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U.N. Urges Egypt To Halt All Executions Based On Confessions Obtained Against Torture

“There is significant cause for concern that due process and fair trial guarantees may not have been followed in some or all of these cases, and that the very serious allegations concerning the use of torture were not properly investigated,” Colville said.

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Family members of those convicted and executed for the killing of public prosecutor Hisham Barakat gather at Zynhom morgue in Cairo, Egypt, Feb. 20, 2019, as they wait for their bodies to be released. VOA

The U.N. Human Rights Office is urging Egypt to halt all executions and to conduct investigations into all allegations that people are subjected to the death penalty based on confessions obtained under torture.

Egypt has executed 15 people in February and the U.N. Human Rights Office notes the month is not yet over. The agency reports nine people were executed this week in a case related to the killing of Egypt’s General Prosecutor, Hisham Barakat.

Regarding six other killings earlier this month, it says three men were convicted of assassinating a police officer and three others in connection with the murder of the son of a judge.

Human rights office spokesman Rupert Colville said in all cases the defendants have told the court they were subjected to torture to make them confess to the crimes of which they were accused.

FILE - A defendant is seen caged in a courtroom in Torah prison, southern Cairo, Egypt, Aug. 22, 2015.
A defendant is seen caged in a courtroom in Torah prison, southern Cairo, Egypt, Aug. 22, 2015. VOA

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In June 2017, the U.N. Committee against Torture completed a four-year confidential inquiry and concluded that torture is “practiced systematically” in Egypt. Colville told VOA the recent allegations of torture, in almost all of these cases, come against this well-established backdrop that torture is endemic in Egypt.

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“If torture was used to make a confession a considerable part of the prosecution’s case, then that should not be admitted in court. That confession produced under torture should not be admissible. And when these allegations have been brought up by the defense lawyers and so on, our belief is they are not being taken seriously enough by the courts,” he said.

Colville said a number of individuals convicted under similar circumstances in Egypt have exhausted all legal proceedings. He says they currently are on death row at imminent risk of execution. (VOA)

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Tech Giant Google Slammed over Human Rights, China Project by Top ex-official

The tech giant has been accused of "union busting" and retaliatory behaviour after it sacked the employees for allegedly violating the company's data security policies

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A top-notch former executive has blasted Google over its handling of human rights at its offices, alleging that he was sidelined when raised questions over the tech giant’s search engine project called “Dragonfly” for the China market.

Ross LaJeunesse, now a Democratic candidate for US Senate in Maine who worked as Google’s Head of International Relations, wrote on Medium that no longer can massive tech companies like Google be permitted to operate relatively free from government oversight.

“The company’s motto used to be aDon’t be evil.’ Dragonfly was only one of several developments that concerned those of us who still believed in the mantra of ‘Don’t be evil’. I was also concerned that Cloud executives were actively pursuing deals with the Saudi government, given its horrible record of human rights abuses,” LaJeunesse said in the post on Thursday.

In December 2017, Google announced the establishment of the Google Center for Artificial Intelligence in Beijing.

“A colleague was suddenly re-assigned to lead the policy team discussions for Dragonfly. As someone who consistently advocated for a human rights-based approach, I was being sidelined from the on-going conversations on whether to launch Dragonfly,” the Google executive added.

“Just when Google needed to double down on a commitment to human rights, it decided to instead chase bigger profits and an even higher stock price”.

Google’s CEO Sundar Pichai (Now the Alphabet CEO) told US regulators last year that Google had ano plans’ to launch the censored search engine project “right now”. The company which is blocked in China abandoned the project.

privacy, google
FILE -Google CEO Sundar Pichai speaks during the keynote address of the Google I/O conference in Mountain View, Calif., May 7, 2019. VOA

However, some Google employees reportedly believe they found evidence that Google’s plans to launch Dragonfly in China are still ongoing.

LaJeunesse also slammed Google for its handling of human rights – an issue that has led to internal advocacy within the company.

“It was no different in the workplace culture. Senior colleagues bullied and screamed at young women, causing them to cry at their desks. At an all-hands meeting, my boss said, ‘now you Asians come to the microphone too. I know you don’t like to ask questions’,” wrote LaJeunesse.

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He said: “I think the important question is what does it mean when one of America’s marque’ companies changes so dramatically. Is it the inevitable outcome of a corporate culture that rewards growth and profits over social impact and responsibility?”

The US government has launched a probe into Google over its labour practices following a complaint from employees who have been fired by the tech giant.

The tech giant has been accused of “union busting” and retaliatory behaviour after it sacked the employees for allegedly violating the company’s data security policies. (IANS)