Those who dream of the globalization of civil liberties will cheer the news that the ACLU has a sister organization. It is the International Network of Civil Liberties Organizations (INCLO), a group that shares information and collaborates to promote fundamental liberties and rights of all persons in their respective countries. Like the ACLU, each of the member organizations is multi-issue, multi-constituency, and independent of its government.
The network is comprised of the domestic civil liberties and human rights organizations of twelve countries:
- United States (American Civil Liberties Union)
- Israel (Association of Civil Rights)
- Canada (Canadian Civil Liberties Association)
- Argentina (Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales)
- Egypt (Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights)
- India (Human Rights Law Network)
- Hungary (Hungarian Civil Liberties Union)
- Russia (International Human Rights Group Agora)
- Ireland (Irish Council for Civil Liberties)
- Kenya (Kenya Human Rights Commission)
- South Africa (Legal Resource Center)
- United Kingdom (Liberty)
International efforts to promote freedom started in 2008 with a series of meetings of the executive directors of civil liberties and human rights organizations and formalized itself in 2012 with a structure and staff. In 2015 INCLO incorporated as a Swiss association with headquarters in Geneva. Its governing body is the 12 executive directors of each of the network’s organizations. The network supports the work of the member organizations through litigation, legislative campaigning, public education, and grass-roots advocacy. Following are some highlights of its work on the issues of police brutality and social protest, informational rights, and religious freedom and equal treatment.
Police Brutality and Social Protest
- 2013: a report “Take Back the Streets: Repression and Criminalization of Protest Around the World”, composed of case studies by each INCLO member of state responses to protest including excessive use of force, discrimination and criminalization of social leaders
- 2014: substantive participation in a United Nations report and adoption of a resolution on freedom of peaceful assembly and association
- 2016: a report with Physicians for Human Rights “Lethal in Disguise: The Health Consequences of Crowd Control Weaons”
- 2015: participation of six INCLO members in litigation by the UK’s Investigatory Powers Tribunal challenging government surveillance. This produced landmark rulings that both the previous UK-US data sharing and the handling of intercepted private communications of the Legal Resource Center (South Africa’s INCLO member) were unlawful. These were the first times the Tribunal ruled against agencies dealing with transnational mass digital surveillance.
- the launch, with INCLO support, of the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union website promoting privacy enhancing technologies (www.righttohide.com).
- participation of INCLO members in the successful drive to get the UN Human Rights Council to approve the creation of a Special Rapporteur on the right to privacy.
Religious Freedom and Equal Treatment
- 2015: a report “Drawing the Line: Tackling Tensions between Religion and Equality”, based on the principle that religious freedom means the right to our beliefs, which must be strongly defended as a fundamental liberty, but which does not give anyone the right to impose their beliefs on others or to discriminate against or otherwise harm others.
- distribution to INCLO members of a quarterly newletter “Global Developments in Religious Freedom and Equal Treatment,” which reports on cases of religion/equality tensions.
ACLU of Indiana Legislation Committee Chair