Thursday, November 10, 2011

France's Roma Expulsion Condemned. Obviously?

The Council of Europe, a leading human rights group, has recently condemned the expulsion of Roma people from France last year. It has released a report declaring that the expulsion was a violation of the human rights of the Roma. France has argued that the repatriations were voluntary and that they did not forcibly remove anyone.

I found this article very interesting because I was abroad in Paris last fall when President Nicolas Sarkozy was deciding to remove the Roma. There was no national uproar. The French people were not really opposed to the idea because they see most immigrants and non-native born residents as competition for scarce jobs and a threat to their beloved culture. The expulsion did, however, strike a chord with most of Europe and parts of France because it is reminiscent of "Nazi-era deportations." This comparison is definitely an uncomfortable one, and something I hope Sarkozy considers before taking more action.

Government of Mexico: Crime Fighters or Crime Creators?

What happens when people who are responsibe for protecting a nation's people become the persecutors?

Shortly after taking office in December 2006, President Calderon declared a 'war on drugs'. He utilized over 50,000 soldiers, thousands of members of the military, the federal police, and local police forces to help crack down on organized crime.

However, the very people who were in charge of cracking down on crime, actually created more of it. In trying to oust leaders of organized crime, the soldiers and other forces committed serious human rights abuses, including among other things, torturing innocent civilians in hope that they had information to find leaders of drug cartels.

Despite these terrible human rights abuses by Government forces, no soldiers or other law enforcing officials have been prosecuted. Jose Vivanko, Americas director at Human Rights Watch explained, These abuses are almost never adequately investigated, yet government officials routinely dismiss the victims as criminals and discount their allegations as false”. This is because the Mexican court system is set up in a way to allow the military to have trials for their own members. Unfortunately, this allows government officials to get away with, literally, murder.

This is a very difficult situation with no clear answer. So many aspects of the Mexican Government must be changed to restore order. For one, it is clear that the Mexican Government must re-think its approach to fighting crime - it cannot go around interrogating, torturing, and killing innocent civilians! It must also revamp its court system; the military is not capable of justly putting on trial and convicting its own members. Perhaps most importantly, though, the Government has to feel an increased responsibility to its citizens.

What do you think the first steps are?




Wednesday, November 09, 2011

UN: Repression ahead of this month’s presidential vote in Congo could lead to more violenc

Repression by Congo’s government ahead of this month’s critical presidential election could lead to even more violence in the Central African nation struggling after decades of dictatorship and civil war, the United Nations warned Wednesday.

The report from the U.N. Joint Human Rights Office in Geneva said people have been beaten and arrested just for wearing opposition party T-shirts. One man has been jailed since March for selling a newspaper that questioned President Joseph Kabila’s nationality. There is a continued repression of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the pre-electoral period that may increase the likelihood of individuals and political parties resorting to violent means, endanger the democratic process and lead to post-electoral violence.

The Nov. 28 presidential vote will be only the country’s second democratic election in a half century. The first one in 2006 was largely organized and secured by the massive U.N. peacekeeping mission in Congo. There are signs of growing tensions with the vote still weeks away. Several people already have been killed and injured. Over the weekend, 16 were wounded in the southeast mining center of Lubumbashi during fighting between supporters of two rival opposition candidates.

Corruption in governments has caused many of these wars that occurs during election season. Working with my asylum case, it has shocked and disturbed me the amount of killings that occur during election season. This occurring in many different areas of the world because of corruption in governments that is greedy for votes. This must come to an end where parties should be held accountable for their actions and manipulating people to wage war to fight for territories and votes.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

A Second Chance for an Asylum Seeker in PA

"An illiterate Jamaican farmworker with a severe stutter has been granted a new asylum hearing in Pennsylvania as he tries to stay in the U.S."


The applicant had been detained for over a year with no progress being made on his case. Because of the applicant's severe stutter and inability to get legal counsel, the judge presiding over the case allowed two fellow inmates to try to translate for the applicant. This obviously led the outcome of the hearing to be extremely questionable. It is surprising that a judge would allow something so unprofessional to occur in court. Luckily, the hearing was reviewed and the applicant has been granted another hearing.

Some good has come out of this case. Along with a new hearing the publicity has led to a speech pathologist to volunteer time to help with the applicants speech impediment.

This case is a prime example of how our asylum system is failing. By not offering support in the form of legal counsel etc. to those seeking asylum we are causing them to be detained for harmful periods of time and it is clogging up the system. At the very least, in extreme cases such as this, we should not expect applicants to fend for themselves. Luckily this applicant no longer has to.