Storming the court - a human rights legal thriller

29 September 2005

by Carolyn Tan

This afternoon, I attended an event where Brandt Goldstein talked about his new book Storming the Court: How a Band of Yale Law Students Sued the President and Won. An animated and engaging speaker, Brandt started by giving an outline of (in his own words) the ‘human rights legal thriller’ that took him five and a half years of researching and writing to complete. Brandt's book tells the story of 300 Haitian political refugees who had been granted passage into the US but had tested HIV positive and hence were being held in Guantanamo, which  according to the American constitution is a land without law and where they had no rights at all. Ironic,  considering that we are talking about 300 democracy activists who  were attempting to flee to America, the land of democracy. A group of Yale law students took up the refugees'  cause and fought for their right to legal representation as well as release. 

This story is still very relevant today, especially with the attention that Guantanamo is getting in the media. A member of the audience brought up the issue that there is no accountability on Guantanamo today and what damage does that do to the values of the US ranging from the rule of law to individual freedom? The US has sacrificed its moral leadership, but is Senator McCain’s effort to make sure that there is no inhuman treatment in Guantanamo going to help rectify the situation?

Like the Haitian refugee case 12 years ago, action is being carried out right now to protect the human rights of the detainees. Even if this action does succeed, we still have to ask ourselves if big-level activism is ever going to create a permanent change in American society on the national stage? After all, it looks as if the same human rights violations that the Haitian refugees experienced 12 years ago have once again repeated themselves.

Stop the secrecy: Publish the NHS COVID data deals

To: Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care

We’re calling on you to immediately release details of the secret NHS data deals struck with private companies, to deliver the NHS COVID-19 datastore.

We, the public, deserve to know exactly how our personal information has been traded in this ‘unprecedented’ deal with US tech giants like Google, and firms linked to Donald Trump (Palantir) and Vote Leave (Faculty AI).

The COVID-19 datastore will hold private, personal information about every single one of us who relies on the NHS. We don’t want our personal data falling into the wrong hands.

And we don’t want private companies – many with poor reputations for protecting privacy – using it for their own commercial purposes, or to undermine the NHS.

The datastore could be an important tool in tackling the pandemic. But for it to be a success, the public has to be able to trust it.

Today, we urgently call on you to publish all the data-sharing agreements, data-impact assessments, and details of how the private companies stand to profit from their involvement.

The NHS is a precious public institution. Any involvement from private companies should be open to public scrutiny and debate. We need more transparency during this pandemic – not less.

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