After looking at the death toll and the positive cases of COVID-19 around the world, there might be a point where every human might have thought of suing China for releasing a deadly virus into the world. Many countries, organisations as well individuals have already filed lawsuits against China.
They unanimously believe that because of China‘s irresponsibility of not letting the other countries know about an outbreak caused a blockade from taking early actions. The Chinese authorities have chosen denial, censorship and bluster instead of transparency that might have saved lives. The regime’s transmission of patently false information has made matters worse.
Various lawsuits filed against China over coronavirus
Lawsuit 1 –
On March 12, as the coronavirus pandemic began meddling daily life across the US, a Florida attorney –Matthew Moore– filed a federal class-action lawsuit against the Chinese government. It accused China of a slow response that caused “injury and incalculable harm” to people and businesses.
The lawsuit also alleged that President Xi Jinping of China initially declared that he directed officials to check the virus on January 7. However, it was later found out that he hadn’t done it and waited until January 22 to do direct containment, still did not make any attempts public till it was too late.
Chinese authorities, “acting from their economic self-interest and looking to defend their country as a superpower, failed to report the outbreak as quickly as possible; underreported cases; and was unable to contain the epidemic despite knowing the seriousness of the situation,” the lawsuit stated.
Lawsuit 2 –
Similarly, a 20 trillion dollars lawsuit has been filed against Chinese authorities in the US over coronavirus outbreak. American lawyer Larry Klayman and his advocacy group Freedom Watch along with Texas company Buzz Photos have registered the lawsuit in US District Court for the Northern District of Texas against: the Chinese government, Chinese army, the Wuhan Institute of Virology, Director of Wuhan Institute of Virology Shi Zhengli and Chinese army’s Major General Chen Wei.
In the lawsuit, he alleged that the COVID-9 was “designed by China to be a biological weapon of war”, and that whether or not the country planned to release it, China violated “US law, international laws, treaties, and norms.” However, plaintiffs have solicited 20 trillion dollars, which is a more substantial amount than China’s GDP.
Lawsuit 3 –
Robert Eglet’s filed another lawsuit on behalf of five Las Vegas small businesses against the Chinese government over the new coronavirus. The lawsuit states that, as the officials hid information about the outbreak and US small business should receive billions of dollars in damages. The case seeks class-action status for 32 million businesses for the lost income and profits.
However, whether China can be held accountable under international law, or it can be made to compensate those crippled by the outbreak, is far from clear.
Behind the scene – China
COVID-19 is believed to have originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan. According to the city’s public health commission, the first case was confirmed on December 12. This was not reported to the World Health Organization’s Chinese office until December 31 days later, as “pneumonia of unknown aetiology.” The Chinese authorities shut down the seafood market on January 1, where most of the earliest known cases were clustered.
Chinese officials affirmed until mid-January that there was no evidence of human-to-human transmission. However, a report by Chinese researchers later that month notified the evidence of virus being transmitted from humans as early as mid-December.
The US says that China’s delay in taking action cause the virus to spread worldwide. The Politburo Standing Committee, China’s top decision-making body, in a meeting on February 3 admitted “shortcomings” in the country’s response to the outbreak and a need to improve.
Guiding principles of International Outbreak Alert and Response
If the reports are true, China did delay its feet, leading to violating the International Health Regulations. This legally binding instrument of international laws specifies that parties must inform the WHO, “within 24 hours of assessment of public health information, of all events which may constitute a public health emergency of international concern.”
Countries are also obliged to “continue to communicate to WHO timely, accurate and sufficiently detailed public health information available to it on the notified event.”
The rules comprise a mechanism for concluding whether a given event qualifies as an emergency, which was amended in 2005 to include any new contagious diseases, following China’s inactive response to the severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, in 2002 and 2003.
What has to be looked into?
Answer to the question of compensation is determining by Beijing’s way of tackling COVID-19 runs counter to prevailing international law.
Draft articles adopted by the International Law Commission, a United Nations agency, in 2001 state that the country liable for a wrongful act “is under an obligation to make full reparation for the injury caused.” This would be the case even if the predicament originated with local authorities.
It is uncertain, whether China can be made to pay compensation, in this case. As per the experts, monetary damages will be difficult to claim without proving a causal link to the harm done.
They said plaintiffs would need to prove that Chinese authorities had a scientific understanding of the perils and yet failed to take prudent caution, that led directly to Americans, for example, catching the disease.
Furthermore, even if there was a breach of the procedures set out by the International Health Regulations, the most that could be done is to direct steps for prevention.
The articles on international responsibility have been adopted only by the International Law Commission (ILC) and are not binding on countries in the same way as an endorsed treaty. Taking the matter to the International Court of Justice would require Beijing’s consent. The decisions to file the lawsuits in US courts emphasise the challenge and of bringing such cases to an international venue.
Matters of national responsibility are often resolved by diplomatic rather than legal means.
It’s more likely that the issue will be brought out for debate through a multinational forum, like the UN General Assembly or the WHO, than that the responsibility issue will be settled in court.
Finally, experts state that International society’s mechanisms for punishing wrongdoers don’t work that well.
All You Need To Know About National Institute Of Food Technology Entrepreneurship And Management Bill 2021
On July 26, 2021, Lok Sabha passed a bill under the ministry of Food Processing Industry. The bill is titled as National Institute of Food Technology Entrepreneurship and Management Bill, 2021. The main motive of this bill is to address issues with the Food Processing Industry, Entrepreneurship and one Institution for National Importance. With the passing of this bill, the Indian Institute of Food Processing Technology (IIFPT) and National Institute of Food Technology Entrepreneurship and Management (NIFTEM) is now merged as Institutions of National Importance, and it aims at providing various research and advancement in learning about the Food Industry and its associated branches. The bill was first introduced in the house in February 2019 but was pending due to protest by the opposition.
Significance of Institutions of National Importance (INI)
With the passing of this bill, the institutions enjoy greater autonomy through which they can carry out various courses, research attracting skilled faculties and students from all over the country and overseas. Good standards in education will be adopted to improve the present and future of education in this branch and sector, overcoming the technological gap in the country. This law aims to improve and introduce new changes in food, bio-nanotechnology, cold chain technology etc. The desired efforts will be taken in terms of human resources and infrastructure developments, labs for research etc. Liberty to open centres anywhere in India is also granted to INI and include courses regarding food technology certification and improving the workforce of the country.
Some other important features of this act are the Institution has been authorized with the Board of Government, Senate and other acting Authorities. The Council of Board will include 16 members from different branches from the same field. The Head will be Chairperson, who will be a skilled person from the Food Industry, the Director, Dean and Registrar. Members appointed from Centre and State Governments, Members from FSSAI and Council of Agriculture Research, as mentioned in the bill. The 16 members of the board will carry out work of taking administrative decisions, creating annual budgets and paths for institution progress as an organization, establishing departments, their appointment terms of services, faculties etc. The Board of Council also holds power to grant Honorary Degrees and Diplomas. The Senate shall be the principal academic body of the Institute, consisting of the people such as Director as the Chairperson; Registrar; Full-time skilled level Professor; and Three academically skilled Individuals nominated by the board from the field.
The Union Minister of Food Processing Industry, Mr Pashupati Kumar Paras, expressed his gratitude to PM Modi for this landmark step in this industry from his Twitter handle, indicating new opportunities in Food Technology Industries. Therefore, this Act looks promising on paper with new opportunities and in Educational Development. Amidst the Pegasus Spyware and repeal of the farm laws, this looks positive from the Modi Government.
लोकसभा में आज, राष्ट्रीय खाद्य प्रौद्योगिकी, उद्यमिता और प्रबंध संस्थान विधेयक, 2021 (निफ्टेम विधेयक, 2021) को पारित किया गया।
इस विधेयक के पारित होने पर इससे जुड़े हर व्यक्ति को बधाई देता हूँ और साथ ही खाद्य प्रसंस्करण से जुड़े छात्रों को भी बधाई देता हूँ। @MOFPI_GOI
— Pashupati Kumar Paras (@PashupatiParas) July 26, 2021
Fake News: Accountability Of News Organisations
Fake news is false news stories or hoaxes, which are deliberately released to misinform and to create chaos in society or among readers. Fake news is one of the main reasons behind the disruption of peace in society and it becomes more dangerous in volatile places. Fake news is generally shared with propaganda to mislead the audience by hiding or twisting the truth. However fake news isn’t new to the web, it recently became an enormous problem in today’s digital world. Fake news mostly comes from sites that are bogus or have sensationalized stories.
Most of the users do not check the facts before sharing the information on their social media, which can be a reason for widespread fake news. So, it is important to differentiate between fake news and authentic news to maintain harmony in society and to avoid false news and its repercussions.
Fake News Stories
- On 2nd April, a team of doctors, health workers, and revenue officials were attacked by the family members of a 65-year-old man who died of COVID-19 in Indore, Madhya Pradesh because of the fake video which claimed that healthy Muslims were being injected with the virus, reiterating the risks and physical manifestations of misinformation.
- On March 22, 2020, Mr. Modi’s new term ‘Janta curfew’ has sparked a buzz on the Internet. Social media users started interpreting PM Modi’s concept of ‘Janta curfew’ in their own ways. Social media was flooded with a certain ‘scientific explanation’ behind the curfew as to how it will break the chain of transmissions of the deadly coronavirus infection. The claim was found out to be misleading. PM Modi, while announcing the curfew, didn’t mention this particular ‘scientific’ logic behind it.
- Rumours were circulated on WhatsApp groups about a kidnapping gang operating in India’s western state of Maharashtra in 2018. The rumors eventually cause a mob lynching, that killed five migrant workers because they were suspected of being kidnappers.
- On November 13, 2016, when the government of India has demonetized Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes and planned to replace them with new Rs 500 and Rs 2000 notes, rumors were spreading about Rs 2000 notes. Rumors claimed the new higher denomination currency comes with a Nano-GPS chip which acts as a reflector, giving precise location coordinates of the currency to permit every note to be tracked. However, the RBI officials had dismissed these as false and said the new Rs 2000 note does not have a Nano-GPS chip as is being claimed on social media, WhatsApp.
- In the pandemic situation, where vaccination has become crucial, in a series of viral videos it was seen that people are claiming that magnet was attracted to the arms of alleged COVID-19 vaccinated recipients. This kind of fake news can create misconceptions about vaccines and people may not take their jab of vaccines. The Centre has declined the claims that Covid-19 vaccines can make people ‘magnetic’. It has also dismissed theories about microchips in coronavirus vaccines.
Need of Accountability
False information on social media can cause huge problems. It is often done to influence political processes. Need for Accountability increases in such situations because the false information provided by certain news organizations can create a ruckus in society. Before publishing the news, it is necessary to check the facts.
If the news organizations, shared misinformation unintentionally they must remove the content right away and they should apologize to the readers. If fake news is spread with propaganda to create chaos in society, then the news organization should be punished under the law. The information must be checked before sharing it with other people.
Curious Case Of Pegasus: Explained
Pegasus is a spyware that can hack the victims’ mobile phones and read their SMS messages and emails. The Pegasus spyware is owned by an Israeli software company named NSO Group. According to the various reports, this company has targeted more than 50,000 phone numbers at the Global level, of which 300 are in India for surveillance.
The news broke out after the 17 media partners investigated. This investigation brought into the picture information about a leaked database of mobile telephone numbers of Indian Ministers, Opposition leaders, journalists, the legal community, business people, government officials, scientists, activists and many influential personalities of the nation.
Pegasus Spyware and India
According to the report by the agency, the Israeli company which sells Pegasus around the world says that its clients are confined to ‘vetted governments”, believed to number 36. The NSO Group also says that ‘the target list in India is not ours, never was.’ Their refusal of the leaked database has created a loophole in understanding this case.
This whole case has violated the integrity of democratic institutions. According to the report by the agencies, after the mobile phones of the opposition leader Rahul Gandhi and various other leaders were hacked under the Pegasus spyware surveillance. Multiple tweets were made against the Bharatiya Janata Party(BJP) government in India. This whole case has become one of the major threats in the political arena and the Indian Democracy.
Though at the start, it was used for national security purposes. The explosive expansion of surveillance technology vendors has become a vast human rights and a global security issue. If such surveillance technologies increase, it might cause a lot of problems to countries around the globe. Hence, as a precaution, all these countries need to work on regulating this technology.
According to the reports by the agency, one of the targeted phones by the Pegasus spyware was of the former election commissioner of India, Ashok Lavasa. Various such people and such opposition leaders were somehow against the BJP government having their phones hacked with the NSO-owned spyware. All these instances and the names in the leaked list have pointed figures towards the Modi Government.
The Modi government’s stand on this case was put forward in Lok Sabha by two serving ministers, Ashwini Vaishnaw and Prahlad Singh Patel. These two leaders were also featured in the leaked database. The recent Information Technology Minister, Ashwini Vaishnaw defended the BJP government in the parliament by saying, “the expose was an attempt to malign Indian democracy and its well-established institutions.” She even said, ‘any form of illegal surveillance is not possible with the checks and balances in our laws and robust institutions.’
This case has adjourned the parliament proceedings due to the protests inside and outside the house of parliament by the opposition party.
Pegasus Spyware and World.
In the statement given to the agency, Access Now, an organisation defending the digital rights of global users, said it was outraged that products sold by NSO were allegedly “used to hack and invade the private communications” of thousands of people across the globe.
At a global level, France’s Emmanuel Macron was targeted in the Pegasus spyware case. As the phone of French President Emmanuel Macron was hacked, the investigation was carried out and later on was published which was directed by the Paris-based non-profit journalism group Forbidden. After this case came in front of the whole world, the Pegasus spyware surveillance came into the picture.
If this continues for some more time, it will ruin India’s Democratic values at a global level. As well as this might become a huge technological threat between the different nations around the globe.
जम्मू-कश्मीर में गैर-कश्मीरी नागरिकों पर आतंकियों का बढता अत्याचार!
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