News November 2, 2010 – Updated on January 25, 2016 Recommendations concerning access to information and press freedom in the US Help by sharing this information Although Reporters Without Borders welcomed the enactment of the Daniel Pearl Act in May 2010, requiring the State Department to list countries that threaten freedom of expression and tolerate violence against journalists, our organization believes American officials must also monitor the press freedom situation within the US in the same manner.Reporters Without Borders ranked the US as 20th in this year’s Press Freedom Index. In light of the upcoming Universal Periodic Review of the United States at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva this week, Reporters Without Borders would like to make the following recommendations concerning access to information and press freedom in the US: RSF_en National security issues are playing an important role in the consideration of the Federal Shield Law legislation, which is being delayed by proposals to exclude whistleblowing websites from source protection, mainly because of the political reaction to WikiLeaks publishing over 70,000 classified Afghan war documents. Such amendments would be, in Reporters Without Borders’ opinion, unfair and unnecessary, as the legislation already contains exemptions relating to legitimate questions of national security.3) The Obama administration must ensure that commercial agreements between internet companies and content providers do not pose a threat to Net Neutrality or the free flow of informationIn January 2010, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reaffirmed the United States’ commitment to protect the Internet as a place for social development and emphasized the importance of equal access to knowledge and free exchange of ideas. However in August, Google and Verizon were reportedly nearing an agreement that could allow Verizon to relay online content to Internet users more quickly if the content’s creators are willing to pay for the privilege.4) To regularly assess domestic press freedom issues and the working conditions of journalists throughout the country 1) American officials must review their methods for classifying information and improve transparency surrounding the Freedom of Information Act requests filed by civil society groups and the mediaSeveral incidents over the past year have raised questions about the government’s use of national security concerns to try and curb media access to issues of legitimate public interest. The WikiLeaks release of a 2007 video of a US helicopter attack in Iraq that killed 12 people including two Reuters’ staff and the Pentagon’s decision to ban four journalists from military commissions at Guantanamo Bay a month later, although eventually reversed, highlighted the military’s perceived lack of transparency and inconsistencies in its compliance to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. More than two weeks ago, in a new blow to the FOIA, the US Supreme Court refused to consider an appeal by 23 lawyers representing Guantanamo Bay detainees who want the National Security Agency to reveal whether it tapped their phone conversations with their clients and, if so, to provide them with transcripts.2) The Federal Shield Law must allow blogs and whistleblower websites the same protection as it does to all other media organizations Organisation
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ColumnsUttarakhand HC’s Decision In ‘Bhuwan Chandra Pandey v. UOI’: A Much Needed Beacon For Complainants In Sexual Harassment Inquiries Megha Mehta5 Aug 2020 10:23 PMShare This – xIt has been more than two decades since the Supreme Court of India in Vishaka v. State of Rajasthan, AIR 1997 SC 301, laid down the famous ‘Vishaka guidelines’, which inter alia, provided for the creation of an internal complaints mechanism for inquiring into complaints of sexual harassment by women employees. The Court had also recommended that the Central and State governments…Your free access to Live Law has expiredTo read the article, get a premium account.Your Subscription Supports Independent JournalismSubscription starts from ₹ 599+GST (For 6 Months)View PlansPremium account gives you:Unlimited access to Live Law Archives, Weekly/Monthly Digest, Exclusive Notifications, Comments.Reading experience of Ad Free Version, Petition Copies, Judgement/Order Copies.Subscribe NowAlready a subscriber?LoginIt has been more than two decades since the Supreme Court of India in Vishaka v. State of Rajasthan, AIR 1997 SC 301, laid down the famous ‘Vishaka guidelines’, which inter alia, provided for the creation of an internal complaints mechanism for inquiring into complaints of sexual harassment by women employees. The Court had also recommended that the Central and State governments adopt legislation, to ensure that employers in the private sector comply with the guidelines. However it was only in 2013, in the backdrop of the public outcry generated by the Nirbhaya case, that the Central Government enacted the Sexual Harassment of Women at the Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act [‘POSH’] amidst a slew of other legislative reforms addressing sexual violence against women. The release of the ‘List of Sexual Harassers’ [‘LOSHA’] calling out alleged sexual harassers in Indian academia and the recent discourse surrounding #MeToo seems to indicate that the Vishaka guidelines and POSH leave much to be desired, both in terms of the substance of the provisions which lay down the internal complaints process and the implementation thereof. For the limited purpose of this article I will focus only on one significant loophole. Both the Vishaka Guidelines and POSH provide little guidance on the evidentiary standards and procedure to be followed during the course of the inquiry. Rule 7 of the Sexual Harassment of Women at the Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Rules, 2013 [‘POSH Rules’] only provides that the inquiry must be conducted in accordance with the principles of natural justice, and that the parties are not entitled to legal representation. Though the High Courts have differed on the scope of the right to cross-examine the complainant, the Supreme Court has held that at the least, the respondent has the right to indirectly cross-examine the complainant and her witnesses by submitting a written questionnaire in lieu of direct verbal cross-examination (Bidyut Chakraborty (Prof v. Delhi University & Ors., SLP (Civil) No. 23060/2009). There are no ‘rape shield’ safeguards available under POSH similar to those provided under Section 114A (presumption of absence of consent in certain cases) and Section 146 (prohibition of questions relating to the ‘immoral character’ of a prosecutrix) of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872. The lack of clearly defined standards provide scope for internal committees to apply standards of criminal law while adjudicating upon a sexual harassment complaint, so as to safeguard the respondent. The complainant’s ordeal may be further exacerbated if the respondent appeals to the High Court, which often ends up subjecting the complainant’s testimony to stricter scrutiny than in the internal proceedings. Though the Courts often adopt a regressive attitude in cases dealing with sexual violence, there are also many occasions on which they contribute to filling in the aforementioned legislative lacunae. In 1991, long before the Vishaka guidelines were framed, the Supreme Court had held, in the context of a departmental enquiry against a Deputy Superintendent of Police on charges of sexual assault, that a complainant’s testimony cannot be discredited merely because she is ‘a woman of easy virtue’ (State of Maharashtra & Anr v. Madhukar Narayan Mardikar, (1991) 1 SCC 57). More recently, the Supreme Court has held that sexual harassment is not confined to actual commission of acts of unwelcome sexual behaviour but extends to the creation of a hostile and discriminatory environment at the workplace independent of such acts. Further, a complainant is entitled to compensation under Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution if the inquiry is conducted in violation of the Vishaka Guidelines, irrespective of the outcome of the inquiry (Nisha Priya Bhatia v. Union of India, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 394). The latest in the line of progressive judgements dealing with sexual harassment is that of a Division Bench of the Uttarakhand High Court in Bhuwan Chandra Pandey v. Union of India,. The case concerned a writ petition challenging the order of dismissal passed against the petitioner, who was employed as a Sahashtra Seema Bal (‘SSB’) officer. The charges against the petitioner were that first, he had molested one of the women trainees (the complainant) from the SSB paramedic course in 1998, during the course of a journey undertaken after the training exercise. Second, that he and his father, who was a DIG in the SSB, had pressured the complainant to withdraw the case. The internal inquiry committee found the petitioner guilty of the charges in 2001. However due to various procedural deficiencies in the inquiry process, the case underwent several stages of litigation before a fresh inquiry committee, which was constituted for the third time in 2011, affirmed the finding of guilt. This finding was upheld by the Union Public Service Commission, the disciplinary authority which passed the order of dismissal, and by the Ministry of Home Affairs. Though the complainant’s version of events was corroborated by another woman trainee who had been present at the time of the incident and by superior officers, the petitioner argued that her uncorroborated ‘self-serving’ testimony could not form the basis for holding him guilty. The High Court borrowed from rape law jurisprudence to hold that the sole testimony of the complainant would suffice in an internal or departmental enquiry into cases of sexual harassment and molestation, just as it would in a criminal case. If her evidence inspires confidence, there is no rule requiring corroboration of her testimony in material particulars. Crucially, the Court noted that a departmental enquiry or disciplinary proceeding is not governed by the strict technicalities of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 as in a criminal trial. The standard of proof required is simply that of ‘preponderance of probabilities’, and even circumstantial evidence or hearsay may be admitted provided it is credible and has a reasonable nexus to the case. The Court further observed that the Courts cannot reassess the sufficiency of evidence relied upon by an internal authority or re-appreciate findings of fact unless the findings are perverse. Moreover, that it is not open to the Court to interfere with the quantum of punishment imposed by the disciplinary authority unless it is grossly disproportionate or shocks the conscience. It was recommended that even in cases where the Court deems it fit to set the punishment aside, it is more appropriate to remand the matter to the disciplinary authority for re-consideration of the penalty to be imposed, instead of prescribing a substituted penalty. Even though the High Court affirmed on facts that that the complainant’s testimony in this case was well-corroborated, the aforementioned principles would be useful to complainants in more complicated fact situations. The very purpose of providing for an internal complaints mechanism is so that women can access a relatively less onerous mechanism for bringing action against sexual harassment at the workplace, rather than going through the rigors of a criminal trial. The provisions of POSH do not fully encapsulate this understanding, though it may be argued that it is an unwritten rule that internal committees must adopt a lower standard of proof, and more flexible procedural guidelines than in a criminal proceeding, while dealing with sexual harassment complaints. Nevertheless, if the standards laid down in Bhuwan Chandra Pandey are incorporated into POSH, it would formally limit the scope for application of unreasonably high evidential standards by internal committees. It would further restrict the possibility of the High Court acting as a court of appeal and overturning a verdict in favour of the complainant. Even if status quo continues with respect to POSH Rules, the High Court’s decision serves as a useful precedent for other Courts which are seized of sexual harassment matters. While the High Court’s verdict facilitates easier resolution of sexual harassment complaints, it cannot be denied that in the facts of Bhuwan Chandra Pandey, substantial injustice has been meted out to the complainant. Though the Vishaka guidelines prescribe a time-bound resolution of complaints, it has taken more than two decades to affirm the initial guilty finding and penalty prescribed against the petitioner, due to departmental procedural lapses. This gives rise to the concern that even if the law stipulates lowered evidential and procedural barriers for inquiries into sexual harassment at the workplace, the internal organisational mechanism may deliberately mishandle the matter so as to give the respondent employee the benefit of challenging a verdict against him. Though the High Court cannot reassess the findings of the Inquiry Committee, it can set aside a complainant-friendly verdict on the ground of prejudice caused to the rights of the accused due to non-compliance with a fair procedure. The petitioner in this case had additionally argued that the verdict was bad in law as the complaints committee was composed of female officers who were subordinate to him. The Court held that since the complaints committee was only a ‘delegate’ of the disciplinary authority, and was constituted in accordance with the Vishaka guidelines, there was no impropriety involved in conduct of the inquiry by junior officers. Though this is again a good precedent for supporting internal committee verdicts, it does not solve the structural pressures that operate when junior officers are appointed for inquiring into charges against their seniors. In light of the aforementioned problems, it is worth considering whether it would be more appropriate to delegate the internal inquiry process under POSH to a more autonomous body, so that complainants do not suffer on account of any mala fide strategies. Until then, it can be hoped that the Courts continue following the approach of the High Court in Bhuwan Chandra Pandey instead of encouraging bizarre remedies such as tying of rakhis to sexual harassment perpetrators.(The author is a legal researcher based in Mumbai/Delhi.) Next Story
sean Rayford/Getty Images(CHARLOTTE, N.C.) — When Riley Howell’s family heard about an active shooter at the University of North Carolina Charlotte campus, they weren’t surprised to hear that the 21-year-old former soccer goalie had charged at the shooter.“We knew if he was in that room,” his mother, Natalie Henry-Howell told ABC affiliate WLOS-TV. “He would have done something,” Riley’s younger sister Iris added, finishing her mother’s thought in an interview with the Howell family on the porch of their home in Waynesville, North Carolina, late Friday.On Tuesday night, a former student opened fire in a classroom on campus, killing Howell and 19-year-old Ellis Parlier of Midland, North Carolina, and injuring four others. The motive remains unknown, police said.Chief Kerr Putney of the Charlotte-Mecklenberg Police Department called Howell a “hero” without whom “the assailant may not have been disarmed.”Howell charged at the gunman and “took the assailant off his feet,” thereby “allowing officers to step in and apprehend him,” Kerr said. “Unfortunately, he gave his life in the process. But his sacrifice saved lives.”Howell’s father, Thomas, said that they expected to hear that news as the family drove the 150 miles to Charlotte on Tuesday night, echoing the uniform sentiments of the family.“At first we didn’t know he ran at the gunman, we just knew that he’d been shot, and, when we got told that, it was like a huge weight got lifted from your shoulders. You just thought, everything is right now. He did what he was supposed to do,” Riley’s other younger sister Juliet, said.The Howell family appeared calm and composed as they spoke about the 21-year-old, who had been at the Charlotte campus for less than a year, studying military leadership. They expressed appreciation for the police work and the outpouring of support from the community.“He was pretty much everything a big brother should be to us,” Iris said. “He was funny. He was supportive, and he was very much a leader. He just loved us, loved the outdoors, loved his friends and family and things that mattered to him.”“He’s the only 20-year-old, 21-year-old, who would willingly fight his lightsaber with me,” his 14-year-old brother Teddy interjected, referencing Riley’s love of Star Wars and the fact that his brother had just recently turned 21 on April 30. His siblings noted that Riley didn’t like to smile with his teeth showing, despite being the only child who didn’t need braces.In the obituary released by his family, as a unique and quirky loved one with big appetites for life, the outdoors, family, dogs, food, cooking and learning.“On top of the passion he had for life and all living things, he valued being self-taught, whether that was in regard to learning about cars, cooking, weight lifting and fitness, Looney Tunes, plants and animals, or anything Star Wars and superhero related. He’s the only person we know who would read his entire car manual – for fun!,” according to the obit.“He had a wonderful sense of humor, with his own quirks, cracking jokes all day, and making anyone feel better no matter the circumstances,” the obituary said. “He sought out hard work and enjoyed hands-on work. Even though he sometimes burned it, he loved making fried chicken in a cast iron skillet and trying out new recipes to make for his friends and family.”The Howell family received visitors on Saturday evening, making reference to “Star Wars Day” or May 4th, adding “”May the 4th be with you” to the obit. A memorial service will be held on Sunday.Riley Howell had been taking military leadership classes, something his parents had always had interest in. “The military leadership class fit him well,” his mother said.The Wells Funeral Homes told ABC News he would be buried with military honors.Riley’s mother Natalie, an educator, who works at a middle school and has discussed gun safety at work, said the family was hoping to find meaning in the young man’s death.“Fear less, and do more,” his mom said. “The color drained out of the world that moment. We’re feeling our way to what might happen next. If this can have some kind of power or impact to help us or other to just think and do…and straight like a rocket, do the right thing. If we can facilitate that in anyway, we’ll try. We just went his legacy to be…remembered… Our fierce angel in heaven.”Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
Back to overview,Home naval-today USS Freedom Calls at Guam View post tag: Guam View post tag: Navy Share this article USS Freedom is enjoying the island life. Following its first stop in Hawaii, the nation’s first Littoral Combat Ship (LCS), built by a Lockheed Martin-led team, stopped in Guam March 28 as part of its eight-month deployment to Southeast Asia.The visit marked Freedom’s first to a port in the U.S. 7th Fleet’s area of responsibility. During Freedom’s stay in Guam, Navy and industry teams will perform routine maintenance and give ship tours. Dozens of crew members will also volunteer their time to support several community service projects.The 7th Fleet is responsible for more than 48 million square miles from west of the international date line to the western coast of India. Freedom joins approximately 100 ships and submarines assigned to 7th Fleet on any given day to cover this area.During its current deployment, Freedom will also participate in the International Maritime Defence Exhibition (IMDEX) in Singapore May 14-16 and select phases of the Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training exercise in Southeast Asia.[mappress]Naval Today Staff, April 2, 2013; Image: Lockheed Martin View post tag: Martin USS Freedom Calls at Guam View post tag: Lockheed Training & Education View post tag: calls View post tag: usa View post tag: News by topic View post tag: Naval View post tag: USS Freedom April 2, 2013
Unlike Daphne du Maurier’s heroine, I really had been back to my abandoned chateau. Just last week, I was back in Oxford for the first time since June, and the experience was heavily laden with ghosts of the past. I entered the Bodleian and requested books with my old barcode and password. They were brought up by the same librarians. I read them in the same seat (number 208 in the upper reading room) that I frequented all of last spring. I drank G&Ds coffee. I ate in the Covered Market. And all the while it rained.Oxford, it appears, is slow to change. That timelessness was one of the strongest impressions I took home with me about Britain . I wrote often last year about the contrast between the sense of constancy I experienced abroad and the obsession with change I associated with my home in the U.S. That Oxford in January 2008 looks much like Oxford in June 2007 was no big shock.What got to me this time were my encounters with friends I hadn’t seen in months. I’m generally diligent about keeping in touch and, thanks to e-mail and Facebook, I was fully up to date on all the gossip basics of break-ups and new couplings. As a writer obsessed with new media, I’d assumed the physical separation and reunion would make minimal difference.How wrong I was. Simple and sappy as it may seem, I was floored by the depth and force of emotion I felt seeing people face to face, hearing voices live and standing in physical spaces of college quads. It was a sharp reminder of the things that—at least for me—technology can’t yet replace. So I’m curious: do you, my fellow Gen Y, Web 2.0 readers, see limits in the things that can successfully be made virtual?
We wish to make it clear that in the report in our issue of 4th Aprilabout the use by Hollands Craft Bakery of flour from Poland we did notmean to suggest that this flour was in any way inferior in quality tothat produced by UK mills and regret any inference to the contrary.
Sister Sparrow has released a brand new single, “Ghost,” in anticipation of the upcoming album, Gold–dueout October 12th via Thirty Tigers. In an unconventional move, Sister Sparrow premiered the unique “lyric” video–which actually features the lyrics displayed in emojis instead of words–on Snapchat, after leading fans through a social media scavenger hunt to allow them to see the video and hear the single 24 hours before it was officially released. “Ghost” marks the first studio release from Sister Sparrow since 2015’s The Weather Below.Sister Sparrow explains about the single: “This song is inspired by that feeling when someone has rejected you but now suddenly wants you back… that drunken late-night text from an ex out of the blue. Ain’t got time for that. Ghosting someone who really deserves it is what it’s about. Getting even but also ridding your life of the BS that keeps holding you back.”Listen to the new track below:Gold takes the classic soul-rock sound created by Sister Sparrow and her brass-fueled combo, The Dirty Birds, and turns it into something altogether new, a soul-blasted contemporary pop approach supremely suited for Kincheloe’s immense voice and even greater vision. Produced and co-written in collaboration with Carter Matschullat (Chef’Special, Secret Weapons) at Brooklyn’s DØØM Studio, the new album sees Sister Sparrow expressing herself like never before.Sister Sparrow will celebrate the new LP with a major U.S. tour, which begins August 30th in Athens, New York, and then travels the country through early December, including a performance with Nathaniel Rateliff and The Night Sweats on September 15th at Thompson’s Point in Portland, Maine.
There was a time Southern rock ruled. Multiple iterations of the Allman Brothers Band pushed the boundaries of blues and country into improvisational jazz while other acts relied more on cowboy hats and Confederate flag-waving. That’s why it’s good to see Blackberry Smoke knowing how to remain a hard-rocking Southern band and avoid the pitfalls of overplaying their roots.The Blackberry boys hail from Atlanta and have been at it for nearly 20 years. The core members remain intact, with Charlie Starr on vocals and guitar, Paul Jackson on guitar, Richard Turner on bass and brother Brit Turner on drums. Keyboardist Brandon Still joined in 2009. Earlier this year, the band released its sixth studio album, Find A Light, and is now touring extensively on the East Coast before heading to Europe in the fall.The Blackberry faithful turned out in force for two consecutive nights at New York’s Irving Plaza on Friday, September 7th and Saturday, September 8th. Kicking off the Friday show with “Nobody Gives a Damn” from the new album, Starr and company laid down long and energetic sets of old and new tunes. There were “Six Ways to Sunday” and “Sleeping Dogs” from The Whippoorwill and “Lay It All On Me” and “Living in the Song” from Holding All the Roses. There was even a segue into The Beatles’ “Come Together.”Starr is clearly Blackberry’s frontman, looking a little like Neil Young from his Buffalo Springfield days. The songwriting is solid and Starr can shred on guitar, pulling his band mates along with him. It’s hard not to make comparisons to Southern stalwarts like Lynyrd Skynyrd, but Blackberry Smoke’s sound goes beyond guitar overkill, adding softer ballads and rootsier tunes. The boys are obviously having fun, as are their fans.Following the upcoming Blackberry Smoke European tour, the band will be back home in time for Thanksgiving and their annual Brothers & Sisters Homecoming at The Tabernacle in Atlanta. For a full list of upcoming dates, head to the Blackberry Smoke website.Blackberry Smoke | Irving Plaza | New York, NY | 9/7–8/18 | Photos: Lou Montesano Load remaining images