The Yemen Papers: Classified Military Documents from French MoD Published Online

Earlier this morning, April 15th 2019, a non-Governmental Organization (NGO) going by the name of Disclose released a small cache of classified military documents outlining the French Governments role in the Yemen Civil War and the tragedy currently unfolding there. Officially entitled “The Yemen Papers” and comprising of 15 pages of classified material, the leaked documents outline France’s role in providing weapons and munitions to Saudi Forces and the United Arab Emirates for use in Yemen, whom have then turned around and used these weapons in countless War Crimes in the country.

In addition to publishing the documents, which have been consolidated and reloaded through this site to be accessible/browse-able to the public, Disclose has also set up an interactive website called “Made-In-France” to give readers more perspective on the leaked documents and the circumstances surrounding them – including the documentation of War Crimes carried out in and around the country over the course of the last several years. Both the website and leaks are world class, so I have made accessing them easy – see the information directly below.

Made In France – Yemen Papers Release: https://made-in-france.disclose.ngo/en/chapter/yemen-papers

Download/Own Yemen Papers Docs: https://roguemedia.co/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/Yemen-Papers.pdf

As was previously explained by Julian Assange in 2017, following the release of other classified documents known as The Yemen Files, “Yemen is of significant strategic interest as Yemen controls a narrow choke-point to the Red Sea and the Suez Canal through which 11% of the world’s petroleum passes each day. In addition, Yemen borders Saudi Arabia (to the north) and Oman (to the east) and has access to the Arabian Sea, through which another 20% of the world’s petroleum passes from the Strait of Hormuz (including the oil of Saudi Arabia and Iran). Saudi Arabia seeks to control a port in Yemen to avoid the potential constriction of its oil shipments by by Iran along the Strait of Hormuz or by countries which can control its other oil shipment path along the Red Sea.

Adding that “the Yemen Files offer documentary evidence of the US arming, training and funding of Yemeni forces in the years building up to the war. The documents reveal, among other things, procurement of many different weapon types: aircraft, vessels, vehicles, proposals for maritime border security control and Yemeni procurement of US biometric systems.” Similarly, the documents released today outline the true extent to which France has gone about arming different militant groups/factions currently fighting in the Yemen Civil War.

Learn More – The Yemen Files (11/25/2017): https://wikileaks.org/yemen-files/document/

Browse Yemen Papers Release 4/25/2019:

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As was also reported by Amnesty International earlier today,

“These leaked documents provide clear evidence that French military equipment supplied to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is being widely used in the conflict in Yemen. Despite overwhelming evidence, Western arms supplied to the Saudi Arabia and UAE-led Coalition are being used to commit or facilitate possible war crimes and other serious violations of international humanitarian law in Yemen, states such as France have shamelessly flouted their international obligations by continuing to supply arms to Saudi Arabia and the UAE in violation of the Arms Trade Treaty.

Amnesty International’s repeated calls on the French Ministry of Defence to be transparent about French arms transfers since the conflict began have fallen on deaf ears. The information made public today should spur the French government to immediately suspend all arms transfers that could be used by any of the warring parties in Yemen – once and for all.”

Amnesty International has previously published an investigative report entitled “When Arms Go Astray,” outlining the destruction caused by US and European weapons shipments into Yemen at the hands of UAE and Saudi forces.

Read Full Investigation – When Arms Go Astray: https://arms-uae.amnesty.org/en/

As Amnesty International is also quick to point out, more than a quarter of a million people have signed Amnesty International’s petition calling on their governments to immediately stop arms transfers to Saudi Arabia and UAE.

Sign The Petition Here: https://www.amnesty.fr/controle-des-armes/petitions/yemen-stop-aux-ventes-darmes-francaises

You can also learn more about the situation in Yemen and other international efforts to stop arms exports to Saudi Arabia and UAE through the links/resources provided below.

Rogue Media Labs – Yemen Results: https://roguemedia.co/?s=Yemen&x=0&y=0

Learn More – Court Rules Criminal Complaint Against UK Parliament for Arming Saudi Arabia In Yemen Civil War Can Move Forward: https://roguemedia.co/2019/04/10/court-rules-criminal-complaint-against-uk-parliament-for-arming-saudi-arabia-in-yemen-civil-war-can-move-forward/

 

US Senate Releases Open Letter Urging US States Department To Talk Egyptian Military Tyrant/Dictator al-Sisi Down from Passing New Constitution

(AI) – Egypt’s authorities must end their crackdown against critics who oppose amendments to the Egyptian constitution, proposed by members of parliament, that will strengthen impunity for human rights violations, said Amnesty International. Many of those who have criticized the changes have been arrested or publicly vilified in the media. The organization is today publishing an analysis of the constitutional amendments which are currently being discussed by the Egyptian parliament. If passed, these measures will undermine the independence of the judiciary, expand military trials for civilians and could allow President Abdel Fattah to stay in power until 2034.

Download Full Analysis Report: https://www.amnesty.org/download/Documents/MDE1201472019ENGLISH.pdf

If passed, these constitutional amendments would worsen the devastating human rights crisis Egyptians are already facing. They would grant President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and security forces free rein to further abuse their powers and suppress peaceful dissent for years to come,” said Magdalena Mughrabi, Deputy Middle East and North Africa Director at Amnesty International. “The Egyptian parliament has a responsibility towards Egyptians to preserve what remains of the country’s judicial independence and adherence to international law and reject the proposed amendments.

A parliamentary vote on the amendments is due in the coming weeks and if passed – the new draft constitution will be put to a public referendum. “Since President al-Sisi came to power human rights in Egypt have catastrophically deteriorated. Egypt’s international allies must not stand by silently as the Egyptian authorities push through these amendments while bullying anyone who dares to criticize the changes into silence. In particular, the US authorities should use President al-Sisi’s visit to Washington DC this week to publicly condemn the proposed changes.” President al-Sisi is due to meet with President Donald Trump during a visit to Washington DC on 9 April.

In its analysis Amnesty International expresses concern that the amendments would strengthen the influence of the Egyptian military over government, remove the requirement for judicial review of draft legislation, as well as expanding notoriously unfair military trials for civilians and granting the President sweeping powers to manage judicial affairs and appoint senior judges.

Other amendments that have drawn criticism from opponents are the plans to extend the presidential term to six years and introduce a provision allowing President al-Sisi to run for two further presidential terms.

Crackdown targeting critics

The amendments have attracted considerable criticism including from a number of public figures, human rights organizations, political parties and the State Council Judges Club. The authorities have responded by intensifying their crackdown on freedom of expression, targeting people who have voiced opposition to the amendments with arbitrary arrest and detention, defamation and even cyber-attacks.

More than 57 people have been arrested so far in 2019, with Egyptian NGOs citing higher figures, for peacefully expressing their opinions or merely being perceived to do so – at least four of them for expressing their opposition to the constitutional amendments on social media. The arrests have followed a pattern repeatedly documented by Amnesty International whereby the victims are arrested without warrants in the early hours of the morning, before being forcibly disappeared for several days. They later reappear before a state security prosecutor who orders their detention pending investigation on charges of “membership in terrorist groups” and “disseminating false information.

Several public figures – including some members of parliament –  who have expressed their opposition to the amendments have been widely criticized in public and private media and been subjected to smear campaigns. Some opponents have faced homophobic slurs, as well as calls, including from fellow members of parliament, for their prosecution for “treason” and for their Egyptian nationality to be revoked.

Amnesty International has also documented a wave of phishing attacks, that likely originated from government backed bodies, targeting independent media organizations and human rights defenders who reported  on the authorities, including the role of the General Intelligence Service, in pushing for the constitutional amendments.

Translated Nile River Phishing Report: https://citizenlab.ca/2017/02/nilephish-report/

Last week, on 28 March, a court prevented activists from the Civil Democratic Movement, an opposition movement, from holding a protest against the constitutional amendments in front of parliament. Egypt’s Minister of Interior filed a request asking the court not to grant permission for the protest on the basis that it could “threaten public peace and security.” The court decision cited concerns that “anti-state elements may infiltrate the protest and assault the protestors, in order to frame security forces as assaulting protestors. The intimidation and harassment of people who peacefully express their opinions, including those critical of the constitutional amendments, has to end now,” said Magdalena Mughrabi.

Instead of stepping up this vicious crackdown against peaceful critics, Egypt’s authorities should scrap these amendments and ensure that any proposed future changes do not violate the country’s human rights obligations under international law.

Browse Full Report:

[pdf-embedder url=”https://roguemedia.co/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/MDE1201472019ENGLISH1.pdf” title=”MDE1201472019ENGLISH(1)”]


This report was originally published by Amnesty International on April 8th 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, Tweets, reports and PDF’s added and embedded by Rogue Media Labs

Report from UK’s Ministry of Defense Claims To Only Have Killed 1 Civilian In Combat Throughout Iraq & Syria Over The Years

I felt compelled to write this article here today after coming across a piece of information that downright enraged me yesterday. This would be the news that, according to the United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defense at least, UK forces have only killed 1 civilian in combat throughout the course of the Syrian Civil War and War in Iraq. The official report, along with files and statistics, was officially published by a European Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) going by the name of Action On Armed Violence towards the end of February – a report which also pretends to claim that British Forces are only responsible for the deaths of approximately 4,315 enemy combatants dating back to the beginnings of these armed conflicts dating back to 2003 and 2011.

However, according to another NGO going by the name of Rogue Security Labs, this report is absolutely asinine – and you can quote me on that. I say this because, according to UNICEF, over 560,000 people have died in the Syrian Civil War alone since the start of 2011. And according to Iraq Body Count (IBC), over 193,000 people have died in Iraq since the start of the War in 2003. This is not to mention the millions whom have been displaced by violence over the years, nor those who have died as a result of disease, famine or lack of resources in these countries over the same time period. Considering that the UK has been the single largest participant/donor to the US led coalition over the course of the last two decades, it’s an utterly absurd notion to think/state that the UK is only responsible for a little over 4,000 deaths. I mean honestly, who are they actually trying to fool or convince?

In response to news of the release yesterday, a spokesperson from Amnesty International stated: these statistics “beggars belief and show just how deeply in denial the Ministry of Defense is in its role of mass bombings – particularly in Mosul, Iraq and Raqqa, Syria.” Adding that “The US-led Coalition has admitted killing hundreds in Iraq and Syria. Why can’t the British own up to their role in this? The days in which powerful nations can subject foreign territories to massive bombardment and then refuse to admit and accept responsibility for the civilians that they kill and injure must be consigned to history.

To serve as proof refuting the MoD’s release, which can be found in its entirety at the very bottom of this article, Amnesty International has decided to republish all of their investigatory reports from recent battles in Iraq and Syria – evidence of just how widespread civilian casualties in Iraq and Syria have been, exposing just how ridiculous the MoD’s publication really is.

Full 70 pg Report – “WAR OF ANNIHILATION” The Devastating Toll The Syrian Civil War Has Taken On The Civilians of Raqqa, Syria: https://www.amnesty.org/download/Documents/MDE2483672018ENGLISH.PDF

No Where To Run, Trapped In Raqqa, Syria: https://raqqa-syria.amnesty.org/
Full 36 pg Investigative Report – Civilians Trapped In The Battle for Raqqa: https://www.amnesty.org/download/Documents/MDE2469452017ENGLISH.PDF

Civilians Bombed In Mosul, Iraq After Being Told Not To Flee Their Homes: https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2017/03/iraq-civilians-killed-by-airstrikes-in-their-homes-after-they-were-told-not-to-flee-mosul/
Full 50 pg Report – At Any Cost, The Civilian Casualties As The US Led Coalition Fights for Mosul, Iraq: https://www.amnesty.org/download/Documents/MDE1466102017ENGLISH.PDF

Download MoD’s Report for Yourself: https://roguemedia.co/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/UK_Ministry_of_Defense_Iraq_Syria_Casuality_List.pdf
Download Collated Data/Spreadsheet from Report: https://roguemedia.co/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/Enemies-KilledWounded-in-Action.xlsx

UK Ministry of Defense Causalities Report 2019:

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Egyptian Government Implicated In Massive Phishing Campaign Targeting Journalists, Political Activists & NGO’s Alike

(AI) – A new Amnesty International investigation has found a wave of digital attacks that likely originated from government-backed bodies starting from early January 2019 and involving multiple attempts to gain access to the email accounts of several prominent Egyptian human rights defenders, media and civil society organizations’ staff. The attacks appear to be part of a wider strategy, occurring amid an unprecedented crackdown on the same groups in what have turned Egypt into an “open-air” prison for critics. Because of the identities of the targets we have identified, the timing of these attacks, their apparent coordination and the notifications of state-sponsored attacks sent from Google, we conclude that these attacks were most likely carried out by, or on behalf of, the Egyptian authorities.

In recent years, the Egyptian authorities have been harassing civil society and undermining freedom of association and expression through an ongoing criminal investigation into NGOs and a repressive NGO law. The authorities have been investigating dozens of human rights defenders and NGO staff for “receiving foreign funding” Many of them could face prison if convicted. The investigative judges have also ordered a travel ban against at least 31 NGO staff, and asset freezes of 10 individuals and seven organizations. Meanwhile, the authorities have also closed El Nadeem Center for Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence and continue to detain human rights defenders Ezzat Ghoniemand Hisham Gaafar, directors of the Egyptian Coordination for Rights and Freedoms and Mada for media studies, respectively.

The list of individuals and organizations targeted in this campaign of phishing attacks has significant overlaps with those targeted in an older phishing attack wave, known as Nile Phish, disclosed in 2017 by the Citizen Lab and the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR).

Translated English Version: https://citizenlab.ca/2017/02/nilephish-report/

Full Nile Phish Report: 

[pdf-embedder url=”https://roguemedia.co/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/nilephish.pdf”%5D

Amnesty International is deeply concerned that these phishing attacks represent yet another attempt by the authorities to stifle Egyptian civil society and calls on the Egyptian authorities to end these attacks on human rights defenders, and the crackdown on civil society, including by dropping the foreign funding case and repealing the NGO law.

A new year and a new wave of attacks

Since January 2019 several human rights defenders and civil society organizations from Egypt started forwarding dozens of suspicious emails to Amnesty International. Through the course of our investigation we discovered that these emails were attempts to access the email accounts of their targets through a particularly insidious form of phishing known as “OAuth Phishing” (which we explain in detail below). We estimate the total number of targeted individuals to be in the order of several hundreds.

These coincided with a number of important events that took place in the country. In the run-up to the eighth anniversary of Egypt’s 25 January uprising, which ended with the removal of former president Hosni Mubarak, after 30 years in power, we recorded 11 phishing attacks against NGOs and media collectives. We saw another burst of attacks during French President Emmanuel Macron’s visit to Cairo to meet with President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi on 28 and 29 January. The attacks peaked on 29 January, the day that President Macron met with human rights defenders from four prominent Egyptian NGOs. Later, in the first week of February, several media organizations were targeted as part of this campaign of digital attacks; they were reporting on the process of amending the Egyptian Constitution that the parliament had just officially started.

The attacks all bear the same hallmarks and appear to be part of a coordinated campaign to spy on, harass and intimidate their targets. While definitive attribution is difficult, the selective targeting of human rights defenders from Egypt, particularly in concomitant with specific political events, suggests this current wave of digital attacks is politically, rather than financially, motivated.

Additionally, we learned that multiple targets of this campaign received an official warning from Google alerting that “government-backed attackers are trying to steal your password.

No photo description available.

Google warning to one of the targets – 19 January 2019

These elements reinforce the suspicion that a state-sponsored group might be behind this campaign, further contributing to the chilling effect on Egyptian civil society and silencing those who voice criticism of the government.

What an OAuth phishing attack looks like: Step by step

Traditional phishing attacks attempt to deceive the targets into providing their passwords by creating a fake clone of, for example, Google’s or Facebook’s login page. If the target is successfully lured into entering their password, the attacker then “steals” their credentials and can reuse these to access their email account. Typically, this kind of phishing attack can be prevented through the use of two-step verification procedures such as those provided by most mainstream platforms these days, or by authenticator apps, or even better, security keys.

However, in this phishing campaign we have documented in Egypt, the attackers instead leverage a simple but less known technique generally called “OAuth Phishing.” Rather than cloning a legitimate login prompt that aims to trick targets into entering their password on a dubious-looking site, OAuth Phishing abuses a legitimate feature of many online service providers, including Google, that allows third-party applications to gain direct access to an account. For example, a legitimate external calendar application might request access to a user’s email account in order to automatically identify and add upcoming events or flight reservations.

With OAuth Phishing, attackers craft malicious third-party applications that are disguised not to raise suspicion with the victims. (More information on this functionality is available on Google Support in English or Arabic). Here we provide a step by step look at the ways in which these attacks work, and we follow on below with some concrete ways that people can better protect themselves from these kinds of attacks.

Step 1

We identified a few variants of the phishing emails received by the human rights defenders who shared these with Amnesty International. In the most common case pictured below, the email imitates a security warning from Google and solicits the target to apply a “Secure Email” security update to their Google account.

Screen Shot Example of Phishing Email Used In Attack:

No photo description available.

Step 2

Clicking the “Update my security now” button directs to a page that initiates the OAuth authorization process of the malicious third-party application named by the attackers as “Secure Mail.

Step 3

At this point the target is requested to log into Google or choose an existing logged in account.

Screenshot of Google’s login prompt requesting authorization to the malicious app:

No photo description available.

Step 4

Now the target is asked to explicitly authorize the malicious “Secure Email” third-party application to be granted access to their email account. While this authorization prompt does contain a warning from Google, it may be overlooked as the user has been directed from what appeared to be a legitimate email from Google.

Screenshot of confirmation to authorize the malicious app on victim’s account:

No photo description available.

Step 5

Once the “Allow” button is clicked, the malicious “Secure Email” application is granted access to the target’s email account. The attackers are immediately able to read the email’s content, and the victims are directed to the real Google account settings page, which further reduces any suspicion on the part of the target that they have been victim of a fraudulent attack.

In addition to Google, we observed that the same attackers make use of similar tactics against Yahoo, Outlook and Hotmail users.

Defending Against OAuth Phishing

OAuth Phishing can be tricky to identify. Often, security education for individuals at risk does not include mentions of this particular technique. People are usually trained to respond to phishing by looking for suspicious domains in the browser’s address bar and by enabling two-factor verification. While those are very useful and important safety practices to adopt, they would not help with OAuth Phishing because victims are in fact authenticating directly through the legitimate site.

If you are an activist, human rights defender, journalist, or anyone else concerned about being targeted by these kinds of attacks, it is important to be alert whenever you are requested to authorize a third-party application on your accounts.

Occasionally it is a good exercise to review your account’s security settings and check for authorized external applications. In the case of this campaign, the malicious Secure Email application will appear authorized as pictured below.

No photo description available.

Screenshot of the malicious third-party applications used by the attackers as it appears in the Google account settings page

You might also want to consider revoking access to any other authorized application that you do not recognize or that you might have stopped using.

Google also offers an Advanced Protection Program that in addition to enforcing the authentication with a security key, disables third-party applications on your account. Beware that enabling this configuration introduces some limitations, so make sure it fits your particular requirements before enrolling.

Here you can find instructions on how to check for authorized third-party applications on your Yahoo account instead.

Get in touch

If you received any suspicious email like those we described in this report, or other forms of suspected targeted attack, you can contact us at share@amnesty.tech.

Appendix

Indicators of Compromise and attacks Infrastructure available here.

Following are screenshots of other phishing emails used in this same campaign:

No photo description available.

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This report was originally published by Amnesty International on March 5th 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 added and embedded by Rogue Media Labs

Understanding How/Why Non-Governmental Organizations Worldwide are Increasingly Coming Under Attack from Their Governments

(AI) – Governments across the world are increasingly attacking non-governmental organizations (NGOs) by creating laws that subject them and their staff to surveillance, nightmarish bureaucratic hurdles and the ever-present threat of imprisonment, Amnesty International said in a new report released today.

Entitled “Laws Designed to Silence: The Global Crackdown on Civil Society Organizations,” the report reveals the startling number of countries that are using bullying techniques and repressive regulations to prevent NGOs from doing their vital work. The report lists 50 countries worldwide where anti-NGO laws have been implemented or are in the pipeline.

Access/Download Full Report Here: https://www.amnesty.org/download/Documents/ACT3096472019ENGLISH.PDF

We documented how an increasing number of governments are placing unreasonable restrictions and barriers on NGOs, preventing them from carrying out crucial work,” said Kumi Naidoo, Secretary General of Amnesty International. “In many countries, organizations who dare to speak out for human rights are being bullied into silence. Groups of people who come together to defend and demand human rights are facing growing barriers to working freely and safely. Silencing them and preventing their work has consequences for everyone.

In the past two years alone, almost 40 pieces of legislation that interfere with the right to association and are designed to hamper the work of civil society organizations have been put in place or are in the works around the world. These laws commonly include implementing ludicrous registration processes for organizations, monitoring their work, restricting their sources of resources and, in many cases, shutting them down if they don’t adhere to the unreasonable requirements imposed on them.

A global problem

In October 2018, Pakistan’s Ministry of the Interior rejected registration applications from 18 international NGOs, and dismissed their subsequent appeals, without giving a reason.

NGOs in Belarus are subjected to strict state supervision. Working for those NGOs whose registration request is rejected (often arbitrarily) is a criminal offence.

In Saudi Arabia, the government can deny licenses to new organizations and disband them if they are deemed to be “harming national unity.” This has affected human rights groups, including women’s human rights groups, who have not been able to register and operate freely in the country.

https://twitter.com/ahmedbinrashid6/status/956975381608910848

In Egypt, organizations that receive funding from abroad need to comply with stringent and arbitrary regulations. This has led many human rights defenders being banned from travel, having their assets frozen and prosecuted. Some could face up to 25 years in prison if convicted of receiving foreign funding.

Amnesty International’s offices around the world have also come under attack. From India to Hungary, authorities have abused our staff, raided their offices and frozen their assets in a further escalation of their attack on local organizations,” said Kumi Naidoo.

Locked up for failing to comply

Many countries, such as Azerbaijan, China and Russia, have introduced further registration and reporting requirements for NGOs. Failure to comply means imprisonment, a punishment Azerbaijani human rights defender Rasul Jafarov, interviewed for the report, knows all too well. “I was arrested in connection with activism and demonstrations carried out with my Human Rights Club,” said Rasul, who was released from prison in 2016, after being detained for over a year. “This created an awful atmosphere. Those not arrested or investigated had to close their organizations or stop their projects. Many left Azerbaijan to work abroad.

This restrictive regulation means NGOs are under constant scrutiny by the authorities. In China, new legislation tightly controls the work of NGOs from registration and reporting to banking, hiring requirements and fundraising.

In Russia, the government has labelled NGOs who receive foreign funding “foreign agents” – a term synonymous with “spy,” “traitor” and “enemy of the state.” The government applies this legislation so broadly that even an organization supporting people with diabetes was heavily fined, put on the “foreign agents” register and forced to close in October 2018. Medical, environmental and women’s groups have also come under fire.

Ripple effect

The repressive policies of the Russian government have caused a ripple effect reaching several other countries. In Hungary, a number of NGOs are being forced to label themselves as “foreign funded” as the government seeks to discredit their work and turn the general public against them. Organizations failing to comply with these rules face high fines and ultimately the suspension of their activities. Organizations working in support of migrants and refugees have been purposefully targeted and their staff harassed after a new set of laws were passed in June 2018.

We don’t know what is going to happen to us and other organizations, and what laws will be passed next,” said Aron Demeter, from Amnesty International Hungary. “Several members of our staff have been subjected to online trolling, abuse and threats of violence. Some venues refused to host our events and there were schools that refused to hold human rights education activities for fear of repercussions.

In some countries, the attack on NGOs is particularly targeted against organizations that defend the rights of marginalized groups. Those promoting women’s rights, including sexual and reproductive health and rights, LGBTI rights, the rights of migrants and refugees and environmental groups are among the worst affected.

No one should be criminalized for standing up for human rights. World leaders should be aiming to guarantee equality and ensure people in their countries have better working conditions, proper health care, access to education and adequate housing – not targeting those who demand them,” said Kumi Naidoo. “Human rights defenders are committed to creating a better world for everyone. We’re not going to give up the fight, because we know how important this work is. World leaders reiterated their commitment to provide a safe environment for human rights defenders at the UN Headquarters in December 2018 during the 20th anniversary of the Declaration on HRDs. They must now ensure it becomes a reality.

Restrictive laws are also seen in many other countries, even those regarded as more open to civil society such as the UK, Ireland, Australia and the USA. According to CIVICUS, a global alliance of civil society organisations and activists, Amnesty International’s report has come at a pivotal time. “This report is timely given the proliferation of restrictions on the legitimate work of civil society organisations,” said Mandeep Tiwana, Chief Programmes Officer from CIVICUS. “By shining a spotlight on the challenges, those who support civil society and human rights values can help stem the tide.

Amnesty’s Full 54 Page Report:

[pdf-embedder url=”https://roguemedia.co/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/ACT3096472019ENGLISH.pdf”%5D

Notes to editors: Laws Designed to Silence: The Global Crackdown on Civil Society Organizationsis the third report in a series of publications from Amnesty International’s Brave campaign documenting the global crackdown on those who defend and promote human rights. Amnesty International’s Brave campaign aims to strengthen the recognition and protection of human rights defenders around the world.


This report was originally published by Amnesty International on February 21th 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, Tweets and PDF’s added and embedded by Rogue Media Labs

Russia Levies Heavy Fines On Independent News Media & Human Rights Organizations

(AI) – A wave of unfair, excessive and suffocating fines levied on independent Russian media, NGOs and human rights defenders represent a new assault on human rights in Russia, Amnesty International said today.

Once again the Russian authorities are targeting independent organizations and individuals – but this time their weapon is suffocating fines. Using a host of draconian laws, the authorities are levying one extortionate fine after another in what appears to be a coordinated attack to drive critical organizations out of existence altogether,” said Natalia Zviagina, Director of Amnesty International’s Office in Moscow.

The latest victim of this targeted attack is The New Times magazine, one of the leading critical media outlets in Russia. On 26 October, The New Times was fined 22,250,000 rubles (US$ 348,000) for “failure by an editor, a broadcaster or a publisher of a medium to provide information on receiving funds.” It’s the biggest fine so far imposed on media in Russia. The magazine was forced to discontinue its print edition in 2017 after its reputation for being disloyal to the regime meant it was abandoned by advertisers. Now faced with this heavy fine, The New Times is on the verge of bankruptcy.

Also on 26 October, the Andrey Rylkov Foundation – a prominent Russian group advocating for reforming drug policies – was fined 800,000 rubles (US$ 12,500) for distributing “propaganda of narcotic substances.” The article in question appeared in a bulletin that the foundation publishes on accessing health services for people who use drugs. “The same financial whip the authorities are using against their critics in the media, is simultaneously being used against those expressing dissident opinions on a range of policy issues,” said Natalia Zviagina.

Only a few days earlier, a court imposed an unusually heavy fine of 1,000,000 rubles (US$ 15,600) on Transparency International Russia after it lost a defamation case launched by a close associate of Vladimir Putin. At the same time, Russian courts have largely failed to protect human rights defenders from attacks on their reputation by state-controlled mainstream media.

Earlier in this month, Sergei Zykov, a human rights defender from Yekaterinburg, in the Urals, and Aleksandr Kunilovsky, an opposition activist from Tyumen, in northern Siberia, were fined 300,000 rubles (US$ 4,700) and 290,000 rubles (US$ 4,500), respectively, for violations of Russia’s unduly restrictive rules governing public assemblies. “We call on the Russian authorities to immediately halt this vicious assault on civil society organizations and stop using the repressive legislation to impose extortionate penalties,” said Natalia Zviagina.

Background

The New Times, Andrey Rylkov Foundation and Transparency International Russia have faced increased pressure from the Russian authorities, mainly due to the fact that all three organizations are recipients of foreign funding.

Article 13.15.1 of the Administrative Offences Code used against The New Times was introduced in 2015 as part of a campaign against independent media who have been forced to rely on foreign funding due to the lack of sufficient national resources accessible to them.

The Andrey Rylkov Foundation was listed as a “foreign agent” by the Ministry of Justice in 2016. Since then, the group has faced a drastic reduction in its budget due to its inability to generate sufficient funding from national sources.

Read More:

https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2018/06/russia-extortionate-fine-for-airing-drug-legalization-interview-a-repressive-act-of-censorship/

https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2017/02/russia-deeply-alarming-raid-targets-human-rights-activist-and-journalist-zoya-svetova/

https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2016/11/russia-four-years-of-putins-foreign-agents-law-to-shackle-and-silence-ngos/


This article was originally published by Amnesty International on October 29th 2018. 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 Tweets added by Rogue Media Labs