NAACP takes U.S. to U.N. Human Rights Council over voting laws

Next week, the NAACP is taking the unusual step of bringing a complaint to the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva over voter identification laws, passed in several states, which they say constitute voting rights violations. As William Douglas reports, this isn't a new tactic for the group: 

The Geneva appearance is part of an NAACP strategy rooted in the 1940s and 1950s, when the group looked to the United Nations and the international community for support in its domestic battle for civil rights for blacks and against lynching.

"It was in 1947 that W.E.B. Dubois delivered his speech and appealed to the world at the U.N.," NAACP president Benjamin Todd Jealous said Thursday. "Now, like then, the principal concern is voting rights. The past year more states in this country have passed more laws pushing more voters out of the ballot box than any point since Jim Crow."

Read more here:

The changes in question this time around are new laws that would require photo identification or proof of citizenship before people cast ballots, as well as proposals to eliminate same-day voter registration and rescind the voting rights of convicted felons who have served their time. The NAACP says these laws are restrcition similar to the poll taxes and literacy tests that once prevented blacks from voting in U.S. elections. 

Of course, UNHCR resolutions don't carry legal weight in the United States, but Jealous is looking to make a global statement.

Some more background on the NAACP's 1947 U.N. effort here.

Mario Tama/Getty Images


Pakistan advertises for web censor

Any of our tech-savvy readers looking for work? How about censoring free expression in Pakistan?

Few nations have so publicly revealed their plans to censor the Web as Pakistan is doing, however. Last month, the government took out newspaper and Web advertisements asking for companies or institutions to develop the national filtering and blocking system.[...]

The government advertisements state it wants a system capable of shutting down up to 50 million Web addresses in multiple languages with a processing delay of not less than one millisecond.

Pakistan's internet filtering efforts aren't particularly extensive, though it did get international attention in 2010 for briefly blocking Facebook because of cartoons of the Prophet Muhammed. Evidently, the authorities are looking to upgrade to something a bit more sophisticated. 

Hat tip: Jillian York