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Concerns About Equal Access to the Benefit and Fresh Fears Over the ‘Five-Week Wait’

A bleak Covid-19 winter is coming. Cases are soaring and the UK government has imposed a further one-month lockdown in England. The lockdown could push more than 2 million people into furlough, or temporary leave from work. Hundreds of thousands more…
Citizens Advice operates the “Help to Claim” service, which helps people apply for Universal Credit online. 
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Summary “I skip a meal so my children can eat and to ensure that the bills are paid.” -Janet, 35, March 2020   “Janet R.,” 35, a single mother who works at a college student advice center in London, suddenly found herself on the verge…
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Government’s Flawed ‘Universal Credit’ Algorithm Pushing People into Poverty

(London) – The United Kingdom government’s rigid insistence on automating Universal Credit threatens the rights of people most at risk of poverty, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. A comprehensive redesign of how the government…
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Ruling a Victory for Claimants’ Rights, but Problems Remain

When Rachelle, 35, a single working mother in London, received her first Universal Credit payment in March, she had a panic attack. It was far short of what she needed to pay the rent and support her two children, one of whom has a disability. “I am…
A branch of the UK employment social security agency where claimants seek assistance with their benefits, Newcastle, March 4, 2020.
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Criminal Defamation Has Chilling Effect on Media Freedom

(Jakarta) – The Indonesian police in South Kalimantan province should drop criminal defamation charges against a blogger for articles in which he interviewed indigenous Dayak leaders about a land dispute with an oil palm plantation, Human Rights Watch…
On May 4, 2020, the South Kalimantan police arrested and detained blogger Diananta Putra Sumedi (left) in Banjarmasin, charging him with online defamation, which carries a maximum penalty of six years in prison. 
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Officials Shut Down Student News Website Over Story ‘Promoting Homosexuality’

A student news website in Indonesia that published a story about a woman expressing her love for another young woman was ordered by university officials to shut down its entire news operation after the story went viral. North Sumatra University (…
The newsroom of student website Suara USU at the North Sumatra University in Medan, which is facing closure. University President Runtung Sitepu ordered the newsroom to be shut down and the office to be vacated in 48 hours on March 27, 2019 after the webs
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Repeal Criminal Defamation Provisions in Internet Law

(Jakarta) – Indonesia’s Judiciary Commission should review the prosecution of Saidah Saleh Syamlan for criminal defamation in the Surabaya district court, Human Rights Watch said today. On February 26, 2019, the court sentenced Syamlan…
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US Could Use Data Demanded from UK – But Pretend It Didn’t

After heated debate, the United Kingdom has just inched closer to adopting laws that would allow the United States to demand and obtain digital evidence – such as e-mails, texts, and chats – directly from companies that are storing it…
WhatsApp and Facebook messenger icons are seen on an iPhone in Manchester , Britain March 27, 2017.
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Encourages Users to Report People Suspected of ‘Heresy’

Following your own religious beliefs shouldn’t be a crime, but in Indonesia, new technologies are helping authorities identify and potentially prosecute religious minorities who follow “deviant teachings.” On November 22,…
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Press Visiting Junta Leader to Fulfill Promises on Rights, Democracy

(London) – UK Prime Minister Theresa May and French President Emmanuel Macron should press Thailand’s junta leader to respect human rights and ensure a rapid transition to democratic civilian rule, Human Rights Watch said today. Prime Minister Gen…
A Pro-democracy activist holds a fan during protest against junta near Democracy Monument in Bangkok, Thailand February 10, 2018. REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun
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Vulnerable Communities Face Worsening Risk

(Jakarta) – Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s government is failing to confront increasing intolerance that has led to discrimination and violence against the country’s most vulnerable minorities, Human Rights Watch said today in…
201801wr_indonesia_human_rights Two homosexual men were sentenced to 82 whips by the Shariah Court in Banda Aceh, Indonesia on May 23, 2017. They violated Islamic law in Qanun number 6, year 2014 Article 63, paragraph 1 regarding the Law of Liwath. Aceh i
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House Speaker Using Defamation Laws to Silence Critics

Dyann Kemala Arrizzqi’s Instagram feed is filled with her travel photos, demonstrations of her prowess at traditional Balinese dance poses, and wry memes. But now the content of her Instagram feed may get her sent to an Indonesian…
The speaker of Indonesia's parliament Setya Novanto talks to reporters in Jakarta, Indonesia, July 18, 2017.
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UK Home Secretary Suggests Only Bad Guys Want ‘Unbreakable Security’

In a recent op-ed, United Kingdom Home Secretary Amber Rudd argued strong encryption was thwarting the government’s ability to monitor terrorists and criminals. Rudd expressed skepticism about the need for end-to-end encryption,…
WhatsApp and Facebook messenger icons are seen on an iPhone in Manchester , Britain March 27, 2017.
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It is a rare law enforcement officer or intelligence agent who doesn’t want access to more information. Yet total information awareness, to use a term from the George W. Bush administration era, has never been possible. Some people whisper to avoid prying…
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Says Hostile to Privacy, Democratic Freedoms

This week, the European Union’s top court once again found that blanket data retention mandates are hostile to privacy and democratic freedoms, and incompatible with EU law. Such mandates require service providers to store data on all of the provider’s…
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Applicants Seek to Know if GCHQ Spied on Them, Legally or Not

Human Rights Watch and six individuals lodged a challenge with the European Court of Human Rights, demanding that the UK Investigatory Powers Tribunal confirm whether or not they were subject to surveillance by GCHQ. The challenge, filed on November 4,…
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Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, who will be in London next week to pitch foreign investment, is mired in political controversy at home. The corruption scandal involving the government-owned 1 Malaysia Development Berhad fund refuses to…
Malaysia's (L-R) Prime Minister Najib Razak and King Abdul Halim Mu'adzam Shah wave Malaysian national flags during National Day celebrations in Kuala Lumpur, August 31, 2015.
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Working up to 18 hours per day for weeks without breaks or a day off. Being paid little, or not at all. Locked in their employers’ home, fed food scraps, their passports confiscated. These abuses can amount to modern slavery as defined by the United…