National security wrap

The beat

New US centre to promote safe drone use

The Police Foundation in the US has established a Center for Unmanned Aircraft Systems in Public Safety, to help law enforcement agencies make informed decisions about using small unmanned aircraft systems (sUAS) and help citizens understand how and why those decisions are made. sUAS can increase operational efficiency and public safety, but their adoption has been hampered by privacy concerns. This infographic summarises the issues well.

Hacker inmates

Inmates across several correctional institutions in Idaho exploited a flaw in JPay tablets to amass a total of US$225,000 in credits, which they added to their accounts. The tablets enable inmates to send emails and download music, books and games. The service is expensive—one email costs 47 cents, while the hourly wage for prisoners with jobs is between 10 and 90 cents. The inmates were issued with disciplinary reports and their downloads have been suspended until the money is repaid.

El Salvador’s supreme court struggles

A third of the seats in El Salvador’s supreme court are empty due to a dispute over nominees. Politicians disagree on the candidates, a number of whom have ‘questionable credentials regarding anti-corruption matters’, and can’t reach the necessary two-thirds majority in the country’s legislative assembly. Some of the nominating members of congress allegedly have dubious pasts themselves. The country faces serious corruption issues, ranking 112th of 180 countries in Transparency’s corruption perceptions index.

CT scan

EU getting serious about terror-related content

The European Union is taking a tough stance on terrorism by threatening to fine both big and small tech companies, including Google, Twitter and Facebook, if they fail to take down terrorist-related material from their platforms. The proposed legislation hasn’t been made public, but it’s likely to be based on the guidance on illegal internet content that the EU issued in March.

Updates to US terror watch list

The US has added three Pakistanis to its list of ‘specially designated global terrorists’ for their involvement with a designated terrorist organisation, Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT). Abdul Rehman al-Dakhil was accused of being an ‘operational leader’ for the group, and Hameed ul-Hassan and Abdul Jabbar were accused of being ‘financial facilitators’.

Indonesia cracks down on militants

An Indonesian court has banned the homegrown terrorist organisation Jamaah Ansharut Daulah, citing its affiliation with Islamic State and its involvement in a series of terror attacks. The judge fined the group and labelled it a ‘forbidden organisation’. The ruling also allows the authorities to pursue, arrest and prosecute those with suspected links to the organisation.


(Un)documenting citizenship in India and Bahrain

Approximately four million people in Assam state have been excluded from the final draft of India’s National Register of Citizens. The list intends to identify undocumented immigrants who fled to Assam during the Bangladesh–Pakistan War. While India’s interior minister says affected people can appeal at the country’s foreigners’ tribunals, the register could render people effectively stateless—a status prohibited under international law. Similar developments are happening across the world. For example, Human Rights Watch reported that Bahrain has revoked the citizenship of at least 738 people since 2012—232 in this year alone.

Italian rescue may have breached international law

The UN says an Italian towboat which rescued more than 100 migrants and returned them to Libya may have breached international law. Italy’s interior minister says the Italian coast guard wasn’t involved in the rescue and it occurred in Libyan waters. But according to an Italian MP and Proactiva, a Spanish charity, it took place in international waters. If a UN investigation concludes that the rescue took place in international waters, it would mean Italy violated international law by taking the migrants back to a place in which their lives are threatened.

First responder

Aid workers targeted in South Sudan riots

Humanitarian aid workers were attacked in Bunj in South Sudan by rioters who were unhappy with the agencies’ employment of staff from outside the local area. UNMISS peacekeepers were deployed after rioters entered the UN’s humanitarian compound and looted its offices and residence. Two UNHCR staff members were injured. The rioters also targeted other aid groups in the area. In response, several NGOs evacuated staff from their local offices. The UN refugee agency plans to relocate some of its staff to the capital Juba while it assesses the situation. UN authorities and the South Sudan NGO forum have condemned the attacks.

Hospital turns into aquarium

Fish were seen swimming in a hospital in the Indian city of Patna when it was flooded following heavy rain. Knee-deep water flowed into several wards, corridors and even intensive care units in one of the city’s largest hospitals. Medical staff continued to provide care to patients despite the trying conditions and malfunctioning electrical equipment. The hospital is visited by 2,000 people each day. Local politicians have blamed each other for the lack of proper drainage in the area. India continues to face a massive health and sanitation problem, particularly in states such as Bihar, Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh.