ICJ: COVID-19: Use of digital surveillance technologies must be human rights compliant

2 April 2020

Link: https://www.icj.org/covid-19-use-of-digital-surveillance-technologies-must-be-human-rights-compliant/

Today, the ICJ joined more than 100 other organizations to urge States to ensure that any use of digital technologies to track and monitor individuals and populations as part of measures to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic is fully human rights compliant.

The organizations warned that efforts to contain the virus must not be used as a cover to impose greatly expanded systems of invasive digital surveillance that are likely to be abused, unless adequate safeguards are put in place to protect freedom of expression, the right to privacy and other rights.

Technology can and should play an important role in the midst of the current crisis to protect the rights to health, life and security.

Deploying non-consensual State digital surveillance powers however can risk violations of the rights to privacy, freedom of expression, information and association. If implemented in an arbitrary or discriminatory way, and without adequate oversight, these measures risk damaging public trust in state authorities and undermining the effectiveness of any public health response. Non-consensual digital surveillance measures may also disproportionately exacerbate discrimination against already marginalized communities.

The organizations called on all governments to ensure that increased digital surveillance measures meet the following conditions:

  1. Surveillance measures adopted to address the pandemic must be lawful, necessary and proportionate. Governments must be transparent about the measures they are taking so that they can be scrutinized and, if appropriate, later modified, retracted, or overturned.
  2. Expansion of monitoring or surveillance measures must be time-bound, and only continue for as long as necessary to address the current pandemic.
  3. States must ensure that increased collection, retention, and aggregation of personal data, including health data, is only used for the purposes of responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. Data collected, retained, and aggregated to respond to the pandemic must be limited in scope, time-bound in relation to the pandemic and must not be used for commercial or any other purposes.
  4. Governments must take every effort to protect people’s data, including ensuring sufficient security of any personal data collected and of any devices, applications, networks, or services involved in collection, transmission, processing, and storage. Any claims that data is anonymous must be based on evidence and supported with sufficient information regarding how it has been anonymized.
  5. Any use of digital surveillance technologies in responding to COVID-19, including big data and artificial intelligence systems, must address the risk that these tools will facilitate discrimination and other rights abuses against racial minorities, people living in poverty, and other marginalized populations, whose needs and lived realities may be obscured or misrepresented in large datasets.
  6. If governments enter into data sharing agreements with other public or private sector entities, they must be based on law, and the existence of these agreements and information necessary to assess their impact on privacy and human rights must be publicly disclosed – in writing, with sunset clauses, public oversight and other safeguards by default. Businesses involved in efforts by governments to tackle COVID-19 must undertake due diligence to ensure they respect human rights, and ensure any intervention is firewalled from other business and commercial interests.
  7. Any response must incorporate accountability protections and safeguards against abuse. Increased surveillance efforts related to COVID-19 should not fall under the domain of security or intelligence agencies and must be subject to effective oversight by appropriate independent bodies. Individuals must be given the opportunity to know about and challenge any COVID-19 related measures to collect, aggregate, and retain, and use data.
  8. COVID-19 related responses that include data collection efforts should include means for free, active, and meaningful participation of relevant stakeholders, in particular experts in the public health sector and marginalized population groups.

Link to joint statement here.

Joint Statement: Make COVID-19 an Occupational Disease under Law to ensure social protection for all workers and their families (co-signed by MARUAH)

2 April 2020

Make COVID-19 an Occupational Disease under Law to ensure social protection for all workers and their families

We, the 51 undersigned groups, organizations and trade unions, in response to the advent of Covid-19, an infectious disease that can easily be transmitted to other human persons, including workers, urge that the Malaysian government immediately recognize and make Covid-19 an occupational disease.

By so doing, workers who are infected by Covid-19 at their workplace, even during this period, will become entitled to social protection accorded by social security schemes and laws.

For those who die, by reason of getting infected by Covid-19 at the workplace, will also be easily entitled to compensations, and their spouses/children/elderly parents will also become entitled to survivor benefits including pensions.

Employers have a duty in law to ensure a safe working environment, and will also now be required to ensure that the workplace is safe from Covid-19 and/or any other dangerous communicable diseases, especially those can result in death or other permanent disabilities.

With the movement control order in place, which still requires workplaces that provide for essential services to operate, workers traveling to and from work, and at these workplace are everyday at risk of being infected by the Covid-19 virus, which to date has also resulted in many deaths worldwide, and as such workers need protection, and this can be done by specifically classifying Covid-19 as an occupational disease.

Now, recently even workers in charge of Human Resources, are required to travel and return to their workplaces for the purposes of arranging the monthly payment of salaries to workers.

Workers who are also needed (or forced) to stay in particular accommodation by employers, should also be covered. This also ought to be considered an ‘occupational disease’, and be accorded all the needed social protection.

While the Covid-19 pandemic highlights the inadequacies in occupational safety and health laws, and also social security laws for workers, it is time to remedy these failings.

One must note, that in the past, there has also been allegations of some workers forced to house together or work together has ended up contracting life threatening ailments like tuberculosis from other workers they are made to stay and/or work with.

All such ailments, not just Covid-19, which can cause death or other disabilities that may impact these workers future employment and income, ought to be specifically classified as occupational diseases, and workers should be accorded all benefits under social protection laws.

These laws should apply to all workers, including migrant workers and domestic workers.

In Malaysia, local workers are generally covered by the Employees’ Social Security Act 1969, which provides better protection to workers and/or their families compared to the Workmen’s Compensation Act 1952 that generally covered migrant workers. There must be equal protection for all workers, even domestic workers.

For now, The Human Resource Minister, can use the powers conferred by subsection 32(2) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1994 [Act 514], and declares that Covid-19 be recognized as an occupational diseases. Other changes and/or amendments to law to ensure equal protection to all workers may require Parliament.

Therefore, we

–          Call on Malaysia to  immediately make Covid-19 an occupational disease, especially if it is contracted at the workplace, on journey to and from work, and in worker accommodations provided by the employer;

–          Call on Malaysia to amend all relevant worker social security law, to ensure appropriate just remedy to workers, their families and/or dependents especially in the event of death, or disability impacting future capacity to work and/or earn an income;

–          Call on Malaysia to ensure that employers are legally bound to provide a safe working environment, including safety from infection from human to human contact at the workplace for diseases like Covid-19,

–          Call on Malaysia and all employers to ensure that occupational safety and health of all workers are always prioritized and protected.

Charles Hector

Apolinar Tolentino


For and on behalf of the following 51 groups

WH4C(Workers Hub For Change)

Malaysian Trade Union Congress (MTUC)

Clean Clothes Campaign Network (CCC)

Building and Wood Workers International (BWI) Asia Pacific Region

Labour Behind the Label, United Kingdom

Odhikar, Bangladesh

National Union of Transport Equipment & Allied Industries Workers (NUTEAW), Malaysia

Persatuan Kesedaran Komuniti Selangor (EMPOWER)

Timber Industry Employee Union Sarawak (TIEUS)

MADPET (Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture)

North South Initiative(NSI)

Kesatuan Sekerja Industri Elektronik Wilayah Selatan, Semenanjung Malaysia (KSIEWSSM)

Sarawak Banking Employees Union

MTUC Sarawak (Malaysian Trade Union Congress – Sarawak)

Malayan Technical Services Union

Timber Employees Union of Peninsula Malaysia

Malay Forest Officers Union

PKNS Union

Sabah Timber Industry Employees Union

National Union of Flight Attendants Malaysia (NUFAM)

Legal Action for Women, United Kingdom

Global Womens Strike, United Kingdom

Malaysian Automotive Industry Workers Union Federation

Saya Anak Bangsa Malaysia (SABM)

National Union of Banking Employees(NUBE)

Persatuan Sahabat Wanita Selangor

Single Mothers’ Self-Defence, United Kingdom

Association of Human Rights and Defenders and Promoters- HRDP(Myanmar)

Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM), India

MARUAH, Singapore

IMA Research Foundation, Bangladesh

Legal Awareness Watch (LAW), Pakistan

Asociación de Trabajadoras del Hogar a Domicilio y de Maquila–Atrahdom, Guatemala

Programme Against Custodial Torture & Impunity (PACTI), India

Marvi Rural Development Organization (MRDO), Pakistan

Onward Consulting, Malaysia

Women of Colour Global Women Strike, United Kingdom

Payday, United Kingdom

Women Against Rape (UK)

Bangladesh Group Netherlands

International  Black Women for Wages for Housework

International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network, UK

Asosasyon ng mga Makabayang Manggagawang Pilipino Overseas in Malaysia (AMMPO-SENTRO)

European Rohingya Council

WinVisible (women with visible & invisible disabilities)

Campaign Abiti Puliti (Italian CCC)

Collectif Etique sur l’etiquette, France

Network of Action for Migrants in Malaysia(NAMM)

Gender Alliance for Development Center, Albania

Sudwind, Austria

Radanar Ayar Association, Myanmar

* When intially released, there were 47, but now there are 51 groups who jointly issued this statement

Joint Statement: Southeast Asian states should heed call for global ceasefire, ensure conflict sensitivity and human rights in responding to COVID19 crisis (co-signed by MARUAH)

2 April 2020

CSOs JOINT-STATEMENT_ ASEAN urged to heed UN Sec-Gen call for global ceasefire, ensure human rights amid COVID19 – FINAL 1 April 2020

Joint Statement: ASEAN must uphold human rights in responding to the COVID‐19 pandemic

20 March 2020

Please click on link below to view the joint statement which MARUAH has endorsed with 35 other organizations:

17032020 – Joint Statement – ASEAN to ensure human rights and dignity on responding COVID – with SAPA input-final.pdf

2019 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

12 March 2020

The annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices – the Human Rights Reports – cover internationally recognized individual, civil, political, and worker rights, as set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international agreements. The U.S. Department of State submits reports on all countries receiving assistance and all United Nations member states to the U.S. Congress in accordance with the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 and the Trade Act of 1974.

The 2019 Singapore country report is available at https://www.state.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/SINGAPORE-2019-HUMAN-RIGHTS-REPORT.pdf

2019 Peoples’ Summit Report and Survey (repost)

5 March 2020

Download the Peoples’ Summit Report

Dear Team!

We are excited to share the final version of the report on the
Peoples’ Summit on Climate, Rights, and Human Survival! This report
provides an overview of the event, highlights its key outputs, and
outlines next steps and lessons learned that were guided, from all of
you,  by the post-summit evaluation survey. Don’t miss out on the
links to important documents such as the concept note, summaries of
sessions, the Declaration, and collaborations that were initiated at
the summit – you will find them throughout the report!

Here are just a few highlights from the document:

  • The summit brought together over 150 actors from the different strands
    of the climate justice movement. The two-day gathering was a mix of
    compelling panels and breakout groups where organizational commitments
    to integrate human rights and climate change were discussed. These
    conversations laid the foundation for numerous collaborative actions
    that have great potential to move this work forward.
  • The event’s organizers hope to support groups working at the
    frontlines to take on leadership roles and guide the direction of
    these national, regional, and thematic collaborations. The intention
    is that future working groups will be led and maintained by
    self-designated focal points with support from the organizers if
  • There was strong interest after the summit to create an email list to
    continue to engage with others working on climate justice. Your active
    participation in this new community is essential to bring it to life.
  • The climaterights4all email list has a lot of potential, particularly
    to support the collaborations that came out of the summit or will be
    proposed through the climaterights4all network.
  • It is particularly important to have a follow-up team that reflects
    different regions, issue-areas and includes both small and large
    organizations. The intention of the follow-up team is for it to be a
    part of a horizontal process whereby the direction of collaborations
    rests with the self-identified persons and/or organizations that
    choose to be focal points. The hope is that the follow-up team will
    serve the function of supporting, where requested and along with
    others, and as long as needed,  groups working at the frontlines in
    guiding the direction of post-summit activities. We have a growing
    group of individuals interested in joining the follow-up team; if you
    would like to be part of this group, please reach out to  Melanie at
    melanie.allen@amnesty.org by March 24th, 2020.

The organizers commit to encourage, as much as possible, conversations
between funders and the groups focusing on human rights and climate
change. Please look out for more information on this in the near

Last but not least, give a read and review the evaluation survey. It
will help you to better understand how the feedback from the summit
guided the proposed next steps outlined in this summary and the

Also, think about proposing a new collaboration or joining an existing
collaboration, or even being  part of the follow-up team to keep the
momentum going!

Thank you for making the event such a unique call to action. We look
forward to working together with the hundreds of organizations that
engaged in the process for further collaboration towards our common
goals, and believe that we may be able to make a solid contribution to
ending the climate crisis, and the injustices that underlie it.

Organizers of the Peoples’ Summit

Wallace Global Fund, Amnesty International, Center for Human Rights
and Global Justice: NYU School of Law, CIEL, Greenpeace International,
Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

The Death Penalty for Drug Offences 2019

5 March 2020

Harm Reduction International (HRI) has monitored the use of the death penalty for drug offences worldwide since our first ground-breaking publication on this issue in 2007. This report, our ninth on the subject, continues our work of providing regular updates on legislative, policy and practical developments related to the use of capital punishment for drug offences, a practice which is a clear violation of international law.

View The Death Penalty for Drug Offences: Global Overview 2019 in full in the tabs below or download the PDF of the report here.

You can download the PDF of HRI’s Policy Briefing here.

Please visit HRI’s Death Penalty for Drug Offences 2019 portal for more info and infographics for sharing on social media.