News and Events
Statement on US Withdrawal from the UN Human Rights Council
This week’s announcement that the United States will withdraw from the UN Human Rights Council signals our nation’s abdication of responsibilities to uphold international human rights and justice. This decision sends the message that the United States is willing to turn a blind eye to human rights offenders and thus bolster impunity.
In recent years, the UN Human Rights Council and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, in particular, have supported local human rights activists and accountability efforts in Syria, Myanmar, Burundi, Iran, and other parts of the world. The US withdrawal from the Council only serves to undermine these important activities.
As human rights researchers, investigators, and educators, we join other international NGOs and academic colleagues in denouncing this action and calling on Ambassador Nikki Haley and the President to reverse this decision immediately.
Leaders talk tech, human rights, and #MeToo at RightsCon Toronto
At RightsCon 2018—a conference that delves into major issues in tech and human rights—leaders discussed the #MeToo moment and barriers to progress for women and people of color. HRC’s Alexa Koenig spoke on this Women & Silicon Valley panel and several other panels related to how technology is being used to investigate human rights and international crimes. Berkeley’s Tech and Human Rights Director Félim McMahon spoke with our partners at the Center for Justice and Accountability about partnerships for international justice. Twenty-three students from the Berkeley student-led nonprofit Archer came to Toronto to learn and unveil new tech products to aid human rights investigations.
Just released—Lifelines: Supporting Human Trafficking Survivors in the SF Bay Area
Bay Area counties must provide more services to victims of human trafficking—especially housing—and better adapt to recent legislation that prohibits arresting Commercially Sexually Exploited Children, according to a new study conducted by researchers at the Human Rights Center and International Human Rights Law Clinic, UC Berkeley School of Law.
Researchers at the Human Rights Center and International Human Rights Law Clinic, both at Berkeley Law, interviewed some 50 law enforcement officers and service providers for Lifelines: Supporting Human Trafficking Survivors in the San Francisco Bay Area in what is the first comprehensive look at anti-trafficking efforts across five Bay Area counties in recent years. The study is a companion to Building Trust: Perspectives on a Victim-Centered approach to Human Trafficking investigations in Los Angeles County.
Announcing our 2018 Human Rights Center Fellows!
Congratulations to our 2018 Human Rights Center Fellows (alphabetically): Heba Alnajada, Safa Ansari-Bayegan, Pieter Baker, Karin Bashir, Tania Docarmo, Derrika Hunt, Jennifer Jones, Seigi Karasaki, Bernadette Lim, Sammy Mehtar, Sophie Perl, Reed Rafei, Olivia Rempel, Aleksandra Simonova, Mavis Siu, Yasemin Taskin-Alp, and Levi Vonk. Spanning disciplines that include law, architecture, medicine, and journalism, the 17 Fellows come from five University of California campuses and will contribute to human rights work in 13 countries. They will work with Palestinian women in informal refugee settlements, recently deported U.S. immigrants in Tijuana, and Americans seeking clean water in rural California. They will address education policies for girls, human trafficking, mass incarceration, racial injustice, and LGBTQ rights. They will examine the border conflicts between Russia and the Ukraine and wastewater policies in Kenya’s poorest communities. And more! Learn about all of their projects here.
Excessive use of force in Morocco protests verified by Lab
A student on Berkeley’s Digital Verification Corps team—Sang Min-Kim—conducted verification work that contributed to Amnesty International’s research about excessive force used against protesters in Jerada, Morocco, in March 2018. The Amnesty researchers sent this note of thanks for the student contributions:
“This little note to really thank you for your essential contribution to our research work on Morocco. Without you, we could not have felt confident enough to build on the central piece of evidence we had about the repression of the demonstrators in Jerada. The impact of our press release has been significant enough to prompt the Moroccan government spokesman to react and that’s partly thanks to you so again, merci and choukrane!!
—The Morocco/Western Sahara team
Our Annual Report is here!
Thank you to the many donors, friends, and foundations that make our work possible. Take a look at what we’ve done in 2017 and our plans for the year ahead to investigate war crimes, improve human rights research, support survivors, and train the next generation. Read the report.
The Future of Work: Conference on Business, Tech, and Human Rights
UC Berkeley’s Center for Responsible Business, Human Rights Center, and the Microsoft Technology and Human Rights Center hosted their second Annual Conference on Business, Technology, and Human Rights on March 22. HRC co-sponsored the event and Executive Director Alexa Koenig moderated the first panel.
Report from Bellagio on open source information as evidence
The Human Rights Center has just released: The New Forensics: Using Open Source Information to Investigate Grave Crimes. The report highlights discussion, conclusions, and recommendations from an historic workshop on evidence collection and legal accountability that the Human Rights Center hosted at the Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center in Italy last fall. The workshop marked the first international effort to explore how to harness the probative power and potential of open source investigations for legal accountability. Read more.
Severe physical and mental health effects of widespread use of tear gas in refugee camps
Dr. Rohini Haar from the University of California, Berkeley’s Human Rights Center and Dr. Jess Ghannam from the University of California, San Francisco report on the negative physical and mental health effects of chemical crowd control weapons on daily life among Palestine refugees. No Safe Space: Health Consequences of Tear Gas Exposure Among Palestine Refugees study is the first to analyze the effects of the use of tear gas in Aida and Dheisheh camps.