publishedmedium:the guardian

  • View from Nowhere. Is it the press’s job to create a community that transcends borders?

    A few years ago, on a plane somewhere between Singapore and Dubai, I read Benedict Anderson’s Imagined Communities (1983). I was traveling to report on the global market for passports—how the ultrawealthy can legally buy citizenship or residence virtually anywhere they like, even as 10 million stateless people languish, unrecognized by any country. In the process, I was trying to wrap my head around why national identity meant so much to so many, yet so little to my passport-peddling sources. Their world was the very image of Steve Bannon’s globalist nightmare: where you can never be too rich, too thin, or have too many passports.

    Anderson didn’t address the sale of citizenship, which only took off in earnest in the past decade; he did argue that nations, nationalism, and nationality are about as organic as Cheez Whiz. The idea of a nation, he writes, is a capitalist chimera. It is a collective sense of identity processed, shelf-stabilized, and packaged before being disseminated, for a considerable profit, to a mass audience in the form of printed books, news, and stories. He calls this “print-capitalism.”

    Per Anderson, after the printing press was invented, nearly 600 years ago, enterprising booksellers began publishing the Bible in local vernacular languages (as opposed to the elitist Latin), “set[ting] the stage for the modern nation” by allowing ordinary citizens to participate in the same conversations as the upper classes. In the 18th and 19th centuries, the proliferation (and popularity) of daily newspapers further collapsed time and space, creating an “extraordinary mass ceremony” of reading the same things at the same moment.

    “An American will never meet, or even know the names of more than a handful of his 240,000,000–odd fellow Americans,” Anderson wrote. “He has no idea of what they are up to at any one time.” But with the knowledge that others are reading the same news, “he has complete confidence in their steady, anonymous, simultaneous activity.”

    Should the press be playing a role in shaping not national identities, but transnational ones—a sense that we’re all in it together?

    Of course, national presses enabled more explicit efforts by the state itself to shape identity. After the US entered World War I, for instance, President Woodrow Wilson set out to make Americans more patriotic through his US Committee on Public Information. Its efforts included roping influential mainstream journalists into advocating American-style democracy by presenting US involvement in the war in a positive light, or simply by referring to Germans as “Huns.” The committee also monitored papers produced by minorities to make sure they supported the war effort not as Indians, Italians, or Greeks, but as Americans. Five Irish-American papers were banned, and the German-American press, reacting to negative stereotypes, encouraged readers to buy US bonds to support the war effort.

    The US media played an analogous role in selling the public on the 2003 invasion of Iraq. But ever since then, in the digital economy, its influence on the national consciousness has waned. Imagined Communities was published seven years before the fall of the Berlin Wall, twenty-two years before Thomas Friedman’s The World Is Flat, and a couple of decades before the internet upended print-capitalism as the world knew it (one of Anderson’s footnotes is telling, if quaint: “We still have no giant multinationals in the world of publishing”).

    Since Trump—a self-described nationalist—became a real contender for the US presidency, many news organizations have taken to looking inward: consider the running obsession with the president’s tweets, for instance, or the nonstop White House palace intrigue (which the president invites readily).

    Meanwhile, the unprofitability of local and regional papers has contributed to the erosion of civics, which, down the line, makes it easier for billionaires to opt out of old “imagined communities” and join new ones based on class and wealth, not citizenship. And given the challenges humanity faces—climate change, mass migration, corporate hegemony, and our relationships to new technologies—even if national papers did make everyone feel like they shared the same narrative, a renewed sense of national pride would prove impotent in fighting world-historic threats that know no borders.

    Should the press, then, be playing an analogous role in shaping not national identities, but transnational ones—a sense that we’re all in it together? If it was so important in shaping national identity, can it do so on a global scale?

    Like my passport-buying subjects, I am what Theresa May, the former British prime minister, might call a “citizen of nowhere.” I was born in one place to parents from another, grew up in a third, and have lived and traveled all over. That informs my perspective: I want deeply for there to be a truly cosmopolitan press corps, untethered from national allegiances, regional biases, class divisions, and the remnants of colonial exploitation. I know that’s utopian; the international working class is hardly a lucrative demographic against which publishers can sell ads. But we seem to be living in a time of considerable upheaval and opportunity. Just as the decline of religiously and imperially organized societies paved the way for national alternatives, then perhaps today there is a chance to transcend countries’ boundaries, too.

    Does the US media help create a sense of national identity? If nationalism means putting the interests of one nation—and what its citizens are interested in—before more universal concerns, then yes. Most journalists working for American papers, websites, and TV write in English with a national audience (or regional time zone) in mind, which affects how we pitch, source, frame, and illustrate a story—which, in turn, influences our readers, their country’s politics, and, down the line, the world. But a news peg isn’t an ideological form of nationalism so much as a practical or methodological one. The US press feeds off of more pernicious nationalisms, too: Donald Trump’s false theory about Barack Obama being “secretly” Kenyan, disseminated by the likes of Fox and The Daily Caller, comes to mind.

    That isn’t to say that global news outlets don’t exist in the US. When coaxing subscribers, the Financial Times, whose front page often includes references to a dozen different countries, openly appeals to their cosmopolitanism. “Be a global citizen. Become an FT Subscriber,” read a recent banner ad, alongside a collage featuring the American, Chinese, Japanese, Australian, and European Union flags (though stories like the recent “beginner’s guide to buying a private island” might tell us something about what kind of global citizen they’re appealing to).

    “I don’t think we try to shape anyone’s identity at all,” Gillian Tett, the paper’s managing editor for the US, says. “We recognize two things: that the world is more interconnected today than it’s ever been, and that these connections are complex and quite opaque. We think it’s critical to try to illuminate them.”

    For Tett, who has a PhD in social anthropology, money serves as a “neutral, technocratic” starting point through which to understand—and tie together—the world. “Most newspapers today tend to start with an interest in politics or events, and that inevitably leads you to succumb to tribalism, however hard you try [not to],” Tett explains. “If you look at the world through money—how is money going around the world, who’s making and losing it and why?—out of that you lead to political, cultural, foreign-policy stories.”

    Tett’s comments again brought to mind Imagined Communities: Anderson notes that, in 18th-century Caracas, newspapers “began essentially as appendages of the market,” providing commercial news about ships coming in, commodity prices, and colonial appointments, as well as a proto–Vows section for the upper crust to hate-read in their carriages. “The newspaper of Caracas quite naturally, and even apolitically, created an imagined community among a specific assemblage of fellow-readers, to whom these ships, brides, bishops, and prices belonged,” he wrote. “In time, of course, it was only to be expected that political elements would enter in.”

    Yesterday’s aristocracy is today’s passport-buying, globe-trotting one percent. The passport brokers I got to know also pitched clients with the very same promise of “global citizenship” (it sounds less louche than “buy a new passport”)—by taking out ads in the Financial Times. Theirs is exactly the kind of neoliberal “globalism” that nationalist politicians like Trump have won elections denouncing (often hypocritically) as wanting “the globe to do well, frankly, not caring about our country so much.” Isn’t upper-crust glibness about borders, boundaries, and the value of national citizenship part of what helped give us this reactionary nativism in the first place?

    “I suspect what’s been going on with Brexit and maybe Trump and other populist movements [is that] people. . . see ‘global’ as a threat to local communities and businesses rather than something to be welcomed,” Tett says. “But if you’re an FT reader, you see it as benign or descriptive.”

    Among the largest news organizations in the world is Reuters, with more than 3,000 journalists and photographers in 120 countries. It is part of Thomson Reuters, a truly global firm. Reuters does not take its mandate lightly: a friend who works there recently sent me a job posting for an editor in Gdynia, which, Google clarified for me, is a city in the Pomeranian Voivodeship of Poland.

    Reuters journalists cover everything from club sports to international tax evasion. They’re outsourcing quick hits about corporate earnings to Bangalore, assembling teams on multiple continents to tackle a big investigation, shedding or shuffling staff under corporate reorganizations. Perhaps unsurprisingly, “more than half our business is serving financial customers,” Stephen Adler, the editor in chief, tells me. “That has little to do with what country you’re from. It’s about information: a central-bank action in Europe or Japan may be just as important as everything else.”

    Institutionally, “it’s really important and useful that we don’t have one national HQ,” Adler adds. “That’s the difference between a global news organization and one with a foreign desk. For us, nothing is foreign.” That approach won Reuters this year’s international Pulitzer Prize for uncovering the mass murder of the Rohingya in Myanmar (two of the reporters were imprisoned as a result, and since freed); it also comes through especially sharply in daily financial stories: comprehensive, if dry, compendiums of who-what-where-when-why that recognize the global impact of national stories, and vice versa. A recent roundup of stock movements included references to the US Fed, China trade talks, Brexit, monetary policy around the world, and the price of gold.

    Adler has led the newsroom since 2011, and a lot has changed in the world. (I worked at Reuters between 2011 and 2013, first as Adler’s researcher and later as a reporter; Adler is the chair of CJR’s board.) Shortly after Trump’s election, Adler wrote a memo affirming the organization’s commitment to being fair, honest, and resourceful. He now feels more strongly than ever about judiciously avoiding biases—including national ones. “Our ideology and discipline around putting personal feelings and nationality aside has been really helpful, because when you think about how powerful local feelings are—revolutions, the Arab Spring—we want you writing objectively and dispassionately.”

    The delivery of stories in a casual, illustrated, highly readable form is in some ways more crucial to developing an audience than subject matter.

    Whether global stories can push communities to develop transnationally in a meaningful way is a harder question to answer; it seems to impugn our collective aptitude for reacting to problems of a global nature in a rational way. Reuters’s decision not to fetishize Trump hasn’t led to a drop-off in US coverage—its reporters have been especially strong on immigration and trade policy, not to mention the effects of the new administration on the global economy—but its stories aren’t exactly clickbait, which means ordinary Americans might not encounter them at the top of their feed. In other words, having a global perspective doesn’t necessarily translate to more eyeballs.

    What’s more, Reuters doesn’t solve the audience-class problem: whether readers are getting dispatches in partner newspapers like The New York Times or through the organization’s Eikon terminal, they tend to be the sort of person “who does transnational business, travels a good deal, is connected through work and media, has friends in different places, cares about what’s going on in different places,” Adler says. “That’s a pretty large cohort of people who have reason to care what’s going on in other places.”

    There are ways to unite readers without centering coverage on money or the markets. For a generation of readers around the world, the common ground is technology: the internet. “We didn’t pick our audience,” Ben Smith, the editor in chief of BuzzFeed, tells me over the phone. “Our audience picked us.” He defines his readers as a cohort aged 18–35 “who are on the internet and who broadly care about human rights, global politics, and feminism and gay rights in particular.”

    To serve them, BuzzFeed recently published a damning investigative report into the World Wildlife Fund’s arming of militias in natural reserves; a (not uncontroversial) series on Trump’s business dealings abroad; early exposés of China’s detention of Uighur citizens; and reports on child abuse in Australia. Climate—“the central challenge for every newsroom in the world”—has been harder to pin down. “We don’t feel anyone has cracked it. But the shift from abstract scientific [stories] to coverage of fires in California, it’s a huge change—it makes it more concrete,” Smith says. (My husband is a reporter for BuzzFeed.)

    The delivery of these stories in a casual, illustrated, highly readable form is in some ways more crucial to developing an audience than subject matter. “The global political financial elites have had a common language ever since it was French,” Smith says. “There is now a universal language of internet culture, [and] that. . . is how our stuff translates so well between cultures and audiences.” This isn’t a form of digital Esperanto, Smith insists; the point isn’t to flatten the differences between countries or regions so much as to serve as a “container” in which people from different regions, interest groups, and cultures can consume media through references they all understand.

    BuzzFeed might not be setting out to shape its readers’ identities (I certainly can’t claim to feel a special bond with other people who found out they were Phoebes from the quiz “Your Sushi Order Will Reveal Which ‘Friends’ Character You’re Most Like”). An audience defined by its youth and its media consumption habits can be difficult to keep up with: platforms come and go, and young people don’t stay young forever. But if Anderson’s thesis still carries water, there must be something to speaking this language across cultures, space, and time. Call it “Web vernacular.”

    In 2013, during one of the many recent and lengthy US government shutdowns, Joshua Keating, a journalist at Slate, began a series, “If It Happened There,” that imagined how the American media would view the shutdown if it were occurring in another country. “The typical signs of state failure aren’t evident on the streets of this sleepy capital city,” Keating opens. “Beret-wearing colonels have not yet taken to the airwaves to declare martial law. . . .But the pleasant autumn weather disguises a government teetering on the brink.”

    It goes on; you get the idea. Keating’s series, which was inspired by his having to read “many, many headlines from around the world” while working at Foreign Policy, is a clever journalistic illustration of what sociologists call “methodological nationalism”: the bias that gets inadvertently baked into work and words. In the Middle East, it’s sectarian or ethnic strife; in the Midwest, it’s a trigger-happy cop and a kid in a hoodie.

    His send-ups hit a nerve. “It was huge—it was by far the most popular thing I’ve done at Slate,” Keating says. “I don’t think that it was a shocking realization to anyone that this kind of language can be a problem, but sometimes pointing it out can be helpful. If the series did anything, it made people stop and be conscious of how. . . our inherent biases and perspectives will inform how we cover the world.”

    Curiously, living under an openly nationalist administration has changed the way America—or at the very least, a significant part of the American press corps—sees itself. The press is a de facto opposition party, not because it tries to be, but because the administration paints it that way. And that gives reporters the experience of working in a place much more hostile than the US without setting foot outside the country.

    Keating has “semi-retired” the series as a result of the broad awareness among American reporters that it is, in fact, happening here. “It didn’t feel too novel to say [Trump was] acting like a foreign dictator,” he says. “That was what the real news coverage was doing.”

    Keating, who traveled to Somaliland, Kurdistan, and Abkhazia to report his book Invisible Countries (2018), still thinks the fastest and most effective way to form an international perspective is to live abroad. At the same time, not being bound to a strong national identity “can make it hard to understand particular concerns of the people you’re writing about,” he says. It might be obvious, but there is no one perfect way to be internationally minded.

    Alan Rusbridger—the former editor of The Guardian who oversaw the paper’s Edward Snowden coverage and is now the principal at Lady Margaret Hall, a college at Oxford University—recognizes the journalistic and even moral merits of approaching news in a non-national way: “I think of journalism as a public service, and I do think there’s a link between journalism at its best and the betterment of individual lives and societies,” he says. But he doesn’t have an easy formula for how to do that, because truly cosmopolitan journalism requires both top-down editorial philosophies—not using certain phrasings or framings that position foreigners as “others”—and bottom-up efforts by individual writers to read widely and be continuously aware of how their work might be read by people thousands of miles away.

    Yes, the starting point is a nationally defined press, not a decentralized network, but working jointly helps pool scarce resources and challenge national or local biases.

    Rusbridger sees potential in collaborations across newsrooms, countries, and continents. Yes, the starting point is a nationally defined press, not a decentralized network; but working jointly helps pool scarce resources and challenge national or local biases. It also wields power. “One of the reasons we reported Snowden with the Times in New York was to use global protections of human rights and free speech and be able to appeal to a global audience of readers and lawyers,” Rusbridger recalls. “We thought, ‘We’re pretty sure nation-states will come at us over this, and the only way to do it is harness ourselves to the US First Amendment not available to us anywhere else.’”

    In employing these tactics, the press positions itself in opposition to the nation-state. The same strategy could be seen behind the rollout of the Panama and Paradise Papers (not to mention the aggressive tax dodging detailed therein). “I think journalists and activists and citizens on the progressive wing of politics are thinking creatively about how global forces can work to their advantage,” Rusbridger says.

    But he thinks it all starts locally, with correspondents who have fluency in the language, culture, and politics of the places they cover, people who are members of the communities they write about. That isn’t a traditional foreign-correspondent experience (nor indeed that of UN employees, NGO workers, or other expats). The silver lining of publishing companies’ shrinking budgets might be that cost cutting pushes newsrooms to draw from local talent, rather than send established writers around. What you gain—a cosmopolitanism that works from the bottom up—can help dispel accusations of media elitism. That’s the first step to creating new imagined communities.

    Anderson’s work has inspired many an academic, but media executives? Not so much. Rob Wijnberg is an exception: he founded the (now beleaguered) Correspondent in the Netherlands in 2013 with Anderson’s ideas in mind. In fact, when we speak, he brings the name up unprompted.

    “You have to transcend this notion that you can understand the world through the national point of view,” he says. “The question is, What replacement do we have for it? Simply saying we have to transcend borders or have an international view isn’t enough, because you have to replace the imagined community you’re leaving behind with another one.”

    For Wijnberg, who was a philosophy student before he became a journalist, this meant radically reinventing the very structures of the news business: avoiding covering “current events” just because they happened, and thinking instead of what we might call eventful currents—the political, social, and economic developments that affect us all. It meant decoupling reporting from national news cycles, and getting readers to become paying “members” instead of relying on advertisements.

    This, he hoped, would help create a readership not based on wealth, class, nationality, or location, but on borderless, universal concerns. “We try to see our members. . . as part of a group or knowledge community, where the thing they share is the knowledge they have about a specific structural subject matter,” be it climate, inequality, or migration, Wijnberg says. “I think democracy and politics answers more to media than the other way around, so if you change the way media covers the world you change a lot.”

    That approach worked well in the Netherlands: his team raised 1.7 million euros in 2013, and grew to include 60,000 members. A few years later, Wijnberg and his colleagues decided to expand into the US, and with the help of NYU’s Jay Rosen, an early supporter, they made it onto Trevor Noah’s Daily Show to pitch their idea.

    The Correspondent raised more than $2.5 million from nearly 50,000 members—a great success, by any measure. But in March, things started to get hairy, with the publication abruptly pulling the plug on opening a US newsroom and announcing that staff would edit stories reported from the US from the original Amsterdam office instead. Many of the reasons behind this are mundane: visas, high rent, relocation costs. And reporters would still be reporting from, and on, the States. But supporters felt blindsided, calling the operation a scam.

    Today, Wijnberg reflects that he should have controlled the messaging better, and not promised to hire and operate from New York until he was certain that he could. He also wonders why it matters.

    “It’s not saying people who think it matters are wrong,” he explains. “But if the whole idea of this kind of geography and why it’s there is a construct, and you’re trying to think about transcending it, the very notion of Where are you based? is secondary. The whole point is not to be based anywhere.”

    Still: “The view from everywhere—the natural opposite—is just as real,” Wijnberg concedes. “You can’t be everywhere. You have to be somewhere.”

    And that’s the rub: for all of nationalism’s ills, it does instill in its subjects what Anderson calls a “deep, horizontal comradeship” that, while imagined, blossoms thanks to a confluence of forces. It can’t be replicated supranationally overnight. The challenge for a cosmopolitan journalism, then, is to dream up new forms of belonging that look forward, not backward—without discarding the imagined communities we have.

    That’s hard; so hard that it more frequently provokes a retrenchment, not an expansion, of solidarity. But it’s not impossible. And our collective futures almost certainly depend on it.

    https://www.cjr.org/special_report/view-from-nowhere.php
    #journalisme #nationalisme #Etat-nation #communauté_nationale #communauté_internationale #frontières #presse #médias

  • Insect collapse: ‘We are destroying our life support systems’ | Environment | The Guardian
    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/jan/15/insect-collapse-we-are-destroying-our-life-support-systems

    Scientist Brad Lister returned to Puerto Rican rainforest after 35 years to find 98% of ground insects had vanished

    “We knew that something was amiss in the first couple days,” said Brad Lister. “We were driving into the forest and at the same time both Andres and I said: ‘Where are all the birds?’ There was nothing.”

  • Still flying: #Monty_Python to mark 50th anniversary with record bid | Culture | The Guardian
    https://www.theguardian.com/culture/2019/jun/26/still-flying-monty-python-to-mark-50th-anniversary-with-record-attempt

    They return – it would appear – to a time where no one is the messiah but there is no shortage of naughty boys.

    Fifty years after the first broadcast of Monty Python’s Flying Circus, the men who revolutionised comedy have revealed details of events to mark their anniversary in what they dubbed “an increasingly Pythonesque world”.

    “Extreme silliness seems more relevant now than it ever was,” the surviving five Pythons added in a statement that also revealed plans by BBC Radio 4 to air new radio specials.

  • The invention of Essex: how a county became a caricature | News | The Guardian
    https://www.theguardian.com/news/2019/jun/27/the-invention-of-essex-how-a-county-became-a-caricature

    As a child growing up in the 80s and 90s in Southend, a sprawling seaside town in south-east Essex, I noticed that people on TV often laughed at the very word Essex. Some years later, in 2016, my wife, Hayley, crossed the border into Albania from Montenegro while travelling with an old friend who, like us, grew up in the county. The border guard asked where they were from – and when they told him, his response was quickfire: “I’ve heard a lot about Essex girls,” he said. “But I’m sure you are not like that.”

    #pierre_sansot #gens_de_peu #essex #royaume-uni

  • Unesco chair blasts ’discriminatory’ UK visitor visa system | UK news | The Guardian
    https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2019/jun/24/unesco-chair-blasts-discriminatory-uk-visitor-visa-system

    Temitayo Olofinlua, an academic, applied for a visa to come to Edinburgh from Nigeria for an European Conference on African Studies conference on 4 April. Despite submitting evidence of full sponsorship for her trip – as well as evidence of ties to her home, namely that she is married with children and a job – her application was refused.

    Her case worker told her she had been refused because “I am not satisfied that you are genuinely seeking entry as a visitor … or that you intend to leave the UK at the end of your visit.”

    Olofinlua’s refusal was eventually overturned and she is in Edinburgh, attending the conference. But, she said: “It’s time to abandon the UK as host for international African Studies conferences. The organisers did everything to make this an inclusive event. But hostile Home Office policy has dampened this. Other countries require you to declare if you have ever been denied an entry visa .”

    “Going through the experience has been tortuous,” added Olofinlua, who frequently travels and always kept to #visa conditions. “I lost money. I lost valuable time, thanks to the tedious process of applying and re-applying, making the overnight visit to Lagos then standing hours in line.”

    #royaume_uni #racisme #air_du_temps

  • ’Shame and pain’: Vietnam starts to grapple with child abuse epidemic | World news | The Guardian
    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/jun/19/shame-and-pain-vietnam-child-abuse

    It was morning at a Hanoi school when a teenage student stumbled into class. As she sat at her desk, blood began to pool under her chair; just that morning she had been sexually abused. When her teacher’s response was that she should sit on some tissues until the bleeding stopped, the young girl began to cry.

    The incident, recounted by a Huynh Mai, a school psychologist, made headlines in Vietnam last month. Yet it was reflective of a culture of ignorance, indifference and stigma that has surrounded child sex abuse in the country for generations, according to teachers, victims and NGOs.

    However, after several high-profile abuse cases, many involving the abuse of pupils by their teachers, the government has launched several initiatives to finally bring the issue out into the open.

    #viol #pédophilie #vietnam

  • Are crystals the new blood diamonds? | The Guardian
    https://www.theguardian.com/global/2019/jun/16/are-crystals-the-new-blood-diamonds-the-truth-about-muky-business-of-he

    “It would be a great shame,” says Sophia Pickles, the campaign leader at Global Witness, “if consumers buying goods that they believe help them ‘connect with the Earth’ are, in fact, making purchases that are connected to grave human-rights abuses, environmental destruction, conflict and corruption. Unfortunately, this is a very real risk for products like crystals.”

  • Daily Mail pays charity damages over ’hate festival’ allegations | Media | The Guardian - Matthew Weaver - Thu 13 Jun 2019 16.43 BST
    Last modified on Thu 13 Jun 2019 20.20 BST

    https://www.theguardian.com/media/2019/jun/13/daily-mail-pays-interpal-charity-damages-over-hate-festival-allegations

    The publisher of the Daily Mail has paid £120,000 in damages plus costs to a UK-based humanitarian charity after the paper falsely accused it of funding a “hate festival” in Palestine which acted out the murder of Jews.

    Associated Newspapers apologised unreservedly to the trustees of Interpal, which provides aid to Palestinians, for suggesting the registered charity was a terrorist organisation. (...)

  • UK rights advocate co-owns firm whose spyware is ’used to target dissidents’
    https://www.theguardian.com/law/2019/jun/14/yana-peel-uk-rights-advocate-serpentine-nso-spyware-pegasus

    A leading human rights campaigner and head of a prestigious London art gallery is the co-owner of an Israeli cyberweapons company whose software has allegedly been used by authoritarian regimes to spy on dissidents, the Guardian can reveal.

    Yana Peel, the chief executive of the Serpentine Galleries and a self-proclaimed champion of free speech, co-owns NSO Group, a $1bn (£790m) Israeli tech firm, according to corporate records in the US and Luxembourg.

    NSO is the subject of multiple ongoing lawsuits and has been criticised by human rights groups, including Amnesty International, which has asked Israel’s ministry of defence to revoke the company’s export licences.

    However, Peel, who has declared the Serpentine a “safe space for unsafe ideas” and served as a judge for international freedom-of-expression awards, defended her stake in NSO, which she has held since February. She described criticism of the company as “misinformed”.

    #surveillance

  • Cutting ammonia emissions from farming ‘could save thousands of lives’

    Cutting levels of ammonia in the air could prevent at least 3,000 premature deaths every year in the UK, according to new research following an investigation by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, Channel 4 News and the Guardian.

    While most air pollutants have been cut dramatically in recent decades, levels of ammonia in the air have stayed high.

    Agriculture is the leading source of ammonia emissions and intensive livestock farming is particularly problematic, as the chemical leaks into the air from exposed animal waste and fertiliser.

    Ammonia causes fine particle pollution which can enter deep into the lungs and bloodstream, with significant consequences for cardiovascular and respiratory health.

    In 2017 researchers from the Max Planck Institute in Germany analysed data on air pollution and mortality. They estimated that a 50 per cent cut in agricultural ammonia emissions across Europe could avoid 52,000 deaths each year.

    Now, in new analysis for The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, they say a similar cut in the UK could prevent at least 3,000 premature deaths annually.

    Levels ‘unchanged for 25 years’
    Professor Alastair Lewis from the National Centre for Atmospheric Science said: “Almost all classes of pollutants [in the UK] have reduced very dramatically over the last 30 or 40 years.

    “The one that really stands out is ammonia, which is really unchanged over the last 25 years”. He puts that down, in part, to the complexity of the problem.

    Dairy farmer Abi Reader told Channel 4 News she supported moves to cut ammonia but was worried about the financial burden on the industry.

    She said it would cost around £50,000 to cover her farm’s slurry pit – the sort of measure farmers are being asked to adopt.

    She told Channel 4 News: “It’s certainly a good focus for us as an industry to make sure we do everything in our power….to reduce the emissions”.

    “The thing is we’re not seeing an extra return on our milk price to finance it” says Ms Reader, “so it’s something we would like to do but I can’t go broke for it”.

    In the Clean Air Strategy, the government says it is requiring farmers to adopt low-emission techniques and providing funding for equipment needed to cut pollution.

    https://www.channel4.com/news/cutting-ammonia-emissions-from-farming-could-save-thousands-of-lives
    #ammoniaque #agriculture #santé #industrie_agro-alimentaire

  • Trans woman who died after illness in US custody had asked to be deported, family says | US news | The Guardian

    https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/jun/12/trans-woman-death-us-custody-ice-deportation

    nouveau tag #USA_today

    A transgender woman who died after becoming sick in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (Ice) custody had asked to be deported after she was repeatedly denied medical care, attorneys said on Wednesday.

    The family of Johana Medina León, a 25-year-old asylum seeker from El Salvador who died this month, filed a civil rights claim against the US government this week, alleging that officials ignored her numerous requests for treatment as her health “rapidly deteriorated”.

  • Tension grows in Lebanon over refugees in #Beqaa

    Tension remains high on Monday in Lebanon’s Beqaa Valley, following the forced displacement of hundreds of Syrian refugees at the weekend.

    Local media reported the possibility that about 400 refugees, including many women and children, may be forcibly transferred to Syria, which is where they originally fled from the armed conflict that is still underway.

    The epicentre of the refugee tension in Lebanon is in #Deir al-Ahmar in the northern Beqaa Valley.

    Since the start of the civil war in Syria in 2011, over a million Syrians have taken refuge in Lebanon, a country whose own population is less than four million.

    Lebanese authorities have recently intensified the dismantling of refugee camps and increased pressure on the refugee community.

    Lebanon did not sign the 1951 Geneva Refugee Convention, and since 2011 the country has considered the presence of “foreign guests” in its territory as a temporary situation.

    http://www.ansamed.info/ansamed/en/news/sections/generalnews/2019/06/10/tension-grows-in-lebanon-over-refugees-in-beqaa_132742bf-f2d4-48a3-ad21-4b
    #réfugiés #réfugiés_syriens #Liban #asile #migrations #expulsions #renvois #retour_au_pays #camps_de_réfugiés #démantèlement

    • Thousands of Syrian refugees could be sent back, says Lebanese minister

      Gebran Bassil claims many refugees are not living in political fear, but stay for economic reasons.

      As many as three quarters of Syrian refugees in Lebanon could return to Syria because they face no fear of political persecution or threat to their security, Lebanon’s controversial foreign minister has said.

      Gebran Bassil also urged the UK to rethink how it was spending aid money on keeping 1.5 million refugees in Lebanon, where he said they were taking the jobs from the Lebanese, and undercutting wages.

      The UK has supplied as much as £500m to help house, feed and educate Syrian refugees in Lebanon since the start of the ciivl war in 2011.

      Bassil is the son in law of the president, Michel Aoun, and the leader of the Lebanese Free Patriotic Movement, the largest political party in the country’s parliament. Last week he faced allegations of racism that he denies after it was alleged he had implied that some refugees might be corrupt.

      In an interview with the Guardian, he said: “Most of the Syrians – much more than 75% – are no more in security and political fear, but are staying for economic reasons. We know more than 500,000 Syrians working in Lebanon. They are working every where in breach of our labour laws, and yet even though they break the law they are not being repatriated.

      “They are working in Lebanon, taking jobs from the Lebanese because they paid at cheaper rate because they have no taxes to pay and they are being assisted on top of the wages they are paid.”

      Aid agencies working with refugees have cited concerns over loss of property and conscription into the Syrian army and fear of reprisals as major reasons why they did not want to return home. The agencies have resisted Lebanese government efforts to tear down any semi-permanent structure put up by refugees.

      Bassil insisted it was not his government’s policy to try to force Syrians to return to their homeland.

      He added: “The British taxpayers are paying money for an unlimited period of time that is not being spent in the right direction. They should be paid to return to their country. As President Trump said, money spent on a refugee to go back to his country is much much less than to keep him out of his country.”

      He defended his country’s record of welcoming Syrian refugees. He said: “No one country did what Lebanon did. No one country is able to host 200 refugees per square kilometre, more than 40% of its population. Imagine here in Britain you are receiving 50 million people. That is the comparison.

      “Despite all that we have endured we never thought of forcing anyone to return. We are talking of a dignified and safe gradual return for people who are willing. That now applies to the majority of Syrians in Lebanon because now most of Syria is safe and most of those in Lebanon do not face any political or security obstacles for their return. They are staying because they are assisted to stay in the Lebanon, and if they go back to Syria they will lose that assistance. This is the main reason.”

      Bassil added: “They are receiving aid for every aspect of their lives they are receiving free education, shelter and healthcare. They are better covered on health than the Lebanese. They are afraid that once they leave, they will lose the assistance”.

      He said the number of movements across the border is 700,000 to 800,000 a month, and people who hold refugee cards go regularly to Syria and come back to Lebanon.

      “The tension is mounting internally. Our economy is really collapsing. How can you put your own economy on your feet when you carry this burden.”

      Bassil also denied that any of his remarks could be construed as racist, arguing every country puts its citizens first.

      https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/jun/15/thousands-of-syrian-refugees-could-be-sent-back-says-lebanese-minister

  • US ambassador: #Israel has right to annex parts of West Bank | World news | The Guardian
    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/jun/08/us-ambassador-israel-david-friedman-west-bank-annexation

    Most countries view Israeli settlements in the West Bank, territory captured in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, as illegal. Israel disputes this, citing historical, political and religious ties as well as security needs.

    Friedman said that under certain circumstances, “Israel has the right to retain some, but unlikely all, of the West Bank”.

    #occupation #le_droit_international_selon_trump

  • The end of the Arctic as we know it | Environment | The Guardian
    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/jun/07/oceans-demise-the-end-of-the-arctic-as-we-know-it

    Less oxygen and ice, more acid and heat. Jonathan Watts joins an expedition studying what this means for the planet

    Fri 7 Jun 2019 15.00 BST

    The demise of an entire ocean is almost too enormous to grasp, but as the expedition sails deeper into the Arctic, the colossal processes of breakdown are increasingly evident.

    The first fragment of ice appears off the starboard bow a few miles before the 79th parallel in the Fram strait, which lies between Greenland and the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard. The solitary floe is soon followed by another, then another, then clusters, then swarms, then entire fields of white crazy paving that stretch to the horizon.

    #climat #arctique

  • Chernobyl now: ’I was not afraid of radiation’ – a photo essay | Environment | The Guardian
    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/jun/07/chernobyl-now-i-was-not-afraid-of-radiation-a-photo-essay

    I arrived in Ukraine on the eve of the 32nd anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster. I had not intended for it to be the focus of my time in Kyiv, but leading up to my departure it became an obsession. My arrival in Kyiv on 25 April 2018 was maybe happenstance of planning but I was impelled to head straight from the airport to Slavutych. This was the town built to replace Pripyat and host the evacuated personnel of the Chernobyl power plant, after the decision was made to continue power production following the disaster. All of the Soviet republics were called upon to hurriedly help with the construction of what would eventually be the last atomic town.

    #nucléaire #tchernobyl #photography

  • ICC submission calls for prosecution of EU over migrant deaths

    Member states should face punitive action over deaths in Mediterranean, say lawyers.

    The EU and member states should be prosecuted for the deaths of thousands of migrants who drowned in the Mediterranean fleeing Libya, according to a detailed legal submission to the international criminal court (ICC).

    The 245-page document calls for punitive action over the EU’s deterrence-based migration policy after 2014, which allegedly “intended to sacrifice the lives of migrants in distress at sea, with the sole objective of dissuading others in similar situation from seeking safe haven in Europe”.

    The indictment is aimed at the EU and the member states that played a prominent role in the refugee crisis: Italy, Germany and France.

    The stark accusation, that officials and politicians knowingly created the “world’s deadliest migration route” resulting in more than 12,000 people losing their lives, is made by experienced international lawyers.

    The two main authors of the submission are Juan Branco, who formerly worked at the ICC as well as at France’s foreign affairs ministry, and Omer Shatz, an Israeli lawyer who teaches at Sciences Po university in Paris.
    Most refugees in Libyan detention centres at risk – UN
    Read more

    The allegation of “crimes against humanity” draws partially on internal papers from Frontex, the EU organisation charged with protecting the EU’s external borders, which, the lawyers say, warned that moving from the successful Italian rescue policy of Mare Nostrum could result in a “higher number of fatalities”.

    The submission states that: “In order to stem migration flows from Libya at all costs … and in lieu of operating safe rescue and disembarkation as the law commands, the EU is orchestrating a policy of forced transfer to concentration camps-like detention facilities [in Libya] where atrocious crimes are committed.”

    The switch from Mare Nostrum to a new policy from 2014, known as Triton (named after the Greek messenger god of the sea), is identified as a crucial moment “establishing undisputed mens rea [mental intention] for the alleged offences”.

    It is claimed that the evidence in the dossier establishes criminal liability within the jurisdiction of the ICC for “causing the death of thousands of human beings per year, the refoulement [forcible return] of tens of thousands migrants attempting to flee Libya and the subsequent commission of murder, deportation, imprisonment, enslavement, torture, rape, persecution and other inhuman acts against them”.

    The Triton policy introduced the “most lethal and organised attack against civilian population the ICC had jurisdiction over in its entire history,” the legal document asserts. “European Union and Member States’ officials had foreknowledge and full awareness of the lethal consequences of their conduct.”

    The submission does not single out individual politicians or officials for specific responsibility but does quote diplomatic cables and comments from national leaders, including Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron.

    The office of the prosecutor at the ICC is already investigating crimes in Libya but the main focus has been on the Libyan civil war, which erupted in 2011 and led to the removal of Muammar Gaddafi. Fatou Bensouda, the ICC prosecutor, has, however, already mentioned inquiries into “alleged crimes against migrants transiting through Libya”.

    The Mare Nostrum search and rescue policy launched in October 2013, the submission says, was “in many ways hugely successful, rescuing 150,810 migrants over a 364-day period”.

    Criticism of the policy began in mid-2014 on the grounds, it is said, that it was not having a sufficient humanitarian impact and that there was a desire to move from assistance at sea to assistance on land.

    “EU officials sought to end Mare Nostrum to allegedly reduce the number of crossings and deaths,” the lawyers maintain. “However, these reasons should not be considered valid as the crossings were not reduced. And the death toll was 30-fold higher.”

    The subsequent policy, Triton, only covered an “area up to 30 nautical miles from the Italian coastline of Lampedusa, leaving around 40 nautical miles of key distress area off the coast of Libya uncovered,” the submission states. It also deployed fewer vessels.

    It is alleged EU officials “did not shy away from acknowledging that Triton was an inadequate replacement for Mare Nostrum”. An internal Frontex report from 28 August 2014, quoted by the lawyers, acknowledged that “the withdrawal of naval assets from the area, if not properly planned and announced well in advance – would likely result in a higher number of fatalities.”

    The first mass drownings cited came on 22 January and 8 February 2015, which resulted in 365 deaths nearer to the Libyan coast. It is alleged that in one case, 29 of the deaths occurred from hypothermia during the 12-hour-long transport back to the Italian island of Lampedusa. During the “black week” of 12 to 18 April 2015, the submission says, two successive shipwrecks led to the deaths of 1,200 migrants.

    As well as drownings, the forced return of an estimated 40,000 refugees allegedly left them at risk of “executions, torture and other systematic rights abuses” in militia-controlled camps in Libya.

    “European Union officials were fully aware of the treatment of the migrants by the Libyan Coastguard and the fact that migrants would be taken ... to an unsafe port in Libya, where they would face immediate detention in the detention centers, a form of unlawful imprisonment in which murder, sexual assault, torture and other crimes were known by the European Union agents and officials to be common,” the submission states.

    Overall, EU migration policies caused the deaths of “thousands civilians per year in the past five years and produced about 40,000 victims of crimes within the jurisdiction of the court in the past three years”, the report states.

    The submission will be handed in to the ICC on Monday 3 June.

    An EU spokesperson said the union could not comment on “non-existing” legal actions but added: “Our priority has always been and will continue to be protecting lives and ensuring humane and dignified treatment of everyone throughout the migratory routes. It’s a task where no single actor can ensure decisive change alone.

    “All our action is based on international and European law. The European Union dialogue with Libyan authorities focuses on the respect for human rights of migrants and refugees, on promoting the work of UNHCR and IOM on the ground, and on pushing for the development of alternatives to detention, such as the setting up of safe spaces, to end the systematic and arbitrary detention system of migrants and refugees in Libya.

    “Search and Rescue operations in the Mediterranean need to follow international law, and responsibility depends on where they take place. EU operations cannot enter Libya waters, they operate in international waters. SAR operations in Libyan territorial waters are Libyan responsibility.”

    The spokesperson added that the EU has “pushed Libyan authorities to put in place mechanisms improving the treatment of the migrants rescued by the Libyan Coast Guard.”

    https://www.theguardian.com/law/2019/jun/03/icc-submission-calls-for-prosecution-of-eu-over-migrant-deaths
    #justice #décès #CPI #mourir_en_mer #CPI #cour_pénale_internationale

    ping @reka @isskein @karine4

    Ajouté à la métaliste sur les sauvetages en Méditerranée :
    https://seenthis.net/messages/706177

    • L’Union Européenne devra-t-elle un jour répondre de « crimes contre l’Humanité » devant la Cour Pénale Internationale ?

      #Crimes_contre_l'humanité, et #responsabilité dans la mort de 14 000 migrants en 5 années : voilà ce dont il est question dans cette enquête menée par plusieurs avocats internationaux spécialisés dans les Droits de l’homme, déposée aujourd’hui à la CPI de la Haye, et qui pourrait donc donner lieu à des #poursuites contre des responsables actuels des institutions européennes.

      La démarche fait l’objet d’articles coordonnés ce matin aussi bien dans le Spiegel Allemand (https://www.spiegel.de/politik/ausland/fluechtlinge-in-libyen-rechtsanwaelte-zeigen-eu-in-den-haag-an-a-1270301.htm), The Washington Post aux Etats-Unis (https://www.spiegel.de/politik/ausland/fluechtlinge-in-libyen-rechtsanwaelte-zeigen-eu-in-den-haag-an-a-1270301.htm), El Pais en Espagne (https://elpais.com/internacional/2019/06/02/actualidad/1559497654_560556.html), The Guardian en Grande-Bretagne, et le Monde, cet après-midi en France... bref, ce qui se fait de plus retentissant dans la presse mondiale.

      Les auteurs de ce #plaidoyer, parmi lesquels on retrouve le français #Juan_Branco ou l’israélien #Omer_Shatz, affirment que Bruxelles, Paris, Berlin et Rome ont pris des décisions qui ont mené directement, et en connaissance de cause, à la mort de milliers de personnes. En #Méditerrannée, bien sûr, mais aussi en #Libye, où la politique migratoire concertée des 28 est accusée d’avoir « cautionné l’existence de centres de détention, de lieux de tortures, et d’une politique de la terreur, du viol et de l’esclavagisme généralisé » contre ceux qui traversaient la Libye pour tenter ensuite de rejoindre l’Europe.

      Aucun dirigeant européen n’est directement nommé par ce réquisitoire, mais le rapport des avocats cite des discours entre autres d’#Emmanuel_Macron, d’#Angela_Merkel. Il évoque aussi, selon The Guardian, des alertes qui auraient été clairement formulées, en interne par l’agence #Frontex en particulier, sur le fait que le changement de politique européenne en 2014 en Méditerranée « allait conduire à une augmentation des décès en mer ». C’est ce qui s’est passé : 2014, c’est l’année-bascule, celle où le plan Mare Nostrum qui consistait à organiser les secours en mer autour de l’Italie, a été remplacé par ce partenariat UE-Libye qui, selon les auteurs de l’enquête, a ouvert la voix aux exactions que l’on sait, et qui ont été documentées par Der Spiegel dans son reportage publié début mai, et titré « Libye : l’enfer sur terre ».

      A présent, dit Juan Branco dans The Washington Post (et dans ce style qui lui vaut tant d’ennemis en France), c’est aux procureurs de la CPI de dire « s’ils oseront ou non » remonter aux sommet des responsabilités européennes. J’en terminerai pour ma part sur les doutes de cet expert en droit européen cité par El Pais et qui « ne prédit pas un grand succès devant la Cour » à cette action.

      https://www.franceculture.fr/emissions/revue-de-presse-internationale/la-revue-de-presse-internationale-emission-du-lundi-03-juin-2019
      #UE #Europe #EU #droits_humains

    • Submission to ICC condemns EU for ‘crimes against humanity’

      EU Commission migration spokesperson Natasha Bertaud gave an official statement regarding a recently submitted 245-page document to the International Criminal Court by human rights lawyers Juan Branco and Omer Shatz on June 3, 2019. The case claimed the EU and its member states should face punitive action for Libyan migrant deaths in the Mediterranean. The EU says these deaths are not a result of EU camps, rather the dangerous and cruel routes on which smugglers take immigrants. Bertaud said the EU’s track record on saving lives “has been our top priority, and we have been working relentlessly to this end.” Bertaud said an increase in EU operations in the Mediterranean have resulted in a decrease in deaths in the past 4 years. The accusation claims that EU member states created the “world’s deadliest migration route,” which has led to more than 12,000 migrant deaths since its inception. Branco and Shatz wrote that the forcible return of migrants to Libyan camps and the “subsequent commission of murder, deportation, imprisonment, enslavement, torture, rape, persecution and other inhuman acts against them,” are the grounds for this indictment. Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron were named specifically as those knowingly supporting these refugee camps, which the lawyers explicitly condemned in their report. The EU intends to maintain its presence on the Libyan coast and aims to create safer alternatives to detention centers.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=28&v=AMGaKDNxcDg

    • Migration in the Mediterranean: why it’s time to put European leaders on trial

      In June this year two lawyers filed a complaint at the International Criminal Court (ICC) naming European Union member states’ migration policies in the Mediterranean as crimes against humanity.

      The court’s Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, must decide whether she wants to open a preliminary investigation into the criminality of Europe’s treatment of migrants.

      The challenge against the EU’s Mediterranean migrant policy is set out in a 245-page document prepared by Juan Branco and Omer Shatz, two lawyer-activists working and teaching in Paris. They argue that EU migration policy is founded in deterrence and that drowned migrants are a deliberate element of this policy. The international law that they allege has been violated – crimes against humanity – applies to state policies practiced even outside of armed conflict.

      Doctrinally and juridically, the ICC can proceed. The question that remains is political: can and should the ICC come after its founders on their own turf?

      There are two reasons why the answer is emphatically yes. First, the complaint addresses what has become a rights impasse in the EU. By taking on an area stymying other supranational courts, the ICC can fulfil its role as a judicial institution of last resort. Second, by turning its sights on its founders (and funders), the ICC can redress the charges of neocolonialism in and around Africa that have dogged it for the past decade.
      ICC legitimacy

      The ICC is the world’s first permanent international criminal court. Founded in 2002, it currently has 122 member states.

      So far, it has only prosecuted Africans. This has led to persistent critiques that it is a neocolonial institution that “only chases Africans” and only tries rebels. In turn, this has led to pushback against the court from powerful actors like the African Union, which urges its members to leave the court.

      The first departure from the court occurred in 2017, when Burundi left. The Philippines followed suit in March of this year. Both countries are currently under investigation by the ICC for state sponsored atrocities. South Africa threatened withdrawal, but this seems to have blown over.

      In this climate, many cheered the news of the ICC Prosecutor’s 2017 request to investigate crimes committed in Afghanistan. As a member of the ICC, Afghanistan is within the ICC’s jurisdiction. The investigation included atrocities committed by the Taliban and foreign military forces active in Afghanistan, including members of the US armed forces.

      The US, which is not a member of the ICC, violently opposes any possibility that its military personnel might be caught up in ICC charges. In April 2019 the ICC announced that a pre-trial chamber had shut down the investigation because US opposition made ICC action impossible.

      Court watchers reacted with frustration and disgust.
      EU migration

      An estimated 30,000 migrants have drowned in the Mediterranean in the past three decades. International attention was drawn to their plight during the migration surge of 2015, when the image of 3-year-old Alan Kurdi face-down on a Turkish beach circulated the globe. More than one million people entered Europe that year. This led the EU and its member states to close land and sea borders in the east by erecting fences and completing a Euro 3 billion deal with Turkey to keep migrants there. NATO ships were posted in the Aegean to catch and return migrants.

      Migrant-saving projects, such as the Italian Mare Nostrum programme that collected 150,000 migrants in 2013-2014, were replaced by border guarding projects. Political pressure designed to reduce the number of migrants who made it to European shores led to the revocation and non-renewal of licenses for boats registered to NGOs whose purpose was to rescue migrants at sea. This has led to the current situation, where there is only one boat patrolling the Mediterranean.

      The EU has handed search and rescue duties over to the Libyan coast guard, which has been accused repeatedly of atrocities against migrants. European countries now negotiate Mediterranean migrant reception on a case-by-case basis.
      A rights impasse

      International and supranational law applies to migrants, but so far it has inadequately protected them. The law of the sea mandates that ships collect people in need. A series of refusals to allow ships to disembark collected migrants has imperilled this international doctrine.

      In the EU, the Court of Justice oversees migration and refugee policies. Such oversight now includes a two-year-old deal with Libya that some claim is tantamount to “sentencing migrants to death.”

      For its part, the European Court of Human Rights has established itself as “no friend to migrants.” Although the court’s 2012 decision in Hirsi was celebrated for a progressive stance regarding the rights of migrants at sea, it is unclear how expansively that ruling applies.

      European courts are being invoked and making rulings, yet the journey for migrants has only grown more desperate and deadly over the past few years. Existing European mechanisms, policies, and international rights commitments are not producing change.

      In this rights impasse, the introduction of a new legal paradigm is essential.
      Fulfilling its role

      A foundational element of ICC procedure is complementarity. This holds that the court only intervenes when states cannot or will not act on their own.

      Complementarity has played an unexpectedly central role in the cases before the ICC to date, as African states have self-referred defendants claiming that they do not have the resources to try them themselves. This has greatly contributed to the ICC’s political failure in Africa, as rights-abusing governments have handed over political adversaries to the ICC for prosecution in bad faith, enjoying the benefits of a domestic political sphere relieved of these adversaries while simultaneously complaining of ICC meddling in domestic affairs.

      This isn’t how complementarity was supposed to work.

      The present rights impasse in the EU regarding migration showcases what complementarity was intended to do – granting sovereign states primacy over law enforcement and stepping in only when states both violate humanitarian law and refuse to act. The past decade of deadly migration coupled with a deliberately wastrel refugee policy in Europe qualifies as just such a situation.

      Would-be migrants don’t vote and cannot garner political representation in the EU. This leaves only human rights norms, and the international commitments in which they are enshrined, to protect them. These norms are not being enforced, in part because questions of citizenship and border security have remained largely the domain of sovereign states. Those policies are resulting in an ongoing crime against humanity.

      The ICC may be the only institution capable of breaking the current impasse by threatening to bring Europe’s leaders to criminal account. This is the work of last resort for which international criminal law is designed. The ICC should embrace the progressive ideals that drove its construction, and engage.

      https://theconversation.com/migration-in-the-mediterranean-why-its-time-to-put-european-leaders
      #procès

  • US wants access to NHS in post-Brexit deal, says Trump ally | Politics | The Guardian
    https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/jun/02/us-wants-access-to-nhs-in-post-brexit-deal-ambassador-to-uk-says

    Johnson est l’ambassadeur des #Etats-Unis au #Royaume-Uni,

    Asked if the NHS was likely to form part of trade negotiations, Johnson told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show: “I think the entire economy, in a trade deal, all things that are traded would be on the table.” Asked if that specifically meant healthcare, he said: “I would think so.”

  • Austerity to blame for 130,000 ‘preventable’ UK deaths – report | Politics | The Guardian
    https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/jun/01/perfect-storm-austerity-behind-130000-deaths-uk-ippr-report

    The report adds: “Funding for physical education – supposedly coming from the sugar tax revenues – was reduced in 2017 from £415m to £100m, to part fund an increase in the core school budget. The lost funding should be replenished, potentially funded by an expansion of the sugar levy to other drinks and confectionery with high sugar content.”

    #décès #royaume_uni #austérité #sucres

  • ’I had pain all over my body’: Italy’s tainted tobacco industry

    Three of the world’s largest tobacco manufacturers, #Philip_Morris, #British_American_Tobacco and #Imperial_Brands, are buying leaves that could have been picked by exploited African migrants working in Italy’s multi-million euro industry.

    Workers including children, said they were forced to work up to 12 hours a day without contracts or sufficient health and safety equipment in Campania, a region that produces more than a third of Italy’s tobacco. Some workers said they were paid about three euros an hour.

    The Guardian investigation into Italy’s tobacco industry, which spanned three years, is believed to be the first in Europe to examine the supply chain.

    Italy’s tobacco market is dominated by the three multinational manufacturers, all of whom buy from local producers. According to an internal report by the farmers’ organisation ONT Italia, seen by the Guardian and confirmed by a document from the European Leaf Tobacco Interbranch, the companies bought three-fifths of Italian tobacco in 2017. Philip Morris alone purchased 21,000 tons of the 50,000 tons harvested that year.

    The multinationals all said they buy from suppliers who operate under a strict code of conduct to ensure fair treatment of workers. Philip Morris said it had not come across any abuse. Imperial and British American said they would investigate any complaints brought to their attention.

    Italy is the EU’s leading tobacco producer. In 2017, the industry was worth €149m (£131m).

    Despite there being a complex system of guarantees and safeguards in place for tobacco workers, more than 20 asylum seekers who spoke to the Guardian, including 10 who had worked in the tobacco fields during the 2018 season, reported rights violations and a lack of safety equipment.

    The interviewees said they had no employment contracts, were paid wages below legal standards, and had to work up to 12 work hours a day. They also said they had no access to clean water, and suffered verbal abuse and racial discrimination from bosses. Two interviewees were underage and employed in hazardous work.

    Didier, born and raised in Ivory Coast, arrived in Italy via Libya. He recently turned 18, but was 17 when, last spring, a tobacco grower in Capua Vetere, near the city of Caserta, offered him work in his fields. “I woke up at 4am. We started at 6am,” he said. “The work was exhausting. It was really hot inside the greenhouse and we had no contracts.”

    Alex, from Ghana, another minor who worked in the same area, said he was forced to work 10 to 12 hours a day. “If you are tired or not, you are supposed to work”, otherwise “you lose your job”.

    Workers complained of having to work without a break until lunchtime.

    Alex said he wasn’t given gloves or work clothes to protect him from the nicotine contained in the leaves, or from pesticides. He also said that when he worked without gloves he felt “some sickness like fever, like malaria, or headaches”.

    Moisture on a tobacco leaf from dew or rain may contain as much nicotine as the content of six cigarettes, one study found. Direct contact can lead to nicotine poisoning.

    Most of the migrants said they had worked without gloves. Low wages prevented them from buying their own.

    At the end of the working day, said Sekou, 27, from Guinea, who has worked in the tobacco fields since 2016: “I could not get my hands in the water to take a shower because my hands were cut”.

    Olivier added: “I had pain all over my body, especially on my hands. I had to take painkillers every day.”

    The migrants said they were usually hired on roundabouts along the main roads through Caserta province.

    Workers who spoke to the Guardian said they didn’t have contracts and were paid half the minimum wage. Most earned between €20 and €30 a day, rather than the minimum of €42.

    Thomas, from Ghana, said: “I worked last year in the tobacco fields near Cancello, a village near Caserta. They paid me €3 per hour. The work was terrible and we had no contracts”.

    The Guardian found African workers who were paid €3 an hour, while Albanians, Romanians or Italians, were paid almost double.

    “I worked with Albanians. They paid the Albanians €50 a day,” (€5 an hour), says Didier. “They paid me €3 per hour. That’s why I asked them for a raise. But when I did, they never called back.”

    Tammaro Della Corte, leader of the General Confederation of Italian Workers labour union in Caserta, said: “Unfortunately, the reality of the work conditions in the agricultural sector in the province of Caserta, including the tobacco industry, is marked by a deep labour exploitation, low wages, illegal contracts and an impressive presence of the caporalato [illegal hiring], including extortion and blackmailing of the workers.

    “We speak to thousands of workers who work in extreme conditions, the majority of whom are immigrants from eastern Europe, north Africa and sub-Saharan Africa. A large part of the entire supply chain of the tobacco sector is marked by extreme and alarming working conditions.”

    Between 405,000 and 500,000 migrants work in Italy’s agricultural sector, about half the total workforce. According to the Placido Rizzotto Observatory, which investigates worker conditions in the agricultural sector, 80% of those working without contracts are migrants.

    Multinational tobacco companies have invested billions of euros in the industry in Italy. Philip Morris alone has invested €1bn over the past five years and has investment plans on the same scale for the next two years. In 2016, the company invested €500m to open a factory near Bologna to manufacture smokeless cigarettes. A year later, another €500m investment was announced to expand production capacity at the factory.

    British American Tobacco declared investments in Italy of €1bn between 2015 and 2019.

    Companies have signed agreements with the agriculture ministry and farmers’ associations.

    Since 2011, Philip Morris, which buys the majority of tobacco in Campania, has signed agreements to purchase tobacco directly from ONT Italia.

    Philip Morris buys roughly 70% of the Burley tobacco variety produced in Campania. Approximately 900 farmers work for companies who supply to Philip Morris.

    In 2018, Burley and Virginia Bright varieties constituted 90% of Italian tobacco production. About 15,000 tons of the 16,000 tons of Italian Burley are harvested in Campania.

    In 2015, Philip Morris signed a deal with Coldiretti, the main association of entrepreneurs in the agricultural sector, to buy 21,000 tons of tobacco a year from Italian farmers, by investing €500m, until 2020.

    Gennarino Masiello, president of Coldiretti Campania and national vice-president, said the deal included a “strong commitment to respect the rights of employees, banning phenomena like caporalato and child labour”.

    Steps have been taken to improve workers’ conditions in the tobacco industry.

    A deal agreed last year between the Organizzazione Interprofessionale Tabacco Italia (OITI), a farmers’ organisation, and the ministry of agriculture resulted in the introduction of a code of practice in the tobacco industry, including protecting the health of workers, and a national strategy to reduce the environmental impact.

    But last year, the OITI was forced to acknowledge that “workplace abuses often have systemic causes” and that “long-term solutions to address these issues require the serious and lasting commitment of all the players in the supply chain, together with that of the government and other parties involved”.

    Despite the code, the migrants interviewed reported no change in their working conditions.

    In 2017, Philip Morris signed an agreement with the UN’s International Organization for Migration (IOM) to hire 20 migrants as trainees within the Campania tobacco producing companies, to “support their exit from situations of serious exploitation”. Migrants on the six-month trainee scheme receive a monthly salary of €600 from Philip Morris.

    But the scheme appears to have little impact.

    Kofi, Sekou and Hassan were among 20 migrants hired under the agreement. Two of them said their duties and treatment were no different from other workers. At the end of the six months, Sekou said he was not hired regularly, but continued to work with no contract and low wages, in the same company that signed the agreement with Philip Morris.

    “If I didn’t go to work they wouldn’t pay me. I was sick, they wouldn’t pay me,” he said.

    In a statement, Huub Savelkouls, chief sustainability officer at Philip Morris International, said the company is committed to ensuring safety and fair conditions in its supply chain and had not come across the issues raised.

    “Working with the independent, not-for-profit organisation, Verité, we developed PMI’s Agricultural Labor Practices (ALP) code that currently reaches more than 350,000 farms worldwide. Farmers supplying PMI in Italy are contractually bound to respect the standards of the ALP code. They receive training and field teams conduct farm visits twice a month to monitor adherence to the ALP code,” he said.

    “Recognising the complex situation with migrant workers in Italian agriculture, PMI has taken supplementary steps to gain more visibility and prevent potential issues through a mechanism that provides direct channels for workers to raise concerns, specifically funding an independent helpline and direct engagement programme with farm workers.”

    On the IOM scheme, he said: “This work has been recognised by stakeholders and elements are being considered for continued action.”

    Simon Cleverly, group head of corporate affairs at British American Tobacco, said: “We recognise that agricultural supply chains and global business operations, by their nature, can present significant rights risks and we have robust policies and process in place to ensure these risks are minimised. Our supplier code of conduct sets out the minimum contractual standards we expect of all our suppliers worldwide, and specifically requires suppliers to ensure that their operations are free from unlawful migrant labour. This code also requires suppliers to provide all workers, including legal migrant workers, with fair wages and benefits, which comply with applicable minimum wage legislation. To support compliance, we have due diligence in place for all our third-party suppliers, including the industry-wide sustainable tobacco programme (STP).”

    He added: “Where we are made aware of alleged human rights abuses, via STP, our whistleblowing procedure or by any other channel, we investigate and where needed, take remedial action.”

    Simon Evans, group media relations manager at Imperial Tobacco, said: “Through the industry-wide sustainable tobacco programme we work with all of our tobacco suppliers to address good agricultural practices, improve labour practices and protect the environment. We purchase a very small amount of tobacco from the Campania region via a local third party supplier, with whom we are working to understand and resolve any issues.”

    ONT said technicians visited tobacco producers at least once a month to monitor compliance with contract and production regulations. It said it would not tolerate any kind of labour exploitation and would follow up the Guardian investigation.

    “If they [the abuses] happen to be attributable to farms associated with ONT, we will take the necessary measures, not only for the violation of the law, but above all to protect all our members who operate with total honesty and transparency.”

    https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2019/may/31/i-had-pain-all-over-my-body-italys-tainted-tobacco-industry?CMP=share_b
    #tabac #industrie_du_tabac #exploitation #travail #migrations #Caserta #Italie #néo-esclavagisme #Pouilles #Campania

    ping @albertocampiphoto @marty @reka @isskein

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