Les jugements autochtones en Colombie et la protection des minorités : Les Colombiens ont-ils oublié les droits des accusés?

Il y a trois semaines, des autochtones colombiens ont jugé et condamné des partisans des Forces armées révolutionnaires de Colombie accusés de meurtre de deux membres de la tribu nasa. À travers le vote direct de la population locale, ils ont appliqué des peines d’emprisonnement entre 40 et 60 ans, ainsi que des châtiments corporels. Les condamnés ont été envoyés à des prisons subordonnées à l’Association des peuples autochtones de la région de Cauca.
Au sein de la population, ces jugements ne font pas l’unanimité. Pour certains, les risques d’abus sont présents, surtout dans l’application de corrections physiques telles que des coups de fouet. Pour d’autres, il faut qu’on respecte les traditions et la pluralité ethnique de Colombie. La question est importante et réclame l’analyse de la protection des minorités et les limites qui s’y appliquent.
Effectivement, la démocratie n’est pas simplement la loi de la majorité, mais également la protection de la minorité. Dans un appartement où il y a trois juifs et un musulman, les premiers ne peuvent décider de défenestrer le dernier sous l’argument d’être plus nombreux, puisqu’ il est nécessaire de respecter les droits de ceux qui sont en plus petit nombre. Toutefois, en protégeant les minorités, on ne peut violer les droits fondamentaux de qui que ce soit.
Ainsi, quant aux tribunaux autochtones colombiens, même qu’ils existent dans le cadre de conserver les traditions précolombiennes, il faut toujours observer le due process of law, qui signifie que les accusés ont droit à un jugement équitable, incluant la séparation entre l’accusation et le juge, la présence d’un avocat de défense et l’application des peines humaines. Le principe de la proportionnalité est également applicable en tant qu’outil d’interprétation des valeurs en collision.
Bien que la Colombie ait avancé les dernières années dans le combat aux narcotrafiquants, il reste encore une partie substantielle de son territoire sous le contrôle de la guerilla. Il y a donc beaucoup de choses à faire et le chemin vers la paix ne passe pas par la violation aux droits fondamentaux.

Source : http://www.bbc.co.uk/portuguese/noticias/2014/11/141111_indios_colombia_fd

University of Saskatchewan Drafting Sexual Assault Policy

The University of Saskatchewan Board of Governors is contemplating drafting a comprehensive procedure on how to deal with reports of sexual assaults. Currently, the University of Saskatchewan has a policy to deal with non-academic misconduct, but currently does not have any policy specifically pertaining to sexual assault.

This recent move stems from a report in the Toronto Star last week of a young woman attending the U of S was sexually assaulted back in 2011. When these allegations were brought to the attention of the university’s administration, they stated they had no power to initiate an investigation without a finding of criminal liability.

As reported by the Toronto Star during a 3 month investigation this appears to be an epidemic across Canadian campuses. Indeed, as reported by the Toronto Star, out of 78 Canadian universities only 9 have special policies in dealing with sexual assault. By having a dedicated policy to deal with sexual assault, complainants need not deal with the inefficiencies of a large university bureaucracy

Projet de loi controversé sur la laïcité de l’État reporté

Philippe Couillard reporte le dépôt de son projet de loi sur la neutralité religieuse de l’État. Le premier ministre dit craindre l’aliénation de la communauté musulmane québécoise suite à la fusillade au parlement d’Ottawa et à l’attentat à Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu survenus le mois dernier.

«Dans le contexte actuel, avec les évènements tragiques des dernières semaines, qui ont meurtri une communauté de Québécois, qui se sont sentis interpellés et stigmatisés à travers ces malheureux évènements alors qu’ils n’ont aucune responsabilité pour la vaste majorité d’entre eux pour ce qui s’est produit, il est préférable de ne pas ajouter à cela pour l’instant», a déclaré Couillard mercredi à l’Assemblée nationale.

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Prince Albert Team introduces “Arab” Mascot

Last Friday the Prince Albert Raiders introduced a new mascot, the CBC reports. “Boston Raider” is a bearded, moustached, cartoon Arab man wearing a keffiyeh. The mascot is based on the team’s logo during the 1980s and ’90s. Amber Pratt, a Raiders spokesperson, told the Canadian Press that the mascot was “a positive symbol of Raider history” and added that fans had responded positively. “The version we brought to life is happy, with a big smile on his face. He wears hockey pants, and a hockey jersey,” Pratt explained.

Opinions are divided on the mascot. Erica Lee, who was instrumental in lobbying Bedford Road Collegiate, in Saskatoon, to retire its culturally insensitive “Redmen” name and logo last year, told the Star Phoenix: “[i]t’s strange that a team would revive a racist mascot, especially given the prominence that the native mascot issue has received in the media lately. People of Middle Eastern descent and Muslims are still portrayed in the Canadian media as violent, as terrorists, and these mascots only further that ignorance.”

Last year, the Moose Jaw Warriors,  another Western Hockey League team, also re-introduced a new logo: a bare-chest Aboriginal man wearing a single feather on his head, holding a hockey stick and a hatchet. While Balfour Collegiate, a Regina school, opted to drop its “Redmen” nickname shortly after Bedford Road did, many professional sports teams, including the NFL’s Washington Redskins have continued to resist demands for change.

On November 22nd, the team announced that the mascot would not appear at home games “until further notice.”

Supreme Court to Hear Case Regarding Métis and Non-Status Indians

On Thursday, the Supreme Court of Canada granted leave to appeal in the case Harry Daniels v Canada (Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development). The court will be asked to consider whether Métis and non-status Indians are “Indians” for the purposes of the Constitution, and whether they are owed a fiduciary duty and have the right to be consulted by the Canadian government.

The case was initiated by the Congress of Aboriginal peoples, Métis leader Harry Daniels and several others in 1999. The Federal Court ruled in their favour, and on appeal the court partially upheld that ruling, finding that Métis are Indians for the purposes of the Constitution, but non-status Indians would be subject to a case-by-case determination.

In a comment on the importance of this case, Congress of Aboriginal Peoples National Chief Betty Ann Lavallee stated that “[s]elf-determination is fundamental to the exercise of the aboriginal rights recognized in section 35 of Canada’s Constitution. CAP wholeheartedly supports that right and is working toward its recognition on behalf of all Aboriginal Peoples in Canada.”

 

No deal between government and Nova Scotia health-care unions

Mediation talks between the province and Nova Scotia’s four health-care unions ended without settlement this week.

The province and the unions had been in talks – led by mediator James Dorsey – for 45 days.

The four unions had proposed that collective bargaining take place through a bargaining council model where multi-union bargaining associations would coordinate to negotiate the four contracts with the province.  The province rejected this proposal.

The unions say it is the flawed bill which triggered the talks that is at the root of the problem.

As CUPE Acute Care Co-ordinator Wayne Thomas explained: “The way this bill is structured meant that the employer had zero reason to come up with a mediated settlement, since they weren’t vulnerable in any way.”  Thomas continued: “Thanks to this bill, HANS (Health Care Associations of Nova Scotia) knew they could simply sit back and wait for the arbitration phase, where the Act spells out in detail what will happen, with the unions having no say in the matter.”

Unifor’s Atlantic Director Lana Payne in a press release echoed this concern: “We find ourselves in a situation created by a government bent on not only undermining unions, but also the stability and quality of the public health-care system on which Nova Scotians rely,” said Unifor’s Atlantic Director Lana Payne in a press release.

The dispute between the parties will now be resolved by arbitration.  A decision in expected at the start of the new year.

For more on this story, click here.

 

Homeslessness in Children the Highest in US History

It is often said that children are our future. According to a new report prepared by the National Center on Family Homlessness, that future might be at stake. The report shows that approximately 2.5 million children (or one in 30 American children nationally) in 2013 were without a place to call home. This number is an 8 percent increase over the previous year. The major drivers behind this crisis cited in the report are 1) nation’s high poverty rate; 2) a lack of affordable housing across the nation; 3) racial disparities; 4) continuing impacts of the recession; 5) challenges face by single parents; and 6) the ways in which traumatic experiences (such as domestic violence) prolong homelessness.

The worst States for homlessness in children and thus ranking at the bottom were Alabama, Missisipi, and California. Michigan ranks in the bottom half with composite state rank of 37 (with 1 being the best and 50 being the worst for homlessness in children). This ranking is composed of consideration of 4 different factors: Extent of child homelessness, Risk for Child homelessness, child well-being, and State policy and planning.

In the year 2012-2013, the number of homeless children in Michigan were 77,465, a reduction from the previous year where it was 87,178. The year before that in 2010-2011, it was substantially lower with 61, 661. Read the rest of this entry »

The StoneChild Inquiry Ten Years Later

It has been 10 years since the Stonechild Inquiry casting a dark pall on the city of Saskatoon from Mr. Justice David Wright. The inquiry stemmed from the freezing death of a 17 year-old adolescent Neil Stonechild and the infamous “Starlight Tours” which cast an even darker shadow on the Saskatoon Police Service serving to strain relations with Aboriginal groups.

Since his scathing report in 2004 from Justice David Wright relations between the SPS and the Aboriginal community appear on the mend. Central to Justice Wright’s report was an approach on how to fix the damage that had been done. As of today there are 51 members who identify themselves as First Nations on the Saskatoon Police Service. Recently, Lawrence Joseph, the former chief of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations was quoted by the Star Phoenix that “the process has brought down walls and that it has built bridges in our society”

Given that Saskatoon is known as the bridge city this recollection is a powerful metaphor for the reconciliation process between the Saskatoon Police Service and First Nations group. In fact there is now a movement to name the new North Commuter bridge the “Neil Stonechild Memorial Bridge.” Perhaps this is the sort of symbolic gesture that will aid in the healing process.

The Dublin Regulations and the ECHR

The « Dublin Regulations », named after the location in which they were discussed, are one of the central pieces of the European law on refugees. The last amendment, adopted in Brussels in 2013, restates the core principle of the documents: The member State where fingerprints are stored or an asylum claim is made for the first time, is the only state responsible for a individual’s asylum case.

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Op-Ed: Commentary on “Last Chance” Documentary

I was recently introduced to the documentary “Last Chance” in law school this semester. This film shed some light on Canada’s reform to refugee laws and their prejudicial effect on LGBT asylum seekers. Last Chance (2012) follows the lives of five individuals who identify as members of the LGBT community who have come to Canada seeking asylum because their lives are in danger in their country due to their sexual orientation or gender identity. This documentary has noted that Canada is one of the few countries that grants refugee status to members of the LGBT community, recognizing that their lives may be at risk in their home countries. However, the process of granting refugee status to these individuals has some serious flaws that unduly affect LGBT-identified asylum seekers.

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