The US-Africa Summit wrapped up yesterday, but that wasn't the end of the fanfare for one of its most controversial participants. President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo of Equatorial Guinea, the world’s longest serving non-royal head of state, was honored at an invitation-only dinner last night hosted by the Corporate Council on Africa.
King Juan Carlos is visiting Kuwait and Bahrain this week, after Abu Dhabi and Qatar two weeks ago in a series of visits to the gulf region that will also take him to Oman and Saudi Arabia over the next two months. He is traveling with a high-level delegation that includes the ministers of foreign affairs, transport, defense and energy, as well as the heads of some of Spain’s biggest companies.
This submission is made by Privacy International, Access, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, along with Article 19, the Association for Progressive Communications, Human Rights Watch and the World Wide Web Foundation.
Submissions and recommendations cover five main themes: the meaning of interferences with the right to privacy in the context of communications surveillance, the out-dated distinction between communications data and content, the conceptualisation of mass surveillance as inherently disproportionate, the extra-territorial application of the right to privacy, and the need for legal frameworks to provide protections for the right to privacy without discriminating on the basis of nationality.
President Obama had a signature opportunity in his January speech to limit the damage Edward Snowden’s revelations about National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance had done to U.S. foreign relations. But global response has been rather cool. Obama called for increased transparency and an institutional advocate for civil liberties before the secret court that oversees the NSA. He recognized that foreigners have an interest in the privacy of their communications. And he announced future restrictions on the use of acquired data as well as his hope to move data storage out of the NSA’s hands. Yet he made clear he did not intend to end bulk collection of data or give foreigners legal rights to defend their privacy against unwarranted U.S. spying.
Poor people are disadvantaged by the legal system in so many ways that it’s hard to keep track. In some cases, they are effectively punished just for being poor. One increasingly widespread example is probation—the period an offender spends, often as an alternative to prison, under the watchful eye of the state. The problem is that increasingly it’s not the government that’s supervising people on probation—it is private companies. The courts don’t actually pay these companies for their services. Instead, they give them the power to charge fees to the people they supervise. As the New York Times reported in 2012, if you don’t pay, you can land in jail.
Meri, an indigenous woman in northeastern Uganda, was shocked when strangers, accompanied by soldiers, showed up unannounced on her land in late 2012 and started to take rock samples without explanation. One of her neighbours described company representatives drilling and extracting samples inside her home. These stories are not isolated. Mining companies, in co-ordination with the government, are starting to explore for minerals in the Karamoja region without first getting the permission of traditional landowners. And the government has condoned these practices.