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LETTER FROM THE EDITOR The UCL Lawyers Without Borders Human Rights Journal is a multidisciplinary publication created by students with the aim of providing a platform for students to publish analytical pieces on the theme of human rights. In particular, we want to highlight how the rule of law transcends the legal sphere when considering its sociopolitical and economic implications.  By raising awareness on the impact of the rule of law in practice, it is our hope that readers will recognise its integral role in achieving a stable democracy and therefore be inspired to promote it across all borders.

Needless to say, this Journal and its corresponding blog would not have been possible without the dedicated work of our Publications Team and the help of the UCL Lawyers Without Borders Committee. The funding for this year's Journal was provided by the UCL Centre for Access to Justice. I would also like to thank them for their support. As editor of the first UCL LWOB's Human Rights Journal I am proud of what we have achieved and am confident that the Journal will only grow in years to come. Skye Graham-Welton, Editor-in-Chief 2018/19

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS The UCL Lawyers Without Borders Committee The UCL Centre for Access to Justice UCL LWOB Publications Team UCL LWOB Research Team

Kateřina Kupková - Illustrations


The EU’s post-crisis Approach to Migration: Out of Sight, Out of Mind? By Malte Werner With an unprecedented number of irregular

further instigated increasingly voiced anti-

border crossings by third country nationals into

immigrant sentiments.

the EU, the migration crisis reached its peak in 2015. According to Eurostat, roughly 1.25 million

Availing themselves of this, populist and right

people applied for asylum in the EU in that year

winged parties quickly gained support and

alone and almost half were Syrian, Afghan and

achieved significant successes at the polls – a

Iraqi nationals. In a surge of solidarity and

trend which was soon reflected in new policies

readiness to help, millions of civilians came to

aiming to isolate the national states against

aid when the hundreds of thousands of men,

immigration. The most prominent example of

women and children arrived in the European

this was the closure of the border between

Union. It was their help that ultimately avoided

Hungary and Serbia in the summer of 2015. This

a humanitarian crisis in the heart of Europe, as

eventually eventually led to the closure of the

local authorities were largely unprepared to

Balkan-route and other temporary border

process and provide for such large numbers of

controls within the Schengen area.

asylum seekers.

It soon became clear that uncontrolled As the Schengen area offered free movement

migration would pose a serious threat to the

between most EU member states, there was

political stability within EU member states, the

little control of the migration of asylum seekers

Schengen area and to European integration as

within the EU. Further, most migrants went on

a whole.

to travel to those countries offering the best asylum prospects and most social benefits, such

The number of irregular border crossings

as Germany or Sweden, quickly rendering the

substantially decreased to 204,700 in 2017 and

Dublin Regulation ineffective. Due to an increasing, albeit small number of criminal and terrorist incidents associated with migrants, this lack of control deepened public concern about the effect of large scale immigration on European countries. Pre-existing concerns about cultural conflicts and strains on the national welfare systems


just 139,300 in 2018 as a result of new deterrent and detention policies. The most significant leap in this direction was made in March 2016 when the EU and Turkey agreed on the socalled ‘EU-Turkey Statement’. The deal mandated that all irregular migrants crossing over from Turkey to Greece be transferred back to Turkey unless they can prove that they reasonably fear threats of

persecution in Turkey.

This results in camps being vastly overcrowded, lacking sufficient security,

Although all asylum claims of newly arrived

hygiene facilities and appropriate health

immigrants are processed individually and in

services. Despite large numbers of

accordance with the EU Asylum Procedure

inhabitants struggling with severe mental

Directive, only certain minorities such as

health issues, only the most serious cases of

Syrian Kurds are in practice able to avoid

physical injuries and illness can be assessed

being transferred back to Turkey.

and treated in the camps. Accordingly, instead of receiving sufficient help to recover

In exchange for every migrant returned to

from past traumas, migrants are extremely

Turkey, the EU agreed to transfer, in

vulnerable to being further traumatised by

cooperation with the UNHCR, one Syrian

the appalling living conditions and the

asylum seeker from Turkey to the EU. Turkey

everyday violence and suffering which

has also received further benefits from the EU,

persists in these camps. In particular, this

including 6 billion euros worth of financial aid.

form of detention poses a very serious threat

These funds were awarded with the aim of

to the mental and physical health of migrant

improving conditions for migrants within


Turkey and the policing of Turkey’s coastlines.

On the other side of the Aegean Sea, the Immediately after coming into force on March

prospects of millions of migrants stuck in

20 2016, the numbers of irregular migrants

Turkey are in many cases equally dismal. With

arriving on the Eastern Mediterranean route

only a few thousands Syrian migrants having

fell and remain at around 90% less than peak

been successfully resettled to the EU under

numbers in the second half of 2015. While many in Europe view this as a success, it has come at a high price paid by the most vulnerable. The closing of the Balkan route together with the EU-Turkey statement has led to thousands of migrants being detained indefinitely under inhuman conditions in ‘hotspots’ on Greek islands such as Lesvos, Samos, Chios, Kos and Leros. The number of migrants arriving on the islands exceeds the number of migrants getting transferred back to Turkey; this is due to the slow processing of asylum applications.


the EU-Turkey statement, the vast majority of the 3.6 million Syrian migrants continue to face ostracisation, financial hardship and extremely poor living conditions. Those migrants unable to claim asylum usually have to face deportation, detention and extreme poverty. A more controversial issue is the EU’s role in the fight against migration via the central Mediterranean route. After former antimigration measures (implemented under Muammar Al-Gaddafi) dissolved, the majority of African migrants crossing the Mediterranean started to depart from the Libyan coastline.

As a response, the EU trained and equipped

As it is estimated that about 90% of migrants

the Libyan coastguard to intercept migrant

from West Africa on their journey Europe

vessels in the Mediterranean Sea and send

travel through Niger, the country is believed

them back to the Libyan coast.

to be the single most important transit country for African migrants on their way to

In conjunction with the work of NGOs carrying

the Mediterranean.

out search and rescue missions, these efforts have resulted in an estimated 80% drop in

Owing to this fact, the EU substantially

the number of migrants irregularly arriving in

increased its financial support of the Nigerian


government by assuring funds of 1 billion euros in addition to large sums already

After being intercepted at sea or rounded up

provided by the EU Emergency Trust Fund

on the streets, thousands of migrants have

and Member States' budgets.

been, and still are, transferred to governmentbacked detention centres. In these detention

Coupled with Nigerian legislative measures

centres, migrants regularly face shockingly

outlawing human smuggling and trafficking

inhumane conditions, including forced labour,

this funding has led to a 95 percent decrease

malnutrition and severe physical, as well as

in migration flows into Libya and Europe

sexual abuse. Without due process and any

according to official accounts. However, the

legal recourse, many migrants find

crack down on migration has had some

themselves trapped in such detention centres

serious repercussions for migrants, as well as

indefinitely. Countless reports tell horrific

for people making their livings as migrant

stories of migrants being sold as slaves or

traffickers. Traffickers are now forced to take

tortured to extract money from their families by militias. With no prevalent rule of law, migrants find themselves in a living hell in a country scarred by political instability and a long civil war. For thousands of migrants, however, the journey to Europe ends before they reach North-African countries such as Libya. In addition to its cooperation with a number of East-African countries under the 2006 and 2014 established Rabat and Khartoum process, the EU recently further externalised its borders through further cooperation with Niger.


more dangerous routes through the desert to avoid being stopped by the police or military. In fear of getting caught, those traffickers often abandon migrants in the desert without water, food and orientation. An uncompromising routine that has already claimed the lives of thousands of migrants. These developments have also led to an increase in the number of West African migrants travelling to the western Mediterranean in hopes of a safer journey. Regrettably, Algerian authorities are still responding to this by uncompromisingly expelling all irregular migrants. Once again, this is leaving thousands of migrants

stranded in the desert; many unable to survive

would not put these achievements at

the long way back.

substantial risk.

Furthermore, most smugglers now find

Controlled and functioning external borders

themselves forced out of business and unable

are not only necessary to the guarantee of

to find regular work. If these people are left

internal security for EU citizens, but more

with no option but to engage in other

importantly, they are vital to the preservation

criminal activities or even join local militias,

of free movement within the EU and a

the already politically unstable region is at

continuing European integration. In the

serious risk of further destabilisation. Â

current absence of a federal European Union and appropriate EU laws, a policy of

Despite the drastic decrease in migration

uncontrolled borders would simply lead to an

numbers, it is obvious that the current

even more unequal distribution of migrants

situation in Africa is neither good EU policy

within Europe, more closed internal borders,

nor a sustainable model for the future. With

more strain on national authorities and

migration numbers down to a pre-crisis level

welfare systems and to nationalist

the EU is now standing at a critical crossroad.

movements gaining even more momentum.

The EU could either return to a pre-crisis policy of reactionary ad hoc responses to

The fact that it is not migration threatening

persisting migratory challenges while turning

the EU, but the political response to it, does

a blind eye to the suffering of thousands of

not make the threat any less real.

migrants, or it could seriously start to make

Responding to this political threat from a

the long overdue shift to a proactive,

moral high ground, by fiercely advocating for

sustainable and humane policy under which migrants are protected. This shift, however, must be approached with realism and pragmatism and idealistic and ambitious demands for migration must be tempered. In this context, it should first be acknowledged that it is vital for the European Union to have controlled and functioning external borders. It is beyond doubt that the policy of opening borders between European countries has significantly contributed to a historic dimension of prosperity and peace within Europe. However, with the complexity of the challenges posed by mass migration into Europe, it is far from clear that leaving external borders uncontrolled and open


open and uncontrolled external borders would further divide an already divided Europe and make cooperation and solidarity between member states even more difficult and ineffective. The situation in the ‘hotspots’ on the Greek islands already serves as a sad reminder of how a lack of solidarity only leaves local authorities over-burdened and migrants neglected and suffering. We must accept that in the current political situation, advocating for open borders simply cannot offer any tangible and sustainable improvements for migrants outside and within EU territory.

Therefore, the focus should be on actively

Africa to address the root causes of irregular

advocating for tangible and sustainable

migration and more legal pathways for

improvements by way of a multidimensional

migration have to be created to effectively

approach. This approach can no longer be

deter irregular migration by offering legal and

centred on deterrence and detention of

safe alternatives.

migrations, but must emphasise aiding,

assisting and protecting them. As there are

To address the continuing struggles of the

still thousands of migrations dying en route to

millions of migrants in Turkey, especially the

Europe, the EU must work towards seriously

3.6 million Syrian refugees, it is crucial to

intensifying search and rescue missions, at sea

continue expanding the funding of local aid

as well as in the desert.

organisations. It is the EU’s responsibility to guarantee that Syrian migrants are able to

Since Libya has proven to be extremely

find refuge in Turkey and do not have to fear

dangerous for migrants, the EU needs to

deportation back to Syria where they would

drastically increase its cooperation with the

face threats of war, imprisonment or

United Nations to evacuate migrants from

conscription. All of this, however, can only be

Libya into neighbouring countries, such as

achieved through close cooperation with

Niger, or directly back to their country of

third country governments, even if this

origin. EU policy makers should no longer

means that migrants are used as bargaining

tolerate the fact that migrants rescued at sea


are put into overcrowded and inhumane

Libyan detention centres. Additionally, the EU,

Lastly, the EU needs to introduce new

together with the UN, should work towards

measures to improve the situation of asylum

establishing migration ‘hotspots’ within Africa along the main routes to Europe. Those ‘hotspots’ should not aim at detention and deterrence, but instead should serve as places of protection where migrants are supplied with water, food and information. This would allow the most vulnerable and threatened migrants to make their asylum claims directly on site. Meanwhile, migrants without any asylum prospects would be encouraged to terminate their journey and provided with safe transport back to their country of origin. Further, more EU funds need to be designated for the economic development of


seeking migrants within Europe, focusing on those currently residing in the aforementioned ‘hotspots’ on the Greek islands. The 2015 ‘migration crisis’ has distinctly demonstrated that current national and European migration and asylum laws are outdated and incapable of appropriately and effectively dealing with the persisting migratory challenges facing the EU. It is the responsibility of the European institutions to create and adopt new harmonised legislative measures, including the enhancement of legal pathways, to provide a strong basis for the management of migration into Europe.

With its recent paper on the European agenda on migration, the European Commission has provided first real grounds for optimism by recognising the existing challenges and laying out a number of existing and future policies, as well as legislative changes and proposals.

The member states of the EU have failed to live up to their legal and moral commitments in respect to migrants too many times, it now time for the EU to move beyond lip service and to prove itself as a global leader in humane and sustainable management of migration.

It now remains to be seen whether those policies and legislative amendments can be implemented in a timely and impactful manner. In order for this to be achieved, a lot will depend on not only the commitment of the European institutions, but also on the results of the upcoming European elections in May this year.

Illustration by Patrick Chappatte


Immigration: A Philosophical Case for Open Borders By Tommaso Moro The debate surrounding immigration and

themselves as the bearers of an identifiable

border policy is complex and predicated on a

cultural tradition that stretches backward

number of lines of reasoning. Such debates

historically” then border control is needed as a

typically focus on the economic reasons and

tool to achieve that. Without such power, it is

implications of immigration; whether

argued, national culture would be at risk and

immigration promotes or hinders economic

could even be jeopardised. Of course, this view

growth, it’s effect on welfare measures and so

relies on the premise that cultural preservation

on. However, the question that urgently needs

is desirable, if not even normatively required.

to be addressed is a normative one: how should the phenomenon of immigration be dealt with?

On what grounds? According to the proponents

While descriptive analyses—whether they are

of this position, national culture ought to be

economic, historical, or of a different kind—are

preserved (especially in welfare states) on the

no doubt relevant to answering this question, a

grounds that it promotes cooperation among a

philosophical consideration of the ethical

country’s citizens, which in turn leads to a

implications of immigration is also necessary.

better overall functioning of the country itself. Compatriots, it is argued, are engaged in a form

A popular stance in the debate surrounding

of collaboration and mutual concern at least

border policy is that a country should have the

partly because they are motivated to do so by

right to control its borders simply because such

their shared culture. In a way then, such shared

power is inherent in the very concept of political

culture should be guarded and its continuity on

sovereignty. This view was famously expressed

a national level promoted, since it boosts

by Ronald Reagan’s statement that “a nation

cooperation among citizens and ultimately

that cannot control its borders is not a nation”.

leads to a well-functioning state. Under this

Under this conception of political sovereignty, a

view, a country that does not enjoy control over

country may choose to let immigrants in but it

its own borders is a country that is deprived of a

doesn’t have to, just like an individual may or

crucial tool to promote its own proper

may not welcome another individual into their

functioning. Security concerns are also

house. It is also commonly argued that a country should have the power to control its borders—and thus restrict immigration—on the grounds that such control is required in order to preserve its national culture. As noted by D.L. Miller, if a group wants to “maintain cultural continuity over time, so that they can see


commonly appealed to in order to defend the claim that a country should have control over its borders; it is argued that a country should get to keep out dangerous individuals that pose a threat to the safety of its citizens, and that control over its borders is required to carry out this discretionary operation.

Finally, as argued by C. H. Wellman, the right

terrorist attacks and ignores that these can

to border control follows from the right to

be carried out by people who have the status

freedom of association: freedom of

of temporary visitors, such as tourists. The

association—which includes the “right to

argument that the lack of border control is

exclude”—seems to entail that just as one can

detrimental to the proper functioning of the

choose to accept or reject a marriage

country seems to assume that immigrants

proposal on whatever grounds he’d like, “a

will resist cultural assimilation. Even if this

group of fellow-citizens has a right to

were true, the argument only targets those

determine whom (if anyone) it would like to

immigrants whose culture is distinctively

invite into its political community”. This gives

different from that of the recipient country.

them the right to exclude all foreigners from

Most importantly, the argument moves from

the political community, should they want to.

the assumption that a country has an interest in preserving its national culture to the

While the above arguments are widespread,

conclusion that it has the right to do so. Such

they are far from uncontroversial. The

a move is far from convincing: a country’s

argument from freedom of association

interests—along with the means that are

questionably assigns to countries a liberal

necessary to fulfill such interests—can very

right that primarily belongs to individuals.

well be incompatible with fundamental

While it is true that I enjoy the right to marry

moral norms.

who I want (provided the other person shares this desire) as well as to reject marriage

The most powerful case for open borders

proposals from those who I don’t wish to get

finds its origins in luck egalitarian theories of

married to, it seems far-fetched so assume

justice. Such theories of justice attempt to

that a nation enjoys the same liberal right to freedom of association with regards to immigrants. Under this controversial conception, a state would work like a private Golf Club that gets to decide who can be a member and who cannot, on whatever grounds they’d like. Even assuming that countries had the right to associate with whomever they choose (and therefore keep out whomever they choose), it remains unclear why such right should trump the right of some foreigners to be let in the country (for example, to escape death or starvation). As noted by C. Kukathas, the argument from security concerns might be contested on the grounds that it wrongly assumes that immigration controls would reduce the risk of


make sense of our intuitions concerning the role played by luck in moral matters. According to luck egalitarians, not all instances of luck are relevant from the perspective of justice. To understand why, consider the following contrasting examples:

(i) John makes the free and conscious decision to bet all his savings in a blackjack game and loses everything. (ii) Rachel was born in destitute circumstances and ended up suffering from cognitive limitations due to malnutrition.

Surely, John suffered from bad luck.

Inequalities that result from unchosen

Nevertheless, it seems straightforward that he

circumstances of birth are unjust, yet it is

is, in a way, responsible for the outcome that

precisely such inequalities that typically

obtained and that his bad luck is not object of

account for migration flows from third world

moral concern (at least not in the sense that

countries to Western affluent countries:

interests us here). Rachel’s case strikes us as

people migrate in an attempt to improve

intuitively different: she suffered from bad

their (and their loved ones’) life prospects.

luck too, but it would be absurd to claim that

Closed borders would unjustly leave those

she is responsible for her life not going well. It

who live in destitute circumstances (through

seems straightforward that her bad luck is,

no fault or choice of their own) to their own

contrary to John’s, object of moral concern.

fate. When we approach the ethical issue of

According to Dworkin, John’s bad luck is an

immigration and border policy through the

example of “option luck”, which is “a matter of

luck egalitarian framework, we reach the

how deliberate and calculated gambles turn

conclusion that justice requires open

out—whether someone gains or loses through


accepting an isolated risk he or she should have anticipated and might have declined”.

According to Rawls (and put rather simply)

Option luck is compatible with moral

the principles of justice that ought to govern

responsibility and thus irrelevant from the

society are those that would be agreed upon

point of view of justice. Rachel’s example

by rational agents who are behind a “veil of

involves so-called “brute luck”: unlike option

ignorance”, i.e. in a state of ignorance about

luck, brute luck is arbitrary, non-deliberate

those features of themselves that are the

and out of one’s control. As such, it is

result of the “natural lottery”. Behind the veil

incompatible with moral responsibility and thus relevant to justice. Luck egalitarian theories of justice attempt to make sense of our intuitions concerning the relationship between brute luck and justice, and ultimately hold that brute luck inequalities are unjust in virtue of being arbitrary from a moral point of view. It is not difficult to see what luck egalitarian theories of justice would have to say about the ethical debate surrounding immigration and border policy. We can all agree that one’s circumstances of birth largely affect one’s life prospects. But such circumstances are a matter of brute luck, rather than option luck, and thus are object of moral concern.


of ignorance, the rational agents do not know their natural endowments (e.g. intelligence or strength), race, gender, religion, wealth, social position, conception of the good and philosophical or moral convictions. Their social and historical circumstances are also concealed from them. The rationale behind Rawls’ thought experiment is that it leaves morally arbitrary factors out of the decisionmaking process: if the agents knew the particular contingencies that the veil of ignorance conceals them from, they may be biased to choose a society that favours them. The restraint on their knowledge is necessary to ensure impartiality and thus fairness.

Even though Rawls designed the original position as a device used to select the principles of justice that ought to govern the basic structure of society on a national level, we can adopt the same rationale of the veil of ignorance and apply it on a global scale to address the problem of immigration. In adopting a Rawls-ian approach to the ethical

reasoning is not biased by our being on a certain side of the borders already, since such a contingency is arbitrary from a moral point of view and needs to be neutralised if we want to carry out impartial reasoning. The result? If you did not know what society you were born into, you would want countries to have open borders.

issue of border policy, we ensure that our

Borders have guards and the guards have guns. This is an obvious fact of political life but one that is easily hidden from view — at least from the view of those of us who are citizens of affluent Western democracies. To Haitians in small, leaky boats confronted by armed Coast Guard cutters, to Salvadorans dying from heat and lack of air after being smuggled into the Arizona desert, to Guatemalans crawling through rat-infested sewer pipes from Mexico to California —to these people the borders, guards and guns are all too apparent. What justifies the use of force against such people? Carens, 1987

Illustration by Hannah Barczyk


The Reverberations of the #MeToo Movement By Surabhi Vanalia Following claims of sexual abuse against

It has created impactful waves in every

Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, the

profession involving active scrutinisation of

hashtag ‘Me Too’ spread across Twitter and

women’s treatment in the workplace, as

quickly evolved into a powerful movement.

women are disproportionately amongst those

Soon after the article was published, actress

who are harassed.

Alyssa Milano used the hashtag ‘Me Too’ to encourage victims to share their own

The ‘Time’s Up’ organisation is a practical

experiences on social media. However, the ‘Me

emanation of this movement, which was

Too’ movement had pre-dated Milano’s use of

established to fund and support legal action for

the hashtag on Twitter, originally started by

victims of sexual abuse. They aim to accomplish

Tarana Burke in 2006. Burke, a civil-rights

this by administrating a network of support

activist coined the phrase ‘Me too’ in an effort to

from legal professionals who are willing to

raise awareness of the prevalence of sexual

provide consultation and pro bono advice.

assault and violence. Her goal was to use “the

Time’s Up has partnered with multiple charities

power of empathy to stomp out shame" in an

and organisations such as the National

effort to encourage victims to engage in this

Domestic Worker’s Alliance and Allianza

therapeutic process of sharing their stories.

Nacional de Campensina (National Farmworkers Women’s Alliance), to pursue the

Before the reveal of Weinstein’s scandal and the

aim of pay equality, safety, and opportunity.

‘official’ start of the unified #MeToo movement, a scattering of individual stories initiated the

While the origins of the movement have been

scrutinisation of institutions for their role in

US-centric, or arguably Hollywood-centric,

enabling a culture of sexual misconduct. For

#MeToo has reverberated in other parts of the

example, the resignation of Uber’s CEO, Travis

world. The US has been the first to implement

Kalanick made headlines, following a blogpost

legal reform in light of these revelations. The

by an ex-engineer, Susan Fowler. A similar string

introduction of anti-sexual harassment

of public outings in Silicon Valley firms has

legislation in California encourages sensitivity to

revealed that this hush-culture of sexual harassment is endemic and unbridled. What started as an individual victim’s hashtag evolved far beyond the remit of social media.

the occurrence of sexual harassment in in the workplace. Employers must provide employees with training pertaining to sexual harassment prevention. Additionally, Californian legislation has also introduced provisions regulating nondisclosure agreements.


The governor of New York has updated the

the movement has led to multiple actresses

state’s sexual harassment laws, with similar

coming out with their experiences of sexual


abuse in the industry. In India, the movement has filtered into other professions including

In light of the movement, the British Parliament

academia, politics, and media. However,

has reexamined the issues regarding sexual

accounts of the victims are often shrugged off

harassment in the workplace. A study

as vindictive, attention hungry attacks.

conducted by the Equality and Human Rights Commission, disclosed that of 1000 employees

Similarly, the movement has struggled to take

in various professions, three-quarters had

off in Sub-Saharan Africa. As practices of

experienced sexual harassment at work. In light

domestic sexual violence is tolerated as a

of these findings, it was evident that sexual

common phenomenon in many Sub-Saharan

harassment in workplace had previously been

countries, it is difficult for victims to discuss

neglected by even these specialist Commissions

their experiences in public. It seems the effects of the MeToo movement have encouraged

While the #MeToo movement in China has had

discussions in private conversations, publicly,

a shaky development, it has precipitated scope

the movement does not have the same

for legal reform. Advocates of #MeToo are

impetus. For instance, in Kenya, despite the

restrained due to censorship laws that block the

headlines on femicide and abuse by a

use of the hashtag. They face a further barrier, as

prominent politician, the focus in local news

many victims in China have faced defamation

was on the victim’s promiscuity, revealing that

lawsuits before they are able to consider any

victim blaming moves to deter public

legal action against their abusers. As a direct

conversations on women’s treatment.

result of the movement, Chinese officials are drafting a Civil Code to be implemented by

Across the world, a violent attack on a young

2020, which contains provisions requiring

Chilean woman by five men, ignited the

employers to take measures against sexual

beginning of the #Cuéntelo campaign

harassment in the workplace. Neighbouring nations of South Korea and Japan have seen some high-profile accusations. In South Korea, An Hee-Jung, a presidential contender resigned after a secretary accused him of raping her. Similarly, in Japan, a reporter has accused a Finance Ministry official of harassment, which led to his resignation. In India, the #MeToo has gained momentum in a similar fashion to America and Europe. Sparked by actress Tanushree Dutta’s accusation against veteran actor Nana Patekar,


(translated as ‘tell your story’). Argentina’s Clarín newspaper reports that there were 430,000 uses of the hashtag one day, reaffirming the scale of violence and abuse that Latin American women face on a daily basis. Despite this, legislative and socio-political change has been slow to take hold on the continent. The movement is largely concentrated in western countries, where there is some procedural support for victims to come forward and pursue legal action against their abusers.

It remains to be seen in countries where the rule

Catherine Rottenberg of Al Jazeera has

of law does not recognise or support victims of

highlighted this fundamental issue in the

sexual abuse, on account of the fact that it is

movement. The ‘individualistic nature’ of the

significantly harder to garner support without

claims, suggests that the ‘Me’ in #MeToo is the

the institutional structure to back up

linchpin of the movement. Individual narrative,

accusations. There must be further endeavours

without the mobilisation of classes of women

to promote structural reformation in the rule of

across the different industries and professions,

law, as the overwhelming use of the hashtag is

undermines the structural pervasiveness of the

telling of the grisly reality that women face


around the world.

Another issue remains in the justice system’s

Is the MeToo movement all it’s made out to be,

role in enabling predatory behaviour. The

or are there chinks in the armour of a feminist

accused - Harvey Weinstein, Louis C.K, John

revolution? Most criticism questions whether the

Lasseter, Kevin Spacey to name a few, have

movement is alienating those that it was meant

evaded the justice system and have continued

to protect.

to find employment. Weinstein’s calculated use of draconian non-disclosure agreements are

Burke also feels that the campaign has

illustrative of how legal instruments are used to

neglected those that it had initially aspired to

silence and threaten victims. It comes as no

help. This movement was initially set up to help

surprise that the accused evade the judicial

young, vulnerable victims such as those from

system with such ease, as the judiciary itself

economically disadvantaged households, ethnic

seems to be exempt from any consequences

minorities, and the LGBTQ+ community; all

regarding inappropriate conduct. Brett

disenfranchised classes that invariably face the

Kavanaugh as a prominent example, despite

brunt of a culture of sexual harassment. It was

the fact that two more women have come

found that more than two-thirds of people that

forward with accusations against him, any

have contacted the Time’s Up defence fund are

accusations levelled at him are now exempt

blue-collar workers. An organised strike held by McDonald’s workers across America to protest workplace sexual harassment, illustrated their frustration at years of being silenced. While there is systematic abuse of power in all industries and classes, most of the stories that have gained traction and sympathy are centred around victims that are wealthy, beautiful, and white. While the injustices they face are equally deserving of attention, the risk of overshadowing other victims endures.

from the 1980 Code of Conduct as he is a member of the Supreme Court. It is clear that 30 years since Anita Hill’s testimony against judge Clarence Thomas, things have not changed, even when victims come forward, they are not believed. Credibility seems to be one of the biggest hindrances to this movement. The nature of such accusations are precarious as they rely on witness statements, often recalling events long past, as was the case in Brett Kavanaugh’s trial.


It was evident from the trial that victims are

This fear is already manifesting as women are

often chastised both in the media and in trial for

being shut out of the workplace due to

their role in encouraging such attacks.

company authorities adopting a Pence-style attitude. Bloomberg recently reported, that

Tarana Burke herself has said that the

Wall Street women have already seen the

movement has been framed as a ‘witch-hunt’ in

repercussions of the movement, as hiring

media, it is now ‘unrecognisable’ to her. One

women is considered an ‘unknown risk’ by

example of such a denunciation comes from

senior executives. There have been noticeable

famous French actress, Catherine Deneuve, who

shifts in behaviour to limit any liability, these

caused a lot of controversy after writing an

include refusing to travel or to hold business

open-letter entitled “We defend the freedom to

meetings or dinners with female employees.

importune, indispensable for sexual freedom.”

Moreover, as it is seen as increasingly difficult to

states that the Me-Too movement has gone too

navigate through lines of impropriety in the

far. Criticising the movement as a reincarnation

workplace, resulting in male managers being

of ‘puritanism’, Deneuve and other co-

increasingly hesitant to interact with women in

signatories have claimed that men have been

junior positions. Other bizarre consequences

unduly punished for ‘casual’, flirty behaviour.

include attractive women being turned away

While Deneuve’s letter is absurd, it is grounded

from jobs. This could significantly limit women’s

in a real fear that the movement may empower

mobility within in the professional environment

false accusations.

and result in serious financial and personal ramifications.

False accusations are not only feared by those who believe they will be targeted, but by

Another criticism by many self-described

supporters of this movement, as they anticipate

feminists stems from the grouping of all

that credibility of any new accusations will be

instances of sexual misconduct, regardless of

invalidated. A survey by Vox revealed concerns

the degree of the offence. In a recent article,

by women that their partners and loved ones

Moira Donegan, explores the backlash from

will be unfairly targeted, as word on social media is taken as fact immediately. There is a further concern that miscommunication and missed social cues will be taken as predatory behaviour in this age of ‘trial by twitter’. The lack of due process in such accusations coupled with the power of the internet to ruin someone’s life and reputation, are also driving much of the backlash. Other criticisms are based in the fear that the movement has incited a ‘sex panic’ on account of false accusations of impropriety.


older feminists, revealing a divide in approaching this new age revolution. They claim that public denouncements and revelations are only working to fortify victimhood. This divide might prove to be a thorn in the side of #MeToo’s momentum. It is clear that women constantly have to sacrifice their consent, privacy, and dignity in order to prevent losing their incomes and jobs. After years of being silenced, #MeToo has delivered some accountability for the victims.

The men and women who have propelled the hashtag should be recognised and lauded for catalysing substantial change in a matter of a few months. On balance, it seems that regardless of whether the movement has been popularised by actresses, they have brought the movement to the community’s attention. It has opened the doors for new conversations without shame or fear.


Economic Inequality and Human Rights By Ellen Chan Economic inequality and increasing

Ignacio Saiz, executive director of the Centre for

concentration of wealth is often overlooked

Economic and Social Rights (CESR) has urged

when formulating human rights policies. There

us to understand economic inequality as an

is also a split in academic debate about the role

“inherent injustice” and “the product of a web of

which human rights plays into economic

regressive policies that systematically flout

inequality. Samuel Moyn has recently argued in

governments’ economic and social rights

a provocative piece in the New York Times that


human rights movements fail to address the gap between the rich and the poor. This seems

Economic inequality has human rights

to be a narrow view which overlooks the

implications. Not only does it result in restricted

historical advances and the historical advances

access to health, education, housing and other

made by the human rights movements as a

essential services for certain groups, it can also

result of the deployment of human rights tools.

result in restricted access to justice and political participation; all of which can lead to significant

Figures from Oxfam International show that

human rights deprivation. Several safeguards

82% of wealth is generated by the richest 1% of

against income inequality were achieved

the global population, while the poorest half of

through human rights movement. These

the world consisting of 3.7 billion people saw no

include workers’ right to collective bargaining,

increase in their wealth. Billionaire wealth has

the right to primary education, or the right to

risen by an annual average of 13% since 2010, six

social security. Such historical advances not

times faster than the rise in 2% for wages of

only show that economic inequality is

ordinary workers. In 2018, 26 people owned the

inextricably linked to human rights, but also

same amount as 3.8 billion people who make

that alleviation of inequality is possible through

up the poorest part of the world. Oxfam has

deploying human rights tools.

highlighted the factors contributing to economic inequality, including the wealthy

Human rights organisations including Oxfam

being undertaxed, public services being

and CESR have embraced “human rights

underfunded, the erosion of workers’ rights by corporate bosses, “excessive influence of big business over government policy-making”, “relentless corporate drive to minimise costs” to maximise returns to shareholders, and unequal opportunities for males and females.


discourse” in fighting inequality and have suggested an interdisciplinary approach. Such an approach would involve human rights activists and organisations pushing for change through political means, or collaborating with trade unions and environmental groups to

to “leverage human rights around the fairer

Moyn commented that “no one wants the

distribution of resources, and to propose

human rights movement to be remembered

alternative models and paradigms” targeting

as a casualty of a justifiable revolt against the

specific areas of economic or social policy to

rich.” However, it would be more progressive

produce most effective changes in particular

to take the opposite position; as advocated

societies. Other groups have also been actively

by Oxfam International, “People are ready for

“fighting trade policies, corporate impunity,

change. They want to see workers paid a

[and] the financialisation of public goods”.

living wage; they want corporations and the

Saiz and Kate Donald (former Adviser to the

super-rich to pay more tax; they want women

UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty

workers to enjoy the same rights as men; they

and Human Rights) shed light on a common

want a limit on the power and the wealth

misunderstanding of human rights as being

which sits in the hands of so few. They want

concerned with “minimum levels” of well-


being when a properly constructed human rights model should be concerned with equal outcomes rather than merely equal opportunities.

Illustration by Katerina Kupkova


The Possibility of Justice in Myanmar By Nicola Rothgiesser The world may still bring those responsible for

Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar’s leader and a

the genocide in Myanmar to justice. A recent

once-celebrated Nobel Peace Prize laureate,

United Nations mandated fact-finding mission

has urged investors to come back to the

concluded that senior military officials should

country.Tariffs from the European Union have

be investigated and prosecuted for war crimes,

been imposed upon Myanmar rice and the bloc

crimes against humanity and genocide for their

is still considering trade sanctions on Myanmar,

part in the massive plight of the Rohingya in

a move which could damage the country’s

Myanmar. In September of last year, the

textile industry and further damage the

International Criminal Court (ICC) said it had the

economy. As much as sanctions are a powerful

jurisdiction to open a preliminary examination;

tool for punishing countries for their violation of

this is a significant development in ensuring

basic human rights, these measures have the

accountability. It was also a surprising move as

most damaging effect on Myanmar’s citizens.

Myanmar is not a member of the ICC, which

For example sanctions would put these jobs at

requires cases to be referred by the United

risk. The alternative may be to implement

Nations Security Council. As both Russia and

‘smart sanctions’, a regime which targets

China sit on the Security Council, it was

people, like military officials, rather than

assumed that any referral would be vetoed by

industries or the general population. This

them, given their alliance with Myanmar.

technique has been used in the past against

However, the ICC’s chief prosecutor, Fatou

Russian officials. The EU has recognised the

Bensouda, was successful in identifying an

damaging effect of sanctions and has since

alternative path to justice; as Bangladesh, the

given unanimous support to a motion to

destination of the Rohingya mass deportation, is

introduce the EU Global Human Rights

a signatory to the Rome Statute which governs

Sanction Regime. This framework will create

the ICC, Bensouda was able to argue that the

new sanctions such as asset freezes and travel

deportations were cross border in nature and

bans covering certain individuals or entities

thus, within the court’s jurisdiction. This is a

confirmed to have committed rights offences.

landmark ruling and although it will not cover all the Myanmar states which witnessed war crimes, it could eventually lead to arrest warrants and trials. Unsurprisingly, Myanmar’s trading relations and economy have suffered as a result of the Rohingya crisis and subsequent sanctions from the West.

This step by the EU is a development towards imposing accountability and repercussions on those who truly are at fault, instead of the general population which gets caught in the cross-fires. Although Aung San Suu Kyi cannot be held accountable for the military rampage on the Rakhine state, home of the Rohingya, she has disappointed the world with her lack of


condemnation and resistance to dialogue.

This is partially explained by the tight grip

In fact, according to a 1982 Myanmar

Myanmar’s top military officials have on her

citizenship law, Rohingya people are deemed

and her leadership. Although Suu Kyi’s party

stateless. A UN commission has put forward

won by a landslide in the 2015 general

several recommendations, including an

election, the government and the military are

amendment of this citizenship law to allow

now at odds over potential reforms to

Rohingya to possess a legal identity.

Myanmar’s constitution. With an election

Improved standards of living and an abolition

approaching in 2020 and mounting pressure

of the apartheid-like state control over the

from the international community in the form

movement of Rohingya must also prevail.

of fact-finding missions and potential criminal

Bangladesh is keen to repatriate Rohingya

proceedings, tensions are mounting.

refugees back across the border, but the international community must not allow this

Although approximately 730,000 Rohingya

to happen unless they conscionably believe

fled Myanmar for bordering Bangladesh, over

the genocide will not repeat itself.

500,000 people remain in the Rakhine

Discussions which involve the Rohingya must

province of Myanmar where they are closely

also prevail, in order to ensure that all voices

monitored and receive minimal human rights

and needs are heard and met. This

protections; standards of health care and

humanitarian crisis will likely not be resolved

education are appalling.

quickly although tokenistic gestures by the Myanmar are likely, given their economy’s downturn, and their upcoming election.


The Dystopian Implications of Social Credit Systems in China By Hannah Tsang The emergence of private social credit systems

community like China.

in China has recently caught the attention of Western media. Many have coined such a

The social credit system gives incentives to

system as Orwellian, in reference to George

citizens to be upstanding citizens. China has a

Orwell’s famous dystopian novel Nineteen

1.4-billion-strong population, and law

Eighty-Four. While such analogies pass for great

enforcement may not be strict, especially in

headlines, they are not accurate reflections of

some rural areas. A recurring problem in the

the current reality in China.

Chinese legal system is people not paying their court fines. The gigantic population makes

In China, a social credit system takes the form of

tracking every person who has outstanding

private corporations producing a credit score

court fines an enormous effort that does not

based on their analysis of the user’s profile. Its

guarantee cost-effectiveness. This is where

function is to track individual’s relationship and

Sesame Credit comes in. China’s supreme court

behavioural patterns to help determine lending

shares a “blacklist” of people who haven’t paid

systems, and ultimately the trustworthiness of

court fines with Sesame Credit, and they

citizens. The ‘Sesame Credit’ system developed

deduct users’ scores until they pay their debt.

by Alibaba is a notable example of this.

Furthermore, bad behaviour (e.g. forging board

Although these private systems fall short of a

passes, stealing suitcases, disrupting or blocking

fully-fledged governmental scoring scheme that

check-in counters or airport corridors, and

serves as a tool to tighten control over citizens’

cheating in video games) results in social credit

private life (as dramatised in Netflix’s ‘Black

scores penalties. In addition, it is also an

Mirror’), they hold a diverse range of implications

alternative and arguably more practical way of

for digital rights protection and the data

evaluating an individual or a company’s credit

protection landscape.

risk, especially when reviewing loan applications. In China, many citizens do not

In some ways, the private social credit systems are an upgraded version of credit rating scores provided by traditional credit rating agencies; these companies look at customers’ social behaviour as well as their financial activity. The advantages of the traditional credit rating approach are still present in the social credit systems. The addition of the social element to the algorithm generating the credit score has its own merits, some of which may be vital to a


own houses, cars or credit cards, so these types of financial information are not available to measure. The central bank has financial data from 800 million people, but only 320 million have a traditional credit history. The private social credit systems perform its function of evaluating credit risk and predicting ability to pay back the debt and the likelihood of default perhaps better than its traditional counterpart in this respect.

However, social credit systems are

online shopping history and using this

controversial exactly because they include

information to determine one’s personality is

social behaviour in calculating credit scores.

horrifying and intrusive. It could even be said

Credit systems usually use algorithms to

that these private social credit rating

calculate individual scores, by feeding in a lot

agencies opened Pandora’s box. If one’s

of data and utilising artificial intelligence

consumption pattern would affect their

technology. Social credit systems obtain their

ability to take out a loan, what is the next

data through various sources, and often these

social behaviour being fed into the

sources are not transparent. The general

algorithm? The possibilities are unimaginable,

public does not know what information

and they may be already happening. This is a

companies track and utilise to analyse

huge violation of the right to online privacy. It

behaviour. It could lead to an over-intrusion

also infringes the right not to be subject to a

into citizens’ private life. More specifically,

decision based solely on automated means (a

citizens’ right to online privacy is infringed by

right provided for in the General Data

the usage of these applications. For example,

Protection Regulation but only applies in the

Sesame Credit describes the way their social


credit system calculates scores as a “complex algorithm”, and they refuse to disclose how

Such an expansion of credit rating from

exactly their scores were calculated. The kind

purely financial activities to social behaviour

of personal data companies collect on

and footprints may be desirable especially

citizens still remains unknown. The Sesame

because of China’s unique demographic. It is

Credit spokeswomen claimed that Sesame

meritorious in deterring people from bad

Credit tracks “financial and consumption

behaviours and encouraging good

activities of our users, and materials published on social media platforms do not affect our users’ personal Sesame Credit score”. Despite the companies’ promise that they do not track social media behaviour, the sources they could track, and are tracking, are still shocking. The company claimed that they judge the types of product their customers buy online, with Sesame’s technology director telling the press that someone playing video games for 10 hours a day would be considered an idle person, and someone frequently buying diapers would be considered as probably a parent, and on the balance of probabilities, more likely to have a sense of responsibility. The fact that private social credit rating companies are tracking


behaviours amongst citizens. Yet, too big of an expansion might lead to an intrusion into online privacy and citizens’ private life, violating citizens’ basic rights as well as digital rights, and might ultimately resemble a Black Mirror episode – where everyone lives their private social life under the shadow of their social credit. A delicate balance needs to be reached concerning the extent of expansion so that its benefits could be reaped and its intrusion and infringement of rights minimised. The rise of these social credit system is perhaps of no surprise to the Chinese citizens. The dominion of giant corporations

like Alibaba and Tencent pretty much renders

store is overwhelming and might be feeding

online privacy a long-lost myth to Chinese

it into an algorithm to determine social credit

citizens. People in China feel like there are no

ratings. Aside from it being an enormous

privacy and information security. One of the

violation to online data privacy and digital

most telling tales is WeChat chat histories

rights concerning profiling and automated

with Tencent. Tencent is the single most

decision making, the implications, more

popular communication application in China.

specifically what corporations could be

Tencent claimed in an official statement that

capable of wielding from the huge amount

the company did not store the chat history of

of data in their hands, are endless.

users and that they would never use chat history for big data analytics. However, this

To conclude, the emergence of private social

statement does not reflect reality. WeChat

credit rating corporations has its merits in

users had been arrested because of what

deterring bad behaviour, encouraging good

they’ve said on WeChat, conversations have

conduct from citizens and gauging credit risk

been cited as evidence in court proceedings,

of citizens in China. Nonetheless, a delicate

and activists alleged they were followed

balance should be struck as to the extent of

based on WeChat messages. Moreover, too

social behaviour and data utilized in the

many aspects of a citizen’s life are accessible

calculation process, in order to avoid

by these giant companies. For example, some

repercussions, protect citizens’ rights,

of Alibaba’s services include digital payment

especially rights to private life and rights to

systems, entertainment services and search

online privacy, and reap the benefits at the

engines. Tencent’s services include e-

same time. If not, the dystopian world

commerce, messaging applications, digital

Western media is so concerned about might

payment systems, games, television and even microblogging. The data these companies

just be analogous to reality.

Illustration by Ingram Pinn


A Long Way to go for Freedom of Press in China - If There (Ever) is a Way Anonymous Once again, China ranked 176th out of 180

political narrative to drown out other less

countries in the 2018 World Press Freedom

desirable perspectives. These mechanisms are

Index provided by Reporters Without Borders.

aided by China’s prominent and pervasive

This ranking is a result of aggressive government

media market and serve to buttress Xi’s

censorship under President Xi Jinping tightly

authoritarian control over the country. As noted

controlling political information and clamping

by President Xi in a 2016 address: ‘wherever the

down on dissenting voices. However, despite

readers are, wherever the viewers are; that is

being constantly ranked among the countries

where propaganda reports must extend their

with the lowest degree of press freedom, China


has the world’s largest newspaper market and the second largest advertising market.

Legislation regulating speech further promotes Xi’s pursuit of control and censorship. The

According to the most recent statistics provided

amended National Security Act was enacted in

by the State’s Administration of Press,

July 2015, for the first time introducing and

Publication, Radio, Film and Television, in 2016,

defining the concept of ‘sovereignty in online

there were 1894 newspapers and over 3000

space’. Yuan, a scholar in political journalism,

television stations. The number for online media

views this amendment as the government’s

is even greater. The number of users of Weibo,

extension of the concept of ‘sovereignty first,

one of the biggest Chinese social platforms,

then individuals’ and ‘no interference of internal

exceeded 400 million in May 2018, with the

affairs’ from the offline world into the online

number regular users accessing it on a daily

world; the Internet is just another territory

basis exceeding 180 million. Moreover, the

where freedom of information and privacy are

number of active users on WeChat, another

surrendered to authority. The Internet Security

communication tool with social networking and

Act was then passed in August 2016.

newsfeeds functions, exceeded one billion in March 2018. So where do the issues lie? Censorship mechanisms emerged at the same time as the internet itself in China. These mechanisms are complex and demonstrate both defensive and offensive characteristics involving (i) removal and replacement strategies to prevent information from reaching the public and (ii) the dissemination of an approved


There have also been numerous regulations proposed to facilitate the monitoring and surveillance of online space, some specifically targeting certain tools. Examples include ‘Ten Regulations of WeChat’ which provide guidelines for public information providers and ‘Ten Regulations of Accounts’ which guide the design of profile pictures, account names and introductions.

There are also more general laws controlling

of state power’; he was sentenced to 11 years

freedom of press as well as freedom of

in prison. In 2010, Xiaobo was awarded the

speech. Section 2, Article 105, Criminal Law of

Nobel Peace Prize, although celebrations in

People’s Republic of China further provides

China were forbidden. In January, human

that ‘whoever incites others by spreading

rights lawyer Wang Quanzhang was held

rumours or slanders or any other means to

guilty of subverting state power and was

subvert the State power or overthrow the

sentenced to four and a half years in prison.

socialist system shall be sentenced to fixed-

This was the result of Wang defending

term imprisonment of not more than five

political campaigners and victims of land

years, criminal detention, public surveillance


or deprivation of political rights’. When foreign reporters questioned the

The future for human rights currently appears

legitimacy of this law, Jiang, Foreign Ministry

grim, especially as Xi is expected to remain in

spokesperson, pointed to regulations

power at least until 2022. Further, because of

focussing on subversive crimes in other

China’s economic clout, it is likely that they

countries including Code of Laws in US,

will continue to get away with these blatant

Treason Act 1351 in UK and asked the

assaults on individual human rights. As local

international society not to be biased against

outrage against this oppression is likely

China. However, Jacques deLisle, a professor

subdued by censors, it is clear that we need

in University of Pennsylvania Law School

the world and institutions like the UN to

pointed out that in US, only those who

respond to these abuses by the Chinese

promoted subverting the State through

government. Further, in the absence of

violence would be convicted. Further,

significant pressure on Xi, the Communist

according to Margaret Lewis, an expert in Chinese Criminal Law from Seton Hall University, there is a requirement of ‘obvious and imminent danger’ in the US law, which is

party and the government to change their ways, it is hard to see any of these trends reversing in the near future.

absent in Chinese law. In 2008, 303 Chinese intellectuals and human right activists signed and published Charter 08, a manifesto calling for the Constitution to be amended to allow for more political rights and the freedom of expression. However, once published, key drafters were questioned by detained. Those who signed the Charter were also blacklisted by newspapers and publishers. Liu Xiaobo, one of the drafters, was arrested and convicted of ‘inciting subversion


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government officials and some were even

Profile for Lawyers Without Borders UCL Division

UCL Lawyers Without Borders: Human Rights Journal 2019