Human Rights Reporting, Surveillance & Censorship in the "War on Terror" in Africa

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This session analyses links between human rights reporting, surveillance, censorship, and the 'War on Terror' as the U.S. military expands across Africa. The U.S.'s 'network centric warfare' strategy, 'collect it all' approach, and 'cooperation' with African states with histories of surveillance and political repression, impact human rights reporting in the public interest. Yet, there are tools and tactics human rights researchers and also journalists can use to circumvent surveillance and censorship, while increasing our own security.
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and the plan and the reasons and the
now we're ready to start the talk of Jennifer so there she's a social scientist and human rights researcher and has serves as a consultant to the Institute for WordPress reporting tactical tag and the airing media amongst others Xilie talking about human rights supporting today but Jennifer thank you so for those who are curious this map shows models an inventory of surveillance and weaponize germs of the US military
flown out of Djibouti Ethiopia and Kenya and from aircraft carriers at sea the before we begin no 0 I should tell you that I am the researcher in the description for this talk whose findings of Somalis in Ethiopia had been repressed I will share for the 1st time publicly today what was censored from my research how it was repressed what the implications are and how further investigative work has enabled me to connect the dots revealing a larger political picture that I had known while I was working in Ethiopia yeah I discovered that surveillance and censorship I experienced was not only a part of the history of surveillance and repression in Ethiopia but that it also connected with a larger pattern of surveillance and censorship in the Horn of Africa involving regional US allies such as Ethiopia Kenya and Djibouti in service of an information campaign for the war on terror in Africa throughout this talk I would like you to keep in mind at 12 rolled
Somali girl let's call her and the in a refugee camp in Ethiopia just over the Somali water when I met here a few years ago in her makeshift shelters branches with rights and tarpaulins stretch over is a patchwork roof held on by twine from the dry hot wind she sat on the ground plastic woven silently you're all intersect with her she said I am had been barely
able to speak since fleeing Mogadishu her father had been slotted in front of her eyes armed men raped her mother and she seemed died afterward her aunt said she felt I and was terrified to leave the shelter even to fetch water or go to school in the camp fearing that she would be brutally assaulted like her mother or assassinated at close range like her father everyone and heard stories of adolescent girls gone missing from the camps and no 1 knew whether they were alive or dead else
about fighters Ethiopian military paramilitary and security forces police and myriad local and foreign men rove along the roads and hills surrounding the camps near the Somali border the some of these foreign man include American Special Forces soldiers contractors and CIA the they also include allegedly fixes working for sodium men in search of young Somali girls for a weekend marriages many Somali refugee girls I spoke with had survived severe traumas and catastrophic loss and lacked fundamental support and options to recover and rebuild their lives after fleeing to the camps where they faced ongoing risks of attacks and abductions I've been working as a researcher and human rights issues involving women's and girls rights for over a decade I've worked with refugee adolescents from 18 conflict-affected countries that include Somalia Iraq and Afghanistan arguably adolescent girls surviving war and displacement are among the most vulnerable people on earth the and for Somali Iraqi Afghan girls surviving the war on terror and In surviving the war on terror they face a unique pattern of threats from diverse and extreme adversaries so in this presentation i'm going to share with you some of the results of my ongoing investigative work over the past couple of years since I left Ethiopia with many questions to start what was the
context in which surveillance and censorship of my research in Ethiopia took place at the time I did not know as US
citizen that the US military had built a large German next door ingenuity since soon after september 11th 2001 the US have begun expanding across Africa as a continent where every country except for Liberia had previously refused to hold a formal US military base while in Ethiopia and others have warned me how I would be surveillance by Ethiopian intelligence in my work with Somalis the of course I had assumed that American CIA operatives would be active in the area but I did not know that I will be working within the zone of targeted surveillance by CIA and US military intelligence as part of war and terror drone operations and proxy wars in the Horn of Africa the this map shows strong bases from 2015 but it does not show the innumerable lily pad or forward operating bases now reported to stretch across Africa from north to south and east to west the I will share with you today some
facts and stories of how suppression of human rights reporting and the press in Kenya Ethiopia and Djibouti connect with the war on terror these are African countries receiving significant amounts of US foreign military assistance as well as aid and the important African trade partners for the US the cattlemen a base in Djibouti is the only permanent base of the US United States Africa Command on the continent it has an estimated 5 thousand
soldiers and private defense contractors for the US stability is strategically positioned on the Gulf of Ade and between the Horn of Africa and the Middle East a significant proportion of the world's commercial shipping trade passes between the Suez Canal through the Red Sea and on through the Gulf of data and it's also a channel of fiber optic cables for Internet connectivity required for commercial purposes as well as for military
intelligence purposes for yourself or come note the US ever come includes the Army Navy Air Force Marine Corps the Combined Joint Task force for the Horn of Africa and the Joint Special Operations Command I let the US Navy introduce you to complement IEEE and its mission and the but but welcome
became eliminate really the only US military facilities on the continent of Africa there over 20 500 personnel working to support a variety of dynamic missions around a lot every day of the year I don't want it I think you're right that the war on the and that was the
of it
that related languages right through uh what you are going to avoid that like the you may have friends
relatives here there was a lot of theory alters the forces in the world the and
operational and logistical support for all of you international partners in what we do everybody plays a part to help build safety security and stability in the Horn of Africa 1 at the end of time
the it's worth taking a look at the evolution of years africans mission statement since George
Bush Jr announced that Djibouti base in 2007 it's not just formally recognize faces and but lily pad forward operating bases local airstrips in airports refueling stations that the US military users across Africa US soldiers and contractors are tasked with humanitarian projects to win the hearts and minds stabilizing countries like Somalia and Yemen security cooperation with African police training to African military and security forces counterterrorism operations drone targeted assassinations of suspected terrorists tracking mobile phone SIM card metadata and projects for D radicalization in countering violent extremism the a post september 11th 2001 US foreign internal defense tactics techniques and procedures for special forces manual says that official
US up as Special Forces policy directly advocates pervasive surveillance censorship press control concealing human rights abuses from journalists and extensive use of propaganda to make these and other population and resource control measures palatable a 2013 Pentagon study revealed the US shadow war in the Horn of Africa involving Kenya Ethiopia and Djibouti and also young men the US
military strategy in the 21st century relies on intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance missions to guide to kill
capture operations in its drone wars in Somalia and Yemen and proxy wars in the region through combining signals intelligence and human intelligence gathered by personnel working in numerous small footprint operations with the Djibouti base as the largest hub of activity the western wars in Africa as well
as in Afghanistan Iraq Pakistan Yemen and other locations are shaped by new US military concepts through adopting pioneered by the Department of Defense in the nineties as the early days of the Internet advanced it involves coordinating across what's called C for I
S R command control communications computers intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance to create a system of systems through Global Information Grid network-centric warfare aims to translate information advantage into competitive advantage through computer networking and geographically dispersed forces it's driven by a few other key concepts such as distributed responsibility it's difficult to prove specifically which information are packets of data or whose orders directly shape drone operators find fix and finish cycle for each target drone killing making attribution very difficult the power to
the edge is the theory that the 21st century military environments are too complex for 1 individual organization branch of the military and to understand them the secrecy the height of its complexity there as has been said such as the covert ops of the Joint Special Operations Command the full spectrum
dominance is another concept it's the ability to dominate a battlefield from peace operations through over use of military power rooted in advantages of information superiority it uses was called the 3 D approach diplomacy development and defense for 4 D if you add data the humanitarians in human rights researchers such as myself can become interesting signals intelligence and human intelligence targets as we collect useful information to intelligence agencies in our work with politicize populations and journalists can often access of course without our consent the we started here in the process of personal stories of what it feels like to be hunted by drones what is it like
to encounter the US military into a day-to-day person in Djibouti Ethiopia or Kenya or to a child in
Djibouti were in Ethiopia or those in the
Oromia region in Ethiopia which has been in the news recently concerning abuses by government security forces that have been trained by US military the what image does the US military
seek to project in the Horn of Africa winning hearts and minds as the slogan goes back at least to the American war in Vietnam the US military have indeed been an interacting with children in Ethiopia please remember this town dear
I'll come back to it 1st let's talk about
can you go investigative journalism on US involvement in training of let military and police has been repressed journalists who investigated the Westgate Mall terrorist attacks in Kenyan police extrajudicial killings had
been warned not to report on US military activities and have been surveilled and threatened it would kill the the the
1st time members of Kenya's death squads to be publicly about
assassinating suspects we what
targeted and then to find the Newton in
front of the from we don't when the Wishart for this
I can use counterterrorism strategy is
aging the country into conflict creating a generation of angry and alienated Muslims thing shot dead
in all life they're becoming a threat tool
global security sold in the nation
aljazeera has been given confidential documents revealing the intelligence withdraw these extrajudicial killing
intelligence the main been supplied by Western security agencies
ones the best thing for mission tomorrow's norm that been people that
you give us hospital work for aljazeera
investigates whether global powers of
conducting a proxy war in Africa
using a rule book from Israel the
bottles of provincial cell types used to prove that before for president can
yet has already face charges of crimes against humanity at the International
Criminal Court he could soon finds himself in
the dock again this talk of ordering the
killing of Muslim clerics that
exception was born in the people pile-up of muscles and potential the journalists to investigate
Kenya's killings courts have been threatened and warned by top Kenyan media houses not to cover most activities in Kenya and not to report in the war on the war on terror were seen among security forces in Kenya and Ethiopia a pattern of abuses similar to those of killings quite tactics from US covert operations in Iraq El Salvador in Vietnam the In 2010 Human Rights Watch researchers in Kenya investigated allegations of
Kenyan police at the Somali border using excessive force arbitrary detention threats of deportation extortion and even rates of Somali refugees the
complex power asymmetries in US proxy wars in Africa are coming to light as Kenyan and Ethiopian security forces trained by the US military are committing rights abuses against local people and refugees when I was in Ethiopia and you
can catch the city another time and when I was in Ethiopia my driver an artist told me he was a former investigative journalist he left journalism as he had received death threats to himself and his family he warned me repeatedly not to talk about sensitive issues or criticize the Ethiopian government even in his car sure that his car was about and mobile phones could recorded and transmit our conversations he didn't even want me to tell him stories for fear that I could put him at risk by being seen as even listening to me it's worth noting Ethiopia may be called a former studies state that received decades of military and intelligence assistance from East Germany the Ethiopian government may be seen as still using tactics of fear and repression having been advised by snazzy consultants the government has used the 2009 anti-terrorism proclamation to suppress freedom of expression to detention of journalists and
protracted trials many have fled the country due to harassment intimidation and politically motivated criminal charges another human rights researcher commented to me confidentially government people are not reducing trafficking in the country because they are involved in the business the government is not concerned about violations of their own security forces
by their own security forces if you try to research trafficking there will be surveillance they will put their spies following you they dedicate a lot of resources to surveillance the In fact
German surveillance technology company true of course has played a central role in expanding Ethiopian government communications surveillance capacities according to a joint investigation by Privacy International and that's politique chose core was doing business in Ethiopia while I was there a few years ago
journalists and activists average citizens in Ethiopia widely assumed that the communications are extensively monitored phone records and transcripts have been used to extract confessions under torture according to Human Rights Watch the information network security agency created in 2011 is alleged to be the agency responsible for using offensive malware from Italy based hacking team in 2013 and 2014 target journalists again according to Privacy International and that's politics research the this map shows where the Ethiopian refugee camps are the Somali border where I
did research with adolescent girls and
while that map shows how the camps are well within what this map shows are transit ranges for use US and NATO signals intelligence used to guide drone strikes people reside in the to dig area camps in eastern Ethiopia under the gaze of US drones while also being surveilled by Ethiopian intelligence and with the Cuban
military else about US military and contractors and other fighting factions roving the same roads and hills were refugees must walk
Ethiopian soldiers have been trained by the US
to carry out covert US counterterrorism operations this further shows the US Navy giving advanced tactical weapons training an Ethiopian soldier reports are emerging that the
Ethiopian Aliyu police a special police forces are using US military tactics to put down insurgent and terrorist forces despite the Ethiopia it despite that in Ethiopia the aura Somali areas have been contested under land rights issues for decades long before the protests became framed as terrorism under Ethiopia's 2009 anti-terrorism proclamation this photo from a to dig area is also where these men rove as they said on the same roads and holes where Somali refugee women and girls walk to gather firewood for cooking food rations and must look for a way to earn money the who story matters let's see what
Somali refugee girls had to say like Somali
girls trying to get on with their education in transition to adulthood while in the camps some Somali refugee girls are doing OK helped by humanitarian aid organizations
having fled to the camps many from Mogadishu somewhere in Ethiopia Kenya with family members some go to school and aspire to become doctors IT professionals physicists some Somali girls I met called
themselves modern because they play football in public defining norms can scrapping how girls should behave the this is a Somali girl aged
16 who worked as a domestic servant US Marines had rescued her at the she told me after 5 6 days at sea are boat capsized an American military ships saved us and took us to Djibouti yes sorry held me into tea for 2 months that I was sent by plane to address and them by ground transportation to refugee camps and NGO gave me a blanket and a mat to sleep on the girl explained to me that she is unaccompanied alone and only survives by working for a family and the only pathways that any girl could explain to me 2 income where domestic work and sex work which actually constitutes child trafficking and paid rape of underage girls whose basic rights are being denied them I used to research method called
photovoice and I gave several Somali refugee girls disposable cameras they had a month under the dresses I ask them to document what they liked in the Council and they did not like their as girls they explain to me how dark and dangerous it is in the nite at nite in the camps girls avoid fetching
water are going to the loo chains after dark meat another let a little bit can people see this
thank you they explained unaccompanied
girls who live with other families are forced to sleep in inappropriate places and error rate were killed sometimes they sleep outside no 1 cares especially young girls who don't have a family to take care of them to the right of the red arrow on this photo is a refugee girl in EU and manage camp sleeping outside in a burlap sack that had been used to transport capped were chart as a methamphetamine likely that mostly Manchu throughout the day many men in the camps drink alcohol in the evening to come down from chewing khat girls complained how drunken man harass an assault and in the evenings so the I interviewed
86 Somali girls ages 10 to 16 both those who do and don't attend
school adults corroborated stories of rights violations against girls and staff of N G O's feared getting kicked out of the camps by the Ethiopian government is seen to be criticizing the Ethiopian administration for refugee and returnee affairs many took risks and trust me their stories perhaps hoping that they might reach a wider audience of people who could do something about the situation for protection security I relied on analog surveillance tactics that's what I knew at the time to keep conversations
and hadron interview notes is confidential and hidden away as possible I compartment alized information and sharply limited who knew my itinerary I stash sections of handwritten notes in secret places in my close and travel bags I waited to type of notes until after I left Ethiopia as at the time I did not know how to encrypt files or hard drives or other ways to secure sensitive material digitally I also never hand road typed up a list of the names of people I spoke with so that if someone asked if they could not get such a list from me or anyone UN HCR Ethiopia did demand a written list from me which I did not provide them as I had made sure that such a list did not exist the another research method that I use is called safety mapping and storytelling which involve girls drawing their conception of the camp where they go what they
like and don't like and then red axes to show places where they feel unsafe the Ethiopian government tried to force me to be a score X. escorted by 1 of the workers spy in the camps in my interviews for my protection they set I ask for a woman scored or spy when they presented me with an Ethiopian Highlander man who looked googly IoT and hyper I'm cat methamphetamine belief that men to I did end up with the woman government
worker who it seemed I managed to 4 by letting the 1st group of girls draw for over an hour quietly she eventually left me alone before I started the story telling part of this child for the research method maybe she thought I was doing arts and crafts activity with the girls instead of serious research good here's some examples of the maps the girls true of the camps
they explain the maps to me with stories each Rademacher signified places were girls had been harassed beaten attacked were abducted the the 1 girl told me this
story yeah the most girls don't report rates they don't trust the local authorities the Ethiopian government and you and were failing girls in providing their basic needs and protection I know the resources can be scarce but surely the UN and refugee host countries can do better to protect children and adolescents allegations of sex trafficking with Americans and Saudis involved as clients for prostitution came from young and adult
sources of interviews revealed reports of sex trafficking from the camps to and through nearby towns such as della where the US military had done humanitarian projects and NGO workers said there had been a clustering of rape cases among refugee girls ages 13 to 14 and used give training initiatives on prevention often with protecting adolescent girls in mind censorship is rarely 1 over actions it comes as a series of events In the case of my research in Ethiopia it was a combination of censorship and self-censorship of staff of NGOs UN and the Ethiopian government refugee agency before during and after my interviews in accounts of the Somali border findings have been repressed through
verbal pressure and warnings physical surveillance self-censorship a DNA share Ethiopia editorial review 2 and 3 times you and demands to remove
sections and power imbalances in working relationships between organizations and this was all in context of Ethiopia as among the world's top 10 censorship offenders according to the Committee to Protect Journalists and 2015 what was censored concerned criticism of the
Ethiopian government the types of perpetrators and the allegations that the State refugee agency was not systematically or immediately registering Somali girls as refugees which place them in an extremely vulnerable situation where their rights were violated with impunity why was it so important to censor research on girls rights in Ethiopian camps was it out of fear of criticizing the you enter the Ethiopian
government or angering illicit traffickers was a because the findings perhaps were embarrassing to US Afrikaans and could
possibly question the legitimacy of the US
military in Africa in 2013
US soldiers in Ethiopia were caught sex-trafficking girls but it was not reported publicly until late last year dear which I mentioned earlier is within reach of the to dig accounts right been working by just a few hours military documents obtained by
journalists show that soldiers had been warned that there were issues of human trafficking dollar and many migrants and a strand of a US military captain told soldiers not to engage in using prostitutes and that part of the mission is a positive projection of America 1
sergeant had commanded the outcome commented that several of the world women referring to the prostitutes were younger than his daughter
military documents show the lieutenant said that there had been ringleaders who told soldiers what to say and how to stay out of trouble government records show that before
and after the a human trafficking training military investigators they set of Germany found probable cause that 9 of the 19 and members of the military detachment had sex with prostitutes either at an office residents in Djibouti or a hotel and dollar Ethiopia a soldier
who raise concerns to his superiors highlighted that the prostitutes were taken to a sergeant's room where secure communication system was capped and
secret documents had been stored as well as weapons military investigation may have been triggered over the possibility of security breaches of classified information and computers in my interviews people had told
me to follow the trucking routes between nearby towns and to Djibouti and fact every Trafficking in Persons Report for Djibouti from its 1st in 2006 to its latest in 2015 cites the Ethiopia Djibouti trafficking corridor these are trucking routs the US military have used from their bases in Ethiopia and Djibouti the rout passes through rule areas by an orphanage and by refugee camps over the border on the way to Djibouti City traffickers merchants migrants tourists and military all use these roads reports a review to bad revealed roadside brothels along the trucking routes and hotels in Djibouti as places foreign soldiers frequent for commercial sex attribution Red Cross explained
that a generalized epidemic of HIV and AIDS in Djibouti was being driven by several factors including the presence of naval and military bases with soldiers with large incomes it reported neighboring instability in Ethiopia and Somalia led to migrant women and girls being most affected in pockets of concentration of the epidemic the the good behind
schedule so I'm 26 minutes and etiquette on Kenny Kenny a community
started late by l wrap up and
maybe a prominence good you need to
wrap up online then there is a that you know
we're want to give people the chance to to
change between the yes of course of course on the k wants to have certainly and sent any case you can come up at the slides online the
all rapid I'm not only advocating for legal responses and humanitarian aid programs need to become more brave and preventing and responding to sex trafficking not only were men of color perpetrators are concerned but when northern European and Saudi Arabian Richmond and the institutions that may represent are involved it is long past time to end impunity the situation requires immediate and sustained action and what I'm asking for includes In independent external investigation into US military contractor involvement in sex trafficking in Djibouti and Ethiopia capacity development for local services investigation and prosecution in civilian courts in base hosting countries as well as U. S. courts for American perpetrators accountability for child sex trafficking involvement and ending legal
immunity for humanitarian military a private contractor personnel as it perpetuates impunity it and undermines any legitimate humanitarian pieces stabilization mission and for human rights researchers and journalists please assess a digital operational and psychosocial risks to your communication data and devices and help mitigate those risks using encryption tools and tactics to circumvent electronic surveillance you can ask me for more information about this the I think you know if you have evidence you'd like to submit for verification and
reporting you can send it anonymously to show heated . org at this suggests that using the Torah anonymous web browser thank you very much uh a on the many who