World Newsletter

FRONT PAGE NEWS
12 February 2020

EU SEEN OPENING UP TRADE TO VIETNAM, CLOSING DOOR TO CAMBODIA

The European Union is expected to open its markets to Vietnam on Wednesday,
while closing its trade doors with Cambodia, rewarding the former for
progress on labour guarantees and sanctioning the latter for human rights
abuses.
The moves mark Europe's increased insistence that trading partnerships go
beyond liberalisation and be coupled with commitments to environmental,
labour and social standards. On Wednesday, it will display both its carrot
and stick.
In Strasbourg, EU lawmakers will vote on a free-trade agreement struck with
Vietnam, the EU's most comprehensive such pact with a developing country and
its second with a member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations
(ASEAN).
Initial backing from the international trade committee of the European
Parliament last month suggested the parliament as a whole would back it.
Critics have taken issue with Vietnam's record on human and labour rights.
Human Rights Watch urged lawmakers to delay approval until Vietnam fulfilled
a pledge to allow freedom of assembly for workers and reformed a penal code
that it says puts government critics in jail.
EU trade commissioner Phil Hogan told lawmakers in a debate on Tuesday that
Vietnam's human rights situation was "certainly an area of concern", but
said that forums such as an annual human rights dialogue were the way to
address shortcomings.
The deal, which could take effect in July, would eliminate 99% of tariffs,
although Vietnam will have a transition period of up to 10 years for some
imports, such as cars and beer.


LONDON POLICE DEPLOY FACE SCAN TECH, STIRRING PRIVACY FEARS

London police started using facial recognition cameras on February 11 to
automatically scan for wanted people, as authorities adopt the technology
that has raised concerns about increased surveillance and erosion of
privacy.
Surveillance cameras mounted on a blue police van monitored people coming
out of a shopping centre in Stratford, in east London. Signs warned that
police were using the technology to find people wanted for serious crimes.
Officers stood nearby, explaining to passers-by how the system works.
It's the first time London's Metropolitan Police Service has used live
facial recognition cameras in an operational deployment since carrying out a
series of trials that ended last year.
London police are using the technology despite warnings from rights groups,
lawmakers and independent experts about a lack of accuracy and bias in the
system and the erosion of privacy.
Activists fear it's just the start of expanded surveillance.
"We don't accept this. This isn't what you do in a democracy. You don't scan
people's faces with cameras. This is something you do in China, not in the
U.K.," said Silkie Carlo, director of privacy campaign group Big Brother
Watch.
Britain has a strong tradition of upholding civil liberties and of not
allowing police to arbitrarily stop and identify people, she said. "This
technology just sweeps all of that away."

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