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Malaysian lawyers behind ‘walk for judicial independence’ facing police probe

Police blocked a group of 500 lawyers from marching near the Parliament

…we firmly maintain that any investigation … ought to be conducted without eroding judicial independence and public confidence in the existence of an independent Judiciary that will uphold justice in the process of administering justice.

It condemned the MACC for the way it announced its investigation.

…the unprecedented manner in which the MACC has publicly announced the commencement of the criminal investigation of a Superior Court Judge and disclosed the name of the judge to the public, for an indefinite period and without any proper decision or closure, which is tantamount to an act of intimidation against the Judiciary.

What was intended to be a walk for judicial independence and upholding the doctrine of separation of powers, ended up becoming an unwarranted and inexplicable display of state power and intimidation by the (police).

The actions of the police have set a bad example for the citizenry, as it conveys the message that citizens are not free to exercise their constitutional rights even when they comply with the law, and that a law enforcement agency can and will act with impunity and unlawfully, just because they are in a position of power to do so.

There is no need for them (enforcement agencies) to announce who is involved … telling the media about the investigation.

I do not see anything wrong about investigating judges implicated in criminal wrongdoings. We are not saying a crime has been committed, as it is only at the investigation stage.

Despite its membership of the Human Rights Council, the government continues to fall short on its human rights protections at home. The government’s continuous clampdown on activists and critical voices undermines the pledges it made to promote and protect human rights while seeking election to the Human Rights Council.

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The overturning of Roe vs. Wade unsettles the Caribbean, most of which doesn't have progressive abortion laws

‘In many CARICOM countries, abortion is not an option …’

In case you missed it, the USA yesterday finally came out of the closet and revealed itself as a full fledged theocracy. […]

What is troubling about Roe vs Wade is this, laws are meant to protect all members of a society, as far as is possible – not just a select few – and the overturning of the ruling opens the flood gates for all kinds of other rights and civil liberties to be tampered with or changed entirely. And it is a political faction that spouts and promotes Christian virtues that is at the heart of getting this ruling overturned.

The overturning of Roe vs Wade puts the state in a position where it is policing the bodies of women without giving them viable options and solutions for unwanted pregnancies. And it is promoting the change in the decision as good Christian values. […]

So the USA, a society of multiple cultures, has declared itself as a Christian state. But a selective Christian state, protecting the privileges of a particular group.

He wasn't the only one:

Thomas’ wife Virginia is white.

What time is it in America?

*checks watch*

I've said it once, and I'll say it a thousand times: The treatment for an ectopic pregnancy, a septic uterus, or a miscarriage that your body won't release is abortion. If you can't get those abortions, you die. You. Die.

*So women should give you sex freely with no marriage, they should either put chemicals in their bodies before or after sex so you can enjoy the pleasure of sex without the responsibility of children. But if they get pregnant and don't want to go through the pregnancy, they shouldn't be able to access safe healthcare and should revert to backyard methods to terminate the pregnancy… […]

Mankind: Yes! Put that in the law for them! And back it up with some religious quotes for the extra razzle dazzle.

*Have you asked them what they want?

Mankind: Why should they have a say over what they can and cannot do with their bodies?

Quite a few Caribbean social media users were struck by the incongruity of regional citizens feeling so despondent about the Supreme Court's decision:

Anyway, idk how much footing Jamaica has in criticising the overturning of Roe v Wade; our own laws criminalise abortion and only a few MPs have declared where they stand on it.

Others suggested the decision would signal regression for any steps made thus far regarding reproductive rights in Jamaica:

Roe V. Wade was a very impactful case within the Western world at large. Jamaica had somewhat begun the process of educating people about abortion rights and this is gonna impact those talks majorly now.

Any prospects for the legalization of abortions in Jamaica died within the overturning of Roe v Wade.

Idk if I’m sad because our gov is reactive and we can’t have anything if it’s not in line with American standards or if I’m sad ‘cause the US is more of a mess. . .

An important part of the conversation to be had:

The overturning of Roe v Wade also means that trans men and non-binary people may not be able to legally access abortions.

There's an opportunity for Barbados in this Roe v. Wade situation…

If we add the availability of abortions to our tourism marketing portfolio, our economy could reap some benefits.

In many CARICOM countries, abortion is not an option […] except to ‘save a woman's life’ as in Antigua and Barbuda and Dominica, or to ‘preserve health,’ which applies in the Bahamas, Grenada, St Kitts-Nevis, St Lucia, and Trinidad and Tobago. Haiti, Jamaica and Suriname prohibit abortion altogether. Only three countries have a more progressive stance on this issue: Guyana allows abortions on request up to a gestational limit of 8 weeks, and Barbados and St Vincent and the Grenadines allow abortions for ‘broad social or economic grounds, rape, incest, and foetal impairment’.

Nevertheless, he says, it is “an open secret that abortions are performed, as a matter of practice, throughout the Caribbean,” and the existing status quo criminalises both the women who get them and the doctors who perform them:

Undoubtedly, apart from women deeply inculcated with religious dogma that oppose abortions, the time cannot be far off when women, throughout the Caribbean, like the women of the U.S., will use their voting power to demand the right to choose whether or not to have an abortion.

Adding that “men who share the responsibility for unwanted pregnancies […] should also join the fight to safeguard women's right to choose,” and that “Caribbean governments and legislators should open their ears to the position of women on this issue,” Sanders concluded:

It is their bodies, their health and their future that are at stake.

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Memes, mourning and metaphors as Hong Kong's iconic Jumbo Floating Restaurant sinks in South China Sea

Some suggested Jumbo’s fate was a metaphor for Hong Kong’s future

Jumbo Floating Restaurant on June 14, 2022. Photo via Tom Grundy/HKFP used with permission.

The barge was forced to leave Hong Kong as it could not sustain its restaurant business due to the city's pandemic restrictions. The vessel started sinking when being towed to Cambodia.

Photoshop master SurrealHK was among two artists who appeared to predict Jumbo’s destiny. He shared an image of Jumbo entering its watery grave on June 14.

On June 21, SurrealHK posted an updated image of the ill-fated Jumbo flotilla in its heavenly afterlife.

News producer  James Ockenden (@Transit_Jam) posted an image of Jumbo parked at the Chinese military base in the disputed archipelago.

Some suggested Jumbo’s fate was a metaphor for Hong Kong’s future, whilst others shared conspiracy theories that the incident was an ill-intentioned bid for a high insurance payout.

Hong Kong-based duo illustrators, “All Things Bright and Beautiful”, shared an image of the sunken vessel with the quote: “[I] can imagine how happy the fish will be.”

The Marine Department had demanded a report from Aberdeen Restaurant Enterprises on the incident and told the press that Jumbo’s owners had hired surveyors to ensure it was sea-worthy, though they had failed to inform the authorities of the accident before news of it was publicised.

“Despite the efforts of the towing company responsible for the trip to rescue the vessel, unfortunately, it capsized on Sunday,” the restaurant’s owner said on Monday night in a statement.

The company added that, since the water depth exceeded 1,000 metres, it would be too difficult to carry out salvage work.

The restaurant’s owners had suffered accumulated deficits of more than HK 100 million (USD 12.7 million) since 2013 whilst various plans to revitalise it in Hong Kong fell through.

When approached by HKFP, the Hong Kong Observatory confirmed that weather conditions had been poor in the region where Jumbo sank over the weekend.

“According to our Marine Forecast over the seas near Paracel Islands on 18 and 19 June, there were moderate to fresh southerly winds, occasionally strong. Isolated showers and thunderstorms. Sea wave up to 3 [metres],” it said on Tuesday.

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A corny TV exorcism possesses Turkish social media

The self declared metaphysics expert took social media by storm

On June 19, a new episode of the TV show “Her Açıdan” (From all angles) show aired on Beyaz TV that normally airs pro-government content and interviews. Hürman went all in during the episode, gesturing grandly and muttering nonsense in order to cleanse the studio and all those inside, including the tv presenter, and probably the viewers too, of the demons in the room. Hürman boasted on the show that she can complete her cleansing ceremonies in a minute and a half to four minutes.

Actress Aslı Inandık, responded with a satirical take in a video she shared on Twitter:

Donut

Inandık, picked out one of the words, Hürman used in her ceremony, which was “donat.” The alleged metaphysics expert was likely referring to the term “equip,” but Inandık, by switching the ceremonial text, sprinkled it with humor referring to the actual pastry, “donut.”

The “donat” did cause some confusion:

When you say donat sister, do you mean chocolate donut or setting a table?

Other Twitter users chimed in as well:

The one-minute sequence you will experience after the 20th second will make you forget the sum of every nonsensical thing you have ever experienced in your life.

One user joked that the segment summed up the last 20 years of the Justice and Development party (AKP) rule.

Bunu hiç kimse böyle net yapamadı bugüne kadar.

#PelinHürman actually summed up the last 20 years of this madhouse. No one has ever been able to do this so clearly.

Selçuk Tekin said his wife had been suffering from psychological problems and was told by the family members that she might be “harmed by a djinn.”

It is not every day that one gets to watch an exorcism performed live on television.

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Undertones: Is there a perversion of decolonial narratives in Mali?

While Mali's relations with France turn sour, pro-Russian narratives gain prominence in the region

Illustration by Global Voices.

Mali is going through an information war that puts anticolonialist narratives at the forefront. The country’s military junta — which deposed the increasingly unpopular president Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta in 2020 — blames all of Mali’s woes on its former colonial power, France. In the meantime, Russian mercenaries have gained power in the country’s narratives and territory.

For our Malian researchers, the military’s government’s emphasis on France’s presence and not on the country’s crumbling democracy “is a perversion of the decolonial discourse.”

#Mali: French army goes ahead and streams for the first time surveillance images recorded less than 24 hours ago showing “Russian mercenaries” burrying bodies near the #Gossi based recently evacuated by #Barkhane f24.my/8ZRX.T @FRANCE24

Amid this backdrop of competing narratives, some dissenting voices criticize Mali’s military junta. In particular, popular religious leaders have a large responsibility in weighing on public opinion. 

Imam dicko [sic.] [is] very upset

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Amanat anthology: Women writers from Kazakhstan make their voices heard in English

Women writers are often literary translators and cross languages

 

Part of the cover of the Amanat anthology of Kazakhstani women's writing in English, from publishers, Used with permission.

Zaure Batayeva, photo used with permission.

Global Voices asked both of them how they navigated the relationship between Kazakh and Russian in their choices for pieces and own practice of translation into English. Fairweather-Vega explains one of the goals was to showcase the linguistic diversity of Kazakhstan, thus there was a careful selection of texts from seven authors who mostly write in Russian and six who mostly write in Kazakh, all translated directly into English to avoid bridge translations. Noting that most of the authors featured are themselves translators, she adds:

We tried to honor each author’s bilingualism in translating their work; we were sensitive to instances when a Russian word was being treated as a foreign word in a Kazakh text, for example, as opposed to when that Russian word was offered up as a more “normal” word.

Batayeva explains there is a clear separation between the two linguistic communities yet the border does not necessarily overlap with the ethnic divide:

The stories in our collection don’t mix the two languages because their characters don’t mix with characters from the other linguistic group — they live in two different worlds. This reflects the social reality of Kazakhstan very well. Kazakh speakers, who constitute almost 60 percent of the country’s citizens, have developed a culture that is profoundly different from Russian culture. Kazakh speakers with a higher level of education tend to know Russian because Russian is the language of the country’s so-called elite. You need to know Russian if you want a job that pays a living wage. Nonetheless, the vast majority of Kazakh speakers prefer to stay in their own cultural environment as much as possible.

On the other side of the sociolinguistic divide, there are the Russian speakers, who tend to know Kazakh poorly or not at all and who prefer to interact with the speakers of that language as little as possible. This lack of interest clearly shows in some of the stories in our collection. I don’t mean this as a critique, but as an observation. Writers are human beings. Besides, if writers became too aware of their own prejudices and blind spots, they would probably stop producing interesting stories.

Shelley Fairweather-Vega, used with permission.

One of the most interesting debates in literary translation is about the position of the translation: how far or close should it be from the original, and thus from the receiving audience? In other words, is the task of the translator to explain cultural and historical context or leave it to the reader to either ignore it or educate themselves about a culture they are not familiar with? In the case of “Amanat”, the publisher Gaudy Boy has a policy of not italicizing non-English words, thus words such as kolkhoze or dombyra (a musical instrument) are embedded in the text. Here is how Fairweather-Vega views this issue:

I am one of those into-English translators who is firmly opposed to adding explanatory footnotes in fiction. I much prefer inserting just a minimum of additional information, when absolutely necessary to keep readers from feeling completely lost in the cultural milieu. But even letting readers feel a little lost seems all right to me. It’s only fair to remind readers that they are the strangers here, in this environment, and they have something to learn. One decision we made easily was to translate many Kazakh idioms, sayings, and metaphors rather literally into English, to let common elements of imagery and attitude shine through in the English. I think Zaure did a great job of this in Aigul Kemelbayeva’s “Hunger,” which uses a lot of imagery that relies on plants, animals, and food that don’t often appear in English-language literature. The narrator tells us “My poverty was wrapping around me like a bindweed,” mentions that “a young wolf does not show its thinness, but lets it fur bloat instead”.

Fairwearther-Vega makes an interesting point when remarking that:

There also is probably some truth to the cliché that translation is, still, often “women’s work,” one of those nurturing professions, in which, many cultures seem to agree, women tend to excel. If translation is a nurturing activity, what are we nurturing when we translate? Better communication, I suppose, as a result of better understanding. I firmly believe that the more stories we hear or read, the more we’ll be able to exercise empathy for our fellow human beings of all genders and languages.  

What if, by helping the women of Kazakhstan tell their stories around the world, they’re able to find more moral, practical, and political support when push comes to shove geopolitically? What if it helps prevent any dangerous ideas that Kazakhstan isn’t a real country anyway, or is too alien for us in the West to bother with? This might be overly optimistic of me, but these thoughts still run through my head constantly while I translate Central Asian literature. Increasing exposure for writers (of any gender, from any country in the region) simply has to help somehow.

As both curators remark, the stories also tell about economic changes, social unrest from the perspective of women who have to face corruption, sexual harassment, make difficult choices about migration and work

Batayeva concludes:

Many of the stories in our collection also show how foggy the past has become for us Kazakhs. Before Kazakh writers can begin to reflect on the challenges of today and tomorrow, they will first have to find the courage to reflect on the horrors and mysteries of their shared traumatic past. As long as we don’t recover our past, we won’t even know who we are.

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Ending violence against women across the peacetime–wartime continuum

Sexual violence is easily the oldest weapon of war

Content notice: this article contains mention of rape, sexual violence, violence against women, genocide, and other topics readers may find disturbing.

In armed conflict, women are deliberately targeted with the specific intention of harming the societies they belong to, or opportunistically harmed, outside of a campaign, with no fear of sanction because the breakdown of the security and justice sectors provides an enabling environment. The devastation caused by war means that women have fewer means to seek redress, if any. And yet, precious little seems to have been done to address this violence.

The absence of a dedicated, binding treaty specific to ending violence against women and girls at the global level is a huge issue. Today, women’s lived experiences of armed conflict continue to be erased, side-lined in peace processes, and buried under hasty attempts at peace through amnesty that sacrifices justice.

One way to address this is by establishing a global, binding treaty to end violence against women. Such a treaty would require the rollout of legal mechanisms at the domestic level, the provision of survivor services, and the facilitation of prevention education. A treaty would lay the foundation for a minimum standard for the protection of women and girls from violence. This standard would bind all states equally. Law reforms at the state level would bring individual legal systems up to par with the global norm, and translate standards of prevention and redress into action at the grassroots.

A treaty to end violence can pave the way for a future in which violence against any woman, anywhere in the world, is acknowledged as unacceptable and actionable. Ultimately, a feminist future is one that is bereft of any form of militarized exchange. As we chase that dream we must be clear-eyed about curbing violence against women during both peace and war. A global treaty would go a long way to ensure that they “Stop Raping Us!”

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Brazilian facial recognition ruling can set an important precedent for country-wide use

The lawsuit stems from the suspected commercialization of metro-user data

Image courtesy Laís Martins

At the beginning of March 2022, this group filed a civil public lawsuit against the São Paulo State Metro, demanding that they interrupt this data collection and pay compensation for collective moral damages of at least BRL 42 million (around USD 8.5 million).  

But the group aspires to have a larger impact beyond the tracks of the São Paulo subway system. They strive to play a part in forming jurisprudence about facial recognition technologies in a country whose legal framework says little to nothing about such systems. 

Carvalho explained that the core aim of the lawsuit is to spark the debate on how to handle personal data, the need for consent, and the discriminatory impact and social prejudices of these data collection methods.

“This lawsuit [including the arguments in it] opens the way for us to establish more protective parameters in regards to the use of personal data,” the lawyer told Global Voices during a video interview.

Two years later, that question has been answered. According to the organizations behind the lawsuit, the system repeatedly violates the LGPD and goes against other legal mechanisms, such as the Federal Constitution, the Statute for Children and Teenagers, and the Code for Consumer Rights.

The lawsuit claims that the São Paulo Metro company is using facial recognition technology on passengers and using their personal data without consent, without due transparency, and is not making information about the data available to users, such as what it will be used for and how it will be treated.

They also point that the company did not assess the risk of the program or mitigate the issues inherent to facial recognition technologies, as required by law. Moreover, its facial recognition practices violate fundamental human and consumer rights, which harms all public transportation users, particularly marginalized social groups, who would be affected by incorporated racial biases.

Despite having little evidence that such a system is successful for public security purposes, in July 2021, Bahia's government decided to expand the program by piloting a new system in the state's capital, Salvador.

Valued at BRL 18 million (USD 3.56 million), the new system is provided by Spanish firm Iecisa in partnership with Huawei. Cameras spread across the city will collect faces id and archive them in a system, grouping together images of the same person. The system, according to the Intercept, also uses artificial intelligence to cross the collected images with faces that are in the State Public Security Secretary's database for wanted individuals.

According to civil society actors, Brazil still lacks a legal framework that establishes limits and parameters for the use of facial recognition technologies.

The fact that Brazil does not have a consolidated legal framework, however, is not a hall pass for abuse and violations. The civil society groups who filed the lawsuit against the São Paulo Metro argue that the data being collected in subway stations and trains is illegally being commercialized.

At the time, the judge wrote that she had no doubts that passengers’ images were being captured without their consent for commercial purposes that benefit the company and other third-party firms involved.

“We are importing technology in a very non-conscious manner, simply reproducing what was being applied. And even a flawed reproduction, considering that most of these countries have abandoned these technologies. But these countries they need to sell this technology, which is extremely expensive, and use countries with a high inequality rate,” explained Carvalho.

She adds that Brazil operates under a logic of mass incarceration, of criminalization, without being able to use the criminal law parsimoniously for conflicts that truly require it.

“We use it as a first resource and not the last. So it is more permissive for mechanisms like these, which violate rights, to find space to bloom inside our country.”

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Illegal timber trade persists in The Gambia's Upper River Region

The timber “criminals” have the backing of government officials

One of the trees illicitly felled in Kundam, Tumana District of The Gambia's Upper River Region. Image by The Alkamba Times

Despite this move and some other amendments made in the Forest Act, which criminalizes the export of timber out of the country, many individuals and well-connected government officials are still involved in the trade at the expense of poor communities on either their preserved forests or farmlands for agriculture purpose resulting in constant illegal logging.

Engaging actively in this lucrative trade are small operators along with big players working underground – being either business operators or government officials – all of whom feed their self-interests while ignoring or unconcerned about the legality or otherwise of the way the forest products involved are acquired.

Villagers alleged that the “unknown culprits” engaged in the illicit act were working with URR's Forestry Department officials.

“I was informed by one of the farmers in our village about this massive illegal activity happening on their farmland in Makubeh Jawo. The Forest Guard in Tumana was informed, but he never took action at the time,” Alhagie Fofana, a native Tumana explained.

“It happened last year around the swamps of the village where a large number of trees were cut down. So when it happened again this year, the villagers were frustrated and wanted to take drastic action. I pleaded with them and went to the Forestry Office in Basse where they said that they are not aware of the trees being felled in that area,” Fofana said.

In URR, it is easy to find small groups of individuals felling three to four trees a day in the most vulnerable areas, mostly on farmlands and preserved forests. Many such groups operate daily, usually in the middle of the night. This illegal timber is later exported by dealers without documents or with improper documentation.

Rural communities like Kundam that are victims of these practices depend on the forest products for some of their needs and for survival such as food, fuel wood, housing, and fencing, materials which are all obtained from the forest. 

Consequently, they are pushed into difficult survival situations when, for instance, their sources of firewood for cooking from the forest are affected by constant illegal logging.

Then questions arise: How did such massive cutting of large numbers of trees for timbers be carried out without knowing the “criminals”? When logs are confiscated, who are the people involved and working behind the scenes?

 “Two of the trees were fallen on my farm. I slept for two days at the farm, but I could not catch the culprits. I later took a tractor and took the logs to my home,” Kajang Balisah, a farmer alleged. “But to be honest, the Forestry Department is enriching themselves in this trade. They will send these people to fell the trees and then turn round and pretend that they are not aware, then take the logs away and sell them,” Balisah noted in an interview.

In response to this claim, the Forestry Officer (RFO) in URR, Yankuba Bajo said:

It was at the later part of the activity when two people from Tumana informed us about it. Then, I sent my officers to monitor the situation. We came to understand that it was happening on the farmlands of Kundam where we found about 29 logs. We engaged the Alkalo of the village, but he told us he was not aware of it. Then we confiscated the logs.

Bajo also stated that often people claim that it is the Forestry Department that gave them a permit, and he advised the public to be vigilant and report any person found felling trees with false documents.

From January to May 2022, the RFO revealed that his office has issued only one permit to authorize the felling of trees, which was given for a single tree. And that had to go through a process involving the Alkalo, Chief, Forest Guard of the area, Regional Forest Officer, Governor, Director of Forestry, and finally to the Ministry, he explained. Then if it is approved, the individual has to pay based on the type of tree he or she wants to cut down.

“Where the forest product is abandoned or where the person suspected of having committed the offense has absconded after the seizure, the forest produce should be handed over to the Divisional Forest Officer who, after obtaining an order of a Magistrate, may – sell such forest produce and pay the proceeds to the state as specified in section 8 of the Act after deducting the expenses of the sale or allocate such forest produce to the use of the Government; or destroy such forest produce when necessary,” the Forest Act further stipulates.

“When we seized the logs, we monitor the place for a week, but when we could not find the culprits, then we open a bid and sell the logs. The proceeds are deposited into the National Forestry Fund at the Central Bank of The Gambia. The logs were sold for D12,200 ($222 USD),’’ Bajo revealed.

Despite this buyer being given a movement permitted by the Forestry Office in URR, which is a document prepared to freely transport the logs from Kundam to its final destination without any hindrance, an eye-witness in Kundam still claimed that the logs were smuggled by covering them with bags of groundnut hay.

“The Forest Guard with his boss came with a truck to pick the logs. I saw the logs which were more than 30. They bought about 240 bags of groundnut hay and used them to cover the logs. I am sure they were smuggling the logs to transport them to Kombo,” he alleged, as he explained what could be a trick used by some timber transporters.

However, the RFO refuted this allegation and claimed that where such a thing happens then it is at the discretion of the driver transporting the logs to add and carry other materials like bags of groundnut hay to make additional money.

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