position:police officer

  • Nouvelle journée de #manifestations après la mort d’un Israélien d’origine éthiopienne

    Des manifestations ont eu lieu mercredi à Tel-Aviv et dans le nord d’#Israël pour la troisième journée consécutive, après le décès d’un jeune Israélien d’origine éthiopienne, tué par un policier, la communauté éthiopienne dénonçant un crime raciste.

    #Solomon_Teka, âgé de 19 ans, a été tué dimanche soir par un policier qui n’était pas en service au moment des faits, à Kiryat Haim, une ville proche du port de Haïfa, dans le nord d’Israël.

    Des dizaines de policiers ont été déployés mercredi dans la ville de Kiryat Ata, non loin de Kiryat Haim. Des manifestants tentant de bloquer une route ont été dispersés par la police.

    Malgré des appels au calme lancés par les autorités, des jeunes se sont aussi à nouveau rassemblés à Tel-Aviv. Une centaine de personnes ont défié la police en bloquant une route avant d’être dispersées.

    En trois jours, 140 personnes ont été arrêtées et 111 policiers blessés par des jets de pierres, bouteilles et bombes incendiaires lors des manifestations dans le pays, selon un nouveau bilan de la police.

    Les embouteillages et les images de voitures en feu ont fait la une des médias.

    Le Premier ministre Benjamin Netanyahu et le président israélien Reuven Rivlin ont appelé au calme, tout en reconnaissant que les problèmes auxquels était confrontée la communauté israélo-éthiopienne devaient être traités.

    – ’Tragédie’-

    « La mort de Solomon Teka est une immense tragédie », a dit le Premier ministre. « Des leçons seront tirées. Mais une chose est claire : nous ne pouvons tolérer les violences que nous avons connues hier », a-t-il déclaré mercredi lors d’une réunion du comité ministériel sur l’intégration de la communauté éthiopienne.

    « Nous ne pouvons pas voir de routes bloquées, ni de cocktails Molotov, ni d’attaques contre des policiers, des citoyens et des propriétés privées », a-t-il ajouté.

    Le ministre de la Sécurité publique, Gilad Erdan, et le commissaire de la police, Moti Cohen, ont rencontré des représentants de la communauté israélo-éthiopienne, selon un communiqué de la police.

    La police a rapporté que le policier ayant tué le jeune homme avait tenté de s’interposer lors d’une bagarre entre jeunes. Après avoir expliqué qu’il était un agent des forces de l’ordre, des jeunes lui auraient alors lancé des pierres. L’homme aurait ouvert le feu après s’être senti menacé.

    Mais d’autres jeunes présents et un passant interrogés par les médias israéliens ont assuré que le policier n’avait pas été agressé.

    L’agent a été assigné à résidence et une enquête a été ouverte, a indiqué le porte-parole de la police.

    En janvier, des milliers de juifs éthiopiens étaient déjà descendus dans la rue à Tel-Aviv après la mort d’un jeune de leur communauté tué par un policier.

    Ils affirment vivre dans la crainte d’être la cible de la police. La communauté juive éthiopienne en Israël compte environ 140.000 personnes, dont plus de 50.000 sont nées dans le pays. Elle se plaint souvent de racisme institutionnalisé à son égard.

    https://www.courrierinternational.com/depeche/nouvelle-journee-de-manifestations-apres-la-mort-dun-israelie
    #discriminations #racisme #xénophobie #décès #violences_policières #police #éthiopiens

    • Ethiopian-Israelis Protest for 3rd Day After Fatal Police Shooting

      Ethiopian-Israelis and their supporters took to the streets across the country on Wednesday for a third day of protests in an outpouring of rage after an off-duty police officer fatally shot a black youth, and the Israeli police turned out in force to try to keep the main roads open.

      The mostly young demonstrators have blocked major roads and junctions, paralyzing traffic during the evening rush hour, with disturbances extending into the night, protesting what community activists describe as deeply ingrained racism and discrimination in Israeli society.

      Scores have been injured — among them many police officers, according to the emergency services — and dozens of protesters have been detained, most of them briefly. Israeli leaders called for calm; fewer protesters turned out on Wednesday.

      “We must stop, I repeat, stop and think together how we go on from here,” President Reuven Rivlin said on Wednesday. “None of us have blood that is thicker than anyone else’s, and the lives of our brothers and sisters will never be forfeit.”
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      On Tuesday night, rioters threw stones and firebombs at the police and overturned and set fire to cars in chaotic scenes rarely witnessed in the center of Tel Aviv and other Israeli cities.

      After initially holding back, the police fired stun grenades, tear gas and hard sponge bullets and sent in officers on horseback, prompting demonstrators to accuse them of the kind of police brutality that they had turned out to protest in the first place.

      The man who was killed, Solomon Tekah, 18, arrived from Ethiopia with his family seven years ago. On Sunday night, he was with friends in the northern port city of Haifa, outside a youth center he attended. An altercation broke out, and a police officer, who was out with his wife and children, intervened.

      The officer said that the youths had thrown stones that struck him and that he believed that he was in a life-threatening situation. He drew his gun and said he fired toward the ground, according to Micky Rosenfeld, a police spokesman.

      Mr. Tekah’s friends said that they were just trying to get away after the officer began harassing them. Whether the bullet ricocheted or was fired directly at Mr. Tekah, it hit him in the chest, killing him.

      “He was one of the favorites,” said Avshalom Zohar-Sal, 22, a youth leader at the center, Beit Yatziv, which offers educational enrichment and tries to keep underprivileged youth out of trouble. Mr. Zohar-Sal, who was not there at the time of the shooting, said that another youth leader had tried to resuscitate Mr. Tekah.

      The police officer who shot Mr. Tekah is under investigation by the Justice Ministry. His rapid release to house arrest has further inflamed passions around what Mr. Tekah’s supporters call his murder.

      In a televised statement on Tuesday as violence raged, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that all Israel embraced the family of the dead youth and the Ethiopian community in general. But he added: “We are a nation of law; we will not tolerate the blocking of roads. I ask you, let us solve the problems together while upholding the law.”

      Many other Israelis said that while they were sympathetic to the Ethiopian-Israelis’ cause — especially after the death of Mr. Tekah — the protesters had “lost them” because of the ensuing violence and vandalism.

      Reflecting a gulf of disaffection, Ethiopian-Israeli activists said that they believed that the rest of Israeli society had never really supported them.

      “When were they with us? When?” asked Eyal Gato, 33, an Ethiopian-born activist who came to Israel in 1991 in the airlift known as Operation Solomon, which brought 14,000 Ethiopian Jews to Israel within 36 hours.

      The airlift was a cause of national celebration at the time, and many of the immigrants bent down to kiss the tarmac. But integration has since proved difficult for many, with rates of truancy, suicide, divorce and domestic violence higher than in the rest of Israeli society.

      Mr. Gato, a postgraduate student of sociology who works for an immigrant organization called Olim Beyahad, noted that the largely poor Ethiopian-Israeli community of about 150,000, which is less than 2 percent of the population, had little electoral or economic clout.

      He compared their situation to African-Americans in Chicago or Ferguson, Mo., but said that the Israeli iteration of “Black Lives Matter” had no organized movement behind it, and that the current protests had been spontaneous.

      Recalling his own experiences — such as being pulled over by the police a couple of years ago when he was driving a Toyota from work in a well-to-do part of Rehovot, in central Israel, and being asked what he was doing there in that car — Mr. Gato said he had to carry his identity card with him at all times “to prove I’m not a criminal.”

      The last Ethiopian protests broke out in 2015, after a soldier of Ethiopian descent was beaten by two Israeli police officers as he headed home in uniform in a seemingly unprovoked assault that was caught on video. At the time, Mr. Gato said, 40 percent of the inmates of Israel’s main youth detention center had an Ethiopian background. Since 1997, he said, a dozen young Ethiopian-Israelis have died in encounters with the police.

      A government committee set up after that episode to stamp out racism against Ethiopian-Israelis acknowledged the existence of institutional racism in areas such as employment, military enlistment and the police, and recommended that officers wear body cameras.

      “Ethiopians are seen as having brought their values of modesty and humility with them,” Mr. Gato said. “They expect us to continue to be nice and to demonstrate quietly.”

      But the second generation of the Ethiopian immigration has proved less passive than their parents, who were grateful for being brought to Israel.

      The grievances go back at least to the mid-1990s. Then, Ethiopian immigrants exploded in rage when reports emerged that Israel was secretly dumping the blood they donated for fear that it was contaminated with H.I.V., the virus that causes AIDS.

      “The community is frustrated and in pain,” said one protester, Rachel Malada, 23, from Rehovot, who was born in Gondar Province in Ethiopia and who was brought to Israel at the age of 2 months.

      “This takes us out to the streets, because we must act up,” she said. “Our parents cannot do this, but we must.”

      https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/03/world/middleeast/ethiopia-israel-police-shooting.html?smtyp=cur&smid=tw-nytimes

  • Les Ethiopiens d’Israël manifestent après le « meurtre » d’un des leurs par la police
    Par Le Figaro avec AFP Publié le 02/07/2019 à 21:57
    http://www.lefigaro.fr/flash-actu/les-ethiopiens-d-israel-manifestent-apres-le-meurtre-d-un-des-leurs-par-la-

    Des Israéliens d’origine éthiopienne manifestaient mardi leur colère après la mort d’un membre de leur communauté, tué par un policier qui n’était pas en service et dans des circonstances encore troubles.

    La mort dimanche soir de Solomon Teka, âgé de 18 ou 19 ans, a ravivé parmi les Ethiopiens d’Israël les accusations de racisme policier à son encontre. Depuis lundi soir, ces Israéliens manifestent à Kiryat Haim, près de Haïfa (nord), lieu où a été abattu Solomon Teka. Mardi, jour de son enterrement, la contestation a repris. La mort de Solomon Teka n’est rien d’autre qu’un « meurtre », a accusé sur les ondes de la radio israélienne Amir Teka, cousin de la victime. Les manifestants ont bloqué plusieurs routes et une quinzaine de carrefours, brûlant des pneus et attaquant parfois les véhicules qui tentaient de passer leurs barrages improvisés. Au moins 19 contestataires ont été interpellés, selon la police.

    « Nous devons faire tout notre possible pour nous assurer que la police cesse de tuer des gens à cause de leur couleur de peau », a déclaré à l’AFP l’un des manifestants, Mengisto, 26 ans. « Nous avons besoin d’obtenir des garanties de la part de l’Etat ou de la police que cela ne se reproduira plus », a-t-il exigé.

    ““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““
    Israël : des manifestations dégénèrent après la mort d’un Israélien d’origine éthiopienne (VIDEOS)
    3 juil. 2019, 16:02
    https://francais.rt.com/international/63600-israel-manifestations-degenerent-apres-mort-israelien-origine-eth

    A la suite de la disparition de Solomon Tekah, probablement tué par un policier, la communauté éthiopienne d’Israël a manifesté sa colère. Différentes villes ont connu des affrontements au cours desquels manifestants et policiers ont été blessés. (...)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=61&v=hjTyEsGgB6g

    #émeutesisraéliennes

    • Family of Ethiopian Israeli Shot Dead by Police Urges Halt to Protests

      Major Tel Aviv junction blocked in third day of unrest ■ Dozens of demonstrators arrested
      Yaniv Kubovich, Almog Ben Zikri, Josh Breiner , Bar Peleg, Noa Shpigel and Aaron Rabinowitz Jul 03, 2019 7:45 PM
      https://www.haaretz.com/police-brace-for-third-day-of-protests-over-shooting-of-ethiopian-israeli-t

      The family of an Ethiopian Israeli teen whose shooting death by an off-duty police officer sparked a wave of prortests across the country called Wednesday for demonstrations to be put on hold, as they enter their third day.

      A friend of the 18-year-old Solomon Teka’s family said his father asked for protests to halt until the seven days of Jewish mourning, known as shiva, are over.

      Although police warned earlier on Wednesday they would not allow roads blockages, demonstrators were attempting to disrupt traffic in a number of locations across Israel.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BVtTSNHLoz0

      Seven people who were trying to block a road south of Tel Aviv, were forcibly removed by police and detained. One protester has been arrested in the northern city of Kiryat Ata, where about 100 people have gathered and begun marching toward the Zevulun police station. Five more people were detained for attempting to block access to a police station in Yavne.

      Speaking at a meeting of ministers tasked with advancing the integration of the Ethiopian Israeli community Wednesday evening, Prime Minister Netanyahu called on lawmakers to “exert their influence” and stop the violence immediately. “The death of Solomon Teka is a big tragedy, but we cannot tolerate this violence,” he said.

      Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said that police forces were bracing for heightened tensions after Tuesday night’s protest against police brutality and racism toward Jews of Ethiopian descent turned violent, with 136 arrests and 111 injured policemen. The arrests were for allegedly attacking policemen, vandalism, and gross disturbance of public order.

      One protester’s remand was extended until Friday, for allegedly setting a car on fire in Tel Aviv. Another protester’s remand has been extended until 8:00 P.M. Wednesday for attempting to run over a police officer. A 24-year-old was arrested in Ashdod after he was caught on video lighting a border policeman’s uniform on fire. Police identified him and arrested him Wednesday.

      Erdan also noted that police had information that some protesters were planning to arm themselves and try to shoot policemen during the upcoming protests.

      The police announced that it will not allow protesters to block main roads on Wednesday, after roads were blocked throughout Israel on Tuesday evening, causing mass traffic jams. Magen David Adom stated that in the protests the night before, beyond the 111 officers who were hurt, 26 protesters were also injured, nine passers-by, and one firefighter. MDA also said that seven of its ambulances and four emergency first-aid motorbikes were damaged by rock-throwers.

      Police employed means of riot control Tuesday, including tear gas and stun grenades, as protesters closed down main city arteries, burning tires and vandalizing cars. Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan told Army Radio that while he understands the frustration and suffering of tens of thousands, the police did what they had to do. Erdan also vowed that the violence would not recur, and that if necessary, police would defend themselves.

      People were incited through social media, he said, boosting the violence to levels previously unknown, such as the throwing of a firebomb at a police station. He reiterated intense regret and sorrow over Teka’s death but added that the incident is not representative of change in the Israeli police in recent years.

      Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Wednesday that the “Ethiopian community is dear to us,” however the state is not prepared to tolerate blocking of roads or violence “including firebombs thrown toward our forces, the burning of cars or any other civilian property. We are a law-abiding nation. We demand that everyone respect the law.”

      Netanyahu convened a committee of ministers Wednesday night to advance the integration of the Ethiopian community and discuss “excessive policing and the patterns of behavior toward of those of Ethiopian descent.” Netanyahu added, “we’ve already seen improvement in this area and it seems that we need to make many more improvements.”

      In the northern city of Kiryat Ata, over a thousand marched on the Zevulun police station and smoke grenades were thrown into the station. Around 200 demonstrators in Afula blocked traffic on one of the northern city’s main streets. Meanwhile, major roads in several cities, including Tel Aviv and Haifa, were blocked by demonstrators burning tires.

      President Reuven Rivlin called for restraint and dialogue: “The rage must not be expressed in violence,” he tweeted. “The handful who chose violence are not the face of the protest and must not become the face of the protest, which we very much understand.” Rivlin called for a meeting together with representatives of all the parties involved in public safety: “Only through open conversation, difficult as it is, can change be achieved.”

      On Monday the police said that Teka may have been hit by a bullet ricocheting off the ground.

    • Rage Against the Police: 13 Photos From Ethiopian Israelis’ Protest

      Escalating demonstrations over the death of 18-year-old Ethiopian Israeli teen Solomon Teka are entering the third day
      By Haaretz Jul 03, 2019
      https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/MAGAZINE-in-photos-thousands-of-ethiopian-israelis-protest-police-brutality

      Israelis of Ethiopian origin are demonstrating throughout Israel following the death Sunday of 18-year old Solomon Teka, who was shot by police.

      Some of the protests quickly became violent when demonstrators blocked main roads and set on fire a car of a passerby who tried to drive through the blockade.

      A protester is throwing a scooter at a burning car during the Ethiopian Israeli protest in Tel Aviv. Credit : Tomer Appelbaum


      Protesters show photos of 18-year old Solomon Teka of Ethiopian descent, who died after he was shot by police, in Tel Aviv. Credit : Tomer Appelbaum

      A protester stands opposite to a policeman during the protest of Ethiopian Israelis, in Tel Aviv. Credit \ CORINNA KERN/ REUTERS

    • Nouvelle journée de manifestations après la mort d’un Israélien d’origine éthiopienne
      3 juillet 2019
      https://www.lavenir.net/cnt/dmf20190703_01354547/nouvelle-journee-de-manifestations-apres-la-mort-d-un-israelien-d-origine-e

      (Belga) Des manifestations ont eu lieu mercredi à Tel-Aviv et dans le nord d’Israël pour la troisième journée consécutive, après le décès d’un jeune Israélien d’origine éthiopienne, tué par un policier, la communauté éthiopienne dénonçant un crime raciste.
      Solomon Teka, âgé de 19 ans, a été tué dimanche soir par un policier qui n’était pas en service au moment des faits, à Kiryat Haim, une ville proche du port de Haïfa, dans le nord d’Israël. Des dizaines de policiers ont été déployés mercredi dans la ville de Kiryat Ata, non loin de Kiryat Haim. Des manifestants tentant de bloquer une route ont été dispersés par la police. Malgré des appels au calme lancés par les autorités, des jeunes se sont aussi à nouveau rassemblés à Tel-Aviv. Une centaine de personnes ont défié la police en bloquant une route avant d’être dispersées. En trois jours, 140 personnes ont été arrêtées et 111 policiers blessés par des jets de pierres, bouteilles et bombes incendiaires lors des manifestations dans le pays, selon un nouveau bilan de la police. Les embouteillages et les images de voitures en feu ont fait la une des médias. Le Premier ministre Benjamin Netanyahu et le président israélien Reuven Rivlin ont appelé au calme, tout en reconnaissant que les problèmes auxquels était confrontée la communauté israélo-éthiopienne devaient être traités. « La mort de Solomon Teka est une immense tragédie », a dit le Premier ministre. « Des leçons seront tirées. Mais une chose est claire : nous ne pouvons tolérer les violences que nous avons connues hier », a-t-il déclaré mercredi lors d’une réunion du comité ministériel sur l’intégration de la communauté éthiopienne. « Nous ne pouvons pas voir de routes bloquées, ni de cocktails Molotov, ni d’attaques contre des policiers, des citoyens et des propriétés privées », a-t-il ajouté. (...)

    • Les Israéliens éthiopiens s’interrogent : « Nos vies ont-elles moins de prix ? »
      Selon les manifestants, c’est un racisme systématique qui s’exprime derrière les violences policières répétées contre les jeunes noirs en Israël - et qui ont pu entraîner la mort
      Par Simona Weinglass 3 juillet 2019, 14:41
      https://fr.timesofisrael.com/les-israeliens-ethiopiens-sinterrogent-nos-vies-ont-elles-moins-de

      Pour ces jeunes Israéliens d’origine éthiopienne qui manifestent, mardi, pour dénoncer le meurtre d’un membre de leur communauté par un policier, ce n’est pas seulement l’expression d’une colère contre ce qu’ils considèrent comme un racisme systématique profondément ancré du côté des forces de l’ordre.

      C’est aussi un cri exprimant une frustration entraînée par des promesses de changement, maintes fois répétées et qui n’ont rien changé.

      Dans tout le pays, ce sont des milliers de manifestants issus de la communauté et leurs soutiens qui ont bloqué les routes pour faire part de leur fureur après la mort de Solomon Tekah, qui a été abattu cette semaine par un agent de police qui n’était pas en service à ce moment-là.
      (...)
      Une jeune femme d’une vingtaine d’années, vêtue d’une robe d’été et originaire de Ness Ziona, dans le centre d’Israël, confie : « Je suis complètement bouleversée. D’abord, on se dit : OK, c’est arrivé une fois mais ça n’arrivera plus. La fois suivante, on se dit : d’accord, peut-être qu’ils vont enfin régler ça ».

      « Mais quand ça devient systématique, alors là vous vous demandez si effectivement votre vie a moins de prix qu’une autre ? », lance-t-elle.

      « Ce jeune », ajoute-t-elle en évoquant Tekah, « ses parents lui ont donné tout ce qu’ils avaient. Ils l’ont élevé pendant toutes ces années. Et un jour, quelqu’un a décidé qu’il était autorisé à l’abattre ».

      Tekah est mort au cours d’une altercation survenue dimanche à Haïfa, dans le quartier Kiryat Haim.

      Un témoin de la fusillade aurait indiqué au département des enquêtes internes de la police, qui dépend du ministère de la Défense, que contrairement à ce qu’a pu affirmer le policier incriminé, ce dernier ne semblait pas être en danger quand il a ouvert le feu.

      L’agent a été brièvement placé en détention avant d’être assigné à domicile, attisant la colère au sein de la communauté.(...)

  • Israeli Police Kills A Palestinian After He Reportedly Stabbed Two Israelis
    May 31, 2019 2:07 PM - IMEMC News
    https://imemc.org/article/israeli-police-kills-a-palestinian-after-he-reportedly-stabbed-two-israelis

    Israeli police officers killed, Friday, a Palestinian teen in occupied East Jerusalem, after he reportedly stabbed and injured two Israelis, and attempted to attack a police officer.

    The Palestinian was later identified as Yousef Wajeeh , 18, from Abwein village, northwest of the central West Bank city of Ramallah.

    Israeli sources said the Palestinian came from the West Bank to attend Friday prayers in Al-Aqsa Mosque, on the last Friday of Ramadan.

    Israeli online daily, The Jerusalem Post, said an Israeli man, in his fifties, suffered critical wounds, and added that a teen, 16 years of age, suffered moderate-to-severe wounds.

    It quoted the Superintendent of the Israeli Police in Jerusalem Micky Rosenfeld telling its reporter that one Israeli was stabbed and critically injured at Damascus Gate, and that the second Israel was stabbed and moderately injured when the Palestinian managed to make his way to the Old City, before the officers shot him dead.

    Following the incident, the Israeli army and police significantly increased their deployment in the Old City, and all areas leading to the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

    #Palestine_assassinée

  • ‘They Were Conned’: How Reckless Loans Devastated a Generation of Taxi Drivers - The New York Times
    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/19/nyregion/nyc-taxis-medallions-suicides.html


    Mohammed Hoque with his three children in their studio apartment in Jamaica, Queens.

    May 19, 2019 - The phone call that ruined Mohammed Hoque’s life came in April 2014 as he began another long day driving a New York City taxi, a job he had held since emigrating from Bangladesh nine years earlier.

    The call came from a prominent businessman who was selling a medallion, the coveted city permit that allows a driver to own a yellow cab instead of working for someone else. If Mr. Hoque gave him $50,000 that day, he promised to arrange a loan for the purchase.

    After years chafing under bosses he hated, Mr. Hoque thought his dreams of wealth and independence were coming true. He emptied his bank account, borrowed from friends and hurried to the man’s office in Astoria, Queens. Mr. Hoque handed over a check and received a stack of papers. He signed his name and left, eager to tell his wife.

    Mr. Hoque made about $30,000 that year. He had no idea, he said later, that he had just signed a contract that required him to pay $1.7 million.

    Over the past year, a spate of suicides by taxi drivers in New York City has highlighted in brutal terms the overwhelming debt and financial plight of medallion owners. All along, officials have blamed the crisis on competition from ride-hailing companies such as Uber and Lyft.

    But a New York Times investigation found much of the devastation can be traced to a handful of powerful industry leaders who steadily and artificially drove up the price of taxi medallions, creating a bubble that eventually burst. Over more than a decade, they channeled thousands of drivers into reckless loans and extracted hundreds of millions of dollars before the market collapsed.

    These business practices generated huge profits for bankers, brokers, lawyers, investors, fleet owners and debt collectors. The leaders of nonprofit credit unions became multimillionaires. Medallion brokers grew rich enough to buy yachts and waterfront properties. One of the most successful bankers hired the rap star Nicki Minaj to perform at a family party.

    But the methods stripped immigrant families of their life savings, crushed drivers under debt they could not repay and engulfed an industry that has long defined New York. More than 950 medallion owners have filed for bankruptcy, according to a Times analysis of court records. Thousands more are barely hanging on.

    The practices were strikingly similar to those behind the housing market crash that led to the 2008 global economic meltdown: Banks and loosely regulated private lenders wrote risky loans and encouraged frequent refinancing; drivers took on debt they could not afford, under terms they often did not understand.

    Some big banks even entered the taxi industry in the aftermath of the housing crash, seeking a new market, with new borrowers.

    The combination of easy money, eager borrowers and the lure of a rare asset helped prices soar far above what medallions were really worth. Some industry leaders fed the frenzy by purposefully overpaying for medallions in order to inflate prices, The Times found.

    Between 2002 and 2014, the price of a medallion rose to more than $1 million from $200,000, even though city records showed that driver incomes barely changed.

    About 4,000 drivers bought medallions in that period, records show. They were excited to buy, but they were enticed by a dubious premise.

    What Actually Happened to New York’s Taxi DriversMay 28, 2019

    After the medallion market collapsed, Mayor Bill de Blasio opted not to fund a bailout, and earlier this year, the City Council speaker, Corey Johnson, shut down the committee overseeing the taxi industry, saying it had completed most of its work.

    Over 10 months, The Times interviewed 450 people, built a database of every medallion sale since 1995 and reviewed thousands of individual loans and other documents, including internal bank records and confidential profit-sharing agreements.

    The investigation found example after example of drivers trapped in exploitative loans, including hundreds who signed interest-only loans that required them to pay exorbitant fees, forfeit their legal rights and give up almost all their monthly income, indefinitely.

    A Pakistani immigrant who thought he was just buying a car ended up with a $780,000 medallion loan that left him unable to pay rent. A Bangladeshi immigrant said he was told to lie about his income on his loan application; he eventually lost his medallion. A Haitian immigrant who worked to exhaustion to make his monthly payments discovered he had been paying only interest and went bankrupt.

    Abdur Rahim, who is from Bangladesh, is one of several cab drivers who allege they were duped into signing exploitative loans. 
    It is unclear if the practices violated any laws. But after reviewing The Times’s findings, experts said the methods were among the worst that have been used since the housing crash.

    “I don’t think I could concoct a more predatory scheme if I tried,” said Roger Bertling, the senior instructor at Harvard Law School’s clinic on predatory lending and consumer protection. “This was modern-day indentured servitude.”

    Lenders developed their techniques in New York but spread them to Chicago, Boston, San Francisco and elsewhere, transforming taxi industries across the United States.

    In interviews, lenders denied wrongdoing. They noted that regulators approved their practices, and said some borrowers made poor decisions and assumed too much debt. They said some drivers were happy to use climbing medallion values as collateral to take out cash, and that those who sold their medallions at the height of the market made money.

    The lenders said they believed medallion values would keep increasing, as they almost always had. No one, they said, could have predicted Uber and Lyft would emerge to undercut the business.

    “People love to blame banks for things that happen because they’re big bad banks,” said Robert Familant, the former head of Progressive Credit Union, a small nonprofit that specialized in medallion loans. “We didn’t do anything, in my opinion, other than try to help small businesspeople become successful.”

    Mr. Familant made about $30 million in salary and deferred payouts during the bubble, including $4.8 million in bonuses and incentives in 2014, the year it burst, according to disclosure forms.

    Meera Joshi, who joined the Taxi and Limousine Commission in 2011 and became chairwoman in 2014, said it was not the city’s job to regulate lending. But she acknowledged that officials saw red flags and could have done something.

    “There were lots of players, and lots of people just watched it happen. So the T.L.C. watched it happen. The lenders watched it happen. The borrowers watched it happen as their investment went up, and it wasn’t until it started falling apart that people started taking action and pointing fingers,” said Ms. Joshi, who left the commission in March. “It was a party. Why stop it?”

    Every day, about 250,000 people hail a New York City yellow taxi. Most probably do not know they are participating in an unconventional economic system about as old as the Empire State Building.

    The city created taxi medallions in 1937. Unlicensed cabs crowded city streets, so officials designed about 12,000 specialized tin plates and made it illegal to operate a taxi without one bolted to the hood of the car. The city sold each medallion for $10.

    People who bought medallions could sell them, just like any other asset. The only restriction: Officials designated roughly half as “independent medallions” and eventually required that those always be owned by whoever was driving that cab.

    Over time, as yellow taxis became symbols of New York, a cutthroat industry grew around them. A few entrepreneurs obtained most of the nonindependent medallions and built fleets that controlled the market. They were family operations largely based in the industrial neighborhoods of Hell’s Kitchen in Manhattan and Long Island City in Queens.

    Allegations of corruption, racism and exploitation dogged the industry. Some fleet bosses were accused of cheating drivers. Some drivers refused to go outside Manhattan or pick up black and Latino passengers. Fleet drivers typically worked 60 hours a week, made less than minimum wage and received no benefits, according to city studies.

    Still, driving could serve as a path to the middle class. Drivers could save to buy an independent medallion, which would increase their earnings and give them an asset they could someday sell for a retirement nest egg.

    Those who borrowed money to buy a medallion typically had to submit a large down payment and repay within five to 10 years.

    The conservative lending strategy produced modest returns. The city did not release new medallions for almost 60 years, and values slowly climbed, hitting $100,000 in 1985 and $200,000 in 1997.

    “It was a safe and stable asset, and it provided a good life for those of us who were lucky enough to buy them,” said Guy Roberts, who began driving in 1979 and eventually bought medallions and formed a fleet. “Not an easy life, but a good life.”

    “And then,” he said, “everything changed.”

    – Before coming to America, Mohammed Hoque lived comfortably in Chittagong, a city on Bangladesh’s southern coast. He was a serious student and a gifted runner, despite a small and stocky frame. His father and grandfather were teachers; he said he surpassed them, becoming an education official with a master’s degree in management. He supervised dozens of schools and traveled on a government-issued motorcycle. In 2004, when he was 33, he married Fouzia Mahabub. -

    That same year, several of his friends signed up for the green card lottery, and their thirst for opportunity was contagious. He applied, and won.

    His wife had an uncle in Jamaica, Queens, so they went there. They found a studio apartment. Mr. Hoque wanted to work in education, but he did not speak enough English. A friend recommended the taxi industry.

    It was an increasingly common move for South Asian immigrants. In 2005, about 40 percent of New York cabbies were born in Bangladesh, India or Pakistan, according to the United States Census Bureau. Over all, just 9 percent were born in the United States.

    Mr. Hoque and his wife emigrated from Bangladesh, and have rented the same apartment in Queens since 2005.

    Mr. Hoque joined Taxifleet Management, a large fleet run by the Weingartens, a Russian immigrant family whose patriarchs called themselves the “Three Wise Men.”

    He worked 5 a.m. to 5 p.m., six days a week. On a good day, he said, he brought home $100. He often felt lonely on the road, and he developed back pain from sitting all day and diabetes, medical records show.

    He could have worked fewer shifts. He also could have moved out of the studio. But he drove as much as feasible and spent as little as possible. He had heard the city would soon be auctioning off new medallions. He was saving to buy one.

    Andrew Murstein, left, with his father, Alvin.CreditChester Higgins Jr./The New York Times
    In the early 2000s, a new generation took power in New York’s cab industry. They were the sons of longtime industry leaders, and they had new ideas for making money.

    Few people represented the shift better than Andrew Murstein.

    Mr. Murstein was the grandson of a Polish immigrant who bought one of the first medallions, built one of the city’s biggest fleets and began informally lending to other buyers in the 1970s. Mr. Murstein attended business school and started his career at Bear Stearns and Salomon Brothers, the investment banks.

    When he joined the taxi business, he has said, he pushed his family to sell off many medallions and to establish a bank to focus on lending. Medallion Financial went public in 1996. Its motto was, “In niches, there are riches.”

    Dozens of industry veterans said Mr. Murstein and his father, Alvin, were among those who helped to move the industry to less conservative lending practices. The industry veterans said the Mursteins, as well as others, started saying medallion values would always rise and used that idea to focus on lending to lower-income drivers, which was riskier but more profitable.

    The strategy began to be used by the industry’s other major lenders — Progressive Credit Union, Melrose Credit Union and Lomto Credit Union, all family-run nonprofits that made essentially all their money from medallion loans, according to financial disclosures.

    “We didn’t want to be the one left behind,” said Monte Silberger, Lomto’s controller and then chief financial officer from 1999 to 2017.

    The lenders began accepting smaller down payments. By 2013, many medallion buyers were not handing over any down payment at all, according to an analysis of buyer applications submitted to the city.

    “It got to a point where we didn’t even check their income or credit score,” Mr. Silberger said. “It didn’t matter.”

    Lenders also encouraged existing borrowers to refinance and take out more money when medallion prices rose, according to interviews with dozens of borrowers and loan officers. There is no comprehensive data, but bank disclosures suggest that thousands of owners refinanced.

    Industry veterans said it became common for owners to refinance to buy a house or to put children through college. “You’d walk into the bank and walk out 30 minutes later with an extra $200,000,” said Lou Bakalar, a broker who arranged loans.

    Yvon Augustin has been living with help from his children ever since he declared bankruptcy and lost his taxi medallion.

    Some pointed to the refinancing to argue that irresponsible borrowers fueled the crisis. “Medallion owners were misusing it,” said Aleksey Medvedovskiy, a fleet owner who also worked as a broker. “They used it as an A.T.M.”

    As lenders loosened standards, they increased returns. Rather than raising interest rates, they made borrowers pay a mix of costs — origination fees, legal fees, financing fees, refinancing fees, filing fees, fees for paying too late and fees for paying too early, according to a Times review of more than 500 loans included in legal cases. Many lenders also made borrowers split their loan and pay a much higher rate on the second loan, documents show.

    Lenders also extended loan lengths. Instead of requiring repayment in five or 10 years, they developed deals that lasted as long as 50 years, locking in decades of interest payments. And some wrote interest-only loans that could continue forever.

    “We couldn’t figure out why the company was doing so many interest-only loans,” said Michelle Pirritano, a Medallion Financial loan analyst from 2007 to 2011. “It was a good revenue stream, but it didn’t really make sense as a loan. I mean, it wasn’t really a loan, because it wasn’t being repaid.”

    Almost every loan reviewed by The Times included a clause that spiked the interest rate to as high as 24 percent if it was not repaid in three years. Lenders included the clause — called a “balloon” — so that borrowers almost always had to extend the loan, possibly at a higher rate than in the original terms, and with additional fees.

    Yvon Augustin was caught in one of those loans. He bought a medallion in 2006, a decade after emigrating from Haiti. He said he paid $2,275 every month — more than half his income, he said — and thought he was paying off the loan. But last year, his bank used the balloon to demand that he repay everything. That is when he learned he had been paying only the interest, he said.

    Mr. Augustin, 69, declared bankruptcy and lost his medallion. He lives off assistance from his children.

    During the global financial crisis, Eugene Haber, a lawyer for the taxi industry, started getting calls from bankers he had never met.

    Mr. Haber had written a template for medallion loans in the 1970s. By 2008, his thick mustache had turned white, and he thought he knew everybody in the industry. Suddenly, new bankers began calling his suite in a Long Island office park. Capital One, Signature Bank, New York Commercial Bank and others wanted to issue medallion loans, he said.

    Some of the banks were looking for new borrowers after the housing market collapsed, Mr. Haber said. “They needed somewhere else to invest,” he said. He said he represented some banks at loan signings but eventually became embittered because he believed banks were knowingly lending to people who could not repay.

    Instead of lending directly, the big banks worked through powerful industry players. They enlisted large fleet owners and brokers — especially Neil Greenbaum, Richard Chipman, Savas Konstantinides, Roman Sapino and Basil Messados — to use the banks’ money to lend to medallion buyers. In return, the owners and brokers received a cut of the monthly payments and sometimes an additional fee.

    The fleet owners and brokers, who technically issued the loans, did not face the same scrutiny as banks.

    “They did loans that were frankly insane,” said Larry Fisher, who from 2003 to 2016 oversaw medallion lending at Melrose Credit Union, one of the biggest lenders originally in the industry. “It contributed to the price increases and put a lot of pressure on the rest of us to keep up.”

    Evgeny Freidman, a fleet owner, has said he purposely overbid for taxi medallions in order to drive up their value.CreditSasha Maslov
    Still, Mr. Fisher said, Melrose followed lending rules. “A lot of people tend to blame others for their own misfortune,” he said. “If they want to blame the lender for the medallion going down the tubes the way it has, I think they’re misplaced.”

    Mr. Konstantinides, a fleet owner and the broker and lender who arranged Mr. Hoque’s loans, said every loan issued by his company abided by federal and state banking guidelines. “I am very sympathetic to the plight of immigrant families who are seeking a better life in this country and in this city,” said Mr. Konstantinides, who added that he was also an immigrant.

    Walter Rabin, who led Capital One’s medallion lending division between 2007 and 2012 and has led Signature Bank’s medallion lending division since, said he was one of the industry’s most conservative lenders. He said he could not speak for the brokers and fleet owners with whom he worked.

    Mr. Rabin and other Signature executives denied fault for the market collapse and blamed the city for allowing ride-hail companies to enter with little regulation. “It’s the City of New York that took the biggest advantage of the drivers,” said Joseph J. DePaolo, the president and chief executive of Signature. “It’s not the banks.”

    New York Commercial Bank said in a statement that it began issuing medallion loans before the housing crisis and that they were a very small part of its business. The bank did not engage in risky lending practices, a spokesman said.

    Mr. Messados said in an interview that he disagreed with interest-only loans and other one-sided terms. But he said he was caught between banks developing the loans and drivers clamoring for them. “They were insisting on this,” he said. “What are you supposed to do? Say, ‘I’m not doing the sale?’”

    Several lenders challenged the idea that borrowers were unsophisticated. They said that some got better deals by negotiating with multiple lenders at once.

    Mr. Greenbaum, Mr. Chipman and Mr. Sapino declined to comment, as did Capital One.

    Some fleet owners worked to manipulate prices. In the most prominent example, Evgeny Freidman, a brash Russian immigrant who owned so many medallions that some called him “The Taxi King,” said he purposefully overpaid for medallions sold at city auctions. He reasoned that the higher prices would become the industry standard, making the medallions he already owned worth more. Mr. Freidman, who was partners with Michael Cohen, President Trump’s former lawyer, disclosed the plan in a 2012 speech at Yeshiva University. He recently pleaded guilty to felony tax fraud. He declined to comment.

    As medallion prices kept increasing, the industry became strained. Drivers had to work longer hours to make monthly payments. Eventually, loan records show, many drivers had to use almost all their income on payments.

    “The prices got to be ridiculous,” said Vincent Sapone, the retired manager of the League of Mutual Taxi Owners, an owner association. “When it got close to $1 million, nobody was going to pay that amount of money, unless they came from another country. Nobody from Brooklyn was going to pay that.”

    Some drivers have alleged in court that lenders tricked them into signing loans.

    Muhammad Ashraf, who is not fluent in English, said he thought he was getting a loan to purchase a car but ended up in debt to buy a taxi medallion instead.

    Muhammad Ashraf, a Pakistani immigrant, alleged that a broker, Heath Candero, duped him into a $780,000 interest-only loan. He said in an interview in Urdu that he could not speak English fluently and thought he was just signing a loan to buy a car. He said he found out about the loan when his bank sued him for not fully repaying. The bank eventually decided not to pursue a case against Mr. Ashraf. He also filed a lawsuit against Mr. Candero. That case was dismissed. A lawyer for Mr. Candero declined to comment.

    Abdur Rahim, a Bangladeshi immigrant, alleged that his lender, Bay Ridge Credit Union, inserted hidden fees. In an interview, he added he was told to lie on his loan application. The application, reviewed by The Times, said he made $128,389, but he said his tax return showed he made about $25,000. In court, Bay Ridge has denied there were hidden fees and said Mr. Rahim was “confusing the predatory-lending statute with a mere bad investment.” The credit union declined to comment.

    Several employees of lenders said they were pushed to write loans, encouraged by bonuses and perks such as tickets to sporting events and free trips to the Bahamas.

    They also said drivers almost never had lawyers at loan closings. Borrowers instead trusted their broker to represent them, even though, unbeknown to them, the broker was often getting paid by the bank.

    Stan Zurbin, who between 2009 and 2012 did consulting work for a lender that issued medallion loans, said that as prices rose, lenders in the industry increasingly lent to immigrants.

    “They didn’t have 750 credit scores, let’s just say,” he said. “A lot of them had just come into the country. A lot of them just had no idea what they were signing.”

    The $1 million medallion
    Video
    Mrs. Hoque did not want her husband to buy a medallion. She wanted to use their savings to buy a house. They had their first child in 2008, and they planned to have more. They needed to leave the studio apartment, and she thought a home would be a safer investment.

    But Mr. Hoque could not shake the idea, especially after several friends bought medallions at the city’s February 2014 auction.

    One friend introduced him to a man called “Big Savas.” It was Mr. Konstantinides, a fleet owner who also had a brokerage and a lending company, Mega Funding.

    The call came a few weeks later. A medallion owner had died, and the family was selling for $1 million.

    Mr. Hoque said he later learned the $50,000 he paid up front was just for taxes. Mega eventually requested twice that amount for fees and a down payment, records show. Mr. Hoque said he maxed out credit cards and borrowed from a dozen friends and relatives.

    Fees and interest would bring the total repayment to more than $1.7 million, documents show. It was split into two loans, both issued by Mega with New York Commercial Bank. The loans made him pay $5,000 a month — most of the $6,400 he could earn as a medallion owner.

    Mohammed Hoque’s Medallion Loans Consumed Most of His Taxi Revenue
    After paying his two medallion loans and business costs, Mr. Hoque had about $1,400 left over each month to pay the rent on his studio apartment in Queens and cover his living expenses.

    Estimated monthly revenue $11,845

    Gas $1,500

    Income after expenses $1,400

    Vehicle maintenance $1,300

    Medallion loan 1 $4,114

    Insurance $1,200

    Car loan $650

    Credit card fees $400

    Medallion loan 2 $881

    Other work-related expenses $400

    By the time the deal closed in July 2014, Mr. Hoque had heard of a new company called Uber. He wondered if it would hurt the business, but nobody seemed to be worried.

    As Mr. Hoque drove to the Taxi and Limousine Commission’s downtown office for final approval of the purchase, he fantasized about becoming rich, buying a big house and bringing his siblings to America. After a commission official reviewed his application and loan records, he said he was ushered into the elegant “Taxi of Tomorrow” room. An official pointed a camera. Mr. Hoque smiled.

    “These are little cash cows running around the city spitting out money,” Mr. Murstein said, beaming in a navy suit and pink tie.

    He did not mention he was quietly leaving the business, a move that would benefit him when the market collapsed.

    By the time of the appearance, Medallion Financial had been cutting the number of medallion loans on its books for years, according to disclosures it filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Mr. Murstein later said the company started exiting the business and focusing on other ventures before 2010.

    Mr. Murstein declined numerous interview requests. He also declined to answer some written questions, including why he promoted medallions while exiting the business. In emails and through a spokesman, he acknowledged that Medallion Financial reduced down payments but said it rarely issued interest-only loans or charged borrowers for repaying loans too early.

    “Many times, we did not match what our competitors were willing to do and in retrospect, thankfully, we lost the business,” he wrote to The Times.

    Interviews with three former staffers, and a Times review of loan documents that were filed as part of lawsuits brought by Medallion Financial against borrowers, indicate the company issued many interest-only loans and routinely included a provision allowing it to charge borrowers for repaying loans too early.

    Other lenders also left the taxi industry or took precautions long before the market collapsed.

    The credit unions specializing in the industry kept making new loans. But between 2010 and 2014, they sold the loans to other financial institutions more often than in the previous five years, disclosure forms show. Progressive Credit Union, run by Mr. Familant, sold loans off almost twice as often, the forms show. By 2012, that credit union was selling the majority of the loans it issued.

    In a statement, Mr. Familant said the selling of loans was a standard banking practice that did not indicate a lack of confidence in the market.

    Several banks used something called a confession of judgment. It was an obscure document in which the borrower admitted defaulting on the loan — even before taking out any money at all — and authorized the bank to do whatever it wanted to collect.

    Larry Fisher was the medallion lending supervisor at Melrose Credit Union, one of the biggest lenders originally in the industry, from 2003 to 2016.
    Congress has banned that practice in consumer loans, but not in business loans, which is how lenders classified medallion deals. Many states have barred it in business loans, too, but New York is not among them.

    Even as some lenders quietly braced for the market to fall, prices kept rising, and profits kept growing.

    By 2014, many of the people who helped create the bubble had made millions of dollars and invested it elsewhere.

    Medallion Financial started focusing on lending to R.V. buyers and bought a professional lacrosse team and a Nascar team, painting the car to look like a taxi. Mr. Murstein and his father made more than $42 million between 2002 and 2014, disclosures show. In 2015, Ms. Minaj, the rap star, performed at his son’s bar mitzvah.

    The Melrose C.E.O., Alan Kaufman, had the highest base salary of any large state-chartered credit union leader in America in 2013 and 2015, records show. His medallion lending supervisor, Mr. Fisher, also made millions.

    It is harder to tell how much fleet owners and brokers made, but in recent years news articles have featured some of them with new boats and houses.

    Mr. Messados’s bank records, filed in a legal case, show that by 2013, he had more than $50 million in non-taxi assets, including three homes and a yacht.

    The bubble bursts

    At least eight drivers have committed suicide, including three medallion owners with overwhelming loans.
    The medallion bubble burst in late 2014. Uber and Lyft may have hastened the crisis, but virtually all of the hundreds of industry veterans interviewed for this article, including many lenders, said inflated prices and risky lending practices would have caused a collapse even if ride-hailing had never been invented.

    At the market’s height, medallion buyers were typically earning about $5,000 a month and paying about $4,500 to their loans, according to an analysis by The Times of city data and loan documents. Many owners could make their payments only by refinancing when medallion values increased, which was unsustainable, some loan officers said.

    City data shows that since Uber entered New York in 2011, yellow cab revenue has decreased by about 10 percent per cab, a significant bite for low-earning drivers but a small drop compared with medallion values, which initially rose and then fell by 90 percent.

    As values fell, borrowers asked for breaks. But many lenders went the opposite direction. They decided to leave the business and called in their loans.

    They used the confessions to get hundreds of judgments that would allow them to take money from bank accounts, court records show. Some tried to get borrowers to give up homes or a relative’s assets. Others seized medallions and quickly resold them for profit, while still charging the original borrowers fees and extra interest. Several drivers have alleged in court that their lenders ordered them to buy life insurance.

    Many lenders hired a debt collector, Anthony Medina, to seize medallions from borrowers who missed payments.

    The scars left on cabs after medallions were removed.

    Mr. Medina left notes telling borrowers they had to give the lender “relief” to get their medallions back. The notes, which were reviewed by The Times, said the seizure was “authorized by vehicle apprehension unit.” Some drivers said Mr. Medina suggested he was a police officer and made them meet him at a park at night and pay $550 extra in cash.

    One man, Jean Demosthenes, a 64-year-old Haitian immigrant who could not speak English, said in an interview in Haitian Creole that Mr. Medina cornered him in Midtown, displayed a gun and took his car.

    In an interview, Mr. Medina denied threatening anyone with a gun. He said he requested cash because drivers who had defaulted could not be trusted to write good checks. He said he met drivers at parks and referred to himself as the vehicle apprehension unit because he wanted to hide his identity out of fear he could be targeted by borrowers.

    “You’re taking words from people that are deadbeats and delinquent people. Of course, they don’t want to see me,” he said. “I’m not the bad guy. I’m just the messenger from the bank.”

    Some lenders, especially Signature Bank, have let borrowers out of their loans for one-time payments of about $250,000. But to get that money, drivers have had to find new loans. Mr. Greenbaum, a fleet owner, has provided many of those loans, sometimes at interest rates of up to 15 percent, loan documents and interviews showed.

    New York Commercial Bank said in its statement it also had modified some loans.

    Other drivers lost everything. Most of the more than 950 owners who declared bankruptcy had to forfeit their medallions. Records indicate many were bought by hedge funds hoping for prices to rise. For now, cabs sit unused.

    Jean Demosthenes said his medallion was repossessed by a man with a gun. The man denied that he was armed.

    Bhairavi Desai, founder of the Taxi Workers Alliance, which represents drivers and independent owners, has asked the city to bail out owners or refund auction purchasers. Others have urged the city to pressure banks to forgive loans or soften terms.

    After reviewing The Times’s findings, Deepak Gupta, a former top official at the United States Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, said the New York Attorney General’s Office should investigate lenders.

    Mr. Gupta also said the state should close the loophole that let lenders classify medallion deals as business loans, even though borrowers had to guarantee them with everything they owned. Consumer loans have far more disclosure rules and protections.

    “These practices were indisputably predatory and would be illegal if they were considered consumer loans, rather than business loans,” he said.

    Last year, amid eight known suicides of drivers, including three medallion owners with overwhelming loans, the city passed a temporary cap on ride-hailing cars, created a task force to study the industry and directed the city taxi commission to do its own analysis of the debt crisis.

    Earlier this year, the Council eliminated the committee overseeing the industry after its chairman, Councilman Rubén Díaz Sr. of the Bronx, said the Council was “controlled by the homosexual community.” The speaker, Mr. Johnson, said, “The vast majority of the legislative work that we have been looking at has already been completed.”

    In a statement, a council spokesman said the committee’s duties had been transferred to the Committee on Transportation. “The Council is working to do as much as it can legislatively to help all drivers,” the spokesman said.

    As of last week, no one had been appointed to the task force.

    On the last day of 2018, Mr. and Mrs. Hoque brought their third child home from the hospital.

    Mr. Hoque cleared space for the boy’s crib, pushing aside his plastic bags of T-shirts and the fan that cooled the studio. He looked around. He could not believe he was still living in the same room.

    His loan had quickly faltered. He could not make the payments and afford rent, and his medallion was seized. Records show he paid more than $12,000 to Mega, and he said he paid another $550 to Mr. Medina to get it back. He borrowed from friends, promising it would not happen again. Then it happened four more times, he said.

    Mr. Konstantinides, the broker, said in his statement that he met with Mr. Hoque many times and twice modified one of his loans in order to lower his monthly payments. He also said he gave Mr. Hoque extra time to make some payments.

    In all, between the initial fees, monthly payments and penalties after the seizures, Mr. Hoque had paid about $400,000 into the medallion by the beginning of this year.

    But he still owed $915,000 more, plus interest, and he did not know what to do. Bankruptcy would cost money, ruin his credit and remove his only income source. And it would mean a shameful end to years of hard work. He believed his only choice was to keep working and to keep paying.

    His cab was supposed to be his ticket to money and freedom, but instead it seemed like a prison cell. Every day, he got in before the sun rose and stayed until the sky began to darken. Mr. Hoque, now 48, tried not to think about home, about what he had given up and what he had dreamed about.

    “It’s an unhuman life,” he said. “I drive and drive and drive. But I don’t know what my destination is.”

    [Read Part 2 of The Times’s investigation: As Thousands of Taxi Drivers Were Trapped in Loans, Top Officials Counted the Money]

    Reporting was contributed by Emma G. Fitzsimmons, Suzanne Hillinger, Derek M. Norman, Elisha Brown, Lindsey Rogers Cook, Pierre-Antoine Louis and Sameen Amin. Doris Burke and Susan Beachy contributed research. Produced by Jeffrey Furticella and Meghan Louttit.

    Follow Brian M. Rosenthal on Twitter at @brianmrosenthal

    #USA #New_York #Taxi #Betrug #Ausbeutung

  • Nowhere to turn: Victims say domestic abuse by police officers goes unpunished

    Debbie is one of multiple women who have told the Bureau of Investigative Journalism they suffered emotional or physical abuse at the hands of police officer partners, and that they believe their partners used their professional positions to seek to intimidate or harass them.

    From across the country we heard claims that alleged abusers got their partners repeatedly arrested, stalked them in marked cars, or warned them there was no point going to the police because the force was “a family.”


    https://www.thebureauinvestigates.com/stories/2019-05-01/police-perpetrators-domestic-violence
    #abus_sexuels #violence_domestique #police #UK #Angleterre

  • VIOLENCE REPORTS

    The collective expulsion and violent return of asylum seekers to the Bosnian border surrounding #Velika_Kladuša is a routine occurrence. Men, women, and even children regularly return from their attempts to cross through Croatia and Slovenia with split lips, black eyes, and broken bones. The search for safety and asylum is all too often met with police batons and closed fists.

    The brutal practices of the Croatian police are against international laws and directives. Firstly, the beating and deportation of all people on the move, both irregular migrants and asylum seekers, is against the prohibition of collective expulsion (Article 4 Protocol 4 ECHR*), and the absolute prohibition of torture and non-humane or degrading treatment or punishment (Article 3 ECHR*).

    Secondly, according to the EU Directive on Asylum Procedures (2005/85/EC), all people on the move are entitled to information about asylum, translation assistance, the ability to present their case to a competent authority, notification of the outcome, and the right to appeal a negative decision (1). But most importantly, viewing people searching safety as mere illegal numbers and dangerous bodies pushes them to a grey zone. Within this grey zone, they are stripped of the right to have rights, resulting in their humiliation without legal consequence, leaving perpetrators unrecognisable and unpunished.

    Thousands of lives are being slowly destroyed while the EU community silently overlooks the brutality of its own border regime, absolving itself of any real sense of responsibility.

    To this end, No Name Kitchen, in coordination with several other independent groups operating in the area, has been engaged in the collection and presentation of the violence which occurs at Europe’s doorstep. In this capacity, we collect the testimonies of victims of border violence and present them to a variety of actors within the field in the hopes of highlighting the systematic nature of this violence. The methodological process for these reports is centered on leveraging the close social contact that we have as independent volunteers with refugees and migrants to monitor pushbacks from Croatia. When individuals return with significant injuries or stories of abuse, one of our violence monitoring volunteers will sit down with them and collect their testimonies. We collect hard data (dates, geo-locations, officer descriptions, photos of injuries/medical reports, etc.) but also open narratives of the abuse.

    http://www.nonamekitchen.org/en/violence-reports

    Lien pour télécharger le rapport :


    http://www.nonamekitchen.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/Finished-Border-Violence-on-the-Balkan-Route.pdf
    #violence #rapport #route_des_balkans #Balkans #asile #migrations #réfugiés #Bosnie #frontières #Croatie #Slovénie

    • Garaža za mučenje migranata

      “Policija je dovela njih sedmero u garažu u Korenicu, gdje su im oduzeli sve stvari. Slomili su im mobitele, uništili punjače. Uzeli su im novac, cigarete i hranu. Kad su skinuli odjeću policajci su ih počeli tući rukama, laktovima, nogama”. U posljednjih pola godine pojavila su se višestruka svjedočanstva koja ukazuju na to da hrvatska policija pritvara i muči izbjeglice i migrante u garaži u policijskoj postaji u Korenici. Garaža s plavim vratima, u kojoj, kako se opisuje u svjedočanstvima, izbjeglice i migranti bivaju pretučeni i izgladnjivani, nalazi se svega par metara od dječjeg igrališta.

      U više izvještaja različitih organizacija, a najnovije i u posljednjem izvještaju Border Violence Monitoringa, opisuju se garažna mjesta za pritvaranja i zlostavljanje, koja po opisu mogu odgovarati policijskoj postaji u Korenici, koja je zbog blizina granice često u službi odvraćanja izbjeglica i migranta natrag u Bosnu i Hercegovinu.

      Prema posljednjim svjedočanstvima u travnju je grupa muškaraca iz Sirije, Alžira i Maroka, uhvaćena blizu granice sa Slovenijom, odvedena u garažu u Korenicu i zatim vraćena natrag u Bosnu i Hercegovinu. Izrazili su namjeru za službenim traženjem azila, ali im je odbijen pristup proceduri, iako na nju imaju zakonsko pravo.

      “Policija je dovela njih sedmero u garažu u Korenicu, gdje su im oduzeli sve stvari. Slomili su im mobitele, uništili punjače. Uzeli su im novac, cigarete i hranu. Jednoj su osobi uzeli čak i naočale. U prostoru je samo prljavi pod, bez deka, spužvi, wc-a. Morali su na njemu ležati, iako je bilo užasno hladno. Kad su skinuli odjeću policajci su ih počeli tući rukama, laktovima, nogama. Imali su i elektrošokere i pepper sprej, koje su koristili nekoliko puta. Svi su ljudi plakali”, stoji u svjedočanstvu.

      Prva svjedočanstva i opisi garaže pojavili su se u prosincu prošle godine, od strane migranata koji su nakon prelaska granice u Hrvatsku uhićeni, odvedeni u “garažu” pa protjerani natrag u Bosnu i Hercegovinu, bez da im je omogućeno pravo da u Hrvatskoj zatraže azil.

      U prosincu 2018. godine, kako je evidentirao Border Violence Monitoring, grupu Alžiraca je nakon prelaska granice pokupio kombi s policajcima u maskirnim uniformama, koji su izgledali kao vojska. Odveli su ih u garažu.

      “Policijska postaja je ispred garaže. Dvorište je između policijske postaje i garaže. Unutra je umiovaonik i grijalica, te svjetla na stropu. Prostorija je malena. Nema prozora, samo plava vrata”, stoji u opisu. Istaknuli su kako je bilo hladno te zbog hladnoće nisu mogli spavati. Policajci su, navodi se, s njima pričali nasilno te su im odbili dati hranu.

      Naposljetku su, s drugim migrantima koji su već bili u garaži, bez da im se omogući da zatraže azil, izbačeni u planinama i poslani da hodaju natrag u Bosnu satima. Kad su izišli iz kombija, policajci su naložili vatru u koju su bacili sve njihove stvari. “Jedan je policajac htio uzeti i deku u kojoj je bila umotana djevojčica iz iračke obitelji, ali ga je drugi policajac zaustavio da to ne napravi”, navodi se u svjedočanstvu. Vreće za spavanje i šatori su završili u plamenu.

      “Policija radi što hoće”, komentar je koji se učestalo čuje među brojnim izbjeglicama koji su više puta protjerani iz Hrvatske. Većina odvraćenih i protjeranih u Velikoj Kladuši, gradu blizu granice u kojem smo nedavno bili, žale se upravo najgorljivije na hrvatsku policiju.

      I mještani Velike Kladuše, pogotovo oni koji svakodnevno pomažu izbjeglicama i migrantima, ističu kako ljudi s granice dolaze izmučeni i gladni, nerijetko s modricama, ožiljcima, otvorenim ranama. “Svi ti prizori podsjećaju me na zadnji rat, jedino što nema bombardiranja”, komentira nam jedna mještanka. Nasilje koje provodi hrvatska granična policija tako je postalo svakodnevna tema.

      Krajem prošle godine pojavljuje se još jedno svjedočanstvo o “garaži”, u kojem stoji: “Stavili su nas u ćeliju, ali to zapravo nije ćelija, nego više kao garaža, s plavim vratima i pločicama. Ispred je parkiralište i policijska postaja”. “Kad nas je policija uhvatila, nisu nam dali ništa. Tamo je bio neki stari kruh, dosta star. Zatražio sam taj kruh, ali mi ga nisu dali”, opisuje jedan od migranata.

      Ponukani ovim svjedočanstvima i opisima garaže za mučenje, nedavno smo posjetili Korenicu. Na ulazu u Korenicu primjećujemo jedan policijski auto parkiran kraj šume, i policajca koji se upravo izvlači iz šume prema autu. Tijekom zimskih mjeseci mogli smo čitati kako “službenici postaje granične policije Korenice provode mjere pojačanog suzbijanja nezakonitih migracija”. U razgovoru s mještanima doznajemo kako su pojačane policijske snage u okolici u posljednje vrijeme, a izbjeglice i migrante se intenzivno traži po okolnim brdima.

      Prilikom našeg kratkog boravka u Korenici, ispred policijske postaje se izmijenio velik broj policajaca, dolazili su i odlazili autima i kombijima. Osim policajaca u redovnim uniformama, bilo je i obučenih u tamnozelene uniforme. U postaju dolaze i kombiji bez policijskih oznaka, a prisutni su i policajci u civilnoj odjeći.

      Prednji dio postaje sastoji se od velike zgrade s mnogo prozora, dok je unutarnji dio kompleksa ograđen i s malim dvorištem na kojem je parkirano nekoliko policijskih automobila i kombija, uz prostorije koje nalikuju na garaže, s plavim vratima. Te prostorije s jedne strane gledaju i na obližnje dječje igralište i na tom dijelu nema nijednog prozora. U dvorištu se nalaze i Toi Toi WC-i.

      U najnovijem svjedočanstvu koje je dokumentirao Border Violence Monitoring stoji: “Možemo ići samo dva puta dnevno na zahod, ujutro i navečer. Za ovo nas se vodi van u dvorište, gdje se nalaze tri plastična WC-a”, što ukazuje da postoji mogućnost da se radi upravo o ovoj policijskoj postaji. Aktivisti nam potvrđuju kako su svjedočanstva o “garaži” postala učestalija i sve detaljnija u opisima.

      I u svjedočanstvima iz ožujka izbjeglice i migranti navode kako su bili zatvoreni satima bez vode i hrane, te su iz nužde morali urinirati u kutu prostorije. “Bili smo kao kokoši. Ne želim se prisjećati tog trenutka. Bili smo poput životinja”, opisuje jedan migrant. “Pod je betoniran, hladno je, moramo spavati na njemu. Postoji samo jedna slavina za vodu i mali grijač na zidu. Vrata su plava i na njima je ispisano na mnogo jezika, datumi, imena i mjesta. Pakistanski, alžirski, marokanski, iranski, sirijski, odasvud”, opisuje se.

      Kad su pušteni iz pritvora garaže, kažu, policija ih je ostavila u planinskom području i poslala da hodaju kilometrima natrag prema Bihaću. Učestalo se spominje oduzimanje novca i mobitela i vrijednih stvari koje migranti sa sobom nose.

      Procedure odvraćanja izbjeglica i migranata obično se izvode iza zatvorenih vrata i u skrovitim područjima, čime se umanjuje rizik da će biti onih koji će im svjedočiti. Paralelu možemo povući i sa tzv. trećestupanjskim policijskim ispitivanjima.

      “Većina trećestupanjskih ispitivanja događala se tijekom pritvaranja na izoliranim lokacijama, uključujući policijske postaje, garaže, ponekad i hotele i mrtvačnice. Ali obično se takva mučenja događaju u pozadinskim sobama, incommunicado prostorijama, posebno dizajniranima u ove svrhe. U javnosti se postojanje takvih prostorija poriče, a njihovo održavanje zahtjeva šutnju čitavog sustava. Policija je rijeko kažnjavana za brutalne metode ispitivanja, korištene za izvlačenje priznanja, ali i da se ’nepoželjne’ otjera iz grada”, navodi se u radu Police Interrogation and Coercion in Domestic American History: Lessons for the War on Terror, Richarda A. Leoa i Alexe Koenig.

      “Ovakve prakse postaju sredstvo putem kojeg policija nadilazi svoju ispitivačku ulogu, pojačava svoju moć i zaobilazi ulogu koja je dizajnirana kako bi se spriječila koncentracija i zlouporaba moći od strane države”, zaključuju autori.

      Brutalne prakse zlostavljanja i prisilnih protjerivanja koje provode policijski službenici na hrvatskoj granici i o kojima sad već postoje kontinuirana i detaljna svjedočanstva, protivne su i domaćim i međunarodnim zakonima te direktivama.

      “Premlaćivanje i deportacija ljudi protivni su zabrani kolektivnih protjerivanja (Članak 4 Protokola 4 ECHR) i zabrani mučenja i nečovječnog ili ponižavajućeg postupanja ili kazni (Članak 3 ECHR)”, navodi se u Petom izvještaju o nezakonitim protjerivanjima i nasilju Republike Hrvatske, koji su nedavno objavile organizacije Are You Syrious?, Centar za mirovne studije i Incijativa Dobrodošli.

      Vraćanje migranata u Bosnu i Hercegovinu bez uzimanja u obzir osobnih okolnosti svakog pojedinog slučaja, a posebice zanemarujući njihovu potrebu za međunarodnom zaštitom, pa čak i na izričito traženje azila, uporaba sredstava prisile te ponižavanje ozbiljna su povreda izbjegličkih i migantskih prava, ali i enorman prijestup MUP-a, na što je upozoravala i pučka pravobraniteljica.

      MUP-u smo uputili upit za komentar o opžubama za nasilje i mučenje od strane hrvatske policije, kao i za slučaj “garaže” koju se povezuje s policijskom postajom u Korenici. Upitali smo ih i jesu li, s obzirom na svjedočanstva koja se pojavljuju od prosinca, reagirali na optužbe i posvetili se detaljnoj istrazi i uvidu u potencijalne prijestupe i prekoračenja policijske ovlasti u Korenici. Do zaključenja teksta odgovor na upite nismo dobili.

      Kada su u pitanju optužbe za policijsko nasilje, u prijašnjim reakcijama iz MUP-a su isticali kako “prilikom postupanja prema migrantima policija poštuje njihova temeljna prava i dostojanstvo te im omogućuje pristup sustavu međunarodne zaštite, ukoliko im je takva zaštita potrebna, sukladno općim dokumentima o ljudskim pravima, regulativi EU-a te nacionalnom zakonodavstvu. Želimo naglasiti nultu stopu tolerancije ovog ministarstva na nezakonitu uporabu sredstava prisile od strane hrvatske policije naspram bilo koje populacije, kao i nultu stopu tolerancije nad neprocesuiranjem bilo kojeg kaznenog djela ili prekršaja počinjenog od strane policijskih službenika”.

      Kako je moguće da se u zemlji “nulte stope tolerancije na nezakonitu upotrebu sredstava prisile” kontinuirano pojavljuju svjedočanstva o garažama za mučenje? Ostaje nam zapitati se je li zaista moguće da su sva ova detaljna svjedočanstva, koja se u mnogočemu podudaraju, prikupljena u različitim vremenskim periodima, od ljudi čiji se putevi uglavnom nisu sreli, lažna? Volonteri i aktivisti koji prikupljaju svjedočanstva također se rotiraju i dolaze iz različitih organizacija, pa je i njihova “sugestivnost” faktor koji bi se moglo prekrižiti.

      Garaža za mučenje mali je prostor, ali je bijeg od suočavanja s njenim postojanjem velik i indikativan. Arundhati Roy piše: “Ne postoje oni koji nemaju glas. Postoje samo oni koji su namjerno ušutkani i oni koje biramo da ne čujemo.”

      https://www.h-alter.org/vijesti/garaza-za-mucenje-migranata
      #Korenica

      Commentaire reçu par email de Inicijativa Dobrodosli, le 22.05.2019 :

      H-alter published a text based on refugee testimonies and previously published reports of torture in a blue-coloured door garage that may correspond to the description of the police station in Korenica, located near the children’s playground. The testimonies describe denial of food, limited use of toilet and physical violence that occurs not only at the border but also in the depths of the Croatian territory.

    • ‘Nobody Hears You’ : Migrants, Refugees Beaten on Balkan Borders

      Migrants and refugees say they continue to face violence at the hands of police while trying to cross the Balkan peninsula.

      It was supposed to have closed. But migrants and refugees from the Middle East, Asia and Africa are still crossing the Balkan peninsula en route to Western Europe. Many report brutality at the hands of the police.

      In April this year, some 3,600 migrants and refugees – mainly from Afghanistan and Iran – were registered in Serbia, according to the United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR.

      Bosnia last year registered 25,000, though only 3,500 chose to stay in the country while the rest crossed quickly into European Union member Croatia.

      No Name Kitchen, NNK, an NGO assisting migrants and refugees, says police violence is on the rise.

      Between May 2017 and May last year, NNK recorded 215 reported cases of push-backs by Croatian police to Serbia, of which 45 per cent involved physical violence.

      Between May 2017 and December last year, there were 141 push-backs from Croatia to Bosnia, NNK reported, of which 84 per cent involved violence.

      Croatian authorities denied police used violence against migrants and refugees, telling BIRN that such accusations were often made up.

      BIRN journalists spoke to a number of refugees and migrants in Serbia, Bosnia and Slovenia about their experiences with Croatian police. Most chose to be identified only by their first names.

      Ahmed: ‘Nobody hears you’

      “They make the music loud and start beating us, one by one. With sticks, electrical sticks…,” said Ahmed, a Moroccan who had spent the past month in a migrant camp in the small Serbian border town of Sid.

      Ahmed said he had tried several times to cross the nearby border into Croatia, running a gauntlet known among migrants and refugees as ‘The Game’, but had been turned back each time by Croatian police.

      “I’ve been captured and they turn me back, beat me and turn me back,” he told BIRN. “They would come out from the car, one by one and they start, like that until you scream and nobody hears you,” he said.

      Ali: ‘Police have no heart’

      Ali and a group of friends had made it into Croatia from Bosnia in April and walked for six days in the direction of Slovenia.

      “Police officers, they caught us and after that, they brought us in the police station and we were for four hours in the police station like a prisoner and after that… they beat us,” he told BIRN in the northwestern Bosnian town of Bihac, a hub for migrants and refugees trying to cross the Croatian border.

      “Police have no heart. They don’t want to see that the guys are human. It’s really horrible.”

      Nue: ‘I don’t have a country’

      Some of those BIRN spoke to said they were fleeing repression in their own countries.

      Nue, a Palestinian now also stuck in Sid, said: “My country, I don’t have a country because I am from Palestine… I have ID just to say I am from Palestine.”

      Nue said that when he tried to cross the border, he was caught by the Croatian police. He pointed to a cut on his head.

      “When he’s [the police officer] catching me, he does like this,” he said, imitating being beaten. “I have to just stay in the tent because maybe I have a problem in my head because [the beating was] very strong.”

      Nue said he was now sleeping in the street.

      Another man, in the centre of Sid, said police were also violent towards his wife, who was nine months pregnant when BIRN spoke to the couple.

      “They don’t care if she’s pregnant or not,” he said. “There is no human qualities in them, you understand. I never seen such people.”

      Muhamed: Old and new injuries

      Muhamed, from Tunisia, said he had been in Serbia for six weeks having been beating by police on the Croatian border.

      “They done with you everything,” he said, and showed injuries he said were inflicted the day before by Croatian police.

      Muhamed said he was beaten for 10 minutes and then sent back to Serbia.

      “Everytime, doing this, everytime, look, this old and this new,” he said, pointing to the bruises and cuts.

      Khalid: It was necessary

      In a migrant camp in Slovenia, Khalid, from Eritrea, said he had been deported back to Bosnia eight times.

      “I came to Ljubljana by walk,” he said.

      “[Croatian police] deported me eight times – four times to [Velika Kladusa] and four times to Bihac. They beat us, and they take [our] phones. They make many things.”

      Though he personally had not faced violence, Khalid said he knew of many others who had.

      “All the people now, they forget everything because they crossed the borders and also we have to tell them sorry, we cross your country… It was necessary to do it.”

      Activist: ‘It’s worse and worse’

      Diego Menjibar, an activist with No Name Kitchen, told BIRN:

      “They are beaten by batons in borders. Also, with fist, kicking them. We have a lot of cases every week of people beaten with batons, with physical violence, also verbal violence and some of them, they also passed out while they [were] beat, so we have a doctor here.”

      Menjibar spoke in a disused factory in Sid that is now filled with tents for migrants and refugees. Roughly 100 pass through the camp each day.

      “We talk with the people in the squat and we listen what they say and every time it’s worse and worse,” he said.

      Beaten around the legs

      In April, Swiss broadcaster SRF and the crew of the TV programme “Rundschau” spent three weeks in the fields on the Bosnian-Croatian border speaking to migrants and refugees in the moment after they were turned back by Croatian police.

      “I was literally running after these people when they came down [after being deported],” SRF journalist Nicole Vögele told BIRN. “I was aware that now what we really need is a full line of evidence.”

      In May, SRF broadcast a piece showing Croatian police pushing back migrants and refugees into Bosnia. Vögele said many sustained injuries to their legs from being beaten by police with sticks.

      “Most of them were showing me the [lower] parts of the legs,” Vögele said. “Two days later, I asked them if they have same traces because just an hour after the beating, as you can imagine you can see a bit of red. But two days later it is clearly visible.”

      In the SRF report, an Afghan family, including small children, spoke of bring stopped in the forest by Croatian policemen.

      “They pointed their guns at us and said ‘Stop’. We were very scared and cried,” said the oldest of the children. When the family asked for asylum, the police officers laughed and said that they would be given “Bosnian asylum” – meaning that they would be deported back to Bosnia.

      Injuries

      The Serbian-based NGO Asylum Protection Centre has also gathered extensive evidence of Croatian police brutality.

      In late April, Rados Djurovic, the director of the centre, said instances of violence were on the rise.

      The NGO has also gathered evidence of migrant families, including children, being starved and exhausted and illegally pushed back into Serbia by Hungarian police.

      Police denial

      The office of the Croatian ombudsperson said it had acted in more than 50 cases concerning refugees and migrants.

      The cases “often involve complaints on various grounds, including police treatment,” the office said in a written reply to BIRN.

      Most complaints concerned Croatian and Hungarian police.

      “The complaints relate to various types of violence, from hits by hands and sticks to the bite of official dogs,” the office said.

      The local health centre in Bihac, in northwestern Bosnia, said it saw up to 10 cases of violent injuries each month, “but injuries are done by various subjects, i.e. the internal conflicts of migrants, third parties and / or police”.

      Croatia’s interior ministry said it had looked into all complaints of alleged coercive measures against migrants and that none had warranted further criminal investigation.

      “In all these cases, detailed field inspections were carried out in police administrations, and so far in none of the cases have been found that police officers are using forced means against migrants,” it told BIRN.

      The ministry stressed its respect for the fundamental rights and dignity of migrants and that it used “prescribed procedure for returning to the country from which they illegally entered into the Republic of Croatia.”

      “Migrants are most often falsely accusing police officers of violence, expecting such accusations will help them with a new attempt to enter the Republic of Croatia and continue their journey towards the destination countries,” it said.

      In Bosnia, a police spokesman in the Una-Sana canton, where Bihac is located, said police had not received any complaints of violence against migrants and refugees by Bosnian police.

      https://balkaninsight.com/2019/06/13/nobody-hears-you-migrants-refugees-beaten-on-balkan-borders

  • #bresil
    VIDEO: The Dramatic Scandal Swallowing the #Bolsonaro Presidency and Which Just Drove an LGBT Congressman to Flee #Brazil
    https://theintercept.com/2019/01/24/video-the-dramatic-scandal-swallowing-the-bolsonaro-presidency-and-whi

    The scandal most centrally involves President Bolsonaro’s eldest son, Flavio, who has long been a State Deputy from Rio de Janeiro but was just elected to the Federal Senate with a massive vote total in the last election. The scandal began with the discovery of highly suspicious payments into and out of the account of Flavio’s driver, a former police officer and long-time friend of President Bolsonaro’s.

    Each new discovery has escalated the scandal’s seriousness: one unexplained deposit was found going into the account of President Bolsonaro’s wife, Michelle; both the driver and Flavio himself began using highly suspicious maneuvers to try to stymie the investigation; the amounts of the suspicious transfers began rapidly increasing to $US 2 million; and then deposits were found going into Flavio’s accounts in small increments of multiple deposits in rapid succession: at times up to 10 cash deposits made within 3 minutes, the hallmark of money laundering and evading banking regulations.

  • https://www.defenseurdesdroits.fr/fr/communique-de-presse/2018/12/le-defenseur-des-droits-publie-son-rapport-exiles-et-droits

    Le Défenseur des droits publie son rapport « Exilés et droits fondamentaux, trois ans après le rapport Calais »

    À défaut d’une politique nationale assurant un véritable accueil des primo-arrivants, les collectivités locales et les associations caritatives sont contraintes d’agir seules, dans un contexte où se maintient une pénalisation de certains actes de solidarité. Le Défenseur des droits recommande donc d’élargir l’immunité pénale à tous les actes apportés dans un but humanitaire.

    Outre les effets de la politique migratoire de l’Union européenne qui contribuent à réduire de manière drastique les voies légales d’immigration en Europe, l’’externalisation de la frontière britannique en France demeure l’une des principales causes de la reconstitution des campements de fortune à Calais, Grande-Synthe ou Ouistreham, puisqu’elle empêche les exilés qui le souhaitent d’atteindre la Grande-Bretagne. Le Défenseur des droits recommande donc au gouvernement de dénoncer les accords conclus avec la Grande-Bretagne.

    #police #dublin #touquet #noborder #calais #état #raciste

    • Migrants : le Défenseur des droits dénonce une « dégradation » dans les campements depuis 2015

      Le Défenseur des droits Jacques Toubon a dénoncé mercredi une « dégradation » de la situation sanitaire et sociale des migrants vivant sur des campements en France depuis trois ans, avec « des atteintes sans précédents aux droits fondamentaux ».

      Face à une politique « non-accueil », les migrants « se retrouvent dans un état de dénuement extrême, dépourvus de tout abri et ayant comme première préoccupation celle de subvenir à leurs besoins vitaux : boire, se nourrir, se laver », déplore Toubon dans un rapport sur les campements de Calais, Paris, Grande-Synthe (Nord) et Ouistreham (Calvados). « Les difficultés à trouver des solutions durables aggravent le phénomène », estime-il, en déplorant des « stratégies de dissuasion et d’invisibilisation sur le territoire national menées par les pouvoirs publics ».

      En 2015 déjà, Toubon avait dénoncé dans un rapport sévère la situation des migrants dans le bidonville de la « Jungle » à Calais, qui comptait alors plus de 4 000 personnes, et a été démantelé depuis, de même que les grands campements parisiens.

      Mais « la situation s’est en réalité nettement dégradée », note le Défenseur, qui pointe les opérations d’évacuation régulièrement menées par les pouvoirs publics. « Loin d’être conformes aux exigences du droit à un hébergement inconditionnel », ces mises à l’abri « contribuent à la constitution de nouveaux campements » par leur caractère « non durable », assure-t-il dans ce document reprenant divers avis rendus depuis 2015.

      Toubon déplore aussi, pour ces mises à l’abri, le recours à des centres pour étrangers fonctionnant « comme des centres de transit » avec « des critères de tri ». « En lieu et place d’une véritable politique d’accueil, les pouvoirs publics ont préféré mettre en œuvre une politique essentiellement fondée sur la police des étrangers, reflétant une forme de +criminalisation des migrations », assure-t-il dans ce rapport publié au lendemain

      Il s’inquiète particulièrement des méthodes policières, avec des évacuations « pour empêcher tout nouveau point de fixation » et des contrôles d’identité « pour contrôler le droit au séjour ». « Pour servir ces opérations, différentes pratiques ont pu être observées telles que l’usage de gaz lacrymogène », assure-t-il dans ce rapport publié au lendemain de la journée internationale des migrants.

      Faisant état d’« une détérioration sans précédent de la santé des exilés », avec un « développement inquiétant des troubles psychiques », il s’inquiète particulièrement pour les mineurs, « laissés à leur sort » en raison du caractère « largement inadapté et sous-dimensionné des dispositifs » existants.

      Dans ce contexte Toubon souligne le rôle des collectivités locales « contraintes d’agir », et celui des associations qui « se substituent de plus en plus fréquemment aux pouvoirs publics » mais « sont de plus en plus empêchées d’agir ». Le Défenseur déplore enfin des « entraves persistantes à l’entrée dans la procédure d’asile » qui « viennent grossir les rangs des exilés contraints de vivre dans la clandestinité ».

      Mettant en garde contre une « logique d’externalisation de la gestion des flux migratoires », il formule plusieurs propositions, dont la suspension du règlement de Dublin confiant au pays d’enregistrement l’examen de la demande d’asile.

      https://www.liberation.fr/france/2018/12/19/migrants-le-defenseur-des-droits-denonce-une-degradation-dans-les-campeme

    • France: Police harassing, intimidating and even using violence against people helping refugees

      French authorities have harassed, intimidated and even violently assaulted people offering humanitarian aid and other support to migrants, asylum seekers and refugees in northern France in a deliberate attempt to curtail acts of solidarity, a new report by Amnesty International has found.

      Targeting solidarity: Criminalization and harassment of people defending migrant and refugee rights in northern France reveals how people helping refugees and migrants in #Calais and #Grand-Synthe are targeted by the police and the court system.

      “Providing food to the hungry and warmth to the homeless have become increasingly risky activities in northern France, as the authorities regularly target people offering help to migrants and refugees,” said Lisa Maracani, Amnesty International’s Human Rights Defenders Researcher.

      “Migrants and refugees did not simply disappear with the demolition of the ‘Jungle’ camp in 2016 and more than a thousand men, women and children are still living precarious lives in the area. The role of human rights defenders who offer them support is crucial.”

      Two-and-a-half years after the destruction of the so-called ‘Jungle’ camp, more than 1,200 refugees and migrants, including unaccompanied children, are living in tents and informal camps around Calais and Grande-Synthe. They have no regular access to food, water, sanitation, shelter or legal assistance and are subject to evictions, harassment, and violence at the hands of the police.

      One Afghan man told Amnesty International that he was beaten on his back with a baton by police during a forced eviction, and another described how a police officer had urinated on his tent. An Iranian man told Amnesty International: “I left my country looking for safety, but here I face police abuse…The police come every day to take my tent and clothes.”

      The number of camps and tents destroyed in Calais and Grande-Synthe increased last year, with 391 evictions carried out in the first five months of 2019 alone. Once evicted, migrants and refugees are at increased risk of violence and abuse. One local woman who provides migrants with help, told Amnesty International that she witnessed police spray migrants with teargas in the face while they were sleeping in her garden.

      Verbal and physical abuse part of daily routine

      The increased number of evictions is a consequence of France’s “no attachment points” policy, which attempts to deter people from staying in the area by ensuring that camps are not set up. While authorities have put in place an outreach service to enable refugees and migrants access reception centres and asylum offices in France, these centres are a long way from Calais and Grande-Synthe and sometimes there is not enough capacity to accommodate them. In order to alleviate their suffering, human rights defenders have attempted to fill the gap and provide the essential support and services that the French state is failing to offer.

      Instead of recognizing the importance of their work, authorities have obstructed, intimidated, harassed and in some cases started baseless prosecutions and even used violence.

      Several human rights defenders told Amnesty International that acts of intimidation, threats of arrest and abuse have become “part and parcel of their daily work.” One humanitarian worker told Amnesty International that she was violently pushed to the ground and choked by police in June 2018 after she had filmed four officers chasing a foreign national in Calais.

      A report last year by four organisations found that there had been 646 instances of police harassment and abuse against volunteers between November 2017 and June 2018. There have been 72 recorded instances this year, but the real figure is likely to be much higher.

      Eleonore Vigny who took part in the Human Rights Observers project in Calais said that intimidation of volunteers had spiked last summer, with police employing new harassment techniques. “In April and May 2018 there were several body searches, especially of female volunteers, sometimes done by male officers. There was also an escalation in insults, and people have been pushed, sometimes to the ground…Recently we received more threats of legal suits, and threats of arrests.”

      When reporting mistreatment of refugees, migrants, and human rights defenders, complainants say that they are not taken seriously. Charlotte Head, a volunteer who made several complaints about police behaviour to the police’s internal investigatory body, was warned that her complaints were “defamatory in character” and could constitute a “crime”.

      One local human rights organization, Cabane Juridique, filed more than 60 complaints to different authorities and bodies between January 2016 and April 2019. In May 2019, the French Ministry of Justice told Amnesty International that regional courts had received just 11 complaints since 2016, and only one was being investigated by prosecutors.

      Stress, anxiety and the fear of prosecution

      Human rights defenders told Amnesty International that they feel the pressure on them is increasing and having a negative impact on all aspects of their lives. Some have experienced insomnia, stress and anxiety whilst others describe the impact of prosecutions as debilitating.

      Loan Torondel who had been working in Calais told Amnesty International: “I feel that I am caught between the acute needs of people I am trying to help and the intimidation of French authorities who are trying to hamper humanitarian activities and label our activities as crimes. This is not a sustainable working environment for us, and it is the people we help who pay the consequences."

      One human rights defender told Amnesty International: “For the volunteers it’s very difficult. They are scared. We brief them on security and the context and they get scared. We struggle to recruit new volunteers.”

      But despite the harassment, many of those interviewed by Amnesty International are determined to carry on with their vital work. One local volunteer told Amnesty International that she is thankful for the presence of the migrants and refugees: “They have made us more human, they have enriched our lives.”

      “Rather than attempting to make the lives of migrants and refugees as difficult as possible, French authorities should take concrete measures to alleviate their suffering and provide shelter and support to all those living on the streets,” said Lisa Maracani.

      “It is also time to defend the defenders. Rather than treating human rights defenders as the enemy, the authorities should see them as a vital ally, and celebrate acts of solidarity and compassion rather than criminalizing them.”

      BACKGROUND

      Human rights violations faced by human rights defenders must be viewed within the context of the treatment of the people whose rights they defend. It is essential that the rights of refugees and migrants are respected. This means improving the asylum and reception system in France, providing safe and legal routes to the UK and reforming the European asylum system to remove the requirement laid down in the Dublin rules that asylum-seekers seek protection in their first country of entry.

      https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2019/06/france-police-harassing-intimidating-and-even-using-violence-against-people
      #France

      Le #rapport:
      https://www.amnesty.org/download/Documents/EUR2103562019FRENCH.PDF

  • Palestinian shot, killed after Jerusalem stabbing attack
    Dec. 13, 2018 11:21 A.M. (Updated: Dec. 13, 2018 11:51 A.M.)
    http://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?ID=782062

    JERUSALEM (Ma’an) — A Palestinian was shot and killed by Israeli forces in occupied East Jerusalem after carrying out a stabbing attack, predawn Thursday.

    Witnesses told a Ma’an reporter that Israeli forces opened fire at a Palestinian youth identified as Majd Jamal Mteir , 25, at around 5:00 a.m., critically injuring him, in the al-Wad Street of the Old City of Jerusalem.

    Mteir, from the Qalandiya refugee camp north of Jerusalem, was later pronounced dead.

    Israeli police and intelligence forces were heavily deployed across the streets of the Old City, sealed the city and prevented Palestinian worshipers from the entering the Al-Aqsa Mosque for Dawn Prayers.

    Israeli media reported that Mteir stabbed two Israeli police officers deployed in the al-Wad Street, a female police officer whose injury was reported as moderate and a policeman whose injury was reported as light.

    #Palestine_assassinée

    • Israeli Soldiers Kill A Palestinian In Jerusalem
      December 13, 2018 9:28 AM
      http://imemc.org/article/israeli-soldiers-kill-a-palestinian-in-jerusalem-2

      Israeli soldiers killed, on Thursday at dawn, a young Palestinian man in the al-Waad Street, in the Old City of occupied Jerusalem, after he reportedly stabbed and injured two Israeli police officers.

      Israeli sources said two officers of the Border Guards Unit suffered mild wounds, “when the Palestinian stabbed them, before he was shot dead.”

      They added that one of the wounded officers, a 19-year-old policewoman, suffered a moderate injury, and was moved to Hadassah Ein Karem Medical Center, in Jerusalem, where her condition improved and was described as mild.

      The slain Palestinian was later identified as Majd Mteir , 26, from Qalandia refugee camp, north of occupied East Jerusalem.

      He was shot with several live rounds, and succumbed to his wounds shortly afterwards.

  • » Palestinian Teen Dies From Wounds Suffered On November 14 In Jerusalem
    IMEMC News - November 20, 2018 2:08 PM
    http://imemc.org/article/palestinian-teen-dies-from-wounds-suffered-on-november-14-in-jerusalem

    Palestinian teenage boy died, Tuesday, from serious wounds he suffered on, Wednesday November 14, 2018, allegedly after attempting to stab Israeli officers at a police station in occupied East Jerusalem.

    The Palestinian, identified as Abdul-Rahman Ali Abu Jamal , 17, from Jabal al-Mokabber, allegedly climbed the fence of a police station, and attacked the officers stationed there.

    An Israeli policewoman shot Jamal multiple times at the police station, which was built on Palestinian lands in Jabal al-Mokabber, seriously wounding him, and causing minor injuries to another police officer.

    Abu Jamal was moved to Shaare Zedek Medical Center, in Jerusalem, and remained in a critical condition until he succumbed to his wounds.

    Israeli sources claimed that three officers were lightly wounded in the same incident, and added that the medics “gave them first aid and took them to the hospital, fully conscious and in stable condition, and released them shortly after being admitted.”

    It is worth mentioning that, after in incident, dozens of soldiers and police officers repeatedly invaded Abu Jamal’s home, and detained five members of his family, including his mother, and took photos and measurements of the home, to demolish it later.

    #Palestine_assassinée

  • On Wednesday 7 November, during the evening, activists of the #Welcome! Initiative held a guerrilla action in Cvjetni trg, a square in Zagreb city centre, and at the main Train Station, to raise public awareness of citizens on violence and violations of rights that men, women and children experience on daily basis at the Croatian borders.

    The action of projecting the testimonies of refugees in public space brought these -too often- invisible refugees’ experiences closer to citizens of Zagreb. Persecution, violence, human rights violations are the reality in which refugees live every day, while their voices mostly remain muted, isolated and ignored.

    By showing in the very centre of the Croatian capital city the stories and experiences of people who are at Europe’s door, this street action wants to emphasize how these violations and persecutions are systematic, and perpetrated on people that are already underprivileged, which says a lot about the injustice in the whole society.

    “She had to take off all her clothes. While the police officer was strip-searching my younger daughter, the other police officers were looking at her, naked.”

    “Our bodies were shaking. It was cold, and we were wet as we crossed the river. But the police did not allow us to cover and warm up with the blankets we had. What Croatian police does is so cruel. Like they were not human beings.”

    “The man began to cry, begging the police to help the people who were drowning. But police did not react.”

    These are just few of the shocking experiences of refugees that have been projected during the night guerrilla action. All the people that were passing by, could not have remained indifferent.

    The Welcome! Initiative states that it’s up to all of us to participate in building an inclusive and just society based on solidarity.

    The media space has recently been hysterically misused to spread fear, panic, and disinformation, which is actually the reason why a lot of people are escaping from their country, in search of security. National security is a priority over human security and human rights, with border protection being applied through violence and humiliations. It also boosts the spreading of crime in smuggling activities, as there is no legal way to enter in Croatia. Violent and unlawful expulsions, known as pushbacks, carried out by border police officers, have become daily practice, is being framed under the importance of protection and national security. This is confirmed by numerous reports and testimonies of people whose voices are systematically being muted and discredited.

    The Welcome! Initiative believes that decision-makers and state institutions are obliged to respect and transparently implement the international laws, regulations and directives that Croatia has accepted by joining European Union. In these moments, more than ever, a solidary and loud response is needed from the society, in order to show our strong opposition to these violent policies that violate human dignity and existence.

    See the photo gallery of the action here: welcome.cms.hr/index.php/hr/2018/11/07/galerija-nocna-akcija-inicijative-dobrodosli/

    #Zagreb #Croatie #asile #migrations #réfugiés #résistance #solidarité #espace_public #street-art #art_de_rue

    reçu via la mailing-list « Dublin deportation »

  • Tunisia: Privacy Threatened by ‘Homosexuality’ Arrests

    Tunisian authorities are confiscating and searching the phones of men they suspect of being gay and pressuring them to take anal tests and to confess to homosexual activity, Human Rights Watch said today. Prosecutors then use information collected in this fashion to prosecute them for homosexual acts between consenting partners, under the country’s harsh sodomy laws.

    “The Tunisian authorities have no business meddling in people’s private sexual practices, brutalizing and humiliating them under the guise of enforcing discriminatory laws,” said Amna Guellali, Tunisia director at Human Rights Watch. “Tunisia should abolish its antiquated anti-sodomy laws and respect everyone’s right to privacy.”

    Human Rights Watch spoke with six men prosecuted in 2017 and 2018 under article 230 of the penal code, which punishes consensual same-sex conduct with up to three years in prison. One person interviewed was only 17 years old the first time he was arrested. Human Rights Watch also reviewed the judicial files in these cases and five others that resulted in prosecutions under either article 230 or article 226, which criminalizes “harming public morals.” In addition to violating privacy rights, these cases included allegations of mistreatment in police custody, forced confessions, and denial of access to legal counsel.

    Police arrested some of these men after disputes arose between them or after neighbors reported them. Two had gone to the police to report being raped.

    Some of the men spent months in prison. At least three have left Tunisia and applied for asylum in European countries.

    K.S., a 32-year-old engineer, entered a police station in Monastir in June 2018 to file a complaint of gang rape, and to get an order for a medical examination of his injuries. Instead of treating him as a victim, he said, the police ordered an anal test to determine whether K.S. was “used to practicing sodomy.” “How they treated me was insane,” K.S. told Human Rights Watch. “How is it their business to intrude into my intimate parts and check whether I am ‘used to sodomy’?”

    In another case, a 17-year-old was arrested three times on sodomy charges and was forced to undergo an anal examination, as well as months of conversion therapy at a juvenile detention center. Both harmful practices are discredited.

    Tunisian prosecutors have relied extensively in recent years on forced anal examinations to seek “evidence” of sodomy, even though the exams are highly unreliable and constitute cruel, degrading, and inhuman treatment that can rise to the level of torture.

    On September 21, 2017, during the Universal Periodic Review at the United Nations Human Rights Council, Tunisia formally accepted a recommendation to end forced anal exams. However, Tunisia’s delegation stated: “Medical examinations will be conducted based on the consent of the person and in the presence of a medical expert.” This stance is not credible because trial courts can presume that a refusal to undergo the exam signals guilt, Human Rights Watch said. Tunisia should abandon anal exams altogether.

    Prosecutions for consensual sex in private and between adults violate the rights to privacy and nondiscrimination guaranteed by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Tunisia is a party. The United Nations Human Rights Committee, which monitors compliance with the covenant, has stated that sexual orientation is a status protected against discrimination. The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has found that arrests for same-sex conduct between consenting adults are, by definition, arbitrary.

    Tunisia’s 2014 constitution, in article 24, obliges the government to protect the rights to privacy and the inviolability of the home. Article 21 provides that “All citizens, male and female, have equal rights and duties, and are equal before the law without any discrimination.” Article 23 prohibits “mental and physical torture.”

    The Code of Criminal Procedure prohibits house searches and seizure of objects that could serve a criminal investigation without a judicial warrant, except in cases of flagrante delicto, that is when catching someone in the act.

    Article 1 of Law No. 63 on the protection of personal data stipulates that “every person is entitled to the protection of their personal data and privacy of information, viewed as a fundamental right guaranteed by the constitution. This data can only be used with transparency, loyalty and respect for the dignity of the person whose data is subject of treatment.” However, neither Law No. 63 nor any other domestic law regulates the conditions for seizing private data during a police investigation or its use.

    On June 12, the Commission on Individual Freedoms and Equality, appointed by President Beji Caid Essebsi, proposed, among other actions, to decriminalize homosexuality and to end anal testing in criminal investigations into homosexuality. It also proposed criminalizing the unlawful “interception, opening, recording, spreading, saving and deleting” of an electronic message.

    On October 11, 13 members of the Tunisian Parliament introduced draft legislation for a code on individual freedoms. It incorporated several proposals from the presidential commission including abolition of article 230.

    Parliament should move quickly on this draft legislation and abolish article 230, Human Rights Watch said. It should enact a law that effectively protects people’s privacy, through regulating the seizure and use of private data during criminal investigations, with consequences if such a law is violated.

    The Justice Ministry should meanwhile direct public prosecutors to abandon prosecutions under article 230. The Interior Ministry should investigate reports of the ill-treatment of people arrested based on their gender identity or sexual orientation.

    Human Rights Watch conducted face to face interviews with men in Tunisia and phone interviews with men who fled to European countries. Pseudonyms have been used to protect their privacy.

    Shams and Damj, local LGBT rights groups, provided assistance.

    Accounts by Men Prosecuted

    K.S., 32, engineer

    K.S. used to work for an international company in Tunis. He said that on June 8, he went to spend the weekend in at a friend’s house in Monastir, a coastal city. He had earlier chatted with a man from Monastir on Grindr, a social network application for gays. They made a date and they met that day in a café. The man invited K.S. to his house, but once there, the man became aggressive and showed K.S. a police badge. Two other men arrived, and they started insulting him, calling him “sick.” “One said, ‘You people of Loth [a demeaning term derived from the Biblical and Quranic story of Lot], you deserve to be killed, you are like microbes.’”

    They punched and slapped him on the face, he said. Then the man who had invited him said, “We will show you what sodomy is like.” The men then forced him to take off his clothes and bend over. Two of them held K.S. by the arms while the third inserted a baton in his anus. “It was unbearable, I felt that I will faint,” K.S. said. They finally let him leave.

    I was shivering and bleeding [when I reached my friend’s house]. The next day, I went to Fattouma Bourguiba hospital in Monastir. I just wanted to get medical treatment and to check that I did not have internal hemorrhaging.

    But, he said, the doctor refused to examine him without a police order:

    I went to the Skanes district police station in Monastir, to try to get the requisition order. I did not want to tell the police the full story, so I just said that three men had raped me. The policeman who was typing my statement left the room at some point, and that’s when I saw on the screen that he was instructing the doctor at Fatouma Bourguiba hospital to examine whether I am ‘used to practicing sodomy.’ I felt the blood freeze in my body.

    Human Rights Watch reviewed the June 9 police requisition order, in which the chief instructs the doctor to examine whether K.S. was “used to practicing sodomy” and whether he was victim of anal rape.

    K.S. said that, when the policeman returned to the office, K.S. asked if he could leave. The policeman replied: “And go where? You can’t leave before we check what kind of stuff you do.” The policeman called for a patrol car to drive K.S. to the hospital.

    The doctor told me that he has a requisition order to perform an anal test. “We want to check whether this is a habit,” he said. I was terrified. I told him that I didn’t want to do the test. But he insisted that he had to perform it. He told me to remove my pants and assume a prayer position [on hand and knees] on top of the medical bed. He put on gloves and started to examine me with his fingers. As soon as he did, I felt sick and told him I wanted to go to the toilet. I wanted to stop this humiliation. He let me go. I managed to avoid the policemen who were waiting for me in the corridor and left the hospital. Once in the parking lot, I started running until I felt safe, and then went to my friend’s house.

    K.S. said he took a flight on June 13 to Belgium, where he has filed a request for asylum.

    K. B., 41, documentary filmmaker

    K.B. spent 13 months in pretrial detention on accusation of sodomy and unlawful detention. He is married and the father of an 8-year-old girl. He told Human Rights Watch that on March 3, 2017, at around 9 p.m., he went to downtown Tunis for drinks. While he was sitting in a bar, S.Z., a young man, approached him. They chatted for a while, then K.B. invited him to his place. He said that, after having sex, he went to the kitchen to prepare some food. When he came back to the living room, he caught the man stealing money from his wallet. K.B. tried to force him out of his apartment, but the man locked himself in a bedroom, went to the balcony, and screamed for help. Policemen arrived, arrested them, and took them to the Aouina district police station.

    Police treated me with contempt. The first question the interrogator asked was whether I had sex with S.Z. I denied it categorically and told him we only had drinks together. But he said that S.Z. had confessed. The interrogator asked me: “Aren’t you ashamed of yourself?”
    K.B. said the police at the station confiscated his phone and looked at his social media history and his photo archives. They switched the phone off and did not allow him to call his family or a lawyer. They presented him with a statement to sign, but he refused. At 4 a.m., they transferred both men to Bouchoucha detention center. Later that morning, the police took the men to the Tunis first instance court, where a prosecutor ordered them to undergo an anal test. The police took them to Charles Nicole hospital, K.B. said, where he refused the test. “The idea of them intruding into my intimacy and into my body was so humiliating to me.”

    He was returned to detention and after a few weeks decided to undergo the test in the hope that negative results would prove his innocence. He said he informed the investigative judge during a hearing and the judge issued a requisition. Police officers took him again to Charles Nicole Hospital.

    It was the worst thing that ever happened to me. The doctor asked me to strip and get on the examination table. He asked me to bend over. There was one policeman in the room and one medical assistant, watching. The doctor put one finger into my anus and moved it around. I was so ashamed. It was very dehumanizing.

    K.B. said that even though the test result was negative, the investigative judge indicted him for sodomy. The order referring the case to trial said that the time elapsed between the alleged act and the test prevented the court from ruling out that K.B. was “used to the practice of sodomy.”

    In May 2018, 13 months after the court placed K.B. in pretrial detention, it acquitted and freed him.

    In the indictment, the investigative judge wrote that S.Z. had confessed to the police to “committing the crime of sodomy in exchange for money” and that he admitted that he “approached and dated men he met via Facebook.” The judge quotes the police report, which describes in crude terms the sexual intercourse between K.B. and S.Z. The judge also states that K.B has denied the accusation of sodomy, and instead stated that he and S.Z. were only having drinks at his place and did not have sex.

    The investigative judge notes that S.Z. later retracted his confession and says that he gave instructions for the forensic doctor in the Charles Nicole Hospital to administer an anal test to determine whether K.B “bore signs of the practice of homosexual activity” recently or whether he “practices sodomy in a habitual way.”

    The judge’s indictment of K. B. was based on S.Z.’s confession to the police, later repudiated, from “the circumstances of the case, which show that the two men had no other reason to go to K. B.’s house” and K. B.’s refusal to take the anal test. The judge wrote: “given that the test was performed 20 days after the reported incident, the forensic doctor was not able to find signs of anal penetration because those signs disappear five days after the act.”

    “Free” (nickname), 32, hairdresser

    Free said that on the night of April 5, 2018, he went with a female friend from Sousse to Monastir for drinks and to meet his boyfriend. When they arrived at around 9 p.m., he said, a police patrol stopped them and asked for their papers, then told the woman to accompany them to the station for further identity checks. Free waited outside the station.

    While waiting, Free received an angry message from his boyfriend asking him why he was late. Free explained where he was and snapped a photo of the station as proof. A police officer saw him and confiscated Free’s telephone, saying he had endangered state security. The officer took him to an interrogation room, where another officer handcuffed him to a chair. An officer searched the phone and finding nude photos of Free, then searched his social media activity and read the conversations he had with men on gay dating apps and his chats with his boyfriend on Facebook Messenger, some of them sexually explicit.

    Free said that the police officer turned to him and said, “I hate you, you sodomites. You will have to pay for your depravity.” Other police officers in the room insulted Free, he said. The officer interrogated him about his sexual activity, wrote a report, and told him to sign it. When Free refused, a policeman slapped him in the face and said, “Ah, now you are trying to be a man. Just sign here, you scum.” Free signed the report without reading it.

    At no point during the interrogation did the police advise Free of his right to speak to a lawyer. At around midnight, they moved him into a cell, where he spent the night. The following day, he was taken before a prosecutor, who charged him with sodomy but decided to release him provisionally pending trial. On June 6, he appeared before the first instance court in Monastir. The presiding judge closed the courtroom to the public.

    The first question he asked me was whether I am used to the practice of sodomy. I told him I was not. He asked the question again, then asked, “Then why did you confess?” I answered, “Because the police forced me to.” The judge asked, “But if you are not a sodomite, why do you dress like this, why do you look like one of them?”

    He said the judge adjourned the trial to June 14, when he convicted Free and sentenced him to a four-months sentence with probation, based on his phone conversations and his forced confession. Free has appealed.

    M. R., 26, paramedic

    M.R. worked in a hospital in Tebourba, a city 40 kilometers west of Tunis. He fled to France and applied for asylum after being charged under article 230 and granted pretrial release.

    M.R. said he had always hidden his sexual orientation because of severe social stigma. In November 2017, he chatted with a man on Facebook. The man, called A.F., sent him photos, and they decided to meet. When they did, M.R. realized that the photos were fake and told A.F. that he would not have sex with him. A few days later, on November 28, A.F. banged on his door at around 4 a.m. Fearing scandal, M.R. opened the door to find A.F. drunk and wielding a knife. A.F. slapped him on the face, ordered him to remove his clothes, and raped him, he said, threatening to cut his throat. After a few hours, A.F. told M.R. to buy A.F. cigarettes. M.R. went to the Tebourba police station and filed a rape complaint.

    When I told the police officers about the rape, they asked me how I knew the man and how we met. I dodged the questions, but they insisted. I told them that I am gay, and their behavior changed instantly. The station chief said: “Ah, so you were the one who initiated this, you are an accomplice to the crime, there is no rape here – you deserve this.” Then, he handed me a requisition order and told me to go get an anal test the following day at Charles Nicole Hospital.

    The police interrogated M.R., then accompanied him to his apartment, where they arrested A.F. The police told M.R. to undergo the anal examination, then report to the First Instance Court in Manouba. M.R. consulted the nongovernmental association Shams, which defends sexual minorities, and decided to skip the anal test. When he reported to the court, the investigative judge treated him as a criminal, not a victim. M.R. said:

    He asked questions about my sex life and when I started practicing sodomy with other men. He said that I deserved everything that had happened to me and that I should be ashamed of myself.

    M.R. said that the judge charged him with sodomy and granted him pretrial release. A.F. was kept in custody and charged with sodomy and rape.

    The indictment of M.R., prepared by the investigative judge and dated December 13, 2017, provides purported details from M.R.’s intimate life, including confessions that he is gay. The indictment also relies on the confession from A.F. and cites a condom seized at M. R.’s house as evidence.

    M.R. said that, three days after the encounter with A.F., he reported to work at the hospital. The director handed him a dismissal notice on the grounds that he was facing trial.

    I had to go back to my family’s place, as I had no salary anymore. It was like living in a prison. My father and older brother beat me many times, my father even burned me with a cigarette. They did not allow me to go out, they said they were ashamed of me.

    Having lost everything, he left Tunisia for France.

    I had no other choice, I felt rejected by everyone, my family, society, my colleagues. And I was afraid of going to prison.

    Mounir Baatour, M.R.’s lawyer, told Human Rights Watch that the case is stalled in the first instance court in Manouba, and has yet to go to trial. On May 15, 2018, indictment chamber sent the indictment to the cassation court for a legal review, which is pending.

    R. F., 42, day laborer, and M.J. 22, unemployed

    On June 12, 2018, police in Sidi Bouzaiane arrested R.F. and M.J. after R.F. went to the police to say that M.J. had refused to leave R.F.’s house.

    M.J. said that the police came to his house and took both men to the police station at around midnight. They interrogated them in the same room, asking them how they met. A police officer took R.F.’s phone and watched videos stored on it, then said to R.F., “So you are a miboun [a degrading term for gay]. M.J. said:

    One of the four officers present during interrogation slapped R.F. on the face. Then he turned toward me and asked, “So what were you both doing in the house? I’m sure you were having sex, so you too must be a miboun. You are staining this country,” he said.

    M.J. said that policemen beat him on his face, head, and back. When the police finished the interrogation at 3 a.m., they presented a written report and told M.J. to sign it. He said he asked to have a lawyer first, but they refused to let him call one and insulted him. He signed the report.

    The police report, reviewed by Human Rights Watch, states that neither man requested a lawyer. R.F.’s purported statement, as the police recorded it, describes in graphic terms how he habitually practices sodomy and has sex with men. The police report states that officers searched R.F.’s smartphone and found videos of R.F. having sex with men. The police confiscated his phone, the report says, as “evidence of the crime.”

    Two days after the arrest, M.J. said, he and R.F. appeared before a prosecutor, who asked them: “Aren’t you afraid of God’s judgment?” He ordered pretrial detention, and they were sent to the Sidi Bouzid prison. M.J. said that one of the prison guards harassed him and asked him vulgar questions such as: “How you do this? Are you getting fucked for money? Why are you fucking men? Aren’t there enough women to fuck in this country?”

    He said he was put in a cell with 100 other men, who seemed to have been informed about his “crime.” Over the following days, his cellmates insulted, beat, and sexually harassed him. He said that one night, he refused to have sex with the cell “strongman”, so the man and two others beat him. He said they held his arms, while the strongman slapped him on the face and punched him on the chin.

    After a week in detention, he appeared before an investigative judge, who asked him about his sexual behavior. M.J. said he admitted that he is gay. He said he had done nothing wrong, but the judge replied, “You are harming society.”

    The first instance court in Sidi Bouzid sentenced the two men on June 12 to three months in prison for sodomy. The appeals court upheld the sentence.

    S.C., 24 and A.B., 22

    Police arrested S.C. and A.B. in Sousse on December 8, 2016, when they were allegedly caught committing sodomy in public. They were sentenced, on March 10, 2017, to eight months in prison under article 230 of the penal code and not on charges related to public indecency. The police report describes their sexual intercourse in detail and concludes that S.C. “committed active sodomy,” while A.B. was a “passive sodomite.”

    The judgment from the first instance court in Sousse, which Human Rights Watch reviewed, states that both denied committing sodomy or being homosexuals. It states that they were both subjected to anal examinations on December 9, 2016, that turned out “negative.” The judge concluded that: “the results of the anal tests cannot exonerate the accused of the crime, especially given that the [tests] were performed sometime after the facts.” The court based the guilty verdict only on the declarations by police officers and wrote that: “it is appropriate to sentence them to eight months as an adequate and dissuasive sentence proportional to the offense that they have committed.”

    A.C., 18, student

    A.C. was arrested three times for sodomy. The first time was in August 2017, when he was 17. Police forces arrested him at his house after his two sisters denounced him as gay and took him to the Kasba police station in Tunis. He said that they interrogated him extensively about his sexual orientation and took his smart phone and searched his personal data. The next day, they took him to a forensic doctor in the Charles Nicole hospital for an anal examination. He said he did not have a lawyer and that the police did not inform him of his right to have one.

    I did not understand what was going on. The police told me that the test is mandatory. The doctor told me to go on an examination bed and to bend, and then he inserted his fingers in my insides. The doctor did not explain what the test is about.

    A.C. said he was released without charge after spending two days in the Kasba police station.

    On May 15, 2018, he went to the police station in Sijoumi, in Tunis, in response to a summons. He said police officers told him his family had filed a complaint and questioned him for almost four hours. A.C. confessed to being gay. The police took him to Bouchoucha detention center in Tunis, where he spent the night. The next day, May 16, he appeared before the Tunis first instance court in Sidi Hassine, where an investigative judge interviewed him. The judge asked him: “Why are you like this? Don’t you know that what you’re doing is haram [forbidden under Islam]?”

    I told the judge that I didn’t break any laws, that what I do is my personal business. I did not hurt anyone. This is my private life and should not be the concern of anyone else.

    He said the judge ordered his detention for two months in a juvenile rehabilitation center, as he was still a minor, and forced him to undergo “conversion therapy,” a thoroughly discredited method to change someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity. At the center, a psychiatrist visited him twice, telling him that “he should work on changing himself and his mind.” He appeared before another investigative judge, on June 25, who released him.

    A.C. said that on September 2, he was running some errands with his boyfriend when the police stopped them and asked for their identity cards. The police told A.C. that his family had filed a complaint against him. They took him to Hay Hlel police station in Tunis, where they questioned him about his sexual life, confiscated his phone, and looked at his photos and personal conversations. A prosecutor issued a warrant to detain him, and he spent eight days in the Bouchoucha detention center. On September 20, he appeared before a judge, who released him without charge.

    F.B, 28; N.A, 21 and B.K., 27, day laborers

    In Sousse, a coastal city, the police arrested three men in January 2017, after neighbors complained that they suspected the men were gay. In the indictment, which Human Rights Watch reviewed, the investigative judge states that the police went to the house where the men were staying, seized their phones, on which they found “evidence that they were sodomites,” as well as “women’s clothing,” and took the men to the police station.

    The investigative judge ruled that the men harmed public morals based on the content of the seized phones and “because they dressed up like women, used lipstick, and talked in a languid way.” The police report and the indictment, which usually would include information about a judicial warrant, did not indicate that the police had one. The three men were sentenced to two months in prison for the charge of harming public morals and served their terms.

    https://www.hrw.org/news/2018/11/08/tunisia-privacy-threatened-homosexuality-arrests

    #Tunisie #homophobie #homosexualité #COI #LGBT

  • A 15-year-old rape victim is the latest collateral damage of Duterte’s drug war · Global Voices
    https://globalvoices.org/2018/11/02/a-15-year-old-rape-victim-is-the-latest-collateral-damage-of-dutertes-

    Philippines’ President Rodrigo #Duterte drug war has reached a new low this week when a police officer was arrested for raping the 15-year-old daughter of detained drug suspects in the capital Manila.

    Photos of officer Eduardo Valencia of the Philippine National Police (PNP) pleading with his superiors for having brought the teenager to a motel in exchange for the release of her parents have gone viral. Medical tests showed signs of rape.

    Critics of President Duterte say it is his misogyny, rape jokes, and repeated assurances to defend police and military in the course of his government’s anti-drug and counterinsurgency operations that has normalized a macho culture of sexual abuse.

    #philippines #viol #culture_du_viol #sexisme #machisme #violence

  • “You Cry at Night but Don’t Know Why”. Sexual Violence against Women in North Korea

    Oh Jung Hee is a former trader in her forties from Ryanggang province. She sold clothes to market stalls in Hyesan city and was involved in the distribution of textiles in her province. She said that up until she left the country in 2014, guards would regularly pass by the market to demand bribes, sometimes in the form of coerced sexual acts or intercourse. She told Human Rights Watch:

    I was a victim many times … On the days they felt like it, market guards or police officials could ask me to follow them to an empty room outside the market, or some other place they’d pick. What can we do? They consider us [sex] toys … We [women] are at the mercy of men. Now, women cannot survive without having men with power near them.

    She said she had no power to resist or report these abuses. She said it never occurred to her that anything could be done to stop these assaults except trying to avoid such situations by moving away or being quiet in order to not be noticed.

    Park Young Hee, a former farmer in her forties also from Ryanggang province who left North Korea for the second time in 2011, was forced back to North Korea from China in the spring of 2010 after her first attempt to flee. She said, after being released by the secret police (bowiseong) and put under the jurisdiction of the police, the officer in charge of questioning her in the police pre-trial detention facility (kuryujang) near Musan city in North Hamgyong province touched her body underneath her clothes and penetrated her several times with his fingers. She said he asked her repeatedly about the sexual relations she had with the Chinese man to whom she had been sold to while in China. She told Human Rights Watch:

    My life was in his hands, so I did everything he wanted and told him everything he asked. How could I do anything else? … Everything we do in North Korea can be considered illegal, so everything can depend on the perception or attitude of who is looking into your life.

    Park Young Hee said she never told anybody about the abuse because she did not think it was unusual, and because she feared the authorities and did not believe anyone would help.

    The experiences of Oh Jung Hee and Park Young Hee are not isolated ones. While sexual and gender-based violence is of concern everywhere, growing evidence suggests it is endemic in North Korea.

    This report–based largely on interviews with 54 North Koreans who left the country after 2011, when the current leader, Kim Jong Un, rose to power, and 8 former North Korean officials who fled the country–focuses on sexual abuse by men in official positions of power. The perpetrators include high-ranking party officials, prison and detention facility guards and interrogators, police and secret police officials, prosecutors, and soldiers. At the time of the assaults, most of the victims were in the custody of authorities or were market traders who came across guards and other officials as they traveled to earn their livelihood.

    Interviewees told us that when a guard or police officer “picks” a woman, she has no choice but to comply with any demands he makes, whether for sex, money, or other favors. Women in custody have little choice should they attempt to refuse or complain afterward, and risk sexual violence, longer periods in detention, beatings, forced labor, or increased scrutiny while conducting market activities.

    Women not in custody risk losing their main source of income and jeopardizing their family’s survival, confiscation of goods and money, and increased scrutiny or punishment, including being sent to labor training facilities (rodong danryeondae) or ordinary-crimes prison camps (kyohwaso, literally reform through labor centers) for being involved in market activities. Other negative impacts include possibly losing access to prime trading locations, being fired or overlooked for jobs, being deprived of means of transportation or business opportunities, being deemed politically disloyal, being relocated to a remote area, and facing more physical or sexual violence.

    The North Koreans we spoke with told us that unwanted sexual contact and violence is so common that it has come to be accepted as part of ordinary life: sexual abuse by officials, and the impunity they enjoy, is linked to larger patterns of sexual abuse and impunity in the country. The precise number of women and girls who experience sexual violence in North Korea, however, is unknown. Survivors rarely report cases, and the North Korean government rarely publishes data on any aspect of life in the country.

    Our research, of necessity conducted among North Koreans who fled, does not provide a generalized sample from which to draw definitive conclusions about the prevalence of sexual abuse by officials. The diversity in age, geographic location, social class, and personal backgrounds of the survivors, combined with many consistencies in how they described their experiences, however, suggest that the patterns of sexual violence identified here are common across North Korea. Our findings also mirror those of other inquiries that have tried to discern the situation in this sealed-off authoritarian country.

    A 2014 United Nations Commission of Inquiry (UN COI) on human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) concluded that systematic, widespread, and gross human rights violations committed by the North Korean government constituted crimes against humanity. These included forced abortion, rape, and other sexual violence, as well as murder, imprisonment, enslavement, and torture on North Koreans in prison or detention. The UN COI stated that witnesses revealed that while “domestic violence is rife within DPRK society … violence against women is not limited to the home, and that it is common to see women being beaten and sexually assaulted in public.”

    The Korea Institute for National Unification (KINU), a South Korean government think tank that specializes in research on North Korea, conducted a survey with 1,125 North Koreans (31.29 percent men and 68.71 percent women) who re-settled in South Korea between 2010 and 2014. The survey found that 37.7 percent of the respondents said sexual harassment and rape of inmates at detention facilities was “common,” including 15.9 percent that considered it “very common.” Thirty-three women said they were raped at detention and prison facilities, 51 said they witnessed rapes in such facilities, and 25 said they heard of such cases. The assailants identified by the respondents were police agents–45.6 percent; guards–17.7 percent; secret police (bowiseong) agents –13.9 percent; and fellow detainees–1.3 percent. The 2014 KINU survey found 48.6 percent of the respondents said that rape and sexual harassment against women in North Korea was “common.”

    The North Koreans we spoke with stressed that women are socialized to feel powerless to demand accountability for sexual abuse and violence, and to feel ashamed when they are victims of abuse. They said the lack of rule of law and corresponding support systems for survivors leads most victims to remain silent–not seek justice and often not even talk about their experiences.

    While most of our interviewees left North Korea between2011 and 2016, and many of the abuses date from a year or more before their departure, all available evidence suggests that the abuses and near-total impunity enjoyed by perpetrators continue to the present.

    In July 2017, the North Korean government told the UN committee that monitors the implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) that just nine people in all of North Korea were convicted of rape in 2008, seven in 2011, and five in 2015. The government said that the numbers of male perpetrators convicted for the crime of forcing a woman who is his subordinate to have sexual intercourse was five in 2008, six in 2011, and three in 2015. While North Korean officials seem to think such ridiculously low numbers show the country to be a violence-free paradise, the numbers are a powerful indictment of their utter failure to address sexual violence in the country.

    Sexual Abuse in Prisons and Detention Facilities

    Human Rights Watch interviewed eight former detainees or prisoners who said they experienced a combination of verbal and sexual violence, harsh questioning, and humiliating treatment by investigators, detention facility personnel, or prison guards that belong to the police or the secret police (bowiseong).

    Six interviewees had experienced sexual, verbal, and physical abuse in pre-trial detention and interrogation facilities (kuryujang)–jails designed to hold detainees during their initial interrogations, run by the MSS or the police. They said secret police or police agents in charge of their personal interrogation touched their faces and their bodies, including their breasts and hips, either through their clothes or by putting their hands inside their clothes.

    Human Rights Watch also documented cases of two women who were sexually abused at a temporary holding facility (jipkyulso) while detainees were being transferred from interrogation facilities (kuryujang) to detention facilities in the detainees’ home districts.

    Sexual Abuse of Women Engaged in Trade

    Human Rights Watch interviewed four women traders who experienced sexual violence, including rape, assault, and sexual harassment, as well as verbal abuse and intimidation, by market gate-keeper officials. We also interviewed 17 women who were sexually abused or experienced unwanted sexual advances by police or other officials as they traveled for their work as traders. Although seeking income outside the command economy was illegal, women started working as traders during the mass famine of the 1990s as survival imperatives led many to ignore the strictures of North Korea’s command economy. Since many married women were not obliged to attend a government-established workplace, they became traders and soon the main breadwinners for their families. But pursuing income in public exposed them to violence.

    Traders and former government officials told us that in North Korea traders are often compelled to pay bribes to officials and market regulators, but for women the “bribes” often include sexual abuse and violence, including rape. Perpetrators of abuses against women traders include high-ranking party officials, managers at state-owned enterprises, and gate-keeper officials at the markets and on roads and check-points, such as police, bowiseong agents, prosecutors, soldiers, and railroad inspectors on trains.

    Women who had worked as traders described unwanted physical contact that included indiscriminately touching their bodies, grabbing their breasts and hips, trying to touch them underneath their skirts or pants, poking their cheeks, pulling their hair, or holding their bodies in their arms. The physical harassment was often accompanied by verbal abuse and intimidation. Women also said it was common for women to try to help protect each other by sharing information about such things, such as which house to avoid because it is rumored that the owner is a rapist or a child molester, which roads not to walk on alone at night, or which local high-ranking official most recently sexually preyed upon women.

    Our research confirms a trend already identified in the UN COI report:

    Officials are not only increasingly engaging in corruption in order to support their low or non-existent salaries, they are also exacting penalties and punishment in the form of sexual abuse and violence as there is no fear of punishment. As more women assume the responsibility for feeding their families due to the dire economic and food situation, more women are traversing through and lingering in public spaces, selling and transporting their goods.

    The UN COI further found “the male dominated state, agents who police the marketplace, inspectors on trains, and soldiers are increasingly committing acts of sexual assault on women in public spaces” and “received reports of train guards frisking women and abusing young girls onboard.” This was described as “the male dominated state preying on the increasingly female-dominated market.”

    Almost all of the women interviewed by Human Rights Watch with trading experience said the only way not to fall prey to extortion or sexual harassment while conducting market activities was to give up hopes of expanding one’s business and barely scrape by, be born to a powerful father with money and connections, marry a man with power, or become close to one.

    Lack of Remedies

    Only one of the survivors of sexual violence Human Rights Watch interviewed for this report said she had tried to report the sexual assault. The other women said they did not report it because they did not trust the police and did not believe police would be willing to take action. The women said the police do not consider sexual violence a serious crime and that it is almost inconceivable to even consider going to the police to report sexual abuse because of the possible repercussions. Family members or close friends who knew about their experience also cautioned women against going to the authorities.

    Eight former government officials, including a former police officer, told Human Rights Watch that cases of sexual abuse or assault are reported to police only when there are witnesses and, even then, the reports invariably are made by third parties and not by the women themselves. Only seven of the North Korean women and men interviewed by Human Rights Watch were aware of cases in which police had investigated sexual violence and in all such cases the victims had been severely injured or killed.

    All of the North Koreans who spoke to Human Rights Watch said the North Korean government does not provide any type of psycho-social support services for survivors of sexual violence and their families. To make matters worse, they said, the use of psychological or psychiatric services itself is highly stigmatized.

    Two former North Korean doctors and a nurse who left after 2010 said there are no protocols for medical treatment and examination of victims of sexual violence to provide therapeutic care or secure medical evidence. They said there are no training programs for medical practitioners on sexual assault and said they never saw a rape victim go to the hospital to receive treatment.

    Discrimination Against Women

    Sex discrimination and subordination of women are pervasive in North Korean. Everyone in North Korea is subjected to a socio-political classification system, known as songbun, that grouped people from its creation into “loyal,” “wavering,” or “hostile” classes. But a woman’s classification also depends, in critical respects, on that of her male relatives, specifically her father and her father’s male relations and, upon marriage, that of her husband and his male relations. A woman’s position in society is lower than a man’s, and her reputation depends largely on maintaining an image of “sexual purity” and obeying the men in her family.

    The government is dominated by men. According to statistics provided by the DPRK government to the UN, as of 2016 women made up just 20.2 percent of the deputies selected, 16.1 percent of divisional directors in government bodies, 11.9 percent of judges and lawyers, 4.9 percent of diplomats, and 16.5 per cent of the officials in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

    On paper, the DPRK says that it is committed to gender equality and women and girl’s rights. The Criminal Code criminalizes rape of women, trafficking in persons, having sexual relations with women in a subordinate position, and child sexual abuse. The 2010 Law on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Women bans domestic violence. North Korea has also ratified five international human rights treaties, including ones that address women and girl’s rights and equality, such as the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and CEDAW.

    During a meeting of a North Korean delegation with the CEDAW Committee, which reviewed North Korean compliance between 2002 and 2015, government officials argued all of the elements of CEDAW had been included in DPRK’s domestic laws. However, under questioning by the committee, the officials were unable to provide the definition of “discrimination against women” employed by the DPRK.

    Park Kwang Ho, Councilor of the Central Court in the DPRK, stated that if a woman in a subordinate position was forced to engage in sexual relations for fear of losing her job or in exchange for preferential treatment, it was her choice as to whether or not she complied. Therefore, he argued, in such a situation the punishment for the perpetrator should be lighter. He later amended his statement to say that if she did not consent to having sexual relations, and was forced to do so, the perpetrator was committing rape and would be punished accordingly.

    https://www.hrw.org/report/2018/10/31/you-cry-night-dont-know-why/sexual-violence-against-women-north-korea
    #abus_sexuels #violence_sexuelle #viols #Corée_du_nord #femmes #rapport

  • No man’s land at Paris airport: Where France keeps foreigners who’ve been refused entry

    Every day, foreigners suspected of trying to enter France illegally are taken to a special area of Paris’s Charles de Gaulle airport where they are held at a facility dubbed #ZAPI. Located just a stone’s throw away from the airport’s runways, the ultra-secure area is closed to the general public. NGOs say ZAPI is just another name for a prison, where foreigner’s rights are flouted and where expulsions are fast-tracked. InfoMigrants was granted exclusive access to it.

    Audrey is pulling funny faces at the little girl she’s holding in her arms. “She’s not mine,” she says, and points to the girl’s mother who is sitting on another bench just a few metres away. “I’m just playing with her to pass the time,” she says. Twenty-eight-year-old Audrey from Gabon currently lives inside the four walls of the Charles de Gaulle airport’s “waiting zone”, or ZAPI, where people who have been refused entry onto French territory are being held while authorities decide what to do with them.

    Audrey’s laugh is barely audible. Neither is that of the little girl. The loud noise of the aircraft that just touched down some 50 metres away from them have drowned out all the surrounding sounds. “The noise, it’s hard… It prevents us from sleeping, we hear the planes all the time…,” the young woman complains without even looking at the giant aircraft whose wings are now gracing the fence of ZAPI.

    This tiny piece of no man’s land lies just next to one of the airport’s runways. “ZAPI is a bit like a protrusion of the international zone,” Alexis Marty explains, who heads up the immigration department at the French border police (PAF). In legal terms, the zone is not deemed to be a part of French territory. “It’s a zone where people end up when they’ve been refused entry into France and the Schengen area” by not having a visa, or because there are suspicions that their travel documents have been forged… Audrey, who’s been there for nearly a week, recalls how she was intercepted just as she was getting off the plane. She says she was placed at ZAPI because she didn’t have a “hotel” and “not enough money”.

    To visit France for a period lasting up to three months, foreigners need to fulfill certain conditions before being allowed to touch French ground: They need to have a valid passport, a visa (depending on the nationality), a medical insurance covering their stay, proof of lodging (hotel reservation or with family members), enough funds to cover their stay as well as a return ticket.

    Ill-prepared tourists or illegal immigrants?

    Foreigners who are stopped by customs officers because they don’t fulfill the conditions linked to their stay generally end up at ZAPI. “We don’t send everyone there,” Marty explains, however, pointing to certain nuances. “There are confused tourists who’ve just prepared their vacations really poorly, and who’ve forgotten essential documents. But there are also those who have different intentions, and who produce forged documents to try to enter European territory illegally.”

    It’s difficult to tell an ill-prepared tourist and a potential illegal immigrant apart. This is why the verification is done in several steps. “We don’t send people to ZAPI right away, we first carry out an initial check. When a suspicious person steps out of the plane, we bring them into a separate room to verify their documents, to ask them questions, listen to their replies and to verify any additional information they give us. If all goes well, we release them after a few hours,” he explains. “But if the incoherencies and the doubts persist, if the person produces fake documents or no documents at all, if a ‘migration risk’ exists for the person, we place them in ZAPI.”

    On this particular October day, the airport’s “waiting zone” houses a total of 96 people, of which one is an unaccompanied minor. The number of people changes on a daily basis. “Generally, a person spends four and a half days at ZAPI, so the rotation is pretty fast,” police commander Serge Berquier, who is the head of ZAPI, says. The maximum time a person can stay there is 20 days. Men, women and children – even minors traveling on their own – may be sent there. There is no age limit.

    After a three-week stay, a so-called “ZAPIst” is left with three options: Either they are finally granted entry into France (with a safe conduct), they are sent back to the country they traveled from, or a legal case is opened against them (for refusing to board, for forging documents, etc.). In 2016, some 7,000 people were held at the airport at some point, of which 53 percent were immediately refused entry into France.

    While “ZAPIsts” wait for their fates to be decided, they do what they can to kill time. They stroll in the outdoor space, they stay in their rooms, or they hang out in the TV room. The PAF makes a point of clarifying that the “ZAPIsts” are not “detainees” but rather “retainees”. This means that they have rights; family members can visit, they have access to catering services and can get legal and humanitarian assistance from the Red Cross which has a permanent presence at the facility.

    “It’s not a prison,” Marty says. “Here, you can keep your personal belongings, your mobile phone, you can go in and out of the rooms as much as you like. The only restriction is that you’re not allowed to exit the premises.”

    It may not be a prison, but it’s definitely a place of deprivation. Not all mobile phones are allowed, and those equipped with a camera are confiscated automatically.

    It’s 11.45am, but no one seems to be around on the ground floor. The TV is on in the communal room, but there’s no one there to watch it. No one is using the public payphones which are available to the “ZAPIsts” 24/7. On the first floor, where the rooms are located, the hallways are more or less empty. “They’re most likely downstairs, in the canteen, lunch will be served soon,” a police officer says. “Otherwise they might be outside, in the garden, talking or smoking.”

    The police presence is fairly discrete on the floor with the rooms, but every now and then the police officers can be heard calling someone through the loud-speakers that have been installed in the building. “We use it to call people who have a visit or a meeting. It helps us avoid having to run through the hallways to find them,” Berquier, the head of ZAPI, explains while showing us around the premises. “There are 67 rooms. Some are reserved for families, and others for people with reduced mobility […] There’s also an area reserved for unaccompanied minors and an area with games for them and for families.”

    La ZAPI compte au total une soixantaine de chambres Crdit InfoMigrants

    ‘Things can be improved’

    The atmosphere at ZAPI is calm, almost peaceful. Until Youssef, an Algerian who’s been held there for four days, turns up. He seems to be on his guard, and appears quite tense. “I’m still waiting for my suitcase, I don’t have any clothes to change with,” he complains and lights a cigarette. “The Red Cross is helping me out.” It can take several days for a person who’ve been placed in ZAPI to have their personal belongings returned to them. Checked-in luggage first has to be located and then controlled… During this period, the Red Cross does what it can in terms of clothing, offering T-shirts and underwear.

    Marty finds the situation with the luggage deplorable. “It’s evident that not everything is perfect, there are things that can be improved,” he admits. “To have a suitcase speedily returned to someone at ZAPI is among the things where progress can be made.”

    Returning home

    Audrey from Gabon and Youssef from Algeria, who have both found themselves blocked in this no-man’s land, have more or less the same story to tell. Both of them claim they came to France to visit family, insisting they did not intend to enter the country illegally. “But now, my situation isn’t very good,” the young woman says. Did she really come for the “tourist visit” she claims? Or did she try her chance at entering France by sneaking through the controls (customs)? It’s hard to know. The police have the same doubts when it comes to Youssef. “I came here to visit family, but I had a problem with my return ticket which didn’t match my visa,” he explains. Youssef says he wants to try to regularize his documents – “to buy a return ticket that conforms to the conditions” – in order to leave ZAPI and thereafter enter France. Audrey, on the other hand, says she has “given up”. She wants to go home now.

    The PAF sometimes comes across “people who ask to go home because they understand that their entry into France is compromised,” Marty explains. The costs of such returns are normally taken out of the pocket of the airline that flew the foreigner in question to France in the first place, and is undoubtedly a way for authorities to sanction the airlines and force them to be more vigilant when it comes to checking their passengers’ travel documents.

    The risk of failing an attempt to enter a country illegally is often higher for those who try to do so via air travel. “It’s an expensive trip, you have to pay for the ticket as well as the forged passport you need to fool the authorities, and this is before having to take the rigorous controls at the airports into account,” Marty says.

    The nationalities of migrants arriving by plane are often different from those who try to reach Europe by sea or by land. “The people at ZAPI are mainly from South America, Honduras, Brazil, and Nicaragua. Also from China and Russia. Some also come from North Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa, but they are fewer in numbers.” On this particular day, the people in ZAPI’s courtyard are from Gabon, Chad, Sri Lanka, Turkey, Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, and South America.

    ’The aim is to deport’

    ZAPI also houses people seeking asylum. “There are people who demand protection in France as soon as they step off the plane,” Marty explains. “They tell border police […] Everything has been organized so that they know they have the right to demand asylum and that we’re ready to help them in their attempt to do so.”

    Charlene Cuartero-Saez works for Anafé, an association that helps foreigners who have been blocked between borders, and which has an office at ZAPI. She almost chokes when she hears the “model” description of the facility that Marty has given, saying it is far from the benevolent place he has been talking about.

    Cuartero-Saez has her desk in room 38 of the building, which has been converted into an Anafé office, Cuartero-Saez lists the different dysfunctions of the place: the poor ventilation, the restricted outdoor access, cameras in the communal areas, no laundry room… “It’s true that here, the material conditions are less difficult than elsewhere. Charles de Gaulle’s ZAPI is a bit like the display window for other ‘waiting zones’ in France. But that doesn’t prevent people from having their rights flouted, especially here.”

    ’Some are sent back just a few hours after their arrival in France’

    “[Police] say that people are informed of their rights in their native language, but in my opinion that is not always true. Many [officers] work on the principle that if the migrants speaks a few words of English, he or she doesn’t need an interpreter.”

    Anafé is also alarmed over the fast-speed returns of “ZAPIsts” – despite the existence of a “clear day” which normally gives a person 24 hours of respite at ZAPI. “This ‘clear day’ exists, yes, but you only get it if you ask for it! Many people don’t even know what it is,” Cuartero-Saez says. “There have been cases where people have been sent back to their countries just a few hours after arriving in France.”

    The law stipulates that asylum request can be filed at any moment – and thereby suspending an imminent deportation. In those cases, an Ofpra official comes to ZAPI to carry out a pre-assessment of the person’s request. The interview doesn’t decide on the asylum application itself, but evaluates the pertinence of the demand. A decision should be made within 20 days. If the demand is rejected, a deportation is imminent. A person filing a demand for asylum while at ZAPI can therefore receive a definite response within just a few days, whereas the average waiting time in France is between two and eight months or even more, depending on the case.

    Ces trois jeunes Sri-Lankais ont dpos une demande dasile aux frontires Crdit InfoMigrants

    “The aim of keeping [people in] this waiting area is to be able deport them, Cuartero-Saez states, and gives three asylum-seeking Sri Lankans who are currently staying at ZAPI as an example. The three men – all under the age of 30 – are in the courtyard and explain how they fear for their lives because they’re members of the separatist Tamil Tigers (LTTE) movement. All three have just been notified that their demands for asylum have been rejected.

    They show their rejection letters while seated on a bench in the sunshine. They speak neither French nor English and they don’t seem to know what to do next. They’ve been there for two weeks now. “We told them that they can appeal the decision. They didn’t know they could do that, no one had informed them of that,” Cuartero-Saez says.

    The three Tamils appear to be quite lost. They don’t seem to understand that they could face imminent deportation. In five days’ time, their retention at ZAPI will expire. “We don’t want to go back to Sri Lanka,” they say smiling. “We want to stay in France.”

    Aja, from Chad, and her two small daughters are in the same situation. They have been held at ZAPI for four days. Aja doesn’t want them to be returned to Chad, but she doesn’t want to demand asylum either. “I think I had a problem with money… That’s why they’re keeping me here. I’m here as a tourist,” she says, but adds that she “would very much like” to stay in France if it was possible. Because of this deadlock, she and her daughters also risk deportation.

    For those staying at ZAPI, the place is not synonymous with neither violence nor mistreatment but rather anxiety. At any given moment, PAF officers can try to force someone at ZAPI onboard a plane. “We have examples of people who don’t manage to register their asylum request in time,” Cuartero-Saez at Anafé says. “When the demand hasn’t been registered, the process is never launched… And so, without recourse, a person can be sent back in less than four days without even knowing his or her rights.”

    http://www.infomigrants.net/en/webdoc/146/no-man-s-land-at-paris-airport-where-france-keeps-foreigners-who-ve-be
    #Paris #aéroport #zone_de_transit #limbe #asile #migrations #réfugiés #déboutés #renvois #expulsions #détention #rétention #détention_administrative

  • Chicago Will Finally Release Video of Police Officer Shooting Unarmed and Disabled Ricky Hayes
    https://theintercept.com/2018/10/16/chicago-police-shooting-video-ricky-hayes

    Chicago’s Civilian Office of Police Accountability, or COPA, plans to release video footage today of the August 13, 2017 shooting of an African-American teenager named Ricardo Hayes by police officer Khalil Muhammad. Viewed against the backdrop of the recently concluded trial of officer Jason Van Dyke for the murder of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald, the release of the Hayes video is an occasion to ask what has and has not changed since the release of the McDonald video in the fall of 2015 (...)

    #CCTV #police #discrimination #vidéo-surveillance #surveillance

  • Can the Manufacturer of Tasers Provide the Answer to Police Abuse ? | The New Yorker
    https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2018/08/27/can-the-manufacturer-of-tasers-provide-the-answer-to-police-abuse

    Tasers are carried by some six hundred thousand law-enforcement officers around the world—a kind of market saturation that also presents a problem. “One of the challenges with Taser is: where do you go next, what’s Act II?” Smith said. “For us, luckily, Act II is cameras.” He began adding cameras to his company’s weapons in 2006, to defend against allegations of abuse, and in the process inadvertently opened a business line that may soon overshadow the Taser. In recent years, body cameras—the officer’s answer to bystander cell-phone video—have become ubiquitous, and Smith’s company, now worth four billion dollars, is their largest manufacturer, holding contracts with more than half the major police departments in the country.

    The cameras have little intrinsic value, but the information they collect is worth a fortune to whoever can organize and safeguard it. Smith has what he calls an iPod/iTunes opportunity—a chance to pair a hardware business with an endlessly recurring and expanding data-storage subscription plan. In service of an intensifying surveillance state and the objectives of police as they battle the public for control of the story, Smith is building a network of electrical weapons, cameras, drones, and someday, possibly, robots, connected by a software platform called Evidence.com. In the process, he is trying to reposition his company in the public imagination, not as a dubious purveyor of stun guns but as a heroic seeker of truth.

    A year ago, Smith changed Taser’s name to Axon Enterprise, referring to the conductive fibre of a nerve cell. Taser was founded in Scottsdale, Arizona, where Smith lives; to transform into Axon, he opened an office in Seattle, hiring designers and engineers from Uber, Google, and Apple. When I met him at the Seattle office this spring, he wore a company T-shirt that read “Expect Candor” and a pair of leather sneakers in caution yellow, the same color as Axon’s logo: a delta symbol—for change—which also resembles the lens of a surveillance camera.

    Already, Axon’s servers, at Microsoft, store nearly thirty petabytes of video—a quarter-million DVDs’ worth—and add approximately two petabytes each month. When body-camera footage is released—say, in the case of Stephon Clark, an unarmed black man killed by police in Sacramento, or of the mass shooting in Las Vegas, this past fall—Axon’s logo is often visible in the upper-right corner of the screen. The company’s stock is up a hundred and thirty per cent since January.

    The original Taser was the invention of an aerospace engineer named Jack Cover, inspired by the sci-fi story “Tom Swift and His Electric Rifle,” about a boy inventor whose long gun fires a five-thousand-volt charge. Early experiments were comical: Cover wired the family couch to shock his sister and her boyfriend as they were on the brink of making out. Later, he discovered that he could fell buffalo when he hit them with electrified darts. In 1974, Cover got a patent and began to manufacture an electric gun. That weapon was similar to today’s Taser: a Glock-shaped object that sends out two live wires, loaded with fifty thousand volts of electricity and ending in barbed darts that attach to a target. When the hooks connect, they create a charged circuit, which causes muscles to contract painfully, rendering the subject temporarily incapacitated. More inventor than entrepreneur, Cover designed the Taser to propel its darts with an explosive, leading the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms to classify it a Title II weapon (a category that also includes sawed-off shotguns), which required an arduous registration process and narrowed its appeal.

    A few years after Tasers went on the market, Rick Smith added a data port to track each trigger pull. The idea, he told me, came from the Baltimore Police Department, which was resisting Tasers out of a concern that officers would abuse people with them. In theory, with a data port, cops would use their Tasers more conscientiously, knowing that each deployment would be recorded and subject to review. But in Baltimore it didn’t work out that way. Recent reports in the Sun revealed that nearly sixty per cent of people Tased by police in Maryland between 2012 and 2014—primarily black and living in low-income neighborhoods—were “non-compliant and non-threatening.”

    Act II begins in the nauseous summer of 2014, when Eric Garner died after being put in a choke hold by police in Staten Island and Michael Brown was shot by Darren Wilson, of the Ferguson Police. After a grand jury decided not to indict Wilson—witness statements differed wildly, and no footage of the shooting came to light—Brown’s family released a statement calling on the public to “join with us in our campaign to ensure that every police officer working the streets in this country wears a body camera.”

    In the fall of 2014, Taser débuted the Officer Safety Plan, which now costs a hundred and nine dollars a month and includes Tasers, cameras, and a sensor that wirelessly activates all the cameras in its range whenever a cop draws his sidearm. This feature is described on the Web site as a prudent hedge in chaotic times: “In today’s online culture where videos go viral in an instant, officers must capture the truth of a critical event. But the intensity of the moment can mean that hitting ‘record’ is an afterthought. Both officers and communities facing confusion and unrest have asked for a solution that turns cameras on reliably, leaving no room for dispute.” According to White’s review of current literature, half of the randomized controlled studies show a substantial or statistically significant reduction in use of force following the introduction of body cameras. The research into citizen complaints is more definitive: cameras clearly reduce the number of complaints from the public.

    The practice of “testi-lying”—officers lying under oath—is made much more difficult by the presence of video.

    Even without flagrant dissimulation, body-camera footage is often highly contentious. Michael White said, “The technology is the easy part. The human use of the technology really is making things very complex.” Policies on how and when cameras should be used, and how and when and by whom footage can be accessed, vary widely from region to region. Jay Stanley, who researches technology for the American Civil Liberties Union, said that the value of a body camera to support democracy depends on those details. “When is it activated? When is it turned off? How vigorously are those rules enforced? What happens to the video footage, how long is it retained, is it released to the public?” he said. “These are the questions that shape the nature of the technology and decide whether it just furthers the police state.”

    Increasingly, civil-liberties groups fear that body cameras will do more to amplify police officers’ power than to restrain their behavior. Black Lives Matter activists view body-camera programs with suspicion, arguing that communities of color need better educational and employment opportunities, environmental justice, and adequate housing, rather than souped-up robo-cops. They also argue that video has been ineffectual: many times, the public has watched the police abuse and kill black men without facing conviction. Melina Abdullah, a professor of Pan-African studies at Cal State Los Angeles, who is active in Black Lives Matter, told me, “Video surveillance, including body cameras, are being used to bolster police claims, to hide what police are doing, and engage in what we call the double murder of our people. They kill the body and use the footage to increase accusations around the character of the person they just killed.” In her view, police use video as a weapon: a black man shown in a liquor store in a rough neighborhood becomes a suspect in the public mind. Video generated by civilians, on the other hand, she sees as a potential check on abuses. She stops to record with her cell phone almost every time she witnesses a law-enforcement interaction with a civilian.

    Bringing in talented engineers is crucial to Smith’s vision. The public-safety nervous system that he is building runs on artificial intelligence, software that can process and analyze an ever-expanding trove of video evidence. The L.A.P.D. alone has already made some five million videos, and adds more than eleven thousand every day. At the moment, A.I. is used for redaction, and Axon technicians at a special facility in Scottsdale are using data from police departments to train the software to detect and blur license plates and faces.

    Facial recognition, which techno-pessimists see as the advent of the Orwellian state, is not far behind. Recently, Smith assembled an A.I. Ethics Board, to help steer Axon’s decisions. (His lead A.I. researcher, recruited from Uber, told him that he wouldn’t be able to hire the best engineers without an ethics board.) Smith told me, “I don’t want to wake up like the guy Nobel, who spent his life making things that kill people, and then, at the end of his life, it’s, like, ‘O.K., I have to buy my way out of this.’ ”

    #Taser #Intelligence_artificielle #Caméras #Police #Stockage_données

  • Three women stabbed by masked group at anti-abortion protest in Chile

    Three women who were protesting in favour of free, safe and legal abortion have been stabbed in Chile.

    The women and a police officer were attacked by a masked group of people wearing hoods in the capital of Santiago on Wednesday.

    The individuals received medical attention but their injuries were not life-threatening. One of the women was injured in the stomach and the two others in the legs.

    Around 40,000 women descended on the city to march, holding signs reading: “Women marching until we are free” and “The rich pay for it, the poor bleed out.”

    People who attended the protests said anti-abortion extremists are responsible for the stabbings but no suspects have been arrested.

    Ale Silva, a resident of Santiago who is pro-abortion, told Newshub the group were men from a far-right group.

    “It very easily could have been me or any of my friends. They were targeted because they were women and were marching, as it so usually happens... pro-lifers stabbing people, the irony,” she said.

    She claimed the Chilean media ignored the attack – the country’s chiefly right wing media initially did not cover the stabbings.

    While a small far right group known as the Social Patriot movement claimed responsibility for the counter-protest, they denied being involved in the stabbings.

    They instead attributed the violence to “anarcho-feminists”.

    A spokesperson for Mesa de Accion por el Aborto – one of the groups leading the struggle for access to free abortion in the country – branded the stabbings “terrorism”.

    “This is terrorism. I don’t want to call it any other way. When a group wants to intimidate another to keep them from expressing their ideas freely,” Macarena Castaneda said.


    https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/santiago-anti-abortion-women-stabbed-chile-protest-a8469786.html
    #avortement #Chili #it_has_begun #IVG #anti-avortement #résistance #manifestation #femmes #droits_des_femmes

  • Inside China’s dystopian dreams : Artificial intelligence, shame and lots of cameras
    https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/china/inside-chinas-dystopian-dreams-artificial-intelligence-shame-and-lots-of-cameras/articleshow/64921295.cms

    ZHENGZHOU : In the Chinese city of Zhengzhou, a police officer wearing facial recognition glasses spotted a heroin smuggler at a train station. In Qingdao, a city famous for its German colonial heritage, cameras powered by artificial intelligence helped police snatch two dozen criminal suspects in the midst of a big annual beer festival.

    #algorithme #CCTV #biométrie #facial #surveillance #vidéo-surveillance

  • A Palestinian vineyard annihilated with chainsaws, with a chilling message in Hebrew
    Gideon Levy, Alex Levac | May 24, 2018 | 6:53 PM
    https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-farm-terror-palestinian-vineyard-annihilated-with-chainsaws-1.6115

    The grapes are shriveled. The vineyard is dead. Reduced to a large, dried-out, yellowing stain in the heart of the verdant region along Highway 60 where the road runs past the town of Halhoul, north of Hebron. The “yellow wind” that David Grossman wrote about 30 years ago is a dying vineyard here. Two plots of land, with hundreds of vines that were slashed, their stems and shoots sawed off – and within a week everything here had withered and died.

    This is a particularly horrible sight because all the damage was wrought by the hand of man. A wicked, loathsome hand that hates not only Arabs but despises the land itself. In fact, we can assume that it wasn’t just one individual who raided and destroyed this vineyard late Tuesday night last week. To saw off that many plants in such a short time requires a few pairs of nasty hands. And someone also had to smear the threatening words in Hebrew on a rock: “We will reach everywhere.” All before first light illuminated the dark deed.

    When dawn broke, the owner of the vineyard, Dr. Haitham Jahshan, a hematologist, arrived and couldn’t believe his eyes. His vines had been ravaged. First he saw one sawed trunk, then another and another – a sea of butchered vines, whose grapes were grown to be eaten, not for wine – until the full scale of the calamity hit home.

    For his part, Musa Abu Hashhash, a field researcher for the B’Tselem human rights organization, says he’s never seen an act of so-called agricultural crime on this scale.

    When we visited on Monday, Highway 60 was as busy as ever: As the major traffic artery running the length of the West Bank, it serves both Palestinians and settlers. The vineyard lies right next to the road, which has very narrow shoulders at that point. West of the highway looms a fortified Israel Defense Forces observation tower, an Israeli flag flapping above it, where soldiers are present day and night to protect all the local residents and safeguard their property. A network of security cameras covers the road from all directions – yet apparently no one saw anything on that night last week, no one heard the insidious infiltrators or the sounds of the sawing.

    The butchery was obviously done with electric saws – the cuts are precise and sharp, from trunk to trunk, from shoot to shoot, nothing was left untouched, probably to ensure that nothing would remain. Almost all the slashing was done at the same height, about 40 centimeters (15 inches) above ground. A professional job. Many of the trunks look whole, but on closer examination, they too turn out to be cleaved. Some sway between heaven and earth, hanging in space, cut off from their bottom sections and roots. Wounded, scarred, cut in two – nearly 400 slashed vines, according to the owner, Jahshan.

    We follow him, bending over as we pass through row upon row of truncated vines, beneath a ceiling of low iron lattices on which they are tangled and twined. There’s no way to raise your head here, no way to stand up. The soil is clear of stones and has been plowed: Those tending the land here turned the earth over using an all-terrain vehicle on the day after the spoliation, hoping a miracle would occur and the vineyard would begin to revive itself. But the miracle hasn’t happened. It’s clear now that it will be necessary to uproot the entire vineyard and to plant a new one in its place. It will then take three to five years for the first fruits to appear, and some 15 years – the age of the destroyed vineyard – for the crop to reach its optimal yield.

    Naboth the Jezreelite had a vineyard, and so did Dr. Jahshan.

    Though he lives in Halhoul today, Jahshan, 42, studied medicine in Jordan and from 1999 to 2006 did his residency in hematology and molecular genetics at the Hadassah Medical Center and the Herzog Medical Center, both in Jerusalem. Now he runs a blood-disease clinic at Al-Ahli Hospital in Hebron, but also devotes time to working the land from which his family earns a living. The vineyard covered five dunams, 1.25 acres – 5,000 square meters, he explains.

    During the days that passed between the mutilation of the vineyard and our visit, everything withered, shriveled up. The leaves crumble between one’s fingers, the buds have been reduced to dust. This week’s hot, dry winds finished everything off.

    On his cellphone, Jahshan shows us a photograph of the vineyard from last week, on the day after the assault: still green, like the vineyards to the left and right of his property.

    Last Tuesday, Jahshan, together with his father, uncle and two of his brothers, sprayed the vineyard with pesticides, working from early in the morning until the early evening. They didn’t manage to complete the job and decided to return at first light. They left at about 6 that evening and were back at 6 the next morning – only to be dumbstruck by a sight that they will never forget.

    An empty bag of chocolate milk from the Kibbutz Yotvata dairy lies on the ground amid the vines; perhaps the vandals drank chocolate milk as they savaged the vineyard, sucking and slashing. Their car must have been parked on the narrow shoulders of the highway, visible to everyone and seen by the security cameras.

    In one part of the vineyard the raiders left a row of vines intact, perhaps fearful of being seen and caught. By the time they reached the southern section of it they were more confident, and wreaked total havoc. Great hatred must have driven them, complete meanness of spirit. The closest settlements are a few kilometers from here – Karmei Tzur to the north, Kiryat Arba and Givat Haharsina to the south. The immediate suspicion falls on their residents.

    This is the highest spot in the West Bank and the terroir is excellent, the physician-vine grower tells us; he only watered the vineyard once or twice a year from a well at its edge, otherwise depending on rainfall. A few types of grapes were grown here, white and dark. From each sundered trunk, the yield was usually 10-15 cartons of fruit, about 150 kilos of grapes.

    We take refuge from the heat in the shade of a peach tree in a nearby plot that has begun to yield fruit. “It was a vineyard at the height of its yield: 10 tons of grapes a year,” Jahshan tells us. In the years ahead, he won’t be harvesting the leaves, either, which sell for 25 shekels ($7) a kilo in the Hebron market. The harvest was due to begin in September – it starts later here, in the Hebron Hills – but now it’s been postponed indefinitely.

    “Maybe I’ll plant pakos [Armenian cucumbers] instead of grapes,” he muses, and then immediately corrects himself. “Of course I’ll plant grapes again.” If he or someone from his family come to the vineyard after dark, he adds, the army or the police arrive within minutes: “They see everything, but somehow they didn’t see the vandals.”

    Jahshan estimates the damage done to him and his family at about 250,000 shekels ($70,000), though it’s quite clear that the money is not his prime concern. He feels that there is no one to protect him and his property.

    When he and his relatives arrived Wednesday morning they didn’t see anything amiss at first. The vineyard was still green. Even after he saw one vine cut, he never imagined that the whole vineyard had been ruined. They went immediately to the Halhoul Municipality, and from there called the Israeli-Palestinian District Coordination and Liaison Office to file a complaint. They called the police and the Israel Defense Forces, too, and were asked to go back to the vineyard, where police and army officers met them to survey the damage at about 11 o’clock.

    A tracker examined footprints, photographs were taken, and Jahshan and the others were asked to go to the Kiryat Arba police station to file a complaint. It was the police who discovered the black inscription, “We will reach everywhere,” hidden amid the rocks. Jahshan hadn’t noticed it. Since then he hasn’t heard anything from the authorities.

    Shlomit Bakshi, spokeswoman of the Judea and Samaria District of the Israel Police, told Haaretz, “Upon receiving the complaint, the police launched an investigation and several actions were taken. At this stage, the investigation is still underway.”

    Jahshan comments drily that he hopes the police will find the culprits and bring them to justice, but adds, “If a child here had thrown a stone, they would have caught him already.”

    Perhaps the intensive investigation will get an essential boost from Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, who on Tuesday tweeted, “Ratcheting up the uncompromising war on agricultural crime. No longer mild punishment without deterrence Yesterday, a bill I sponsored was passed [by the Knesset] in the first vote [of three], stipulating that a police officer can levy a stiff fine in offenses involving agricultural crime. That way the criminal will receive immediate painful economic punishment.”

    Agricultural crime, stiff and painful punishment – Shaked was undoubtedly referring also, perhaps even mainly, to the ongoing, routine agricultural terror perpetrated by Jewish vandals against Palestinian farmers.

  • Queer History in the Divided City: A New Approach to Digital Mapping – NOTCHES
    http://notchesblog.com/2018/04/24/queer-history-in-the-divided-city-a-new-approach-to-digital-mapping

    Our approach to this project was catalyzed by recent events in St. Louis. In 2014, the world watched as Ferguson, Missouri—a northern suburb of St. Louis—erupted in flames after a police officer murdered unarmed African American teenager Michael Brown. The media coverage of the Ferguson uprising communicated internationally what many St. Louisans had long known: theirs was a divided city, and nothing about the region could be understood without attending to its long and persistent history of racial segregation. One of a number of projects funded by Washington University’s Divided City Initiative, Mapping LGBTQ St. Louis makes this local knowledge visible in maps, in documents and images, and in interpretive essays. We provide a few examples from the project below.

    #cartographie #LGBT

  • Marielle Franco #character_assassination campaign begins | News | World | M&G
    https://mg.co.za/article/2018-03-21-marielle-franco-character-assassination-campaign-begins

    Check out the left’s latest myth, Marielle Franco. Pregnant at 16, ex-wife of Marcinho VP, she used marijuana…, was elected by the Red Command, had just fired six employees,” tweeted congressman Alberto Fraga, from the small, rightwing DEM party.

    The story about Franco’s deep criminal past flooded the internet, often expressed in furious language, but lent gravitas by the likes of Fraga.

    A Rio appeals’ court judge called Marilia Castro Neves warned on Facebook that Franco “wasn’t just a fighter.

    No, she “was involved with bandits” and was killed because “she didn’t carry out her promises.

    Startling stuff. Shocking.

    And totally fake.

    #fake_news

    And the traditional media, which Costa says has “the tools to check rumors very quickly,” also joined the cause.

    Globo newspaper, part of Brazil’s dominant media conglomerate, ran a full page Tuesday to shoot down the rumors, under the headline: “Lies cannot stop justice.

    Fraga deleted his tweet.

    The regret, perhaps, is having put something that I didn’t check,” said Fraga. “I am a police officer, a military colonel, I should have had better information and from an appropriate source.

    As for the judge, she says she wishes she had decided “to wait for the end of the investigation, so as to be able, as a citizen, to give my opinion.

    Just what a manual on combating fake news might have advised.

  • Arming Teachers Is Not a Good Option - Scientific American Blog Network
    https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/arming-teachers-is-not-a-good-option

    The FBI analyzed 160 cases of active shooters over the period from 2000-2013, and not one was stopped by a concealed carry permit holder who was not active duty military, a security guard, or a police officer. 21 were stopped by unarmed civilians.

    #armes #etats-unis