-in-command of the 10th brigade from October 2004 to January 2006. Prosecutors have opened investigations into 23 killings by 10th brigade troops in 2005.

Human Rights Watch had access to a access to a document signed by then-colonel Martínez Espinel certifying a payment of COP 1,000,000 (US$400) to an informant who provided information leading to “excellent results” in two military operations. In one of them, troops reported the “kill of a female ‘no name’ subject and a male ‘no name’ subject, apparently belonging to the Front 59 of the FARC.” Yet courts have concluded that the people killed were Hermes Enrique Carrillo Arias, an indigenous civilian, and 13-year-old Nohemí Esther Pacheco Zabata.

Official Court Docs:

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In 2011, a court convicted two soldiers and a former paramilitary member for murdering the pair. It found that troops abducted the victims from their home at dawn, murdered them, placed weapons on their bodies, and reported them as FARC guerrillas killed in combat. In 2013, an appeals court asked the Attorney General’s Office to investigate “possible [criminal] conduct due to [possible] lack of control by the superiors.”

Gen. Navarrete Jadeth, the new General Staff for Human Resources and Logistics, was the second-in-command of the 8th brigade between July 2007 and August 2008. The Attorney General’s Office has opened investigations into at least 19 killings by the 8th brigade in 2008.

Human Rights Watch reviewed a document signed by Gen. Navarrete Jadeth in March 2008, certifying a 2,000,000 Colombian pesos (US$1,000) payment to an informant for information that led to the “death in combat of two terrorists.” In April 2012, a court concluded that the “terrorists” were unarmed civilians who had been recruited from a nearby city and extrajudicially executed.

Official Docs:

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Colombian courts have convicted hundreds of soldiers for their role in extrajudicial killings, the vast majority of them low-ranking. But the authorities have failed to prosecute senior army officers allegedly responsible for illegal killings. Instead, the authorities have promoted many of these officers through the ranks, allowing several to hold top positions in the armed forces.

The administration of former President Juan Manuel Santos also appointed officers linked by credible evidence to false positives to key army positions. Gen. Juan Pablo Rodríguez Barragán, under criminal investigation for such killings, headed the Colombian armed forces from 2014 through 2017.

A portion of United States military aid to Colombia is subject to human rights conditions. In 2018, the conditions included that “military personnel responsible for ordering, committing, or covering up cases of false positives are being prosecuted and appropriately punished, including removal from positions of command.”

For an analysis of the evidence against the nine military officers, please see below.

Evidence Against New Commanders

Human Rights Watch reviewed dozens of judicial rulings, testimonies, Attorney General’s Office reports, and other files relating to the army officers who were appointed in December. At least three of the nine are under investigation by the Attorney General’s Office. Prosecutors are investigating numerous killings by soldiers in units under the command of the others. The following is a summary of the evidence implicating the nine officers (the information is presented following the officers’ hierarchy in the army).

Nicacio de Jesús Martínez Espinel (Head of the Army)

Gen. Martínez Espinel was second-in-command of the 10th brigade, which operates in the northeastern provinces of La Guajira and Cesar, between October 2004 and January 2006. A 2016 report by the Attorney General’s Office indicates that prosecutors have opened investigations into 23 killings by 10th brigade troops in 2005.

For example, in a ruling in June 2011, a court found that in February 2005 soldiers from the Popa battalion of the 10th brigade abducted Carrillo Arias, an indigenous civilian, and 13-year-old Pacheco Zabata from their home at dawn, murdered them, placed weapons on their bodies, and reported them as FARC guerrillas killed in combat. The court that convicted the soldiers concluded that the victims were shot in the back and that their alleged weapons had never been fired. It also found that the battalion lacked the legally required documents on the operation, including those that should have recorded the amount of ammunition used in the alleged firefight.

Human Rights Watch reviewed a document signed by then-colonel Martínez Espinel certifying a payment of COP 1,000,000 (US$400) to an informant who provided information that led to the “excellent results” in this and another operation.

Download Document Here: https://www.hrw.org/sites/default/files/supporting_resources/doc_2_1.pdf

Human Rights Watch identified other serious inconsistencies in several documents signed by Martínez Espinel allegedly certifying payments to informants who supposedly led 10th brigade troops to engage and kill enemies. These include the following:

  • In four separate instances, based on documents in an Attorney General’s Office file, prosecutors found that the names and ID numbers of alleged informants did not match.
  • In two documents certifying payments to informants, the dates of the alleged operations do not make sense. In one case, on May 17, 2005, Martínez Espinel authorized payment of 1,000,000 Colombian pesos (US$400) as a reward for information that, according to the same document signed by Martínez Espinel, led to an operation conducted on May 20 – three days later. In this supposed operation, a “no name” person “apparently belonging to the FARC 41st front” was reported killed.

Past Human Rights Watch research had shown that between 2002 and 2008 military officers fabricated documents to obtain economic perks for reported kills on multiple occasions, including in false-positive cases. Human Rights Watch was not able to confirm whether any of the kills for which Gen. Martínez Espinel authorized payment, aside from the murder of Carrillo Arias and Pacheco Zabata, were false positives because, in the relevant military documents reviewed, the people killed were not named. Most of the dead were reported as “no name.”

Jorge Enrique Navarrete Jadeth (Head of General Staff for Human Resources and Logistics)

As the head of General Staff for Human Resources and Logistics, Gen. Navarrete Jadeth oversees several army commands, including those in charge of personnel, logistics, and recruitment. Gen. Navarrete Jadeth was the second-in-command of the 8th brigade from July 2007 through August 2008. The Attorney General’s Office has opened investigations into at least 19 killings by the 8th brigade in 2008, the Attorney General’s Office files show.

A document signed by Gen. Navarrete Jadeth in March 2008 certified a 2,000,000 Colombian pesos (US$1,000) payment to an informant for information that led to the “death in combat of two terrorists.” In April 2012, a court concluded that the “terrorists” were unarmed civilians who had been recruited from a nearby city and extrajudicially executed.

A 2015 file indicates that prosecutors were investigating Gen. Navarrate Jadeth’s role in alleged cooperation with paramilitary groups. The investigation was triggered, the file says, by the testimony of a former paramilitary fighter, Adolfo Enrique Guevara Cantillo, who said that Gen. Navarrete Jadeth cooperated with paramilitaries. The Attorney General’s Office has not publicly indicated whether it has closed the investigation or whether it intends to charge the general.

Raúl Antonio Rodríguez Arévalo (Head of General Staff for Planning and Policies)

As the new Head of General Staff for Planning and Policies, Gen. Rodríguez Arévalo oversees several army departments, including those in charge of intelligence, counterintelligence, and military education.

Gen. Rodríguez Arévalo was commander of the Popa battalion of the 10th brigade during parts of 2005 and 2006. The Attorney General’s Office has opened investigations into 21 killings in 2005 and 13 in 2006 by Popa soldiers, an Attorney General’s Office report shows. These include at least four cases in which Colombian courts have convicted a total of nine soldiers for their role in 10 killings.

Attorney General Report:

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In one case, on November 20, 2005, Popa soldiers murdered three civilians in San Diego, in Cesar province, reporting them as enemies killed in action. The night before, lured by bogus job offers from two men, the victims had traveled the more than 300 kilometers to San Diego from the Soledad municipality in Atlántico province. In 2014, a court convicted a lieutenant and a sergeant of the murders. A radiogram signed by then-lieutenant colonel Rodríguez Arévalo described the alleged operation, indicating that “four ‘no name’ male bandits” were killed in action as they tried to “extort a coffee producer of the region.

Copy of Radiogram:

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In February 2017, a soldier told prosecutors that Gen. Rodríguez Arévalo was directly involved in false positives. The following testimony regards one of many cases the soldier described (italics added):

[W]e took two people from their houses. The first one was a black man whom we took from a house that was like a store. The other house was at a diagonal to this one, to the left… then a guide took us to [another area], and there, [a] lieutenant ordered me to kill the man from the store. I executed him.

The lieutenant gave [another] soldier the order to kill the other man. We asked asked the lieutenant how we were going to [report these kills] since we didn’t have any weapons. He said,don’t worry, my uncle [will help], referring to Colonel Rodríguez Arévalo. “When we arrived at battalion headquarters, in Loma Seca, we waited [until] a helicopter arrived. Colonel Rodríguez Arévalo and [another officer] were there. They took down some black bags, I didn’t know what they contained. Then, they started organizing landmines with detonating cords, a rifle, a pistol and explosives. They put these by the [dead] people and took photos to say that there had been combat; but there was none… due to these kills, the colonel [Rodríguez Arévalo] sent his nephew to do a pilot course [apparently as a reward].

Adolfo León Hernández Martínez (Head of the Colombian Army Transformation Command)

Gen. Hernández Martínez was named head of the Colombian Army Transformation Command, a unit that advises the head of the army on policies to modernize the force. From December 2007 through June 2009, Gen. Hernández Martínez commanded the Popa battalion of the 10th brigade. Prosecutors have opened investigations into seven killings by the Popa battalion in 2008, an Attorney General’s Office report shows.

In one case, on January 23, 2008, Popa troops killed a 16-year-old civilian, Aldemar García Coronado, and reported him as an enemy killed in action. In 2013, a soldier and a sergeant were convicted of the crime. A radiogram signed by then-lieutenant colonel Hernández Martínez, indicates that soldiers involved in the operation “entered into combat” with “5 terrorists” of “criminal bands,” resulting in the killing of one enemy.

Diego Luis Villegas Muñoz (Head of the Vulcano Task Force)

Gen. Villegas Muñoz was appointed head of the Vulcano Task Force, a special unit that operates in the northeastern zone of Catatumbo, on the border with Venezuela. He is currently facing criminal prosecution for the killing of Omer Alcides Villada, a farmer with mental disabilities. Soldiers of the Pedro Nel Ospina battalion allegedly murdered the farmer in March 2008 and reported him as a FARC fighter killed in combat. Villegas Muñoz commanded the battalion at the time.

A document signed by Villegas Muñoz certified a payment of 1,500,000 Colombian pesos (US$800) to an informant who supposedly provided information that led to the operation in which Villada was killed. But in the alleged informant’s testimony to prosecutors, he said that he had never provided information to the army or received a payment.

Villegas Muñoz also signed two reports regarding the operation. The reports reveal several irregularities, a prosecutor said in a hearing on the case, including that the operation was in a different municipality than the military order specifies.

In December 2016, a judge issued an arrest warrant for Gen. Villegas Muñoz. But a 2017 decree linked to the justice component of the peace accord with the FARC prevented execution of the warrant, an Attorney General’s Office letter indicates. The decree allows authorities to suspend arrest warrants in cases linked to the armed conflict.

Presidential Decree:

[pdf-embedder url=”https://roguemedia.co/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/DECRETO-706-DEL-03-DE-MAYO-DE-2017.pdf” title=”DECRETO 706 DEL 03 DE MAYO DE 2017″]

Edgar Alberto Rodríguez Sánchez (Commander of the Aquiles Task Force)

Gen. Rodríguez Sánchez was appointed commander of the Aquiles Task Force, a special unit that operates in the northern area of Bajo Cauca. From July 2006 through December 2007, he commanded the Magdalena battalion of the 9th brigade. Prosecutors have opened investigations into at least 22 alleged killings under his command, files from the Attorney General’s Office show.

Raúl Hernando Flórez Cuervo (Commander of the National Training Center)

Gen. Flórez Cuervo was named commander of the National Training Center in Bogotá, where soldiers take specialized courses. Flórez Cuervo commanded the Domingo Caicedo infantry battalion of the sixth brigade for at least part of 2008. The Attorney General’s Office has opened investigations into at least five killings by the battalion in 2008.

Investigation:

[pdf-embedder url=”https://roguemedia.co/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/doc_9_0.pdf”]

In May 2014, a court in Bogotá convicted five soldiers from Flórez Cuervo’s battalion of the January 2008 killing of Israel González, a trade unionist whom battalion soldiers reported as a guerrilla fighter killed in combat. The court concluded that the combat never took place. Instead, soldiers murdered González and placed unused weapons and a broken radio containing Army batteries on his body. Gen. Flórez Cuervo signed the “operations order” authorizing the operation.

The court asked the Attorney General’s Office to “carry out investigations regarding other people possibly responsible for these crimes who could have been involved in signing orders for the operation in which Israel González was killed.Human Rights Watch was not able to confirm whether any investigations were pursued due to this request. An official within the Attorney General’s Office told Human Rights Watch, in July 2017, that no record existed of investigations into Flórez Cuervo’s possible role in killings by the Domingo Caicedo battalion.

Conviction of Soldiers:

[pdf-embedder url=”https://roguemedia.co/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/Sentencia-Rad.-2008-80027.pdf”]

Miguel Eduardo David Bastidas (Commander of the 10th brigade)

General David Bastidas was named commander of the 10th brigade.

David Bastidas is currently facing prosecution for his role in abuses during parts of 2004 and 2005, when he was second-in-command of the Jorge Eduardo Sánchez artillery battalion of the fourth brigade. In a November 2017 indictment, a prosecutor charged him in connection with his alleged role in 32 cases of murder, 14 enforced disappearances, and 10 cases of torture. The prosecutor contended that Gen. David Bastidas failed to act on these crimes despite the implausible circumstances of the reported kills.

Copy of Indictment:

[pdf-embedder url=”https://roguemedia.co/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/doc_10_0.pdf”]

Marcos Evangelista Pinto Lizarazo (Commander of the 13th brigade)

Gen. Pinto Lizarazo was appointed commander of the 13th brigade, which operates in Bogotá. From October 2006 through April 2007, Gen. Pinto Lizarazo commanded the Anastasio Girardot battalion of the 4th brigade. Prosecutors have opened investigations into 23 alleged killings by the battalion’s troops in 2006 and 22 in 2007, files from the Attorney General’s Office show. For example, in 2011, a court convicted four Anastasio Girardot soldiers for the murder, in December 2006, of two civilians who were falsely reported as being FARC militiamen.

Gen. Pinto Lizarazo also commanded the Magdalena battalion of the 9th brigade between December 2007 and September 2009. Prosecutors have opened investigations into 18 killings allegedly committed by the battalion’s troops in 2008, the Attorney General’s Office files show.

On January 18, 2008, Magdalena troops killed Ever Urquina Rojas, a peasant, in the San Agustin municipality and reported him as a “no name” enemy killed in action. Sargent William Andrés Vargas Capera confessed and pleaded guilty. In his plea bargain, he said he intentionally hid the victim’s ID and clothes. A document signed by Pinto Lizarazo certified a payment of 1,500,000 Colombian pesos (US$770) to an informant who supposedly provided information that led to the operation in which Urquina Rojas was killed. But prosecutors concluded that the alleged informant “did not provide any information related to Ever Urquina Rojas,” an Attorney General’s Office document shows.

Copy of Docs:

[pdf-embedder url=”https://roguemedia.co/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/combinepdf-1.pdf” title=”combinepdf (1)”]

In a December 11, 2015, hearing, procescutors questioned Gen. Pinto Lizarazo on his role in false positives when he was commander of the Magdalena battalion. Under Colombian criminal procedure, such hearings are one of the first steps in forming a case. The case against Gen. Pinto Lizarazo is still open, but no progress has been made since December 2015, a lawyer representing victims in the case told Human Rights Watch.

Question from Prosecutors:

[pdf-embedder url=”https://roguemedia.co/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/doc_13_1_0.pdf”]


This article was originally published by Human Rights Watch on February 27th 2019. It was republished, with permission, using a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND 3.0 US License, in accordance with the Terms & Conditions of Human Rights Watch | Formatting edits & PDF Files added/embedded by Rogue Media Labs

Amnesty International Publishes Open Letter In Condemnation of Israeli Spy Firm NSO Group

(AI) – Novalpina Capital, the private equity firm that has supported NSO Group management to acquire the company from Francisco Partners, must immediately disclose how it plans to prevent further human rights abuses by NSO Group, which has been linked to several chilling attacks on human rights defenders, Amnesty International said today.

In an open letter released today, the organization and six other NGOs urged Novalpina to publicly commit to accountability for NSO Group’s past spyware abuses, including the targeting of an Amnesty International employee and the alleged targeting of Jamal Khashoggi.

Original Copy of Letter: https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/research/2019/02/open-letter-to-novalpina-capital-nso-group-and-francisco-partners/

Letter In Full:

Novalpina Capital

CC: NSO Group, Francisco Partners

……

February 18, 2019

We, the undersigned organizations, release this open letter to Novalpina Capital regarding the recent announcement of the buyout of NSO Group from Francisco Partners.

We call on Novalpina Capital to publicly address our serious concerns regarding accountability for NSO Group’s involvement in previously documented spyware abuses, Novalpina Capital’s current approach to addressing human rights impacts associated with NSO Group’s products and services, and the future trajectory of the company.

Spyware abuses associated with NSO Group and international standards

Research has documented the use of NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware to target a wide swath of civil society, including at least 24 human rights defenders, journalists and parliamentarians in Mexico, an Amnesty International employeeOmar AbdulazizYahya AssiriGhanem Al-Masarir, award-winning human rights campaigner Ahmed Mansoor, and allegedly, the targeting of Jamal Khashoggi.

These individuals and organizations appear to have been targeted solely as a result of their criticism of governments that utilized the spyware or because of their work bearing on human rights issues of political sensitivity to those governments. Thus, this targeting is in violation of internationally recognized human rights.

Although a federal investigation into abuses associated with NSO Group’s spyware was opened by the Mexican government in 2017, the lawyers of the victims with access to the file report that NSO Group has so far failed to adequately cooperate with investigators, and the investigation has since stalled.

It is also of serious concern that in the past month, six members of civil society who were investigatingreporting on, or are involved in legal action where NSO Group is a defendant were targeted by private operatives. Reports suggest that these private operatives were employed by Black Cube, an Israeli private investigation firm. The intimidation of civil society in this way signals a deeply worrying escalation of the targeting of civil society, as well as the interference with the work of those engaged in uncovering human rights abuses across the world.

Under globally-accepted standards such as the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (“Guiding Principles”), corporations such as Novalpina Capital and NSO Group have the responsibility to respect human rights including by carrying out due diligence to identify and address their potential and actual human rights impacts and remediating any harm to which they have caused or contributed. Principle 17 of the Guiding Principles states that companies have a responsibility to “initiate as early as possible in the development of new activity or relationships” measures to “identify, prevent, mitigate and account for how they address their adverse human rights impacts,” and to this end, “business enterprises should carry out human rights due diligence.” Under Principle 22 of the Guiding Principles, businesses that have caused or contributed to adverse impacts “should provide for or cooperate in their remediation through legitimate processes.”

Addressing concerns

We note that Novalpina Capital has communicated to some civil society organisations its willingness to engage and develop a dialogue regarding concerns related to its acquisition of NSO Group, including through an on-the-record meeting. We are disappointed, however, that Novalpina Capital did not consult with any of the undersigned civil society groups prior to its acquisition, and are therefore concerned about its willingness to fully take into account our expertise and recommendations.

As a result, and prior to any on-the-record meeting, we call on Novalpina Capital to:

  • Confirm an immediate end to the sale or further maintenance of NSO Group products and services to governments that have been accused of intentionally infringing human rights through communications surveillance;
  • Commit to fully engaging with relevant investigations into abuses associated with NSO Group’s spyware in Mexico, and publicly outline what steps will be taken to cooperate with investigations to provide accountability and remediation;
  • Detail what human rights due diligence steps were taken ahead of making the decision to proceed with the acquisition, report publicly on what risks were identified through any such due diligence process and how they were addressed;
  • Disclose additional information about the new corporate structure, including what percentage of shares of NSO Group Novalpina Capital now owns or controls; the precise terms of this deal; NSO Group’s new corporate structure; and the membership of NSO Group’s board of directors, executive leadership, and management team.
  • Describe its position on the human rights impact of NSO Group’s technology, and how it plans on mitigating the risks made evident by NSO Group’s past failures and preventing abuses in the future;
  • Provide details about the membership and deliberations of NSO Group’s Business Ethics Committee, and the standards against which they evaluate potential or past business;
  • Issue a statement condemning the targeting, by private investigators, of civil society who were investigatingreporting on, or involved in legal actions against NSO Group;
  • Provide data on which export licenses NSO Group has received from Israeli and other government authorities, and commit to regular transparency reporting on export licensing data;
  • Provide details on end-use agreements that NSO Group has in place with its clients protecting people from arbitrary surveillance, if any, and what steps the company takes to monitor their compliance. If no end-use agreements are in place, provide information about how NSO Group ensures its products are not misused against human rights defenders, journalists, and other members of civil society.

We appreciate Novalpina Capital’s expressed willingness to engage in this important discussion andregard a response as an important step to providing necessary transparency to enable an informed dialogue, as well as a gesture of good faith by Novalpina Capital.

We look forward to a prompt response and continuing dialogue on the basis of transparency.

Sincerely,

Amnesty International

R3D: Red en Defensa de los Derechos Digitales

Privacy International

Access Now

Human Rights Watch

Reporters Without Borders

Robert L. Bernstein Institute for Human Rights, NYU School of Law and Global Justice Clinic, NYU School of Law*

Background

Research has documented the use of NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware to target civil society, all over the world, including at least 24 human rights defenders, journalists and parliamentarians in Mexico, an Amnesty International employee, Omar Abdulaziz, Yahya Assiri, Ghanem Al-Masarir, award-winning human rights campaigner Ahmed Mansoor, and the alleged targeting of Jamal Khashoggi.

More Resources

Amnesty International Once Target of Israeli NSO Group: https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/research/2018/08/amnesty-international-among-targets-of-nso-powered-campaign/

NSO Groups Threatens To Have Their International License Revoked Over Illegal Practices: https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2018/11/israelroguenso-group-must-have-licence-revoked-over-controversial-surveillance-software/


This report was originally published by Amnesty International on February 19th 2019. It was republished, with permission, under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND 4.0 International License, in accordance with the Terms & Conditions of Amnesty International | Formatting Edits and PDF’s added and embedded by Rogue Media Labs

Pentagon Releases 2019 Artificial Intelligence Directive, Outlining Extensive Investment In AI Technologies for Autonomous Weapons Development Throughout the Future

(HRW) – As the United States Department of Defense releases a strategy on artificial intelligence, questions loom about whether the US government intends to accelerate its investments in weapons systems that would select and engage targets without meaningful human control.

The strategy considers a range of potential, mostly benign uses of AI and makes the bold claim that AI can help “reduce the risk of civilian casualties” by enabling greater accuracy and precision. The strategy commits to consider how to handle hacking, bias, and “unexpected behavior” among other concerns. Scientists have long warned about the potentially disastrous consequences that could arise when complex algorithms incorporated into fully autonomous weapons systems created and deployed by opposing forces meet in warfare. How would the use of such learning systems conform with current US policy, which commits to “to exercise appropriate levels of human judgment over the use of force?

Fully autonomous weapons raise so many ethical, legal, technical, proliferation, and international security concerns that Human Rights Watch and other groups co-founded the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots in early 2013 to push for a preemptive ban. At the end of that year, governments launched diplomatic talks on what they called lethal autonomous weapons systems. Yet progress towards addressing concerns has been hampered by the refusal of the US, Russia, and a handful of other states to work towards a concrete outcome.

Despite diplomatic setbacks, it’s clear that the notion of removing human control from weapons systems and the use of force is becoming increasingly unpopular or stigmatized. The United Nations secretary-general is urging states to prohibit such weapons before they are introduced, calling them “morally repugnant and politically unacceptable.” A new poll of 26 countries shows public opposition to fully autonomous weapons is rising rapidly and with it the expectation that governments will act to prevent the development of such weapons systems.

Yet the US remains steadfast in its refusal to consider any move to negotiate a new treaty to prevent the development of fully autonomous weapons. There are fears that an already meek 2012 Pentagon policy directive on autonomy in weapons systems could be overridden or replaced by a much weaker policy.

Download 2012 Pentagon Directive Regarding Autonomous Weapons: https://www.esd.whs.mil/Portals/54/Documents/DD/issuances/dodd/300009p.pdf

The AI strategy pledges that the Defense Department will only develop and use artificial intelligence in an “ethical” and “lawful” manner for “upholding and promoting our Nation’s values.” Yet such promises ring hollow at a time when the US continues to steadfastly resist efforts to regulate fully autonomous weapons through new legal measures. Without regulation in the form of a new treaty to ban fully autonomous weapons, policy pledges of self-restraint are unlikely to last long.

View Full Department of Defense Strategy 2019:

[pdf-embedder url=”https://roguemedia.co/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/DoD_AI.pdf”]


This article was originally published by Human Rights Watch on February 14th 2019. It was republished, with permission, using a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND 3.0 US License, in accordance with the Terms & Conditions of Human Rights Watch | Formatting edits, Tweets, videos and PDF Files added/embedded by Rogue Media Labs

How French Weapons & Political Support Enables Egypt’s Continued Human Rights Violations

(Le Monde) – On January 27, President Emmanuel Macron began his first official visit to Egypt. Relations between the two countries and presidents have never been warmer. Macron has justified France’s support for Egypt, despite the well documented human rights abuses by President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s government, by saying that France considers Egypt a bulwark against terrorism. Macron has gone as far as to say that “Egypt’s security is France’s security.

In the name of this friendship, France has sold many weapons to Egypt, overtaking the US to become Egypt’s main arms supplier between 2013 and 2017. In 2017 alone, it delivered more than EUR 1.4 billion worth of military and security equipment. France has provided warships, fighter jets, and armored vehicles, while French companies – with the government’s approval – have provided surveillance and crowd control tools. Last December in Cairo, French Defense Minister Florence Parly cut the ribbon with al-Sisi for Egypt’s first arms show.

When Macron has been criticized for his support for al-Sisi, his answerhas been that he wants to be pragmatic and “does not want to lecture” al-Sisi on human rights. But the issue here is not about France lecturing Egypt or a case of naïve activists unaware of the security risks in Egypt. The issue is about France directly enabling abuses and not respecting its own international obligations regulating arms sales, which prohibit arms transfers to countries where there is a substantial risk that they could be used to commit or facilitate serious violations.

The French authorities contend that they have only licensed military equipment as part of the “fight against terrorism” in Egypt and not for law enforcement operations. But as recent reports by Amnesty International and FIDH have demonstrated, French-supplied armored vehicles were used by Egyptian security forces to violently disperse peaceful sit-ins across the country. Amnesty International noted, “French vehicles were not merely assisting the security forces, but were themselves tools of repression, playing a very active role in the crushing of dissent.

Download Full 54 Page Report: https://www.amnesty.org/download/Documents/EUR2190382018ENGLISH.PDF

In response to the criticism, the French government argues that such exports were intended for the Egyptian military, not the police. But France should have monitored the use of weapons and equipment it exported, and there is no evidence that France put a stop to the weapons transfers once it became clear that Egypt had diverted their use.

In addition to its direct support for the military and police, the French government has authorized French companies to sell Egyptian authorities various surveillance systems for intercepting communications and controlling social movements. The Egyptian state’s ever-expanding surveillance has been used to target human rights and labor activists, LGBT people, political activists, and academics. Al-Sisi’s fear of social movements is so deep that in December his government even banned the sale of yellow vests in fear of copycat protests in advance of the anniversary of the 2011 uprising.

Even France’s claims that al-Sisi is essential to the fight against terrorism looks shaky on closer inspection. Egypt is indeed facing a dangerous insurgency by extremist fighters in the northern Sinai Peninsula, a historically marginalized territory. But the way the Egyptian security forces have countered this insurgency has been a textbook case of abuses that have not just violated human rights but alienated large segments of the local population that these actions are supposed to protect.

Egyptian forces carried out unlawful mass destruction of homes and forcible evictions of tens of thousands of residents in northern Sinai with little or no help or temporary accommodation for the people forced out of their homes. Human Rights Watch’s research shows that the Egyptian military and police have carried out widespread arbitrary arrests, enforced disappearances, torture, and extrajudicial killings, in northern Sinai while attempting to conceal these abuses through restrictions on independent reporting. Residents of the area told us that they no longer knew whom to trust. France is happy to whitewash these abuses in the name of the fight against terrorism.

In other parts of Egypt, the situation is not much better. Torture and enforced disappearances occur regularly, and overcrowded prisons with brutal detention conditions are becoming breeding grounds for radicalization, former inmates say. Meanwhile, Egyptian authorities have used the cover of counterterrorism to go after all forms of dissent. Egypt has not only banned the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization, but also secular groups like the April 6 Youth Movement, an activist group that played a key role in the protests organized against Hosni Mubarak in 2011. A March 2018 by the Interior Ministry portrays a threat to Egypt’s security emanating from groups ranging from ISIS to human rights groups, including Human Rights Watch.

By offering unconditional and uncritical support, France has made it harder to get Egypt to revisit its current approach. Despite the government’s massive military efforts, northern Sinai residents hardly feel more secure. Many displaced by the violence in past years have reported losing hope of going back home. According to data compiled by the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED), the number of armed violent events in Egypt nearly doubled between November and December 2018 due to the escalation of the fighting between Egyptian forces and the Islamic State. According to ACLED, Egypt became the third-most-active country in terms of violence on the African continent in December, after Somalia and Nigeria.

In this context, one wonders who is being naïve in their approach to Egypt. The human rights groups who are documenting an out of control “war on terror” that seems to be creating more enemies by the day or a French government which keeps throwing weapons at a problem that seems to be getting worse? No one is asking President Macron to lecture al-Sisi, but rather to meet his own obligations to respect human rights. France should suspend all sales and provision of security-related items and assistance to Egypt until the government ends serious human rights violations, and Macron’s government should introduce effective end-use monitoring to ensure that France is not complicit in grave crimes.


This article was originally published by Human Rights Watch on January 27th 2019. It was republished, with permission, using a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND 3.0 US License, in accordance with the Terms & Conditions of Human Rights Watch | Formatting edits & Tweets and videos added/embedded by Rogue Media Labs

Anonymous Launches String of Coordinated Attacks In Solidarity with The People of Zimbabwe

No photo description available.

Over the course of the last several days Anonymous hackers worldwide have launched their newest operation, code named #OpZimbabwe. In a coordinated string of web attacks and DDoS attacks, approximately 72 websites affiliated with the Government of Zimbabwe have been taken offline over the course of the last 48 hours, with targeted attacks against the countries National Police, Central Banking SystemMinistry of Defense and Ministry of Government lasting into the weekend.

The operation comes as a result of the Government of Zimbabwe’s decision to entirely cut off the countries internet on January 15th, following a string of deadly National protests on January 14th, 2019 – something that Anonymous hackers refuse to tolerate. According to estimates from multiple international human rights organizations, over the course of the last 5 days alone more than a dozen people have been killed and hundreds more either seriously injured or arrested at the hands of Zimbabwe’s police force – with more events/protests scheduled to last into the weekend.

Learn More About The Current Situation In Zimbabwe:

From Rogue Media Labs: https://roguemedia.co/2019/01/16/letter-from-zimbabwe-inside-the-deteriorating-situation-unfolding-inside-the-country/
From Human Rights Watch: https://www.hrw.org/sitesearch/zimbabwe
From Amnesty International: https://www.amnesty.org/en/search/?q=zimbabwe

Interestingly enough, Anonymous’ hack also comes in conjunction with the release of the Democracy Index 2018 Report, written by researchers/intelligence analysts at The Economist. According to their data, based on factors such as civil liberties, crime rates, political culture, election participation/turn out, poverty rates, health coverage – et cetera – out of a list of 165 countries worldwide, the only country with less freedom and Democracy than Zimbabwe is Zambia.

In a message to the people of Zimbabwe and their Government, the Anonymous hacker collective stated the following:

Greetings Zimbabwe, we are Anonymous.

We have previously seen innocent people being killed in Zimbabwe. We have seen oppression and tyranny. We have seen people being oppressed for fighting for freedom. We cannot tolerate that. As we did with the Sudanese government, we have successfully taken down 72+ Zimbabwe government websites. This is only a start. Your banking system will also soon fall.

To the Zimbabwe government, you have become an enemy of Anonymous! Your systems are in danger! In the face of oppression, rebellion become our duty. Courage to our brothers who fight for freedom in Zimbabwe and Sudan.

People shouldn’t be afraid of their government. Governments should be afraid of their people.

We are Anonymous.
We are legion.
We do not forgive tyrannical governments.
We will not forget your actions.
You should have expected us!

Operation Hit List: https://ghostbin.com/paste/4tdv6

Websites Tango Down’d Into The Weekend:

Zimbabwe Republic of Police – hxxp://zrp.gov.zw
Zimbabwe Ministry of Defense – hxxp://defence.gov.zw
Zimbabwe Ministry of Government Affairs – hxxp://www.zim.gov.zw
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe – hxxp://rbz.co.zw
Zimbabwe Financial Holdings Limited – https://www.zb.co.zw/

https://twitter.com/Anon_Universal/status/934722229891420160

Letter from Zimbabwe: Inside The Deteriorating Situation Unfolding Inside The Country

An online activist and regular reader of Rogue Media Labs going by the name of “Jamelia Libya K” sent me the following letter this morning, outlining the deteriorating situation in Zimbabwe from the perspective of a Zimbabwean refugee with many friends and family left behind in the country.

Full Letter:

I am an activist from Zimbabwe, I write to you as a human being observing a crisis unfolding. I am deeply appalled, shocked and hurt with the worsening situation in Zimbabwe.

The people have been protesting against inflation and unbearable hardships they have been encountering quietly. They are fed up of being governed by this failing Zanu government. The president himself is on a business tour at this vital moment. Vice President Chiwenga is in charge. He is previously the Army Commander General.

Everyone in the diaspora is convinced he has ordered the internet shutdown, there has been no social media all day. This is because reports have been pouring in from Monday night that the army, police and masked men have been kidnapping, harassing, torturing civilians and intimidating them not to protest.

Pictures of dead bodies have been circulating. As I speak, people in diaspora are afraid and panicking for their loved ones. Please bring attention to Zimbabweans crying and begging for help, we need International intervention.

Regards,
Linda Dodzo

As was reported by Human Rights Watch on January 15th 2019, “Zimbabwe security forces fatally shot at least five people and wounded 25 others during a crackdown on nationwide protests beginning January 14, 2019.” However, other reports from the region indicate that at least 8 were killed, and more than 200 were arbitrarily arrested. Similar in many ways to the situation across France, the protests arose as a result of the Zimbabwean Governments decision to raise fuel prices by 150% on January 12th 2019, sparking mass protests around the country.

In response to the protests, just as was the case in the Democratic Republic of The Congo in December 2018 and Central African Republic earlier this month, the Zimbabwean Government has ordered a complete internet shutdown across the country. Effective January 15th 2019, President Emmerson Mnangagwa ordered a 72 hour moratorium on any/all internet activity inside the country, including social media and Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services – such as WhatsApp.

This also isn’t the first time this sort of thing has happened. For example, in the summer of 2016 I remember reporting when the Government of Zimbabwe suffered from full economic collapse, leading to the revolt of thousands of public sector workers across the country- protesting against weeks of unpaid wages, essentially completely shutting down the country/government in doing so. For some perspective on the situation, at the time it was also reported that the country was operating at a 90% unemployment rate. Once again however, then just as is it is today, the Zimbabwean Government shut down and restricted national internet access in order to prevent protest movements from growing larger and prevent media from reporting on a carnage.

I also remember that these events caught the attention of the Anonymous hacker collective, whom proceeded to launch a series of online attacks against the Government of Zimbabwe – shutting down critical government infrastructure for as long of the government was willing to shut down public internet access. As a result, once again today just as it was before, the Zimbabwean people are calling on the internet community and Anonymous for help – to stand up for their rights and fight back against their oppressive Government. This is why I am publishing this article here today, to do what I can to raise awareness on their behalf and educate the international public about the ongoing crisis in Zimbabwe. What happens from here remains to be seen.