Before it Spreads “Like Wildfire”: Prisoners’ Rights in the Time of COVID-19

There are more than 10.7 million people imprisoned throughout the world. Prisons are notorious incubators and amplifiers of infections, and the fear among inmates due to COVID-19 is deepening all across the world (France, UK, US and Australia among many others). During the current pandemic, protecting prisons from the ‘tidal wave of COVID-19’ proves to be a challenging issue for States. After all, they have obligations and duties under international law to safeguard the human rights of prisoners, particularly their right to life, health and human treatment.

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More than just ,Protecting Veterans’

On 18 March the UK Minister for Defence Ben Wallace introduced into the UK Parliament its promised package of new legislation designed to ‘protect veterans’. the proposed laws would amend the UK’s Human Rights Act 1998 (HRA) in a number of ways that impact on its human rights obligations under international law, particularly treaty commitments under the ECHR.

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First Order, then Humanity

While most news platforms are providing up-to-date information on Covid-19, one can easily forget the people trying to enter Greece to seek asylum, waiting at the Turkish side of the border or that are being detained and punished on Greek territory on the grounds of illegal entry. Europe’s response to the situation at the Greek external border does not follow its own rules. It abandons European values and foundational principles. The decision to launch a Frontex activity seems to follow a current trend to perceive human rights as subordinate to the unfettered sovereign rights of States.

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Using Location Data to Control the Coronavirus Pandemic

In times of crisis like the Coronavirus pandemic strong and decisive measures to save the lives and livelihoods of people across all parts of the world are needed. There is an increased need for governments to monitor and control the public, which might make it necessary to limit individual freedom. The use of location data to control the coronavirus pandemic can be fruitful and might improve the ability of governments and research institutions to combat the threat more quickly. However, the use of data on such scale has consequences for data protection, privacy and informational self-determination.

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Exacerbating the Public Health Emergency in Iran

Iran is one of the hardest hit countries by Covid-19. Responsibility for the scale of the humanitarian crisis in Iran is not limited to the Iranian government, however. Rather, that suffering has been exacerbated by the US blanket sanctions regime currently in place, a regime that was causing serious violations of the rights to health and to life in Iran even before Covid-19 magnified the dangers to public health.

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Fighting Prison Overcrowding with Penal Populism – First Victim: the Rule of Law

On March 7th, a new Hungarian law came into force, allegedly intended to stop the “abuse” of compensation claims due to inhuman conditions in prison (“abuse law”). Even if this turns out to be yet another populist gimmick, the new legislation has important ramifications for the rule of law in Hungary because it sends the message to the citizens and the courts that the finality of judgements and court rulings are relative.

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On the Value of Human Rights

Florian Hoffmann analyses the left critique of rights and Marx’s account of the function of liberal rights as both a necessary legal infrastructure for the 'free' market exchange of commodified labour – and, hence, as an element of the system underlying the constitution and extraction of surplus value – as well as an ideological configuration that obscures the inequality of the (rights-based) exchange relationship through the semblance of equal rights.
Is this really all there is to rights in/under capitalism? And are there sufficiently strong and evident alternatives so as to obviate rights (activism) all together?

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The Next Step: Coupling City-zenship to Human Rights

Should urban citizenship be emancipated from national citizenship? Barbara Oomen points at the international human rights framework for three reasons: (1) This is where local authorities are already looking for inspiration; (2) the legal framework of human rights offers an added value in meeting some of the underlying objectives of city-zenship; and (3) it could mitigate concerns legitimately raised in earlier contributions.

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The Turkish Judiciary’s Violations of Human Rights Guarantees

On 3 December 2019, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) ruled in the case of Parmak & Bakir v Turkey that the Turkish judiciary’s interpretation of the offence of membership of an armed terrorist organization violated Article 7 of the European Convention on Human Rights, being the absolute right to no punishment without law. Although the case deals with incidents from 2002, it shows how Turkey’s post-coup terrorism trials violate Turkey’s obligations under the ECHR.

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