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Donald Trump has appealed directly to Facebook's 'supreme court' Oversight Board in a bid to rejoin the platform but a decision on whether to permanently ban the former president is expected to take at least two months. 

Former Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt, who is a co-chair of the 20-member Oversight Board, told the UK's Channel 4 News on Tuesday that the panel was currently looking over Trump's case.

 

She said that despite 'trying to do this case a little bit faster', a decision by the panel was not likely for another two and a half months. 

The news outlet reported that Trump had made a direct appeal to the Oversight Board to have his ban overturned. 

Trump had his Facebook and Instagram accounts suspended in the wake of the deadly riots at the US Capitol on January 6. 

The social media giant last month said it was deferring the decision to permanently ban Trump to its seemingly-independent Oversight Board. 

Former Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt (left), who is a co-chair of Facebook's Oversight Committee, said they are currently reviewing Donald Trump's case

Thorning-Schmidt, who is a co-chair of the 20-member Oversight Board, told the UK's Channel 4 News on Tuesday (above) that the panel was currently looking over Trump's case

'We have decided that we are going to take this case,' Thorning-Schmidt said on Tuesday. 

'It's a very high profile case but that is exactly why the Oversight Board was created in the first place.'

She added that they are inviting public feedback on the case for them to look at and they have 'already received public comments in the thousands and thousands'.

'One thing I think is quite good about how we deal with these things is not only does Facebook have a statement about why they did what they did. The user can also put in their statement about their opinion,' she said. 

'A third thing that can happen is that we are open for public comments about this particular case. We've already received public comments in the thousands and thousands.' 

The board was created last year to rule on thorny content issues, such as when posts constitute hate speech, or - in this case - if the major decision to ban a world leader was the right one. 

Its ruling on Trump, which is its biggest case to date, will be binding and can't be overturned by CEO Mark Zuckerberg. 

Trump's accounts will remain suspended until its decision is handed down. 

As part of the process, Trump and the administrators of his account were able to submit a written statement challenging Facebook's decision for the panel will consider. 

The decision to ban Trump from Facebook has ranged from criticism that the now-former president should have been booted long ago to outrage that his online voice is being muted. 

Those critical of the decision have accused the social media giant of censorship and have warned they have drawn a dangerous line that will have 'serious free speech consequences' going forward.     

Twitter, which also removed Trump's accounts after the riots, has already said he is permanently banned from its platform.  

Trump had his Facebook and Instagram accounts suspended in the wake of the deadly riots at the US Capitol on January 6. Trump's accounts will remain suspended until its decision is handed down

Facebook is allowing its 'supreme court' oversight board to decide whether Donald Trump should be permanently banned from the social media platform. The ruling on Trump will be binding and can't be overturned by CEO Mark Zuckerberg. The pair are pictured together in September 2019

Facebook has previously been criticized over it's left-leaning makeup of board members. 

The board is made up of 20 members in total and is co-chaired by Thorning-Schmidt and the former editor-in-chief of the Guardian newspaper Alan Rusbridger. 

Other members include legal scholars, human rights experts and journalists.

The board was created last year with the first four members chosen directly by Facebook. Those initial members then worked with the social media giant to select the others. Facebook pays the salaries of the oversight board members.  

The social media giant was criticized when the makeup of its board was first announced last year with critics saying the so-called 'politically neutral' panel was swamped with left-wing luminaries like Thorning-Schmidt and Rusbridger.   

Facebook has already said it stands by its decision to suspend Trump's accounts but will leave the final decision to the panel. 

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The social media giant's vice president of global affairs Nick Clegg, who is a former deputy British prime minister, said in a statement last month that he believes the decision to ban Trump was 'necessary and right'.  

'We hope, given the clear justification for our actions on January 7, that (the board) will uphold the choices we made,' Clegg said. 

'We have taken the view that in open democracies people have a right to hear what their politicians are saying - the good, the bad and the ugly - so that they can be held to account... But it has never meant that politicians can say whatever they like.' 

In an interview with Reuters, Clegg said he felt there was a 'crystal-clear link' between the words of Trump and the actions of people at the Capitol.  

'Whilst it was a controversial decision because he was the president of the United States, it actually wasn't a particularly complicated one to take,' he said. 

'I'm very confident that any reasonable person looking at the circumstances in which we took that decision and looking at our existing policies will agree.' 

FACEBOOK'S 'SUPREME COURT': THE 20 OVERSIGHT BOARD MEMBERS 

Left to right: Afia Asantewaa Asare-Kyei, Evelyn Aswad and Endy Bayuni

Afia Asantewaa Asare-Kyei - A human rights advocate who works on women's rights, media freedom and access to information issues across Africa at the Open Society Initiative for West Africa.

Evelyn Aswad - A University of Oklahoma College of Law professor who formerly served as a senior State Department lawyer and specializes in the application of international human rights standards to content moderation issues 

Endy Bayuni - A journalist who twice served as the editor-in-chief of The Jakarta Post, and helps direct a journalists' association that promotes excellence in the coverage of religion and spirituality.

Left to right: Catalina Botero Marino, Katherine Chen and Nighat Dad

Catalina Botero Marino, co-chair - A former U.N. special rapporteur for freedom of expression of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the Organization of American States who now serves as dean of the Universidad de los Andes Faculty of Law.

Katherine Chen - A communications scholar at the National Chengchi University who studies social media, mobile news and privacy, and a former national communications regulator in Taiwan.

Nighat Dad - A digital rights advocate who offers digital security training to women in Pakistan and across South Asia to help them protect themselves against online harassment, campaigns against government restrictions on dissent, and received the Human Rights Tulip Award.

Left to right:  Jamal Greene, Pamela Karlan and  Tawakkol Karman

Jamal Greene, co-chair - A Columbia Law professor who focuses on constitutional rights adjudication and the structure of legal and constitutional argument.

Pamela Karlan - A Stanford Law professor and Supreme Court advocate who has represented clients in voting rights, LGBTQ+ rights, and First Amendment cases, and serves as a member of the board of the American Constitution Society. Karlan had been asked to describe the differences between a U.S. president and a king during Trump's impeachment hearing when she brought up the first son's name. 'The Constitution says there can be no titles of nobility, so while the president can name his son Barron, he can't make him a baron,' Karlan told lawmakers. She later apologized.

Tawakkol Karman - A Nobel Peace Prize laureate who used her voice to promote nonviolent change in Yemen during the Arab Spring, and was named as one of 'History's Most Rebellious Women' by Time magazine.

Left to right: Maina Kiai, Sudhir Krishnaswamy and Ronaldo Lemos

Maina Kiai - A director of Human Rights Watch's Global Alliances and Partnerships Program and a former U.N. special rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association who has decades of experience advocating for human rights in Kenya.

Sudhir Krishnaswamy - A vice chancellor of the National Law School of India University who co-founded an advocacy organization that works to advance constitutional values for everyone, including LGBTQ+ and transgender persons, in India.

Ronaldo Lemos - A technology, intellectual property and media lawyer who co-created a national internet rights law in Brazil, co-founded a nonprofit focused on technology and policy issues, and teaches law at the Universidade do Estado do Rio de Janeiro.

Left to right: Michael McConnell, Julie Owono and Emi Palmor

Michael McConnell, co-chair - A former U.S. federal circuit judge who is now a constitutional law professor at Stanford, an expert on religious freedom, and a Supreme Court advocate who has represented clients in a wide range of First Amendment cases involving freedom of speech, religion and association.

Julie Owono - A digital rights and anti-censorship advocate who leads Internet Sans Frontières and campaigns against internet censorship in Africa and around the world.

Emi Palmor - A former director general of the Israeli Ministry of Justice who led initiatives to address racial discrimination, advance access to justice via digital services and platforms and promote diversity in the public sector.

Left to right: Alan Rusbridger, András Sajó and John Samples

Alan Rusbridger - A former editor-in-chief of The Guardian who transformed the newspaper into a global institution and oversaw its Pulitzer Prize-winning coverage of the Edward Snowden disclosures. He was editor of the left-leaning Guardian newspaper for 20 years, which was chosen by Edward Snowden to publicise his NSA leaks and campaigned against the extradition of Julian Assange to the United States.

András Sajó - A former judge and vice president of the European Court of Human Rights who is an expert in free speech and comparative constitutionalism.

John Samples - A public intellectual who writes extensively on social media and speech regulation, advocates against restrictions on online expression, and helps lead a libertarian think tank.

Left to right: Nicolas Suzor and Helle Thorning-Schmidt

Nicolas Suzor - A Queensland University of Technology Law School professor who focuses on the governance of social networks and the regulation of automated systems, and has published a book on internet governance.

Helle Thorning-Schmidt, co-chair - A former prime minister of Denmark who repeatedly took stands for free expression while in office and then served as CEO of Save the Children. The social democrat was elected in 2011 on a pro-immigration, high tax manifesto before losing power in 2015.

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Uyghurs Take Beijing Games Boycott to Olympics Ethics Chief

The World Uyghur Congress (WUC), a human rights and advocacy organization for the ethnic group, has asked the International Olympic Committee (IOC)’s ethics commission chair to review its call for the 2022 Winter Games not to be held in Beijing, China, citing allegations of “crimes against humanity” by China against Uyghurs.

Human rights organizations and the U.N. estimate that 1-3 million Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslim minorities in China’s western region of Xinjiang have been detained in state-run camps since at least 2017 as part of a targeted crackdown on the ethnic minority groups by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

The World Uyghur Congress (WUC) wrote IOC ethics chief and former U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on February 26, stating that the IOC had “acted in breach of the Olympic Charter by failing to reconsider holding the 2022 Olympics in Beijing following verifiable evidence of genocide and crimes and humanity taking place” in Xinjiang’s Uyghur detention camps.

The WUC said its previous public complaint on the issue in August 2020 had not received a fair hearing by the IOC and once again urged Ban Ki-moon to review the statement.

“The grievance requests that Mr Ban Ki Moon either examine the Complaint himself or appoint a new Ethics and Compliance Officer to do so properly,” the WUC’s press statement announcing the letter read.

Shortly after the WUC released its public complaint to the IOC last August, the body issued a statement to Reuters saying it “must remain neutral on all global political issues.”

The IOC further said it had been assured by the Chinese government “that the principles of the Olympic Charter will be respected in the context of the [2022 Winter] Games.”

The CCP officially denies the existence of detention camps in Xinjiang, though it does acknowledge placing Uyghurs and other Turkic minorities in state-run facilities since 2017; the Communist Party refers to the camps as “vocational” or “political education” centers. Beijing claims that the camps are designed to direct Uyghurs — a Turkic-speaking, Sunni Muslim minority group — into the Chinese labor force and away from alleged Islamic extremism and terrorism within Xinjiang, China’s westernmost territory. The region borders Central Asia and is referred to by Uyghurs as “East Turkestan.”

Uyghur survivors of Xinjiang’s camps and former employees of the facilities have testified to witnessing guards use “systematic” rape and sexual abuse as a form of torture against detainees. In addition, some have alleged that they experienced or witnessed forced sterilizations and abortions, slave labor conditions, and Communist political indoctrination.

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