human rights – Handful Of Hate http://handfulofhate.com/ Tue, 12 Apr 2022 20:31:52 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.9.3 https://handfulofhate.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/icon-150x150.png human rights – Handful Of Hate http://handfulofhate.com/ 32 32 Middle East police search phones of LGBTQ+ people to jail them https://handfulofhate.com/middle-east-police-search-phones-of-lgbtq-people-to-jail-them/ Mon, 07 Mar 2022 01:00:00 +0000 https://handfulofhate.com/middle-east-police-search-phones-of-lgbtq-people-to-jail-them/ WhatsApp, Grindr and Facebook were once a place where gay, bisexual and trans Arabs could find freedom. Now their digital footprints could land them behind bars By Maya Gebeily and Avi Asher-Schapiro BEIRUT/LOS ANGELES, March 7 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) — Before leaving home in the morning, Omar carefully uninstalls the apps on his phone one […]]]>

WhatsApp, Grindr and Facebook were once a place where gay, bisexual and trans Arabs could find freedom. Now their digital footprints could land them behind bars

By Maya Gebeily and Avi Asher-Schapiro

BEIRUT/LOS ANGELES, March 7 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) — Before leaving home in the morning, Omar carefully uninstalls the apps on his phone one by one — no WhatsApp, no Facebook, no Grindr.

“The paranoia is constant,” said the 19-year-old gay Egyptian, who asked the Thomson Reuters Foundation not to identify his hometown or real name for his safety.

If a policeman searched his phone, a single WhatsApp chat or Facebook selfie could be enough to see Omar prosecuted under laws banning ‘debauchery’ and ‘prostitution’ – routinely used in Egypt to criminalize citizens for are homosexual.

Wiping your phone has become a daily routine.

“It’s like brushing my teeth,” Omar said.

Around the world, marginalized communities fear that the internet is no longer a safe space for them as surveillance grows and hate speech goes unchecked.

An in-depth study of court records released on Monday found that police forces in Tunisia, Egypt and Lebanon are increasingly relying on digital tools to identify, entrap and prosecute LGBTQ+ people – “increasing anti-terrorism surveillance.” -queer”.

Study by researcher Afsaneh Rigot, with support from data rights group Article 19 and Harvard Law School, reveals how the safety of LGBQT+ people in the Middle East can be compromised by their digital footprints .

Rigot reviewed redacted documents for 29 cases against LGBTQ+ people in Egypt, Tunisia and Lebanon from 2011 to 2020, including gay men, lesbians, trans women and non-citizens, and interviewed nearly two dozen victims and defenders.

Authorities have used the presence of certain apps, images deemed “effeminate” and even innocuous conversations to prosecute people under a mix of anti-LGBTQ+ and cybercrime laws, according to its 130-page report.

Egyptian police have used undercover operations to trick people through dating apps, while authorities in Tunisia and Lebanon have imposed additional charges after searching detainees’ phones, he said.

Tunisia’s justice and interior ministries, the Egyptian interior ministry and the spokesperson for the Lebanese security forces did not respond to requests for comment.

The study found that the phones of LGBTQ+ people were treated as a virtual “crime scene” – treasure troves to be searched for “evidence”.

The official exploitation of suspects’ social media and messaging apps to build a case signals an alarming new trend, he said.

“Their identity is on trial,” Rigot said.

“To survive, queer people are forced to erase and hide key parts of themselves on the internet.”

EASIER TO PURSUE

In Lebanon, advocates have documented hundreds of cases of LGBTQ+ people charged with Article 534 of the penal code criminalizing “unnatural” sexual acts.

In Tunisia, “sodomy” is punishable by up to three years in prison, and police are increasingly classifying digital communications between LGBTQ+ people as online “misdemeanors”, the report notes.

Egyptian authorities have been the most aggressive in targeting the gay community, Rigot and other lawyers have found, with cases often referred to newly empowered “economic courts” that prosecute the “misuse” of telecommunications.

Egyptian police are “targeting gay hotspots…just arresting random people based on their appearance and…searching their phones and if they find anything…they use it as evidence to further the case,” said one. victim interviewed in the report.

“Many countries now apply cybercrime laws in these cases, as opposed to anti-LGBT laws,” said Rasha Younes, who studies LGBTQ+ rights in the region for Human Rights Watch.

These tactics destroyed the “wiggle room” the online world had given gay people in largely homophobic societies, she said, describing the impact as “absolutely devastating”.

Omar in Egypt says he lives a double life. He never talks about being gay on WhatsApp, uses fake names on all dating apps, would never meet a romantic interest online in person, and avoids neighborhoods where police can set up checkpoints.

“I have to live like a spy,” he said. “Hardly anyone knows who I really am.”

DESIGN FAULTS

With Tunisia in political upheaval, Lebanon in financial crisis and Egypt widely curtailing civil liberties, advocates in each country said comprehensive legal reform was unlikely.

Instead, LGBTQ+ organizations and lawyers are advising communities to wipe their devices regularly, offering advice on digital safety, and winning lawsuits over technical issues.

“I tell my clients, ‘don’t leave anything on your phone – always assume the phone will be confiscated,'” said Youmna Makhlouf in Lebanon who has defended LGBTQ+ people in court.

Tunisian lawyer Alaa Khameri said he secured acquittals or deferred convictions against LGBTQ+ people by showing that searches of phones and laptops were carried out without a warrant.

“Lawyers use this lack of permission and authorization as our legal defense,” he said.

The report also said there was “corporate complicity in pursuing LGBTQ people in Egypt, Lebanon and Tunisia,” meaning the apps also shared some responsibility.

Each of those interviewed by Rigot mentioned popular messaging platform WhatsApp as potentially exposing them, and the report found that screenshots of it were used to try to prove someone was LGBTQ+ in the near future. of 30 cases.

“Most of the apps we use are not designed for gay people in a high-risk environment,” said Ramy Raoof, an Egyptian privacy expert. “It forces gay people to become digital security experts on their own.”

Some companies have taken action.

WhatsApp offers vanishing messages and end-to-end encrypted backups for added security, its public policy officer Kathryn Harnett said.

“When you design with the groups most at risk in mind, it benefits everyone,” she said.

Grindr has rolled out several features, including locked screenshots, routine security notices, and a version of the dating app that can be installed discreetly, some tailored to specific high-risk countries.

“We’ve taken it upon ourselves to try to reduce the amount of evidence available to the police as much as possible,” said Grindr’s equality director Jack Harrison.

He said companies should constantly update their tools to protect vulnerable users, but not completely retreat from dangerous places.

“The benefits of providing the space and opportunity for queer people to connect far outweigh the risks,” he said.

Rigot agreed that LGBTQ+ and mainstream apps are key connecting bridges in environments that can be hostile and lonely.

“It’s a vibrant and beautiful online community,” she said, but added that platforms could ensure the safety of all users by prioritizing the most vulnerable.

“Technology is not neutral in this context.”

Related stories:

LGBT+ conversion therapy: Banned on Facebook, but thriving in Arabic

Arab filmmakers tackle gender taboos on the big screen

Arabs talk about sex and taboos on the Clubhouse app, but for how long?

(Reporting by Avi Asher-Schapiro in Los Angeles and Maya Gebeily in Beirut, Editing by Lyndsay Griffiths and Katy Migiro. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, which covers the lives of people around the world struggling to live freely or fairly. Visit http://news.trust.org)

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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Malawi: Ministry of National Unity calls for peaceful co-existence after hate speech against Asian Malawians https://handfulofhate.com/malawi-ministry-of-national-unity-calls-for-peaceful-co-existence-after-hate-speech-against-asian-malawians/ Mon, 28 Feb 2022 12:24:27 +0000 https://handfulofhate.com/malawi-ministry-of-national-unity-calls-for-peaceful-co-existence-after-hate-speech-against-asian-malawians/ In what appears to be a reaction to political, economic and social rights activist Ken Msonda’s statement accusing people of Asian descent of posing as Malawians because they hold dual nationality, the Ministry of National Unity intervened, saying it amounted to promoting hate speech; racist violence and xenophobic remarks. In a statement, Minister Timothy Mtambo […]]]>

In what appears to be a reaction to political, economic and social rights activist Ken Msonda’s statement accusing people of Asian descent of posing as Malawians because they hold dual nationality, the Ministry of National Unity intervened, saying it amounted to promoting hate speech; racist violence and xenophobic remarks.

In a statement, Minister Timothy Mtambo said that while recognizing the right to peaceful protest in accordance with Chapter 4, Section 38 of the Constitution of the Republic of Malawi, the ministry also appeals “to all against incitement to racially motivated violence and all forms of discrimination”.

“Let us remember that Malawi is governed by laws and everything we do must be done within the bounds of the law.”

Msonda released a voice note on social media explosively pleading with Malawians to stand firm with Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) Director General Martha Chizuma, who has been sued by corruption suspect Ashok Kumar Streedharan for alleged defamation.

Msonda argued that these suspects, who are of Asian descent, should be treated as posing as Malawians since they hold dual nationality, but they claim the UK as their homeland with Malawi as just a base. to “steal” government money by illegal means.

Minister Mtambo is becoming aware that this has led to multiple attacks flooding social media platforms.

“The right to freedom of opinion and expression is sacred to all of us, in accordance with Articles 34 and 35 respectively,” Mtambo said. “However, we must simultaneously exercise these freedoms with great caution without having to infringe the human rights and freedoms of others, including the right to economic activity in article 29, and the right to citizenship as stipulated in Article 47 of the Constitution.

“Having a problem with one or two members of a group should not equate to profiling the entire race of Malawian-Asian descent. Citizens are encouraged to respect the rule of law and always allow due process regular to follow its course.

Mtambo therefore calls on the general public, protest organizers and all peace-loving Malawians “to refrain from using statements that could incite racial violence against fellow Asians and the Asian business community.” .

“In the same vein, Asian Malawians are advised to avoid provocative responses that could lead to unnecessary further tension – two wrongs don’t make a right.

“The ministry engages with all relevant stakeholders and takes all necessary steps to ensure that any kind of dispute and misunderstanding is always resolved amicably and in a timely manner.

“The mandate of the ministry is to foster and prioritize peace and dialogue,” says Mtambo while strongly condemning all forms of hate speech and discrimination in accordance with Article 20 of the Constitution of the Republic of Malawi .

“We call on the general public to always refrain from hate speech, provocative statements and any conduct that may cause disunity. As peace-loving Malawians, we are all obliged to coexist peacefully and express our opinions. , feelings and beliefs without necessarily infringing on the human rights of others.

“As a people, we all have the right to exist, to conduct legally accepted business and to live here in Malawi as stipulated in Article 29 of the Constitution of the Republic of Malawi.

“Racial profiling, xenophobic statements, discrimination and incitement to violence all amount to breaking the law. Let us embrace peaceful co-existence and unity as a catalyst for national development and prosperity in line with the Malawi Development Vision 2063, because no country can develop without peace and unity.”

Ms Msonda assured the public that concerned Malawians have stepped up to protect Chizuma and his office and implored the judiciary not to entertain any suspected corrupt individual to seek judicial interventions.

Meanwhile, social rights activists Joshua Chisa Mbele and Levi Luwemba have called for legal protests at Ashok’s home on Wednesday March 12.