This week the Human Rights Channel looks at South Africa, where a rare trial of police officers begins and in which, citizen video will help bring about justice for one case in the country’s alarming pattern of police brutality. Citizen videos also play a role in international diplomacy this week, as Cuba lobbies for a seat at the Human Rights Council and Sri Lanka attempts to stave off controversy ahead of an international summit.

South Africa

In the South African township of Daveyton in late February of this year, bystanders filmed video of a horrific case of police brutality. When taxi driver, Mido Macia, resisted arrest for illegal parking, officers handcuffed the Mozambican immigrant to the back of their vehicle and drove off. Macia died later that day in his jail cell. In a country with a pattern of impunity for extrajudicial killings, the YouTube videos sparked rare outcry from the press and politicians, and nine police officers were promptly arrested for their involvement. The Human Rights Channel has been following the case, which goes to trial today.


The hunger strike of imprisoned Cuban rapper and dissident Angel Yunier Remón is in the spotlight, as Cuba is seeking a seat on the UN Human Rights Council. We wrote about Remón and the video he reportedly recorded of authorities painting over his political graffiti in this blog post last month. In a recent editorial by the Washington Post, Remón’s case is used to illustrate why Cuba should not be given a seat on the council.


China is also bidding for a seat on the council. In this video by the organization, Human Rights In China, activists deliver a petition to the Chinese mission to the UN, urging the country to uphold human rights, as it pledged to do in its candidacy. The General Assembly votes Tuesday for new members of the council.

Sri Lanka

A three-day commonwealth summit beginning Friday is drawing attention to the human rights record of the host country, Sri Lanka. The Indian Prime Minister has reportedly canceled plans to attend, after an international outcry about the country’s human rights record, and citizen video is playing an important role. For the past year, Sri Lankan authorities have attempted to ban screenings of a documentary that uses videos taken by victims and perpetrators to tell the story of abuses during the Sri Lankan civil war.

Saudi Arabia

There is a lot of citizen video coming out of Saudi Arabia, particularly with regards to violence against immigrants and foreign workers and where authorities have also engaged in a violent crackdown on illegal immigrants. An Ethiopian was reportedly killed last week, prompting the Ethiopian government to repatriate emigrants to the country (report here).  This YouTube playlist, by activist Lissnup (@lissnup) compiles videos from the past few days documenting clashes and arrests in Riyadh and Jeddah.

The most recent citizen videos of human rights issues can always be found on our Citizen Watch and Watching Advocacy video playlists. Both are updated daily. Catch the latest citizen videos by following the Human Rights Channel on Twitter (@ythumanrights). 



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