Archive for Amnesty International

Dear Prosecutor General [AI call]

Posted in Kids, Travel with tags , , , , , , , , on April 7, 2022 by xi'an

Public Prosecutor General, Mr. Zbigniew Tadeusz Ziobro
ul. Postępu 3

02676 Warszawa



Dear Public Prosecutor General,

I am writing to express my deep concern about charges brought against human rights defender Justyna Wydrzyńska that stem solely from her activism to support access to safe abortion. Justyna has been charged with ‘helping in the performance of an abortion’ on the basis of Article 152.2 of the Polish Penal Code, and ‘possession of unauthorised drugs with the aim of introducing them to the market’ under Article 124 of the Pharmaceutical Law. If convicted, she faces up to three years in prison. I am deeply concerned that charges against Justyna appear to be brought in reprisal for her activism and her legitimate efforts to defend access to safe and legal abortions in Poland. Justyna is a doula and an activist who has been outspoken about her own abortion. She is one of the founders of Abortion Dream Team, an activist collective in Poland that campaigns against abortion stigma and provides evidencebased and nonbiased abortionrelated information, including on World Health Organisation (WHO) guidance on safe selfmanaged medical abortion.

I would like to stress that laws that restrict access to abortions in Poland only allowed when the health or the life of the pregnant woman is at risk or when the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest and criminalise those who provide or help with an abortion put pregnant people’s health and lives at risk and violate Poland’s obligations under international human rights law and standards. It is precisely because of these harmful laws, that Justyna’s support to people whose health needs have been neglected and denied by the Polish health care system are crucial and can save lives. Her work should be applauded, not criminalised. Justyna’s efforts are part of a growing movement of individuals in Poland and around the world who show solidarity and compassion, while helping others to access the sexual and reproductive health and rights they are entitled to. Poland must take urgent action to ensure that abortion is fully decriminalised and that people defending sexual and reproductive rights, including access to safe abortion, are able to carry out their legitimate work without fear of reprisals or intimidation.

I therefore urge you to immediately drop all charges against human rights defender Justyna Wydrzyńska and refrain from bringing any other charges with the intention to criminalise her or other activists for providing lifesaving support to people seeking an abortion.

Yours sincerely,

Roe vs. Wade vs. NYT?

Posted in Books, Kids with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on October 4, 2021 by xi'an

While the NYT still offers a liberal view on abortion issues, with a recent and most interesting opinion tribune on the gradual politicization of anti-abortion in the past thirty years, and calls against the Texas vigilante State law against every single case of abortion, I noticed several entries going quite the opposite direction, one on the limitations of “my body my choice” drawing an appalling parallel between pro-choice and anti-vaccine arguments (!), written by an Anglican priest, calling for “a good that inspires fear and hope” (!!) and “positive liberty [as an] alternative to personal choice and individual autonomy” (!!!). And another essay by another religious extremist, professor at Southeastern Baptist theo(il)logical seminary, that rejoices at the Texas law as a first step, not “extreme” in the least..! Leading to a flow of letters to the journal. And yet another, with a paper reporting on abortion in Spain, which while legal since 2010 allows for “conscientious objectors” in such numbers as to prevent abortions in 5 of the 17 Spanish states. And gives most of its space to these objectors, ending up with an awfully patronizing and religious laden call to the “conscience” of their patients.

abolish the death penalty

Posted in Kids with tags , , , on January 12, 2021 by xi'an

It is irreversible and mistakes happen. Execution is the ultimate, irrevocable punishment: the risk of executing an innocent person can never be eliminated. Since 1973, for example, more than 160 prisoners sent to death row in the USA have later been exonerated or released from death row on grounds of innocence. Others have been executed despite serious doubts about their guilt.

It does not deter crime. Countries who execute commonly cite the death penalty as a way to deter people from committing crime. This claim has been repeatedly discredited, and there is no evidence that the death penalty is any more effective in reducing crime than life imprisonment.

It is often used within skewed justice systems. In many cases recorded by Amnesty International, people were executed after being convicted in grossly unfair trials, on the basis of torture-tainted evidence and with inadequate legal representation. In some countries death sentences are imposed as the mandatory punishment for certain offences, meaning that judges are not able to consider the circumstances of the crime or of the defendant before sentencing.

It is discriminatory. The weight of the death penalty is disproportionately carried by those with less advantaged socio-economic backgrounds or belonging to a racial, ethnic or religious minority. This includes having limited access to legal representation, for example, or being at greater disadvantage in their experience of the criminal justice system.

It is used as a political tool. The authorities in some countries, for example Iran and Sudan, use the death penalty to punish political opponents.

crowdsourcing, data science & machine learning to measure violence & abuse against women on twitter

Posted in Books, Statistics, University life with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 3, 2019 by xi'an

Amnesty International just released on December 18 a study on abuse and harassment on twitter account of female politicians and journalists in the US and the UK. Realised through the collaboration of thousands of crowdsourced volunteers labeling  tweets from the database and the machine-learning expertise of the London branch of ElementAI, branch driven by my friend Julien Cornebise with the main purpose of producing AI for good (as he explained at the recent Bayes for good workshop). Including the development of an ML tool to detect abusive tweets, called Troll Patrol [which pun side is clear in French!]. The amount of abuse exposed by this study and the possibility to train AIs to spot [some of the] abuse on line are both arguments that support Amnesty International call for the accountability of social media companies like twitter on abuse and violence propagated through their platform. (Methodology is also made available there.)

Bayes for good

Posted in Books, Mountains, pictures, Running, Statistics, Travel, University life with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 27, 2018 by xi'an

A very special weekend workshop on Bayesian techniques used for social good in many different sense (and talks) that we organised with Kerrie Mengersen and Pierre Pudlo at CiRM, Luminy, Marseilles. It started with Rebecca (Beka) Steorts (Duke) explaining [by video from Duke] how the Syrian war deaths were processed to eliminate duplicates, to be continued on Monday at the “Big” conference, Alex Volfonsky (Duke) on a Twitter experiment on the impact of being exposed to adverse opinions as depolarising (not!) or further polarising (yes), turning into network causal analysis. And then Kerrie Mengersen (QUT) on the use of Bayesian networks in ecology, through observational studies she conducted. And the role of neutral statisticians in case of adversarial experts!

Next day, the first talk of David Corlis (Peace-Work), who writes the Stats for Good column in CHANCE and here gave a recruiting spiel for volunteering in good initiatives. Quoting Florence Nightingale as the “first” volunteer. And presenting a broad collection of projects as supports to his recommendations for “doing good”. We then heard [by video] Julien Cornebise from Element AI in London telling of his move out of DeepMind towards investing in social impacting projects through this new startup. Including working with Amnesty International on Darfour village destructions, building evidence from satellite imaging. And crowdsourcing. With an incoming report on the year activities (still under embargo). A most exciting and enthusiastic talk!

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