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HAITI: Lifetime ban for football chief

Players demand end to sexual abuse in sport.

 

HRW (24.11.2020) – https://bit.ly/37kfGqH – Football’s lifetime ban for Haitian soccer federation president Yves Jean-Bart is an important step forward to protect children and young women athletes in sport from sexual abuse, Human Rights Watch said today. The International Federation of Association Football (Fédération Internationale de Football Association, FIFA) decision should be followed by swift action to sanction other abusers and their accomplices, criminal prosecutions in Haiti and other jurisdictions, and ongoing therapeutic support for survivors.

 

After reports by The Guardian and Human Rights Watch and pressure from Haitian rights groups Kay Fanm, Solidarite Fanm Ayisyèn (SOFA), the National Network for the Defense of Human Rights (RNDDH), and others, over the past seven months, FIFA investigated serious allegations of sexual harassment and abuse against Jean Bart, also known as “Dadou.” FIFA’s Ethics Committee handed him the maximum punishment in football on Friday, November 20, 2020.

 

“FIFA’s decision is a vindication for all the courageous survivors of abuse and witnesses who came forward to report sexual abuse,” said Minky Worden, director of global initiatives at Human Rights Watch. “As Human Rights Watch has documented, they faced personal threats and stigma in society. FIFA’s punishment is an important signal that if you are an abuser in football, your days are numbered.”

 

Jean-Bart had been president of the Haitian Football Federation (Fédération Haïtienne De Football, FHF) since 2000. Following their investigation into evidence of systematic sexual abuse of female players, FIFA’s Ethics Committee found Jean-Bart guilty of “having abused his position and sexually harassed and abused various female players, including minors.” He is now banned from the sport for life in Haiti and internationally, and fined 1 million Swiss francs (approximately US$1.1 million). He can appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, and has said he will.

 

Survivors of sexual abuse in Haiti told Human Rights Watch that they want justice for abuses by the president but also football sanctions for all officials who aided and knew about abuses in the national football academy.

 

“Playing for Haiti, I gave my heart,” one women’s national team player told Human Rights Watch. “Without us players, you don’t have a game. I am so happy Dadou can’t abuse his power and stop us from achieving our dreams anymore.”

 

Since May, Human Rights Watch has worked together with the international football players’ union FIFPro, who provided lawyers and support for athletes, helped to interview witnesses, and collected evidence of systemic human rights abuses in Haitian football, including confiscation of players’ passports, labor rights abuses, grooming child athletes for sexual exploitation, and threats to kill witnesses and survivors.

 

Jean-Bart has been Haiti’s football federation president since 2000 and was re-elected to a sixth term in February. Jean-Bart has publicly denied all allegations and successfully sought to have a judge in Haiti purportedly “clear” him of all charges and exonerate him. That a judge made this pronouncement the day before Jean-Bart’s lifetime ban is testament to the power he wields in Haiti and the challenge survivors face in taking on Jean-Bart and his allies. In August, Human Rights Watch documented threats and attacks on witnesses and whistleblowers, which could prevent them from coming forward with evidence of abuses.

 

FIFA’s statement signals other sanctions against abusers and officials who knew about or facilitated abuses in the Haiti federation could come soon:

 

“The aforementioned ethics proceedings are part of an extensive investigation concerning Mr Jean-Bart, as well as other officials within the FHF, who were identified as having allegedly been involved (as principals, accomplices or instigators) in acts of systematic sexual abuse against female football players between 2014 and 2020. The proceedings are still pending with respect to other FHF officials.”

 

It is essential for FIFA to discipline others who took part in sexual abuse and to remove them from football, Human Rights Watch said. FIFA needs to ensure ongoing therapeutic and logistical support for players, and enforcement of any bans and fines.

 

“In addition to protecting survivors and witnesses, FIFA should exercise its authority to ban and sanction all officials implicated in sexual abuse or threatening or menacing witnesses during its investigation,” Worden said. “In its best form, football is fun, empowering, and healthy for young people and FIFA should do its part to ensure player safety.”

Photo: Am 14. Mai 2020 halten Frauen vor dem Gerichtshof im haitianischen Croix-des-Bouquets Schilder hoch und fordern Gerechtigkeit während der Anhörung von Yves Jean-Bart, dem Präsidenten des haitianischen Fußballverbands. Wie der Guardian berichtet, haben Betroffene und ihre Familien Jean-Bart des sexuellen Missbrauchs von jungen Spielerinnen im Centre Technique National beschuldigt. © 2020 Associated Press (Dieu Nalio Chery).





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EU’s thermonuclear debate on privacy & child sexual abuse

Everyone from Ashton Kutcher to Australia’s eSafety commissioner has weighed in.

 

By Nicholas Vinocur

 

POLITICO (20.11.2020) – https://politi.co/39iu8BQ – Should platforms like Facebook and Instagram be able to scan for evidence of child sexual abuse and grooming online?

 

That question is at the heart of an explosive debate in Europe about online privacy that has roped in everyone from actor-turned-tech investor Ashton Kutcher to the EU’s top privacy regulator and observers as far afield as Australia.

 

On one side there is the EU’s executive branch and its defenders, including Kutcher, who want such automatic scanning to continue. They argue that the scanning tools don’t infringe upon privacy because the algorithms don’t “understand” the content; such tools flag it for human review if it matches a digital ID for child pornography, or hits certain keywords.

 

On the other side, there are privacy activists, EU lawmakers and the bloc’s top privacy regulator, who say that automatic scanning — particularly of text exchanges — is a major infringement of people’s fundamental right to privacy: Even if its intent is limited, it still opens the door to abuse because the practice has no clear legal basis.

 

In a November 11 opinion, the European Data Protection Supervisor blasted a Commission proposal that would allow the scanning as contrary to EU privacy rules. And the Parliament’s rapporteur on the draft law, Birgit Sippel, has voiced concern, saying Parliament is unlikely to meet a December 21 deadline to pass the derogation into law.

 

Now Ylva Johansson, the EU’s home affairs commissioner who is behind the derogation initiative, is pushing back — with unexpected support from Kutcher, who co-founded an organization called Thorn in the U.S. to combat child sex trafficking and abuse. In an interview with POLITICO, she said the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) Wojciech Wiewiórowski — who’s in charge of policing EU institutions — had ignored children’s well-being.

 

“What I’m criticizing is that the EDPS are only talking about the privacy of the users. But there is also the privacy of the children, the abused children who are the subject of illegal content … The EDPS left that whole angle out,” she said.

 

“I had expected the EDPS to help us with that. Instead, he [Wiewiórowski] acted a bit blind in one eye, not seeing there is a huge infringement of the fundamental rights of those children. You have to realize there is a balance to find, and not only to protect the rights of the users.”

 

‘Growing’ problem

 

Johansson’s comments come as the clock is ticking down on a deal within EU institutions. If lawmakers can’t agree on Johansson’s draft law, platforms will face new privacy rules without an exemption for child sexual abuse material — rendering the automatic scanning illegal.

 

But the Swedish commissioner argued that it was urgent to give them a chance to carry on the practice, which she says is already in use to detect copyright-infringing material.

 

According to the head of Europol, who spoke to POLITICO in March, there has been a substantial increase in examples of child exploitation online during the pandemic because kids are spending more time on their phones and computers during lockdown.

 

Johansson said that trend hasn’t let up: “There are a lot of signs that child exploitation, especially online, is growing.” She added that her office planned to propose permanent legislation to combat child sexual abuse online next year, but that in the meantime platforms needed a legal means to keep detecting the illegal content.

 

“That’s what I hope now: that Parliament will not follow the draft from the rapporteur [which watered down Johansson’s proposal] and rather opt for an opinion that is much closer to the [Commission’s] proposal,” she said.

 

With emotions running high on either side of the debate, the issue of automatic scanning has drawn attention far beyond the bloc.

 

Australia’s eSafety commissioner, tasked with protecting people online, has written to the Parliament’s civil liberties committee, which has the lead on the file, advocating for Johansson’s proposal. And Ashton Kutcher — who played bumbling teen heartthrob Michael Kelso in the U.S. sitcom “That ’70s Show,” and has since remade himself as a tech investor — has thrown himself into the mix, including by tweeting at EU lawmakers.

 

“Time is running out to ensure a proactive and voluntary online child abuse detection methods are preserved in the #EU,” he tweeted on Wednesday.

 

Kutcher’s star power has opened doors. Last week, he scored a videoconference with Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, and Johansson cited him as proof that the scanning issue was one of global importance.

 

Is this legal?

 

But the other camp bristles at the outside interventions and time pressure. Not only are defenders of the derogation oversimplifying the issue, they argue, but they run the risk of creating a precedent that will allow platforms to flag and remove all manner of content, some of it harmless, without any solid legal grounding.

 

Rather than opposing a clampdown on online child sexual abuse, they favor an approach they say would be more in line with the bloc’s privacy rulebook, the General Data Protection Regulation. Sippel, for instance, objects to the part of Johansson’s draft law that pertains to child grooming — i.e., text or audio communication — not the part that pertains to child pornography, which she wants more clearly defined.

 

The Commission “does not wish to take a stance on whether current voluntary practices to detect and report child sexual abuse material are in fact legal under EU law,” Sippel said in her draft report on Johansson’s proposal.

 

The Commission wants its proposal to be finalized by December 21, but some lawmakers dismissed the deadline as artificial, since scanning would not stop overnight without the derogation.

 

But David Lega, who heads a Parliament group on children’s rights, says a deal is not only necessary but possible within the time limit.

 

“I think it [the deadline] could be met and I hope that it will be,” he said. “There is time both procedurally and legally to do this now.”

 

The derogation is meant to apply until the European Commission presents a fully fledged piece of legislation on the fight against sexual abuse online next year.

Photo: There has been a substantial increase in examples of child exploitation online during the pandemic | Leon Neal/Getty Images.


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