Category Archives: Uncategorized

Change has come to Ferguson.Eric Holder’s visit has brought Change and calm to Ferguson.

 

But has this impacted the St Louis Police department, following another killing of a young black man?

He came, he met students, community leaders and federal investigators.

Attorney General Eric holder, met Captain Johnson, dubbed the new Sheriff in Town by the local press, in a local diner.

In another positive development an Officer, named by the local paper(see below) who threatened to shoot and kill a protestor has been suspended without pay indefinitely.

St. Ann officer removed after pointing gun, threatening Ferguson protesters: http://bit.ly/1moZ5Cj via @STLtoday

Theatre or meaningful progress?

A bit of both.  Both crucial in this tender box community following the shooting death of an unarmed 18 year old. By Darren Wilson, a local police officer. Mike Brown was killed after being shot six times by the said officer.

It is imperative that folks know that there is a process aimed at the pursuit of justice for the slain teenager. This will re-establish trust, build foundations and bridges in the community.

We await to hear the outcome of the grand jury. On whether or not the Shooter, who killed Mike Brown, would be indicted. New witnesses have come forward, following Eric Holder`s arrival in Ferguson.

The president was very cautious in not jumping to conclusions. He is both the Head of Government but also knows too well, the perils of being a young black person in racist societies. Especially in America.

As the chief law custodian, the DOJ works for him, s he said in his own words. But as he put it, on Monday this week, those who enforce the law have a duty to obey the law. America, he said was a nation of laws.

http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2014/08/18/president-obama-provides-update-latest-iraq-and-ferguson-missouri

There was a conference call between the Eric Holder and civil rights leaders across the country.

According to MSNBC, this also involved the attendance of other senior advisers.

This is significant. It helps folks feel that the administration is tuned in and knows exactly what is going on.

That it not only understands their pain but something practical is being done about the injustice.

These actions by the two most senior  American officials in the United States have struck the right balance.

More of the same please for the many slain African Americans across the country.

Racial Stereo types in employment

Racial Stereo types in employment

Racial stereo types in employment are prevalent. These range from negative language to pre-conceptions that permeate and influence decision making.
Especially at pivotal moments in people’s lives. Promotion, recruitment and pay rise. One of the most common one is being branded defensive, aggressive, chip on the shoulder, bad attitude.
Particularly among people of African descent.
You may have heard the phrase angry black woman or man. A label that failed to stick. One might argue that being a wife of US president comes with a price and benefits. But Michelle is a Harvard educated lawyer in her own right and was a senior official in the health sector.
Usually this is in response to concerns being expressed by minorities when they express concern about their mistreatment.
In cases that I know of, this accelerates ‘performance investigations’ which are aimed at proving that initial abuse, bullying or harassment was not the issue but re-focus that on performance.
Considerable research has been done on this and it really reveals a litany of detrimental effects for the complainants and the employer in question.
This also has the overarching of a cloak of suspicion, derision, criminality and negativity. And there a few high profile cases in the public domain where this has led to loss of dignity, life or freedom. These are Oprah Winfrey (Swiss incident when sales assistant profiled her as not being able to afford a bag), Trayvon Martin (RIP) shot and killed by vigilante cop wanna be in Florida. He had been told not pursue him but felt that he was up to no good in a nice neighbourhood. And finally the Harvard professor who was arrested for coming into his own home. Despite providing ID to the police officer. He turned out to be a presidential advisor.
The above underscores the gravity of how pre-conception can be devastating to the target involved. So what does one do when faced with persistent and pernicious stereotype.
Educate, inform and if that fails, challenge the stereotype, of course wisely taking into account the particular circumstance of the case.

 

Harvard Review on police Racism

Online, United States — March 29, 2014 4:58 pm

In Defense of the Police

By

Two years ago, on February 26, 2012, 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was shot dead on his way home from a local convenience store by George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer. Following Zimmerman’s acquittal last summer, the national race narrative was dominated in part by a conversation that black parents feel compelled to have with their sons—in which they remind their boys to defer to and be polite with police, walk with their hands outside of their pockets, and keep their hoods down. Calling for a national conversation on race, President Obama fanned the flames: “If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon.” White Americans were polarized; some sympathized, while others’ knee-jerk response was to push back against the resurfacing claim that racism still profoundly affects American life.

Though George Zimmerman was only a neighborhood watch volunteer, his actions resurrected a common sentiment that law enforcement officers are racist. This widely held belief, reinforced by highly publicized news stories on police abuse and by anti-police music, blinds many to the societal racism in which the police and all other Americans operate. In reality, the police are no more prejudiced than anyone else. Yet by directing the public’s attention toward accusations of police racism, the media diverts attention from the racial biases of society as a whole.

“It Ain’t No Secret…”

The media and popular culture have written one storyline to describe the police, focusing on inflammatory stories of police racism, while often neglecting significant details. The New York City Police Department (NYPD) has been at the center of the media firestorm for the past fifteen years. The criticism it has faced is representative of the larger public perception problem faced by police across the United States.

This problem is often fueled by highly inflammatory individual incidents suggesting police racism. For example, 13 years before the shooting of Trayvon Martin, headlines across the United States were dominated by the story of another innocent black man who had been shot dead. His name was Amadou Diallo. A 22-year-old immigrant from Guinea, Diallo lived in the Soundview section of the Bronx on Wheeler Ave.—one of the most crime-ridden areas of New York City. Shortly after midnight on February 4, 1999, four NYPD officers approached Diallo because they thought he looked suspicious. When he reached into his pocket, the officers mistook his wallet for a gun and shot Diallo 41 times.

However, many people do not know the details of the Diallo shooting. While these details certainly do not make the shooting any less tragic, they do call into question the media’s portrayal of the events. Retired NYPD officer Hector Berdecia said in an interview with the HPR that “a lot of the facts that came up later during the trial and the grand jury hearings were never put out in the media, ever, and the media has a big role in how the community sees cops.”

…Or Is It?

When the four police officers on Wheeler Ave. saw Diallo standing on his stoop, they thought that he resembled a wanted serial criminal. Approaching Diallo, they identified themselves as police and told Diallo to stand still. When Diallo disobeyed, instead moving in the other direction and reaching into his pocket, one officer thought that he saw a gun. He alerted his fellow officers, and together, the four fired 41 shots at Diallo.

News outlets suggested that the number of shots fired indicated deep-seated racism on the part of the police. Yet, as one former FBI special agent, who wished to remain anonymous due to FBI rules, told the HPR, law enforcement officers are trained to stop shooting “only when the threat is no longer a threat.” Though the amount of time it would take four officers to fire 41 shots would vary depending on the weapons used, the agent wagered that the shooting would have been over in a matter of seconds. Arguably, it could have taken this long for the officers to process that the threat was over. Conveniently, the media largely neglected to report these facts. While the police may be depicted as racist in the media and in popular culture, their actions are often driven not by personal hatred but by procedural guidelines and the brain’s inability to function clearly in stressful and potentially dangerous situations.

Still, though police training protocols may explain the number of shots fired, no one knows whether the color of Diallo’s skin influenced the officers’ belief that he was a threat. The decision to shoot needed to be made quickly. As retired Harvard police officer George Downing told the HPR, “You don’t realize when you get that call or you get out of that cruiser, you have a split second to make that decision.” Given the nature of the job, when police officers face potentially dangerous situations, they must rely on judgments made in the blink of an eye. Such rapid decisions are especially likely to be based upon unconscious biases and instincts.

However, even if the officers were motivated by some degree of racial prejudice, their bias would not be unique. The average white American possesses some level of anti-black prejudice. According to a study involving implicit attitude tests, white Americans of all age groups, even the youngest, demonstrate a striking unconscious pro-white, anti-black prejudice even when purporting to view both races as equal. An implicit attitude test reveals unconscious attitudes and stereotypes towards different groups by measuring respondents’ associations of one group of things with another—for example, their associations of black people with good or bad things, as opposed to white people with good or bad things.

Stories alleging police racism blind Americans to the truth that the police are not the only ones still struggling to get past deeply ingrained racial prejudices. Len Levitt, a journalist and writer who has followed the NYPD closely for more than 15 years, commented to the HPR, “I don’t think their [the police officers’] stereotypes are much different from everyone else’s.” In other words, the police are just like the rest of Americans—embroiled in a past fraught with racial tension.

This deeply ingrained and often unobservable prejudice likely comes into play when police pull the trigger on racial minorities like Diallo. Of course, the controversy stirred by stories of individual incidents is compounded by more institutionalized policies, such as “Stop and Frisk,” which appear less justifiable because they are not the product of split-second judgments. Because blacks and Latinos are most likely to be stopped and frisked, and because 90 percent of those stopped and frisked are found to be innocent, many charge that racism motivates police in deciding whom to stop or frisk.

However, it is at least possible that police officers are more likely to stop and frisk minorities because minorities are more likely than whites to live in high-crime neighborhoods. As Berdecia said, “The bottom line is this: you’ve got to go where the crime’s happening … and unfortunately violence is in poor neighborhoods.” Levitt added that the disproportionate targeting of minorities by police has “less to do with race than with poverty.” What appears to be targeting of minorities by police reflects instead the fact that minorities often live in poor, crime-ridden areas—the product of America’s failure to eradicate the racism with which it has wrestled for centuries.

Reality Check

Yet the police continue to receive the bulk of the blame, from both the media and popular culture. In a blatant allusion to the Diallo shooting, Bruce Springsteen released the song “American Skin (41 Shots),” in which he declares, “It ain’t no secret/No secret my friend/You can get killed just for living in your American skin.” Following George Zimmerman’s acquittal of charges of both second-degree murder and manslaughter, Springsteen performed the song in dedication to Trayvon Martin—insinuating, regardless of his intentions, that incidents like the shootings of Diallo and Martin stem from the racial biases of law enforcement officers.

Like Springsteen, other popular artists have capitalized on this wave of anger mistakenly directed at police. Artists like Jay-Z portray the police as bigots who pull people over because of the color of their skin, while others like Michael Jackson claim that the police “don’t really care about” them. Unfortunately, this storyline of police racism taints many Americans’ view of the police, even though the police are no more racist than the rest of the country.

The media and popular culture may appear to be serving a valuable role as watchdogs protecting minorities. However, by intensely criticizing the police, as though law enforcement officers are unique in their degree of racial prejudice, they actually prevent average Americans from recognizing their own racial biases. It is time that Americans stop being part of the problem and start becoming part of the solution.

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Erin Shortell Erin Shortell ’17 is a staff writer for the Harvard Political Review. http://twitter.com/e_shortell

Andrew Young Family and MLK intellectual property issue

If true and reportedly accurately, this is deeply unfortunate.

These are two giant men who have been selfless in their fight for injustice and justice for all.

Their legacy is not served if all we hear are intracinal squabbles about material treasure.

And we know they are better than that and we are also better than that as a people.

Yet we are encouraged and know that this too will pass and the legacies of the these two sons of America and the entire humanity will be left intact for the betterment of future generations.

And the strong family bonds that were literary sealed by years of struggle and sacrifice.

And as Mandela(madiba) once indicated, one should not wash one’s linen in public.

This could be relevant here.

Kobe Bryant Says He Refuses to Support Trayvon Martin Just Because He’s Black

This is why we need education.

But first, playing devil’s advocate, Kobe on the one hand appears to be indirectly criticizing the questioner, that he is not supposed to be commenting by virtue of him being African American. This is usually assumed.

However, as a human being, with his star power, he could have said something healing or positive to the parents of the slain teenager.

Travor Martin’s case should concern any human being irrespective of racial background, at the very least.

I recently attended a South African play, in London, displaying the injustices of apartheid South Africa. The requirement of a Pass Book by all ‘natives’(Black Africans), to move from one part of the country to another. One line in the play stated, that having a black skin is trouble in itself. And that line captured the history of race and experiences of millions of black folks in many parts of the world.

Therefore, to deny race as issue in America, Canada and Western Europe, given the well documented trajectory going back hundreds of years from slavery, colonialism, Jim crow, daily discrimination practices to Travon Martin and many more other victims, is a denial of history. Or constructively ignorance of it. And potentially, falsifying history. It is not suggested that this is the case here.

Kobe is entitled to keep his money to himself. But what he cannot do, is appear to diminish an important personal and international matter, relating to an injustice of a slain teenager. Something that even president Obama spoke about, to the effect that if he had a son, he would look like Travon Martin.

   

And any such a hint of that suggestion should be called out. Loud and clear. Notwithstanding who it is coming from. Not even Kobe Bryant.

           

 

Race in our time

The last few weeks have thrown in the lime light the divisive and toxic issue of race.

There have been instances such as the report read out by the home secretary,Teresa May, in the House of commons. It stated the alleged potential corruption in relation to the investigation of the slain teenager, Stephen Lawrence,twenty years ago. Two men have since been imprisoned, after a long on-going investigation and an inquiry, by a retired Judge.Hence its name, the Macpherson report. But the lingering effects of this tragic incident remain specifically in relation to the apparent police handling of the case .  And other culprits still remain at large.

The police on their part appeared to  recognize the anguish caused to the Lawrence family but contend that there having been improvements. Investigations still continue to that end.

Other incidents include the apparent scrutiny, on the basis of race and gender,  two eminent scientists who appeared on the news night programme, about a scientific topic.  This followed a strong rebuttal and condemnation of such action from the University concerned. And accusations of air brushing history followed. The paper concerned has since accepted their qualifications and the concerned columnist issued the same acceptance.

There was another bizarre incident when the referee issued a red card to the wrong black player in the chelsea arsenal football match. Even after the offending player repeatedly informed the referee that he was to blame. There have since  been accusations of racism in the media with some people wondering if he could not tell the difference between two black people.

And finally, a report published by an academic has found that only three black teachers were recruited to teach history. Compared to their white counter parts in the same period.

Interesting times indeed.

THE ROME STATUTE establishing the International Criminal Court

Background

The Rome statute was entered into force in July 2002 after being originated in the late 1990’s.Under resolution 260 of the General Assembly, the convention on the prevention and punishment of the crime of Genocide was instituted.

Jurisdiction

Article V1 further states that people charged with genocide ‘shall be tried by a competent tribunal as may have jurisdiction

It is this that gave the formal legal adoption of the International Criminal Court.

The convention leading to the adoption of the ICC was said by Kofi Annan, the then Sec. Gen of the UN, that the ICC ‘would promote universal justice to ensure that no junta, army or state can abuse human rights with impunity without being punished’.

The statute authorises the administration of the court to be under the hands of the ‘presidency’ .

The jurisdiction of the court stems from reference by a state party, the UN Security Council and on the authority of the prosecutor.

The ICC observes distance from the UN through an independent treaty based jurisdiction. It hears crimes against humanity and war crimes and is a court of last resort with pre-trial, trial and appeal chambers Pre-trial chamber

It has a worldwide jurisdiction mandate. The treaty is limited to crimes on territory or national of member state.

General Observation

The statute is long overdue, given the scale of the atrocities that have been exercised on the most vulnerable populations. These range from the Kurds in Iraq, Rwanda, Darfur, Cambodia, Palestine, Afghanistan, Bosnia, Liberia, Siera Leone and other
areas.

It will be particularly useful in keeping checks juntas and dictatorships all over the world especially in Africa. It should be expanded to cover election rigging and gross violations against the opposition , which is particularly rampant in many countries in Africa. The most recent are Zimbabwe, Kenya(violence) and Uganda.

It is an imperfect but worthwhile anti-dote to leaders drunk and bent on power abuse that leads to bloodshed.

References and Bibliography

lcc-cpi.int/menus/ASP-assembly of state parties

ICC coalition for the international criminal court

ICC monitor(IBAHRI)

Foreign policy centre.

Amnesty international

International crisis group

International Bar Association

All africa.com

New African

The ICC( Icc.com)

The Un(Un.org)

International Law Association

The African union

IBAnet.org

The free library

Africasia.com

Global Policy

A4id.org

The Royal African Society

Peaceful resolution in the Horn of AFRICA-A BRIEF MENTION

We need to ascertain a deeper understanding of the role of international organizations in assisting the resolution of disputes between different subjects, such as States, international organizations, individuals, and transnational corporations. Particulary the Great Lakes region/East Africa.

Negotiations between parties remain the most common method of dispute settlement in the international arena.

Other suggested means of settlement include those indicated in art. 33 of the UN Charter: enquiry, mediation, conciliation, arbitration and judicial settlement. These ‘traditional’ forms of settlement including the judicial settlement of disputes, are increasingly used within the framework of an International Organization.

The role of intergovernmental bodies in resolving conflicts is much more than providing technical institutional support to States in search of the peaceful resolution of disputes.

States often waive their sovereignty in favour of international bodies in the context of the settlement of international disputes, and International bodies themselves are often parties to the dispute. International economic institutions such as the World Back Group, World Trade Organizations or the International Monetary Fund have the competence to make decisions with binding force over their membership. Disputes arising from these decisions can only be settled by organs created by these ever more powerful institutions with great impact on everybody’s life.

The major role of international organizations in the settlement of disputes has also resulted in the entry of individuals and other non-international entities as parties of conflicts. Although, the primary goal of International Organization is  foster co- bodies on the resolution of conflicts and amelioration of the situation they seek to resolve, is often contested.

Key Questions

How then do we deal with the issue of legitimacy and efficiency of intergovernmental bodies in the resolution of armed and non-armed conflicts: from promoting democracy by profoundly undemocratic organs to the aggravation of global problems such as poverty, human rights and HIV in this region

How accountable are the international organizations in the settlement of disputes?

Are the calls for greater criticisms and demands for accountability justifiable?

How effective are the tools below

Peaceful settlement of disputes using International Law mechanisms
Preventive Diplomacy and Confidence Building Measures
Active participation of International Organizations as forum, mediators and parties
Sanctions
Judicial Settlement
Settlement of internal disputes within Inter-govermental Organizations: Administrative Tribunals and labour standards for civil servants

Can international law change Africa-Key questions

• What practical Mechanisms, under international law are there to influence, force and change the African leadership to maintain the rule of law, good governance and
• democracy?

• Indeed can International Law Change Africa?
• Does international law’s interest in pushing for transition to demcocracy work?
• When and where to intervene?
• What is the criteria and basis for intervention?
• Is entitlement to democratic government in Africa imminent in international law?
• If so are there normative foundations and what are they?
• What are the processes through which democratic government and regional organisations lobby for movement towards democracy? Is this consistent with constitutional frameworks?
• How does international law treat elections in which anti-democratic parties appear to win the vote, albeit irregularities?
• What is the relationship between Democracy and accountability under international law? How would this be applied in Africa?
• What is the state of sovereignty and human rights in contemporary international law?
• How does international law treat the right to political participation? What role does constitutionalism and democratic governance play in contemporary African states?
• Is there a role for international law?
• Is conflict on the continent primarily caused by the behaviour of State agents in denying citizens their right of citizenship, by prohibiting them from taking charge of their affairs?

• To what extent is the need to distinguish between the responsibility of the state and the responsibility of the International Community?
• Is the best way to protect state sovereignty is for states to be compelled to discharge their duties responsibly. And hence avoid conflict and bloodshed so that the international community will not have to intervene?

• How practical, fair, impartial has the international court of justice been in enforcing international obligations especially in Africa?
• Should the international community and the United Nations simply sit and watch as Africa turns into a hub for conflicts and criminals due to lack of resources and state interests?
• How successful have previous/lack of interventions been? Are they a model?
Have African governments, scholars and citizens failed to take initiatives to ensure that internally driven competing ideas about governance and development lead to public policies rather than externally imposed agendas?
• Has there been failure of government and the citizens to reconcile the complementary nature of state and civil society?
• Will an intensive effort at civic education, that will inculcate and institutionalize the values of citizenship as prima inter pares relative to other identities, be effective?
• Is it inconceivable that any effective effort at institutionalizing democracy in Sub-Saharan African states, will succeed without some form of constitutional conventions and national debates on the products of such constitutions before their adoption

The tragedy of Ukraine

Almost ten years ago, the orange revolution was in full throttle. A new government of progressives was formed.Today that seemingly democratic development appears to be a distant memory. One of the main drivers of the movement is in prison, while the other has since left office. And Kiev or Kyiv as it is known to the locals, is engulfed in battles and flames. Running battles between the protestors and the police.

The leadership of the protest movement appeared to have negotiated a way out and secured the release of imprisoned protestors, as media reports indicated. It was looking as if the worst  was over and the healing process woul begin.

Now the country is staring into the abyss. Europe and the United states continue to pressure the Ukrainian goverment to exercise restraint. Whether that will yield results on the ground remains to be seen. The worst outcome would be for the country to descend further  into chaos . Some have been using the word civil war.

THAT WOULD BE A DANGEROUS PROSPECT FOR ITS PEOPLE, EUROPE AND THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY.

We hope that calm heads will prevail and the peoples of Ukraine will map their own peaceful way out of this quagmire.