OpenIDEO has partnered with Amnesty International to challenge all of us to come up with
ways to use technology to support those held in or at risk of secret detention, incommunicado detention or detention without trial – human rights abuses often imposed in the name of countering terrorism or national security. Imagine you were arrested and detained indefinitely without being told the accusations against you. What if you were taken and held in a secret location, and denied contact with your family or a lawyer? Addressing the factors that allow such human rights violations to happen can be complex. But there are ways that we, as the OpenIDEO community, can help.
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In countries all over the world, governments invoke national security or the need to counter terrorism to justify holding people without contact with their families and without basic safeguards such as fair trial or access to an independent lawyer or doctor. Isolation from the outside world facilitates torture and can in itself constitute a form of torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. Relatives may be left not knowing whether their loved ones are alive or dead. Those on the ground who want to help frequently face harassment and threats from the authorities.
Some people held in unlawful or abusive detention are in fact responsible for attacking civilians or for other human rights abuses. Such individuals' human rights must equally be respected, but they should be brought to justice in fair criminal trials. As we’re creating solutions for this challenge, let's focus on upholding the human rights of anyone facing human rights abuses and not rely on claims about individuals’ innocence.
International law prohibits arbitrary arrest or detention. Detainees need to be told why they have been held, be able to challenge the lawfulness of their detention with the assistance of an independent lawyer, have their families informed of their whereabouts and to communicate and receive visits from them; they should receive a prompt and fair trial if they are not released.
What ways can technology be used to support those held in secret, without contact with the outside world, and/or without prospect of a fair trial? How might we collectively design digital tools that decrease the risk of such forms of imprisonment and increase the number of detainees who receive fair trials if they are not released? How can such tools best support human rights defenders and families working locally to achieve these aims?
Please remember that OpenIDEO is an open platform and your contributions will be in the public domain. For more information check out our Guiding Principles
for this challenge.
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