Tuesday, March 10, 2009

UN report on torture and rendition cites Canada

Report of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism,
Martin Scheinin*

The Guardian : "While the practice of extraordinary rendition was put in place by the US, it was only possible through collaboration from other countries, the report says. It identifies the UK, with ­Bosnia and Herzegovina, Canada, Croatia, ­Georgia, Indonesia, Kenya, Macedonia and Pakistan, as countries that provided "intelligence or have conducted the initial seizure of an individual before he was transferred to (mostly unacknowledged) detention centres in Afghanistan, Egypt, Ethiopia, Jordan, Pakistan, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Syria, Thailand, Uzbekistan … or to one of the CIA covert detention centres, often referred to as 'black sites' ".

The Independent :
"Grave human rights violations by states such as torture, enforced disappearances or arbitrary detention should place serious constraints on policies of co-operation by states, including by their intelligence agencies, with states that are known to violate human rights," he said. "The prohibition against torture is an absolute and peremptory norm of international law. States must not aid or assist in the commission of acts of torture ... including by relying on intelligence information obtained through torture."

In his Nov 2007 ruling on the Safe Third Country Agreement, Justice Michael Phelan of the Canadian Federal Court ruled that "The U.S. does not meet the [UN] Convention Against Torture prohibition." That ruling was subsequently overturned.
The report notes that "lack of oversight and political and legal accountability has facilitated illegal activities by intelligence agencies", and is exacerbated by "increased cooperation between intelligence agencies" when "condoned or even secretly directed by government officials".

The phrase "sentiment analysis" was new to me on the issue of racial/ethnic profiling.
"While data mining is not prohibited as such, it should not be allowed to include variables that result in compromising the right to non-discrimination.
Data-mining software that performs “sentiment analysis”, which extracts and summarizes opinions from unstructured human-authored documents on the Internet in order to create a terrorist profile - and which is apparently used by intelligence agencies in the United States, Canada, China, Germany, Israel, Singapore and Taiwan - must not be used as the basis for deprivation of liberty or inclusion on "watch lists".

And I was surprised, although I probably should not have been, by this statistic :

"On the introduction of a profit motive into situations which are prone to human rights violations ... 70% of intelligence activities of the U.S. are being outsourced to private actors."


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I don't quite understand why data mining should not be allowed in the process of creating a persons profile. It sure beats torturing. And I don't really see a connection between discrimination and the sentiment analysis. It's just a matter of looking at the right things in the analysis. It's not the problem of what the analysis says but what the people read from it and how they react to it.

Take care, Elli

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