People's Stories Justice

China: Journalist jailed for COVID reporting seriously ill, must be released
by OHCHR, UN News, agencies
22 Nov. 2021
UN human rights experts today urged China to immediately release imprisoned citizen journalist and woman human rights defender Zhang Zhan on humanitarian grounds, saying her health is deteriorating rapidly and her life is in danger.
“Failure by the Chinese authorities to act swiftly and effectively could have fatal consequences for Zhang Zhan,” said the experts. “We urge them to immediately grant her unconditional release and ensure she receives the necessary medical treatment as soon as possible.”
Zhang Zhan has been detained in Pudong New District Detention Centre in Shanghai since May 2020, serving a four-year sentence on charges of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble”.
She was arrested after she posted a video criticizing the Government’s handling of the outbreak of COVID-19 and was accused of spreading false information and stirring up negative sentiment about the epidemic in Wuhan.
She was convicted and sentenced in December 2020. The Working Group on Arbitrary Detention deemed Zhang Zhan’s detention arbitrary in Opinion 25/2021, issued in October 2021, and called for her immediate release.
“The arrest and detention of Zhang Zhan and a number of other citizen journalists for reporting on the outbreak of COVID-19 in Wuhan, a matter of vital public interest, is deeply troubling,” the experts said.
“Not only does it represent an effort by the authorities to censor information in the public interest, but it is a worrying retaliatory measure aimed at punishing those who attempt to circumvent this censorship to share information in the interest of the public health.”
Since her arrest Zhang Zhan has gone on full and partial hunger strike in protest against her detention. She now reportedly suffers from severe malnutrition, a gastric ulcer, advanced oedema of her lower limbs and is unable to walk or raise her head without being assisted.
In late July 2021, she was admitted to a prison hospital for 11 days due to her health condition, during which time she was reportedly tied to the hospital bed and subjected to forced feeding. Her health is fast deteriorating and there are serious concerns for her life if she does not immediately receive adequate medical treatment.
“The Chinese authorities have a duty of care to Zhang Zhan as long as she is detained, and the failure to provide adequate medical treatment flies in the face of this obligation,” said the experts.
“We have previously voiced deep concerns about the denial of medical care to individuals detained who subsequently died tragically in custody or shortly after their release. We urge the authorities to release Zhang Zhan on humanitarian grounds and prevent her from meeting this same devastating fate.”
19 Nov. 2021
Press briefing notes on Russia, by Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: Liz Throssell
We are concerned that legal action is under way in Russia seeking to close down Memorial, among the country's most respected human rights groups.
Earlier this month, the Prosecutor General's Office and the Moscow Prosecutor's Office filed lawsuits calling for the dissolution of the Memorial Human Rights Centre and the International Memorial Society, for reiterated alleged breaches of Russia's "foreign agents" laws. These new proceedings are reportedly based on previous breaches of the laws found against Memorial, including failure to mark published materials with the "foreign agent" label. Court hearings on the lawsuits are due to begin on 23 and 25 November.
The "foreign agents" law was adopted in 2012, requiring all non-governmental organisations that receive foreign funding to register as "foreign agents". At the time, the then UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay voiced deep concern that laws were being passed that restricted civil society space. UN human rights treaty bodies have raised similar concerns about the law and its implementation.
The authorities use the "foreign agents" designation, widely understood in the Russian context to be stigmatizing, to label what they assert are foreign-funded organisations engaging in "political activities".
Since 2012, the law has been repeatedly modified and has been used against civil society and media organisations, journalists and individual human rights defenders and bloggers, among others. As a result, many organizations have been repeatedly audited and heavily fined for the slightest regulatory violation, with some forced into liquidation.
We urge the Russian authorities to abolish the "foreign agents" law or substantially amend it so it is in line with the country's human rights obligations.
We also call on the Russian Government to uphold the fundamental freedoms of opinion and expression and of association and to allow diversity in ideas, criticism and dissent.

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Rittenhouse Verdict a Perversion of Justice, Empowers Hate-Fueled Vigilantes
by Giffords Law Center, agencies
19 Nov. 2021
Rittenhouse Verdict a Perversion of Justice, Empowers Hate-Fueled Vigilantes - Giffords Law Center
A jury today found Kyle Rittenhouse not guilty on all charges. Rittenhouse was charged with five felonies, including shooting and killing two people, and injuring another. Giffords and Giffords Law Center Executive Directors released the following statement in response to the verdict.
Peter Ambler and Robyn Thomas:
“Today’s verdict is a perversion of justice. Our nation is built on laws—not vigilantism. Murder, racism, and hate-fueled violence should be condemned, not celebrated. Too often, our legal system protects the right of white Americans to take the lives of others, especially people of color. Kyle Rittenhouse wielded his whiteness as a shield and his AR-15 as a weapon in the streets of Kenosha, where police officers thanked the self-styled militia members, including Rittenhouse, and let him walk away after killing two people.
Rittenhouse also benefited from our country’s weak gun laws. The gun lobby argues that everyone will be safer if we all arm ourselves, but this extremist idea is neither supported by most Americans nor any evidence.
As the tragic events on that night in August showed, a 17-year-old arming himself with an AR-15 makes no one safer. Rather than roll back gun safety laws, as the gun lobby is pushing the Supreme Court to do, we must strengthen gun laws that protect us all.
Laws like minimum age requirements and assault weapon regulations don’t infringe on the Second Amendment—they’re commonsense protections. At the same time, extreme Stand Your Ground laws that encourage people to shoot first and ask questions later must be repealed.
Today’s verdict sends a troubling message that will encourage further vigilante violence and murder. That is not a society in which we are safe or free. Rather than accept this version of America, we recommit to doing everything in our power to make this country safer.”
In Other news:
* Three men have been found guilty of the murder of Ahmaud Arbery, an unarmed black man who was shot while jogging in the US state of Georgia in February 2020:
* A US jury has ordered white supremacist leaders and white nationalist organisations to pay more than $US25 million in damages over violence that erupted during the deadly 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville:


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