Appeal to the People’s Representatives to Abandon Consideration of the Draft Law on Prosecution of Abuses Against the Armed Forces

first_img November 10, 2017 Appeal to the People’s Representatives to Abandon Consideration of the Draft Law on Prosecution of Abuses Against the Armed Forces TunisiaMiddle East – North Africa Protecting journalists Conflicts of interestJudicial harassmentImpunityPredatorsViolenceFreedom of expression December 26, 2019 Find out more Follow the news on Tunisia to go further As part of the coalition of civil society calling to abandon consideration of the draft law on Prosecution of Abuses Against the Armed Forces, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) was auditioned on the 9th of November 2017 by members of the Assembly of the People’s represetatives (ARP).On this special occasion, RSF publishes the open letter of 13 national and international organizations addressed last July to the Tunisian Parliament, in which the signatory NGOs expressed their worries about a deterioration of the situation of freedom of information and expression if this bill was to be voted, in view of Articles 4, 5, 6 and 12 of the text. Organisation November 11, 2020 Find out more RSF_en News Open letter published on July 13, 2017Dear Members of the Assembly of the People’s Representatives,Our organizations are writing to urge you to abandon consideration of the “Draft law No.25/2015 on the Prosecution of Abuses Against the Armed Forces” officially listed in Parliament since April 13, 2015. On Thursday July 13, 2017, much to the surprise of civil society, the Assembly of the People’s Representatives (ARP) resumed parliamentary debate of this law.Such draft law risks silencing all criticism of the armed forces and reinforcing a culture of impunity already entrenched in the Tunisian security and judicial system, where extensive reform has been sorely lacking since the Revolution.Our organizations consider this draft law unconstitutional and contrary to Tunisia’s international human rights commitments, particularly with regard to respect of the right to life, the fight against impunity and respect of the right to freedom of expression.The provisions of the draft law could criminalize the behavior of journalists, whistleblowers, human rights defenders, and anyone who criticizes the police. They could also allow the security forces to use lethal force when not strictly necessary to protect human lives.Civil society believes that the ARP does have a duty to ensure that the Tunisian security forces are able to protect the public and their own lives against potentially deadly attacks, through measures that are compatible with human rights. However, the draft law goes far beyond this objective by making the security forces, as well as their relatives and property, almost untouchable – all in a context in which human rights violations committed by the security forces in the framework of the state of emergency, the fight against terrorism and the repression of peaceful demonstrations almost always go unpunished.We are putting forward the following arguments to demonstrate the extent to which this draft law is incompatible with Tunisia’s Constitution and international commitments. In view of the arguments below, our organizations consider that members of parliament, who have sworn to respect the rules of the Constitution, have a responsibility, according to Article 58 of the Constitution, to abandon the draft law or vote against it if it is submitted to a plenary vote in the Assembly.Incompatibility between the criminalization of the disclosure of national security secrets and freedom of expression Articles 5 and 6 of the draft law provide for up to 10 years’ imprisonment, as well as a 50,000 dinar fine, for individuals who disclose or publish a “secret linked to national security.” The draft law defines secrets linked to national security as “all information, data and documents linked to national security […] whose knowledge should be restricted to individuals entitled to their use, possession, circulation or conservation.”The draft law also provides for a sentence of up to two years’ imprisonment for any person who disseminates, without authorization, audio-visual material filmed inside national security buildings, on the sites of security operations or in vehicles belonging to the armed forces. Such an article would lead to the imprisonment of people who might want to denounce abusive behavior by the police by publishing videos or photos documenting abuses in order to alert public opinion.These provisions are incompatible with Tunisia’s obligations to protect and respect the right to freedom of expression which includes the public right of access to information, particularly in accordance with Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) to which Tunisia is a party. Such information could be essential for denouncing human rights violations and guaranteeing accountability in a democracy. While governments have the right to restrict the dissemination of certain kinds of information that could seriously endanger national security, the very vague definition and the absence of any exception or excuse on the grounds of public interest could enable the authorities to prosecute those who denounce reprehensible actions by the government.According to Article 32 of the Tunisian Constitution, “the State guarantees the right to information and the right of access to information.” In addition, Article 31 guarantees freedom of opinion, thought, information, and publication and prohibits prior control of these freedoms.The Johannesburg Principles on national security, freedom of expression and access to information, an influential body of principles issued in 1996 by international law experts on the applicability of human rights protection to information on national security, state: “No person may be punished on national security grounds for disclosure of information if (1) the disclosure does not actually harm and is not likely to harm a legitimate national security interest, or (2) the public interest in knowing the information outweighs the harm from disclosure.”The Principles specify that “to establish that a restriction… is necessary to protect a legitimate national security interest, a government must demonstrate that: (a) the expression or information at issue poses a serious threat to a legitimate national security interest; (b) the restriction imposed is the least restrictive means possible for protecting that interest; and (c) the restriction is compatible with democratic principles.”In addition, the Principles define legitimate national security interest as the protection of “a country’s existence or its territorial integrity against the use or threat of force, or its capacity to respond to the use or threat of force, whether from an external source, such as a military threat, or an internal source, such as incitement to violent overthrow of the government.”In its General Comment No.34 interpreting Article 19 of the ICCPR, the United Nations Human Rights Committee notes that governments should take “extreme care” to ensure that laws on national security are not invoked “to suppress or withhold from the public information of legitimate public interest that does not harm national security” or to prosecute journalists, researchers, activists, or other individuals who disseminate such information.Denigrating the Police and Freedom of ExpressionThe draft law would criminalize “denigration” of the police and other security forces, thereby jeopardizing freedom of expression.Article 12 of the draft law provides for a criminal sanction of two years’ imprisonment and a fine of up to 10,000 dinars for any person found guilty of intentionally denigrating the armed forces with the aim of “harming public order.”The criminalization of denigration of state institutions is incompatible with the strong protection of freedom of expression laid out in international law as well as with rights guaranteed by the 2014 Tunisian Constitution.Moreover, the vague concept of “denigration of the armed forces” is incompatible with the principle of legality – the cornerstone of international human rights standards – which obliges States to ensure that criminal offenses are clearly and precisely defined in law (see General Comment No.34, paragraph 25).Article 12 risks giving the authorities considerable scope to carry out arrests for unjustified reasons such as arguing with the police or taking a long time to carry out their orders, or in reprisal for filing a complaint against the police. The requirement that the denigration should be aimed at “harming public order” is so broad that it barely limits the authorities’ discretionary powers of prosecution.The denigration clause would add a new offense to existing laws which already contain numerous articles criminalizing freedom of expression, in particular provisions on defamation of state institutions, offenses against the Head of State, and offenses against the dignity, reputation or morale of the army. Our organizations have long denounced these articles and called for their withdrawal.The UN Human Rights Committee’s General Comment No.34 specifies that “state parties should not prohibit criticism of institutions, such as the army or the administration.”In its 2008 review of Tunisia, the UN Human Rights Committee expressed concern about the criminalization of “criticism of official bodies, the army or the administration.” During Tunisia’s Universal Periodic Review by the United Nations Human Rights Council in 2012, Tunisia complied with Recommendation No.114.59 to review the legislation of the Ben Ali era that stifles freedom of expression in order to fully protect these rights, in accordance with international standards. During Tunisia’s Universal Periodic Review in 2017, several States asked Tunisia to strengthen freedom of expression, including press freedom and the right of access to information.Reinforcing Impunity by Exonerating the Security Forces from Responsibility in Cases of Excessive Use of ForceThe draft law would exonerate the security forces from criminal responsibility if they use lethal force to repel attacks on security buildings, their homes, their belongings, and their vehicles, when the force they used proved necessary and proportional to the danger. This provision would mean that the security forces would be legally authorized to respond with lethal force to an attack on property which would not endanger their lives or the lives of others and would not cause serious injury.According to Article 18 of the draft law, a “member of the armed forces is not criminally responsible for damages resulting from the act of injuring of killing a person who has committed one of the offenses mentioned in articles 13, 14, and 16 of the law, if the action was necessary to reach the legitimate aim of protecting life or property, and if the means used were the only ones capable of repelling the aggression, and the use of force was proportional to the danger.”This article mirrors the directives on the use of force in articles 20-22 of Tunisian law 69-4 of January 24, 1969 regulating public meetings, while broadening it to the use of force not only during demonstrations, but also in cases of individual attacks against property or vehicles belonging to the police or other security forces.Article 18 therefore gives the armed forces significant leeway to respond with potentially lethal force to an attack that does not threaten lives or risk causing serious injury. This is contrary to the State’s obligation to respect and protect the right to life.International law does not authorize the use of firearms solely to protect property. See, for example, Article 9 of the UN Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials. These standards also require an independent authority to assess whether the use of firearms by the armed forces resulting in death or serious injury was necessary and proportionate.The Tunisian security forces have long benefited from impunity for the excessive use of force or ill-treatment. Killings of demonstrators during the revolution, excessive and unjustified use of force in policing demonstrations, torture, and ill-treatment of detainees during anti-terrorist operations as well as arbitrary practices during the arrests of citizens have all gone largely unpunished. Exonerating the security forces from responsibility, as envisaged in the draft law, risks reinforcing this culture of impunity and sending a message to the security forces that they have a green light to use force illegally.SignatoriesTunisian Human Rights LeagueNational Union of Tunisian JournalistsTunisian Forum on Economic and Social RightsTunisian Organization Against TortureHuman Rights WatchWorld Organization Against TortureInternational Federation for Human RightsAmnesty InternationalLawyers Without BordersInternational Commission of JuristsReporters Without BordersEuroMed RightsDemocratic Transition Human Rights Support Centre (DAAM) TunisiaMiddle East – North Africa Protecting journalists Conflicts of interestJudicial harassmentImpunityPredatorsViolenceFreedom of expression Forum on Information and Democracy 250 recommendations on how to stop “infodemics” Receive email alerts News News Tunisia : RSF asks Tunisian president’s office to respect journalists News Help by sharing this information Eleven organizations from civil society create the Forum on Information & Democracy, a structural response to information disorder November 12, 2019 Find out morelast_img read more

Blackberry Viruses

first_imgWith no chemical treatments to kill viruses in blackberries, University of Georgia plant pathologist Phil Brannen recommends Georgia producers grow tissue-cultured plants.Tissue-cultured plants are often free of viruses. “And insects and nematodes can’t transmit the viruses to the young plant,” said Brannnen. “Therefore, if the tissue used to start a new plant is virus free, then the end product will also be virus free.” Planting what Brannen calls “clean plants” can delay the onset of viruses by many years. “There are still going to be viruses that come in from insects. But, in general, it’s just a lot better,” he said.Since viruses can move through a blackberry plant unscathed, farmers who do not use tissue-cultured plants are at risk of producing crumbly fruit, or fruit that is very small and not appealing to consumers. A combination of two or more viruses can, at times, kill the plant.“Viruses are an extremely problematic issue with blackberries, probably more so (with blackberries) than any other commodity with which I work. It’s been in part because the industry has never really cleaned up the viruses in blackberries. We really don’t know all the different viruses that are out there,” Brannen said.According to Brannen, a scientist at the University of Arkansas has recorded 30 different viruses. With those multiple viruses come 30 different ways blackberry plants are susceptible to disease damage.“We’ve had real issues where people have not used tissue-cultured plants, and they’re just taking cuttings off blackberries they may have in the field and replanting them somewhere else,” he said. “The growers don’t have any idea that the plants they’re working with may have viruses and that those cuttings are infected with viruses.” Brannen reiterates the importance of bringing in clean, noninfected plants, as preventative management is required to delay the onset of future viruses.“Growers need to try to keep any of the blackberries that are wild in the woods killed off for some distance from the area where their plants are located. They also need to control the nematodes, which can spread viruses,” Brannen said. “We don’t recommend spraying for insects that would spread viruses, because we don’t see huge infestations of those bugs anyway.”According to the UGA Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development, blackberries were grown on 778 acres in Georgia and produced a farm gate value of $5.4 million in 2014. Lanier County was Georgia’s largest producer of blackberries that year, with 138 acres of blackberries and a farm gate value of $1.2 million.last_img read more

Smallpox shots caused unexpected side effects in CDC study

first_imgApr 29, 2005 (CIDRAP News) – In a recent study, some laboratory and public health workers who received smallpox shots reported several side effects that have not shown up in other studies, including joint and abdominal pain, backache, and breathing difficulty.The side effects were reported by both first-time vaccinees and previously vaccinated workers but were more common in the first-time vaccinees, according to the report by James Baggs and colleagues at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta.”As with recently described cardiac adverse events [following smallpox shots], our unexpected findings of increased proportions of subjects with joint pain, abdominal pain, backache, and difficulty breathing are suggestive of systemic involvement and warrant further study,” says the report, published in the Apr 15 issue of Clinical Infectious Diseases.However, none of the reactions were severe, and they all cleared up within a few weeks after vaccination, according to the report.The study involved 1,006 laboratory and CDC workers who were immunized with conventional smallpox vaccine (Dryvax) in 2001 and 2002. Most were lab workers doing research in which vaccinia virus—the main ingredient in smallpox vaccine—was used as a vector. The vaccinees were given diary cards and asked to record any symptoms each day for 28 days after vaccination.Three slightly different diary cards were used during the study period. Only the first version had a question about vaccination history. For participants who used the two later versions, the investigators used a roster of smallpox vaccinees to determine vaccination history.Of the 1,006 diary cards, 936 (93%) were returned, the report says. Forty-seven percent of the respondents were older than 40, while 37% were between 31 and 40 and 26% were between 18 and 30. None of the workers reported severe reactions, and almost all the reported symptoms had disappeared by the end of 4 weeks. Itching at the vaccination site was the most common reaction, reported by more than 80% of the vaccinees.Eleven symptoms were significantly more common in primary vaccinees than in those previously vaccinated. These included three of the unexpected symptoms: joint pain (25% vs 11%), abdominal pain (11% vs 2%), and backache (17% vs 7%). The other symptoms for which the two groups differed significantly were muscle pain (46% vs 19%), fatigue (43% vs 29%), swelling at the vaccination site (58% vs 33%), itching on the body (31% vs 17%), swollen or tender lymph nodes (71% vs 33%), pain at the injection site (48% vs 30%), headache (40% vs 25%), and fever of at least 100ºF (20% vs 9%).Primary vaccinees had higher rates of several other symptoms as well, but the differences were not significant. The symptoms and respective rates were breathing difficulty (4% vs 1%), itching at the injection site (92% vs 84%), cough (11% vs 7%), loss of appetite (14% vs 8%), and chills (19% vs 12%).By age-group, vaccinees 18 to 30 years were significantly more likely than those in the two older groups (31 to 40 and over 40) to report most symptoms, including joint and abdominal pain, backache, and breathing difficulty. Age and vaccination history were strongly related, as 88% of the youngest group had not been vaccinated before, versus 21% of the middle group and 2% of the oldest group.Previous studies of smallpox vaccination have generally shown higher rates of side effects in primary vaccinees than in revaccinees. But three of the authors told CIDRAP News that the findings concerning joint, abdominal, and back pain and difficult breathing were unexpected on two counts: because they hadn’t been reported in previous studies and because of the significant differences between primary vaccinees and revaccinees.However, the investigators said previous studies did not look for these specific symptoms, as far as they knew, and added, “This study is one of only a few to describe mild to moderate symptoms following smallpox vaccination especially in a population with both primary and revaccinees.” Authors Baggs, Robert Chen, and Gina Mootrey made the comments via e-mail.The report says that breathing difficulty was not reported as a side effect in a 2002 study by Sharon Frey and colleagues of the effects of diluted and undiluted Dryvax in 665 previously unvaccinated young adults. The current study collected data “about a slightly different set of adverse events” than Frey and colleagues did, and consequently it documented “a broader range of systemic side effects,” the article says.The proportion of vaccinees who reported nausea in the 2002 study was about the same as the proportion reporting abdominal pain in the present study. The latter did not specifically ask for information about nausea, though three people reported it in a space for comments.”Those who reported abdominal pain and/or difficulty breathing were more likely to report a number of other symptoms, suggesting these symptoms were part of a larger clinical syndrome and not a reporting artifact,” the researchers write.One limitation of the study, the article says, is that self-reporting with diary cards may have made participants more likely to report symptoms than they would have been otherwise. In addition, the lack of vaccination history information for some participants, along with the high correlation of age with vaccination status, meant there was some potential for confounding.However, the study findings, combined with risk factors in today’s population, “suggest that development of safer vaccines should be pursued and further expansion of pre-event smallpox vaccination should be done cautiously,” the article concludes.In their e-mail, the authors noted that some research on safer smallpox vaccines is under way. The British firm Acambis is testing modified vaccinia Ankara (MVA), a weakened form of smallpox vaccine, under a contract with the Department of Health and Human Services. The company has completed a phase 1 trial with 22 patients and plans to start phase 2 trials, in which adverse events will be closely watched, the authors reported. (Bavarian Nordic A/S of Denmark also has a federal contract to develop and test an MVA vaccine.)The three authors said one other study, being conducted by the Department of Defense and the CDC’s Clinical Immunization Safety Assessment Network, could also look for systemic reactions to smallpox vaccination. But that trial is “primarily a cardiac study looking at systemic markers of inflammation,” they said.Baggs J, Chen RT, Damon IK, et al. Safety profile of smallpox vaccine: insights from the laboratory worker smallpox vaccination program. Clin Infect Dis 2005 Apr 15;40(8):1133-40 [Full text]See also:Frey SE, Couch RB, Tacket CO, et al. Clinical responses to undiluted and diluted smallpox vaccine. N Engl J Med 2002 Apr 25;346(17):1265-74 [Full text]CDC information on normal reactions to smallpox vaccine read more

Cardinals Basketball Results

first_imgThe SLS 5th Graders defeated  St. Lawrence 30-16.Cardinals Scoring: Conner Miles – 14 pts – 2 Assists – 2 Rebounds; Evan Flaspoher – 5 pts – 3 Rebounds – 4 Steals; Hank Ritter – 1 pts – 4 Rebounds – 5 Steals; Thomas Lohmueller – 4 pts; Preston Conway – 1 pts – 3 Rebounds; Eli Weiler – 2 pts; Carson Meyer – 3 pts – 4 Rebounds; Marco Canessa – 3 Rebounds.Courtesy of Cardinals Coach Jerry Roell.The St. Louis 6th grade Cardinals played at home against St. Lawrence from Lawrenceburg this evening and came away with a 34-27 win.The Cardinals continued to play good team defense which was key to the win.  Leading the defensive effort again were Jack Hollins, Aidan Geers and Luke Meyer.  Offensively, the Cardinals were led by Noah Tuveson (13), Benjamin Harmeyer (10), Cy Muckerheide (4), Nate Vankirk (4) and Abe Hollins (3).The next game will be at St. Nicholas on Tuesday, November 22nd.Courtesy of Cardinals Coach John Harmeyer.The St. Louis 7th grade boys basketball team’s perpetual road trip continued at Benjamin Rush Middle School Monday evening but the winning streak did not, losing to the home team Cubs 37-31.The well coached home team had a good combination of size, ball handling and aggressive defense that despite a strong team effort from the Cardinals was the recipe needed to have St. Louis trailing when the clock ran out.Thomas Raver was leading scorer followed by Cody Mohr. Four points each from Abe Streator and Adam Vogelsang. Streator had a good rebounding night fighting off double teams most of the game. CJ Grote, Joseph Suttman and Cayden Pohlman scored bringing the count to 7 Cardinals working on offense and putting points on the board. Kyle Salatin had some good defense stops and valuable rebounds in a game that was a dog fight from the opening tip.Courtesy of Cardinals Coach Jim Mohr.last_img read more