RightsCast brings you discussion on a wide range of contemporary and enduring human rights issues from the University of Essex Human Rights Centre.
Bringing together diverse voices from all over the world, we apply a human rights lens to better understand current events, to discuss key issues, and to explore how to achieve social change.
From grassroots movements to major international affairs, join us each week as we talk to the people behind the stories and seek to create a dialogue around the role of human rights in our daily lives.
Tom Parker, a counter-terrorism practitioner and former UN war crimes investigator, recently published a book called Avoiding the Terrorist Trap, in which he argues that counter-terrorism strategy grounded in respect for human rights is the only truly effective approach to defeating terrorism. In this episode, Tom joins Daragh Murray in a discussion exploring everything from why people engage in terrorism, to how existing counter-terrorism approaches can be counter-productive.
Tom Parker has worked as a European Union-sponsored adviser to the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) in Baghdad, Iraq, prior to which he served as a Counter-Terrorism Strategist at the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Centre (UNCCT) and as the Adviser on Human Rights and Counter-Terrorism to the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force (CTITF). He has also served as the Policy Director for Terrorism, Counter-terrorism and Human Rights for Amnesty International USA, as the Special Adviser on Transitional Justice to the Coalition Provisional Authority, as a war crimes investigator with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in both Bosnia and Kosovo, and as an Intelligence Officer in the British Security Service (MI5).
Tom’s book, Avoiding The Terrorist Trap: Why Respect For Human Rights Is The Key To Defeating Terrorism is available now.
The doctrine of qualified immunity protects government officials from being held personally liable for constitutional violations, and thus poses a significant challenge for individuals seeking compensation for abuses of public power in the US. In light of continuing police brutality against Black Lives Matter protesters, many are calling for the doctrine to be reformed or abolished.
In this episode, Dr Haim Abraham is joined by Nimra Azmi, Prof. Joanna Schwartz and Dr Jennifer Page to discuss how qualified immunity shields police officers from personal liability for wrongful use of force, and how other avenues of justice and reparations might be explored.
Nimra Azmi is a staff attorney at Muslim Advocates, where she she uses litigation and other tools of legal advocacy to protect American Muslim individuals and communities from discrimination and bigotry.
Joanna Schwartz is Professor of Law at UCLA School of Law. She teaches Civil Procedure and a variety of courses on police accountability and public interest lawyering. Professor Schwartz is a leading expert on police misconduct litigation in the US. Professor Schwartz additionally studies the dynamics of modern civil litigation. She is co-author, with Stephen Yeazell, of a leading casebook, Civil Procedure (10th Edition).
Dr Jennifer Page is a postdoctoral fellow at University of Zurich’s Department of Philosophy, where her research focuses on reparations and state accountability.
Dr. Haim Abraham is a Lecturer at the University of Essex School of Law. His research focuses on the liability of public bodies and officials and private law theory, and he teaches Tort Law, The Law of Obligations, and Contract Law. Dr. Abraham holds a Doctor of Juridical Science degree from the University of Toronto, a Master of Law degree from the University of Cambridge, and a Bachelor of Law degree combined with the Interdisciplinary Honours Program in the Humanities from The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where he was on the editorial board of the Israel Law Review.
Article 18 of the European Convention on Human Rights prohibits the restriction of rights for any other purpose than those for which they are prescribed. It aims to prevent the abuse of power by state authorities, or the restriction of rights for illegitimate purposes. In this episode, Prof. Başak Çalı and Dr Corina Heri join Daragh Murray to discuss the history of Article 18, the case law around it, and whether it can speak to the rule of law crisis unfolding in Europe today.
Prof. Başak Çalı is Professor of International Law at the Hertie School and Director of the School's Centre for Fundamental Rights. Çalı is the Chair of European Implementation Network and a Fellow of the Human Rights Centre of the University of Essex. She has acted as a Council of Europe expert on the European Convention on Human Rights since 2002. She received her PhD in International Law from the University of Essex in 2003.
Dr Corina Heri is a researcher in international human rights law. She has been a postdoctoral researcher at the Amsterdam Center for International Law (ACIL) since 2017. Before that, she completed her PhD research at the University of Zurich, Switzerland, in 2017.
Open Source Researchers of Color (OSROC), a collective of open-source researchers and investigators, recently published a guide to help protestors protect themselves against police surveillance both online and offline. Their guide includes tips on how to communicate safely before and during protests, how to evade facial recognition technology, and how to responsibly post or preserve photos and videos.
Access the Protestor Privacy Guide here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/12On3cg4figX2arDOl3ymDGOyBqbtpB1bNVh7maCurRU/edit
Read more about the project here: https://citizenevidence.org/2020/06/03/protecting-protester-privacy-against-police-surveillance/
Shakiba Mashayekhi is a member of OSROC and has previously worked as a Project Manager at UC Berkeley’s Human Rights Investigations Lab. @shxiba
Leenah Bassouni previously worked as an open source investigator at the Human Rights Investigations Lab at UC Berkeley and is currently a postgraduate student in MA Human Rights Law at SOAS. @diasporaleenah
Rachael Cornejo previously worked as an open source investigator at the Human Rights Investigations Lab at UC Berkeley and also works at the Center for Long-Term Cybersecurity. @RachaelCornejo
No Recourse to Public Funds is a key part of the UK government's Hostile Environment policy, designed and intended to make the lives of illegal immigrants difficult. In this episode, Kimberly Garande of We Belong and Andy Jolly of the University of Wolverhampton join Daragh Murray to discuss the impact that NRPF has on migrants' lives, and how hostile environment policies more widely have turned regular people, from NHS workers to school teachers, into agents of border enforcement. Plus, Koldo Casla of the University of Essex explains how the No Recourse to Public Funds policy puts the UK in breach of its international human rights obligations.
Kimberly Garande was born in Zimbabwe and migrated to the UK aged 9. She now works as Outreach Officer at We Belong, an organisation of young UK migrants campaigning for a shorter, more affordable route to settlement.
Andy Jolly is Research Associate at the Institute for Community Research and Development, University of Wolverhampton. He is a qualified social worker who previously led a project working with families with No Recourse to Public Funds.
Koldo Casla is a lecturer at Essex Law School and Deputy Director of the Human Rights Clinic. He previously worked on social and economic rights in the UK at Just Fair.
In England, 1.3 million school-aged children rely on Free School Meals throughout the year. Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, the government has launched a food voucher scheme to ensure that children who were missing school do not go hungry. However, by planning to end the voucher scheme before the summer holidays, the government is leaving children to go hungry and increasing the strain on local organisations already struggling to meet the basic needs of desperate families across the UK .
In this episode, we hear from Candice James, who manages a community centre in Brixton and works directly with families who rely on free school meals or who have been newly plunged into poverty as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as Imogen Richmond-Bishop of Just Fair and Sustain, who are preparing to take a legal case to prevent #HolidayHunger.
Many have spoken out about this issue and are placing pressure on the government to reverse their decision to end the food voucher scheme, including 16-year-old student Christina from London and footballer Marcus Rashford. You can read more about their campaigns here:
The Good Law Project and Sustain’s campaign: https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/dont-let-children-go-hungry/
Christina’s petition: https://www.change.org/p/boris-johnson-don-t-take-away-lunches-for-1-3-million-kids-on-free-school-meals
Marcus Rashford’s letter to MPs: https://www.theguardian.com/football/2020/jun/15/protect-the-vulnerable-marcus-rashfords-emotional-letter-to-mps
Candice James is Manager of Loughborough Community Centre at Max Roach in Brixton, South London. Twitter: @can_jam
Imogen Richmond-Bishop is Communications, Research, and Advocacy Manager for Just Fair, an organisation which monitors and advocates for the protection of economic and social rights (ESR) in the UK. She is also the Right to Food project coordinator for Sustain: The Alliance for Better Food and Farming.
UNHCR have released a set of documents relating to protection considerations in the context of the COVID-19 response here: https://www.refworld.org/covid19.html
Roughly 75% of refugees live in overcrowded camps, settlements or shelters around the world, where they lack access to adequate sanitation, and are therefore extremely vulnerable to the COVID-19 pandemic. In this episode of RightsCast, Dr. Madeline Garlick of UNHCR and Professor Geoff Gilbert of the University of Essex discuss the work to protect the 80 million people of concern to UNHCR globally, and how that work is adapting to the challenges posed by Coronavirus.
Their enlightening conversation ranges from a reminder of states’ obligation to provide access to asylum in a context of closed borders, to how refugees are contributing to health responses in their communities, and ultimately ends with a call for strengthened international cooperation in light of the Global Compact on Refugees.
Dr. Madeline Garlick is Chief of the Protection Policy and Legal Advice Section at the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). She is also Guest Researcher at the Centre for Migration Law, Radboud University, the Netherlands, and teaches on an occasional basis at Sciences Po, Paris, Oxford University and at the College of Europe, Bruges. Madeline was responsible for UNHCR’s liaison with the EU institutions from 2004–2013. She has worked for the Migration Policy Institute, the UN in Cyprus and Bosnia and Herzegovina on legal issues related to the rights of displaced people. She is a qualiﬁed barrister and solicitor in Victoria, Australia.
Geoff Gilbert is a Professor of Law in the School of Law and Human Rights Centre at the University of Essex. He was Editor-in-Chief of the International Journal of Refugee Law from 2002-15 and is co-Editor-in-Chief as of September 2019; he also sits on the Advisory Board. In 2014 he was appointed a consultant to UNHCR (with Anna Magdalena Rüsch) on Rule of Law: Engagement for Solutions and is part of the Solutions Alliance Thematic Group on Rule of Law. He has carried out human rights training on behalf of the Council of Europe and UNHCR in the Russian Federation (Siberia, the Urals and Kalmykskaya), Georgia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia and Kosovo.
Get updates from ECCHR on the trial here: https://www.ecchr.eu/en/case/trial-monitoring-first-trial-worldwide-on-torture-in-syria/
In the Higher Regional Court in Koblenz, Germany, two former Syrian intelligence officials are currently on trial for crimes against humanity. Anwar R and Eyad A are both accused of torture which allegedly took place between 2011 and 2012 at the General Intelligence Directorate’s al-Khatib detention facility in Damascus, also known as Branch 251.
The landmark Al-Khatib trial marks the first time that any former members of Assad’s Syrian regime are being put on trial, and it is an important first step on the road to justice for victims. The trial is the result of a series of criminal complaints by Syrian torture survivors, relatives and activists, and it is possible because of Germany’s recognition of the principle of universal jurisdiction.
Universal jurisdiction provides states jurisdiction over crimes against international law even when the crime did not occur on that state’s territory and when the perpetrator is not a national of that state. However, the principle has been relatively underused in recent years. Could the Al-Khatib trial be the turning point in a new resurgence of universal jurisdiction cases?
Joumana Seif started her work as a human rights activist in Damascus in 2001 with a focus on political prisoners. As a lawyer, she supported the democratic movements in Syria, representing political prisoners. In 2012, one year after the start of the uprising against the Assad government, Seif left Syria. She co-founded the Syrian Women's Network and Syrian Women Political Movement (SWPM). In May 2017, she joined ECCHR as a research fellow in the International Crimes and Accountability program with a particular focus on sexualized and gender-based violence.
Andreas Schüller joined ECCHR in 2009 and directs the International Crimes and Accountability program. He graduated from law school in Trier, Germany, studied in Orléans (France), holds a LL.M. advanced degree from Leiden University, Netherlands, in Public International Law and International Criminal Law and is admitted to the Berlin bar. Schüller works on US torture and drone strikes, UK torture in Iraq, war crimes in Sri Lanka and Syria as well as further international crimes cases. He publishes and lectures on international criminal law and human rights enforcement.
The human rights issues emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic sweeping the globe are unprecedented and wide-ranging. In this episode, Daragh Murray is joined by Judith Bueno de Mesquita and Koldo Casla to discuss the right to health and economic and social rights, but also the importance of international solidarity extending beyond human rights. Plus, we hear from Human Rights Centre alum Matteo Bassetti, who gives an insight into the current situation in Italy, where they are more than two weeks into a nationwide lockdown.
Judith Bueno de Mesquita is a Lecturer and Co-Deputy Director of the Human Rights Centre in the School of Law and Human Rights Centre. Her research focuses on health and human rights, development and rights, and economic, social and cultural rights. She has particular interests in sexual and reproductive health, as well as the work on health and rights of UN institutions. Her current research focuses on the relationship of health and other social rights, and climate change, health and rights. She is currently the coordinator of the Economic and Social Rights Academic Network UK and Ireland (ESRAN UKI).
In this blog post, Judith explores key human rights questions for the UK in the COVID-19 pandemic: https://hrcessex.wordpress.com/2020/03/23/covid-19-key-human-rights-questions-for-the-uk/
Dr Koldo Casla is Lecturer in Law and Deputy Director of the Human Rights Centre Clinic. He leads the Centre’s 'Human Rights Local' project. Between 2016 and 2019, Koldo was the Policy Director of Just Fair, leading the organisation's research, strategic communications, partnerships and campaigning on economic and social rights in the UK.
Read Koldo’s piece on the importance of solidarity beyond human rights: https://www.opendemocracy.net/en/transformation/coronavirus-beyond-human-rights/
Modern technology - and the enhanced access it provides to information about human rights abuses - has the potential to revolutionise human rights reporting and documentation, as well as the pursuit of legal accountability. However, these new methods for information gathering and dissemination have also created significant challenges for investigators and researchers. The capture and dissemination of content often happens haphazardly, and for a variety of motivations. For this content to be of use to investigators it must be discovered, verified, and authenticated. These skills have therefore become critical for human rights organisations and human rights lawyers.
This panel, marking the launch of Digital Witness - the first textbook dedicated to open source investigations - brings together leading experts in the open source movement, discussing what the future holds for the use of open source techniques in human rights investigations.
Sam Dubberley, head of the Evidence Lab in Amnesty’s Crisis Response Programme, is joined by Yvonne Ng of WITNESS and Jeff Deutch of Syrian Archive to discuss the challenges of archiving social media content depicting human rights abuses, how this practice allows for the preservation of cultural memory, and how it might lead to justice for victims through legal mechanisms.
Alexa Koenig, executive director of the Human Rights Center and a lecturer at UC Berkeley, is joined by Lindsay Freeman, Senior Legal Researcher at UC Berkeley, and Ella McPherson, Senior Lecturer in the Sociology of New Media and Digital Technology at the University of Cambridge, to discuss their hopes and fears for the future of open-source investigations.
Digital Witness is the first book to cover the history, ethics, methods, and best-practice associated with open source research. It is intended to equip the next generation of lawyers, journalists, sociologists, data scientists, other human rights activists, and researchers with the cutting-edge skills needed to work in an increasingly digitized and information-saturated environment.
For more information about Digital Witness and to purchase a copy, head to this link: https://global.oup.com/academic/product/digital-witness-9780198836070
Graham Dossett is a former police officer who now uses his experience to advise on policing and human rights issues. He is currently a member of the advisory council for the development of a Universal Protocol for Investigative Interviewing, led by the Association for the Prevention of Torture, the Anti-Torture Initiative and the Norwegian Centre for Human Rights. In this episode, Graham joins Daragh Murray to discuss the importance of ethical, non-coercive interviewing practices.
Graham Dossett is a Visiting Fellow of the Human Rights Centre at the University of Essex. Having served as a police officer in the United Kingdom for thirty years, Graham gained extensive experience as a hostage negotiator and trainer. Since his retirement, he went on to complete the LLM in International Human Rights Law at the University of Essex and now works as an independent advisor in the field of policing and human rights.
Graham has undertaken work for a variety of organisations, including the International Committee of the Red Cross, the International Institute of Humanitarian Law, the United Nations, the University of Essex Human Rights Centre, the Raoul Wallenberg Institute and others. He is currently serving as a member of the Advisory Council of a project undertaken by the APT (Association for the Prevention of Torture), together with Anti-Torture Initiative (ATI) and the Norwegian Center for Human Rights (NCHR) - the project aims to develop a set of guidelines on investigative interviewing by law-enforcement officials and on the implementation of associated legal and procedural safeguards. These guidelines aim to reduce the well-documented risk of mistreatment and coercion that persons face during questioning by law enforcement, and during the first hours of custody.
You can read more about the project here: https://www.apt.ch/en/universal-protocol-on-non-coercive-interviews/
Graham’s personal website: http://www.p-hr.org.uk/home
In this episode, Anne-Katrin Speck and Professor Clara Sandoval discuss the findings from their research into the implementation—or non-implementation—of human rights judgements/decisions in the Inter-American and European human rights systems. Their work was undertaken as part of the ESCR-funded Human Rights Law Implementation Project (HRLIP), in collaboration with colleagues from leading human rights centres (Bristol, Essex, Middlesex and Pretoria). The project aims to examine the factors which impact on human rights law implementation across Europe, Africa and the Americas, with the hope that the research will impact the compliance by states and result in greater justice for individual victims. Clara and Anne-Katrin join Lorna McGregor to discuss some of the cases they have researched, and to suggest how implementation and compliance can be improved, including by increasing the role played by civil society.
You can read more about The Human Rights Law Implementation Project here: https://www.bristol.ac.uk/law/hrlip/
Anne-Katrin Speck is Co-Director of the European Implementation Network (EIN), an NGO based in Strasbourg which works with civil society actors from across the Council of Europe region to promote the full and timely implementation of judgments of the European Court of Human Rights. Anne previously worked as a Research Associate on the Human Rights Law Implementation Project (HRLIP) at Middlesex University London, and within the Secretariat of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE). She holds an LL.M. in International Human Rights Law from the University of Essex and is currently an MPhil/PhD candidate at Middlesex University, where she researches the implementation of the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence.
Professor Clara Sandoval is a qualified lawyer and Professor in the School of Law at the University of Essex. She was Acting Director of the Human Rights Centre (January to December 2017), Director of the Essex Transitional Justice Network and former Director of the LLM in International Human Rights Law. She teaches and researches on areas related to the Inter-American System of Human Rights, Legal Theory, Reparations, Business and Human Rights and Transitional Justice. Clara is co-investigator and leads on the Americas part of a major three years ESRC funded Human Rights Law Implementation Project which looks at the factors that hinder or enable implementation of reparation orders/recommendations of regional systems and UN treaty bodies.
This discussion was moderated by Lorna McGregor, who is a Professor of International Human Rights Law in the Law School, and PI and Director of the multi-disciplinary Human Rights, Big Data and Technology Project (HRBDT) funded with £4.7m from the UK Economic and Social Research Council. Lorna is a Co-Chair of the International Law Association's Study Group on Individual Responsibility in International Law and a Contributing Editor of EJIL Talk!. She was the Director of the Human Rights Centre at the University of Essex for two terms (2013 - 2019) and has held positions as a Commissioner of the British Equality and Human Rights Commission (2015 - 2019) and as a trustee of the AIRE Centre.
Globally, there appears to be a rise in hatred threatening to destroy societal harmony and the foundations of peace. Against this backdrop, this panel discussion, held last year to commemorate International Tolerance Day, features leading practitioners who are working on identifying ways to promote societal cohesion and democracy using human rights as a beacon. Panellists speak to a broad range of issues related to tolerance and intolerance, especially on the intersections between freedom of expression, freedom of religion or belief and the rights of minorities, and consider conceptual challenges in addressing ‘hate speech’ and concrete examples of good practice.
Professor Sir Malcolm Evans outlines the relationship between freedom of expression and freedom of religion or belief, focusing on the challenges imposed by the spread of ‘hate speech’, and highlights the core elements of a human rights-based approach. Malcolm is Professor of Public International Law at the University of Bristol. He is a member and Chair of the UN Subcommittee for the Prevention of Torture and is also currently a member of the Commission on Religious Education established by the Religious Education Council.
Simona Cruciani highlights the role of the United Nations in addressing hate speech and preventing incitement to discrimination, hostility and violence, focusing on the recent launch of the UN Strategy and Plan of Action on Hate Speech. Simona is Political Affairs Officer at the United Nations Office on Genocide Prevention and the Responsibility to Protect (OSAPG) where she runs the Global Program with Religious Leaders on Preventing Incitement to Violence that could lead to Atrocity Crimes.
Promoting tolerance is an aim many teachers cite for Holocaust education, but the subject is challenging for both teachers and students. Dr Ruth-Anne Lenga will discuss these challenges and how those at UCL's Centre for Holocaust Education are working to respond to them. Ruth-Anne is Programme Director at the Centre for Holocaust Education at the University College of London and provides strategic leadership and management to the Centre. She is a UK delegate to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance and advises many organisations including the UK Holocaust Memorial Foundation.
Andrew Copson of Humanists UK speaks on the right to freedom of religion or belief and the non-religious, surveying the global situation for nonreligious people’s enjoyment of this right and discussing why the rhetoric of ‘religious freedom’ needs to be replaced with renewed focus on the human right to freedom of religion or belief. Andrew has been Chief Executive of Humanists UK since 2010 and President of Humanists International since 2015. His most recent book, Secularism: A Very Short Introduction, was published in July 2019 by Oxford University Press.
Professor Paul Hunt responds to the mosque massacres of 15th March 2019 in Christchurch, New Zealand. The attacks have forced New Zealanders to confront Islamophobia, racism and antisemitism. Paul considers the role of national human rights institutions in responding to such events and, more broadly, in promoting social cohesion. Paul has lived and undertaken human rights work, in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Aotearoa; he became the New Zealand Chief Human Rights Commissioner in January 2019. In 2000, he was appointed professor at Essex University School of Law and Human Rights Centre. Paul also served as an independent expert on the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1999-2002) and as UN Special Rapporteur on the right to the highest attainable standard of health (2002-2008).
This discussion was moderated by Dr Ahmed Shaheed, who is Senior Lecturer in the School of Law and co-Deputy Director of the Human Rights Centre. He is also currently the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief.
.In this episode, Dr Daragh Murray chairs a discussion with Dr Matt Lodder, Dr Emily Jones and Alexandra Grolimund about the lasting impact of the infamous judgement in R v Brown , which established the legal precedent that the “consent” of a victim is not a valid defence when it comes to the criminalisation of assault through certain ‘extreme’ but consensual acts, including sadomasochism and, more recently, body modification, in the case of R v BM .
Operation Spanner was a police investigation into sadomasochism among homosexual males across the UK in the 1980s. As a result of this investigation, the House of Lords convicted a group of men for their involvement in consensual sadomasochistic sexual activity. The case has since been criticised as a homophobic attempt to moralise about consensual sexual activity among homosexual men in particular. However, the legacy of the precedent set by this judgement (i.e. that an individual cannot consent to injury which amounts to actual bodily harm) still remains, and its impact can be seen in R v BM , where the Court of Appeal maintained that consent provided no adequate defence against ‘assault’ though body modification.
Dr Matt Lodder is a Senior Lecturer in Art History and Theory, and Director of American Studies at the University of Essex. He teaches European, American and Japanese art, architecture, visual culture and theory from the late 19th century to the present, including modern and contemporary art post-1945, digital and "new media" art, and the intersections between art & politics. Matt is currently Director of American Studies, overseeing the US degree programs within the Interdisciplinary Studies Centre.
Dr Emily Jones is a feminist international legal theorist working from a critical posthuman perspective. Her current areas of focus include on military technologies; feminist and queer methodologies; gender and conflict; and the interplay between property, work, technology and the law. Emily has held visiting positions at multiple institutions including at the University of Melbourne, Sciences Po Paris, SOAS University of London and Utrecht University. She is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.
Alexandra Carina Grolimund has a background in human rights and is currently completing her PhD with a focus on Operation Spanner and R v Brown at the University of Essex, under joint supervision by Matt and Emily.
In this episode of RightsCast, we bring you a panel discussion, chaired by Sheldon Leader, with Dr Miriam Saage-Maaß and Daniel Leader, both leading practitioners in the business and human rights field, as they outline recent developments in the litigation of business and human rights cases.
Taking Lessenich’s and others’ sociological concept of the “imperialistic lifestyle” to describe the dynamics of global economy and the lack of fundamental resistance against it, Miriam Saage-Maaß demonstrates how the law organises and enables exploitative practices of global economy. She also analyses how the law nevertheless opens space to develop resistance, and how it can be a driver of self-empowerment of workers and others negatively affected by globalised economic activities.
Daniel Leader discusses the emerging jurisprudence from the UK Supreme Court surrounding the issue of parent company liability. In April 2019, the Supreme Court gave a landmark judgment in Vedanta Resources Plc v Lungowe and Ors.  UKSC 20. The appeal analysed the controversial question of whether a parent company can be liable in the English courts for the operations of its foreign subsidiaries. The Supreme Court significantly extended the potential scope of parent company liability. The unanimous ruling of the Supreme Court has been cited as “the most important judicial decision in the field of business and human rights since the jurisdictional ruling of the US Supreme Court in Kiobel in 2013.”
Dr. Miriam Saage-Maaß is Vice Legal Director at the European Centre For Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR), where she coordinates the Business and Human Rights program. She has worked on various cases against corporations relating to exploitation of workers in Bangladesh and Pakistan, especially against KiK Textilien regarding liability in the Baldia Factory Fire, and against companies trading in cotton picked through forced child labour in Uzbekistan. In 2016, the Association of Democratic Lawyers in Germany awarded Saage-Maaß and ECCHR's General Secretary the Hans Litten Prize in acknowledgment of their role in the strategic approach of ECCHR's work.
Daniel Leader is a barrister and partner at Leigh Day and specialises in international claims, group actions, environmental and human rights law. Over the past 25 years, Leigh Day has been involved in groundbreaking cases against parent companies on behalf of victims from the developing world who have sought redress for human rights abuses committed by British companies. The firm has represented claimants from Nigeria, Mozambique, South Africa, Kenya, Colombia, Peru, Bangladesh, Iraq and the Ivory Coast. Many of Leigh Day cases have reached the higher courts and set new precedents in English law for cross-jurisdictional litigation. In 2001 Dan was awarded the Bar Council's Sydney Elland Goldsmith award for his contribution to pro bono work in Africa.
For an update on the Lafarge case taken by ECCHR and Sherpa: https://www.ecchr.eu/en/case/lafarge-in-syria-accusations-of-complicity-in-grave-human-rights-violations/
Professor Lorna Woods and Will Perrin, with support from Carnegie UK Trust, have been working on a public policy proposal to introduce regulation designed to protect social media users from harm, drawing on existing duty of care models such as those in health and safety law. In this episode, Lorna joins Dr Daragh Murray to discuss this proposal, which argues that social media platforms, viewed as public spaces, should be subject to a duty of care to their users, and also to discuss how regulation intersects with competing tensions of free speech and innovation.
Lorna Woods is a professor of Internet Law and a member of the Human Rights Centre at the University of Essex; she is also an EU national expert on regulation in the TMT sector, and was a solicitor in private practice specialising in telecoms, media and technology law.
Read more about Lorna and Will’s proposal for harm reduction in social media here: https://www.carnegieuktrust.org.uk/project/harm-reduction-in-social-media/
For their work on this proposal, Lorna and Will were recently shortlisted for Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences Research Project of the Year at the Times Higher Education Awards: https://www.essex.ac.uk/news/2019/09/05/research-on-how-to-protect-internet-users-makes-the-awards-shortlist
From drone warfare to 'autonomous' weapons like the SGR-A1, technology has drastically altered the nature of modern conflict. In this episode, Dr Emily Jones joins Daragh Murray in a discussion about how posthuman and feminist theoretical approaches can be used to better understand the debate around autonomous weapons systems and other military technologies. Emily explains the different types of autonomous weapons systems and the role of humans in deploying these systems, as well as exploring the differences between human-in-the-loop, on-the-loop and out-of-the-loop technologies. Discussion also covers what the development of such technologies might mean for Global North/South power dynamics and the role they might play in states developing digital surveillance infrastructure.
Dr Emily Jones is a feminist international legal theorist working from a critical posthuman perspective. Her current work focuses on military technologies, including autonomous weapons systems and human enhancement technologies; feminist and queer methodologies; gender and conflict; the granting of legal personality to the environment; and the interplay between property, work, technology and the law.
Emily has held visiting positions at multiple institutions including at the University of Melbourne, Sciences Po Paris, SOAS University of London and Utrecht University. She is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.
This episode of RightsCast features a panel discussion with senior members of Amnesty International’s Crisis Response Team, who explore a range of issues central to their work, including how to conduct investigations on the ground, how to use remote and open source tools to conduct or support investigations, and how to translate those investigations into effective human rights advocacy.
Brian Castner is a Senior Crisis Advisor with the Crisis Response Team, specialising in arms and military operations. He is a former Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) officer in the United States Air Force, where he served in Iraq, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia. After his military experience, Castner became a journalist, and he has twice received grants from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.
Scott Edwards is a Senior Adviser for Tactical Research and Analysis. His work focuses on the development of early warning mechanisms for humanitarian crises, as well as the practical use of new methods and technologies for human rights compliance monitoring and evidence collection, especially as it relates to international justice and accountability. He is currently a Professorial Lecturer at George Washington University’s Elliot School of International Affairs.
Micah Farfour is a Special Adviser in Remote Sensing for the Crisis Response Team. Having received her Master’s in GIS, Farfour developed skills to align open source information with the analysis of remotely sensed imagery to produce visual evidence of human rights abuses all over the world from her home in Colorado.
Richard Pearshouse joined the Crisis Response Team in September 2018 as Senior Crisis Advisor (Crisis and the Environment), where he leads work on the intersection of environmental degradation, conflict and crises. Most recently acting as associate director of the environment program at Human Rights Watch, where he worked for 10 years, Richard has undertaken high-level advocacy on environmental issues with national governments, the UN, and multilateral and bilateral aid donors.
Donatella Rovera is Amnesty International's Senior Crisis Researcher. Her role involves investigating human rights violations in crisis situations. Working at Amnesty International for 20 years, Rovera has travelled to some of the world's most dangerous conflict zones to investigate war crimes and other gross human rights abuses. Recent field missions include Nigeria, Iraq, Yemen, South Sudan, Central African Republic, Somalia, Syria, Libya, Ivory Coast, and Sudan.
In December 2018, emergency austerity measures and the rising cost of living in Sudan sparked demonstrations demanding economic reform, which quickly broadened into demands for long-standing President Omar al-Bashir to step down.
On 6th April, protestors began a sit-in outside of the military headquarters in Khartoum. Five days later, the military announced that al-Bashir had been ousted, and a transitional government was formed in his place. However, demonstrations continued, and pro-democracy protestors repeated their calls for a civilian-led government. Military forces reacted brutally, massacring protestors at the Khartoum sit-in in June.
In this episode, Mitch Paquette is joined by Malaz Wagialla, Omar Ashmaik and Wini Omer, who are all postgraduate students in the Human Rights Centre at the University of Essex. Malaz, Omar and Wini talk us through how the revolution unfolded and set out their hopes for the future in Sudan.
In this episode of RightsCast, Dr Carla Ferstman is joined in conversation by Richard Ratcliffe, who has been campaigning tirelessly since 2016 for the release of his wife, Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, from prison in Iran. This discussion was held in advance of a performance of Nazanin’s Story, a play which continually evolves as her case develops.
Dr Carla Ferstman is a senior lecturer in the School of Law at the University of Essex. She has worked with Richard since Nazanin was arrested, and recently worked with a team of students at the Human Rights Centre Clinic to prepare a report on behalf of family members of dual and foreign nationals detained in Iran, as part of Iran's upcoming Universal Periodic Review before the Human Rights Council.
The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention and countless other UN bodies have called for Nazanin’s immediate release. In March 2019, the UK Government formally agreed to grant Nazanin's claim of diplomatic protection, meaning that the Government recognised that the breach of Nazanin's rights constituted a breach of its own rights, paving the way for it to escalate efforts to secure Nazanin's release. Sadly, she is still detained.
The joint submission concerning arbitrarily detained foreign and dual Iranian nationals is available online here: http://en.cshr.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/sites/5/2019/04/CHSR-IHRDC-UPR-submission-detention-of-foreign-and-dual-nationals.pdf
When protests against Hong Kong's proposed extradition bill were met with the police's heavy hand, Amnesty International responded, showing evidence of repression and violence to support its call for a full, independent inquiry into police action. In this episode of RightsCast, we are joined by Sam Dubberley from Amnesty International’s Crisis Response Team, as he explains how they worked remotely and on the ground to monitor the situation as it emerged, collecting evidence of excessive and unnecessary force being used against protesters by the police.
Sam Dubberley is the manager of the Digital Verification Corps (DVC) in the Crisis Response Team at Amnesty International and a research consultant for the Human Rights and Big Data Project at the University of Essex. He serves on the advisory board of First Draft and the Syrian Archive, and is the co-editor, with Daragh Murray and Alexa Koenig, of the forthcoming book Digital Witness: Using Open Source Information for Human Rights Investigation, Documentation, and Accountability.
Amnesty’s timeline of the Hong Kong protests: https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2019/10/timeline-of-the-2019-hong-kong-protests/
Hong Kong Protests Explained: How Police Are Escalating Tensions: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tntrRIG_gl0
In his recent report on extreme poverty in the UK, UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights Philip Alston highlighted our local areas of Jaywick and Clacton as places experiencing high levels of deprivation, where there is a sense among residents that they have been abandoned by the state.
In this episode, Mitch Paquette is joined by a panel of human rights organisers and academics who have been working on poverty-related human rights issues within these communities. While noting the destructive impact of austerity measures on the social protection afforded to these communities, such as cuts to legal aid, our panellists explain how making use of the human rights ‘toolbox’ has proved to be an effective way of organising these disenfranchised groups and supporting a community-led effort to claim their economic, social and cultural rights.
Rebecca Rocket is a Unite Community member and social justice organiser, Andrew Fagan is the Deputy Director of the Human Rights Centre at the University of Essex, and Lucy Davies is Housing Law Supervisor at the Essex Law Clinic.
You can read more about the issues discussed in this episode in this blogpost by Katya Al Khateeb https://hrcessex.wordpress.com/2019/08/29/human-rights-at-home/
In this episode, Dr Daragh Murray is joined by Professor Francoise Hampson and Professor Charles Garraway as they draw on their impressive careers to discuss how human rights investigations are conducted, particularly within the framework of UN mandated fact-finding missions. The discussion also delves into a debate around the role of human rights courts in investigating violations in situations of armed conflict.
Professor Francoise Hampson is an Emeritus Professor in the School of Law and Human Rights Centre at the University of Essex, and is currently a member of the UN Commission of Inquiry on Burundi. Professor Charles Garraway is a Fellow of the Human Rights Centre and is currently a member of the UN’s Group of Eminent Experts on Yemen.
You can follow the Human Rights Centre blog at hrcessex.wordpress.com
Welcome to RightsCast, a podcast about human rights, broadly understood. To begin the series, we bring you a discussion between Lorna McGregor and Daragh Murray as they set out their hopes for the podcast and offer some insight into what to expect from our upcoming episodes.
Lorna McGregor is a Professor in the School of Law and is the Director of the Human Rights Centre. Daragh Murray is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Law and Human Rights Centre at the University of Essex.
You can follow the Human Rights Centre blog at hrcessex.wordpress.com