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In keeping with improved accountability within the Department of Defence, from 20 January 2012, Hot Issue Briefs submitted to the Minister for Defence by the Department of Defence will be publicly released.

On 20 January 2011, the Minister for Defence released 116 Hot Issue Briefs from the period 14 September 2010 to the present, as listed in the table below. Summary information about the briefs is provided below.

Together with the 138 Hot Issue Briefs released under Freedom of Information provisions on 9 January 2012, this places on the public record 245 of the 248 of Hot Issue Briefs submitted to Minister for Defence Stephen Smith. There are selected briefs not being released at this time as they would prejudice ongoing matters. They will be released once those matters are finalised.

In the future, Hot Issue Briefs to the Minister for Defence will be released below in Portable Document Format, usually within one week after submission to the Minister.

The Australian Department of Defence initiates a potentially remarkable transparency initiative, releasing “Hot Issue Briefs”, documents providing "initial and early advice to Ministers and Defence senior leaders on sensitive or complex matters or incidents that may require their immediate attention.“ 

Here are some examples (all links are PDFs) that involve imagery/technology (unsurprisingly involving voyeurism):
soldier takes and shares pictures of what he feels is sub-standard accommodation 
– rumours of a video of a sex act between a soldier and a local woman circulating in the Solomon Islands 
– alleged secret transmission via Skype of consensual sexual intercourse between two officer cadets to four other cadets
camera-phone discovered in showers (considered especially sensitive in light of the Skype incident earlier that year) 

[Originally published here on the WITNESS Hub Blog.]

I’m in a packed Budapest conference room, at the the Global Voices Citizen Media Summit.  Today’s sessions focus on practical tools and measures that networks of activists can take to counteract global censorship efforts.

Sami Ben Gharbia, the tireless Director of Advocacy for Global Voices, has just shown us a couple of examples of online video advocacy from North Africa.

First up, Tarsniper from Morocco, who filmed Moroccan traffic police taking bribes from drivers:
Sami says that these videos inspired many others to try the same tactics, and also that these videos resulted in the arrests of some officers, and the transfer of others.

His other example comes from Redeyef in Tunisia, where activists bypassed the block on video-sharing sites to upload videos showing recent protests in that city, protests that were met with violence and suppression from the government. The activists show the dead bodies of two protestors, and they show shells that they say prove the Tunisian authorities’ use of live ammunition:

More from the summit over the next hours…

[Originally published here as part of WITNESS’s collaboration with Global Voices Online]

You’d be forgiven for thinking it’s been Saddam, Saddam, Saddam, in recent weeks, but GV has covered other human rights videos that deserve a bit of limelight – so, in this regular new feature, I’m going to round up the best of those recent stories.

Something for WITNESS’s Amazon Wishlist [via Veronica]

First to Pawlina, host of a Ukrainian radio show in Vancouver, Canada, who blogs about human trafficking at The Natashas. After her post in late December commending Ukrainian pop star Ruslana for releasing a video condemning human trafficking, Pawlina praises another musician, Peter Gabriel, for founding WITNESS, but, under the title “Some human rights abuses harder to expose than others”, offers some advice:

It’s very commendable of rock stars to help expose human rights abuses around the world.

British rock legend Peter Gabriel has formd an organization called Witness that provides video equipment to human rights activists to record such abuses.

I suspect he may not be aware of the horrific abuses suffered by hundreds of thousands of young women and even children, at the hands of human traffickers pandering to men seeking instant, no-strings-attached sexual gratification.

In which case, someone should send him a copy of The Natashas: Inside the New Global Sex Trade.

Then again, no doubt it would be extremely difficult to film what goes on behind the closed doors and barred windows of brothels and “breaking grounds”, much less expose it to public view.

In fact WITNESS did produce a documentary about trafficking in 1997, Bought And Sold, but Pawlina’s right – it’s proving quite difficult to find footage from behind those “closed doors and barred windows” – so if you have seen, or even filmed footage of that kind, please email me (email address at the end of the article) to let me know.

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