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The Human Rights Impact of Less Lethal Weapons and Other Law Enforcement Equipment

April 20, 2015 Comments off

The Human Rights Impact of Less Lethal Weapons and Other Law Enforcement Equipment
Source: Amnesty International

Law enforcement agencies around the world regularly misuse so-called “less-lethal” weapons and equipment for torture and their use can also have deadly consequences, Amnesty International and the Omega Research Foundation said as they launched a new briefing at the United Nations Crime Congress in Doha, Qatar.

The Human Rights Impact of Less Lethal Weapons and Other Law Enforcement Equipment details the medical and other risks associated with a wide range of weaponry and equipment used in policing, including crowd control during demonstrations, as well as in prisons. And it recommends stricter controls or, in some cases, bans to stem future abuses.

Amnesty International and Omega acknowledge the importance of developing less-lethal weapons, equipment and technologies, to reduce the risk of death or injury inherent in police use of firearms and other existing weapons.

When used responsibly by well-trained and fully accountable law enforcement officials, less-lethal weapons can prevent and minimize deaths and injuries to assailants, suspects and detainees, as well as protect the police and prison officers themselves.

But such equipment can have damaging and even deadly effects if it is not used in compliance with international human rights law and standards.

Unaccompanied Child Migration to the United States: The Tension between Protection and Prevention

April 9, 2015 Comments off

Unaccompanied Child Migration to the United States: The Tension between Protection and Prevention
Source: Migration Policy Institute

Between 2011 and 2014, the number of Central American children and “family units”—parents traveling with minor children—who arrived at the U.S.-Mexico border increased rapidly, reaching a peak of 137,000 in fiscal year 2014. While many of these migrants have valid claims for asylum or other forms of humanitarian relief, others are chiefly driven by economic concerns and a desire to reconnect with family members. This mixed flow has challenged the capacity of the United States to carry out its core immigration functions of preventing the admission of unauthorized immigrants while also providing protection to those who cannot be safely returned to their home countries.

Media coverage of Central American arrivals in 2014 portrayed their entry as a failure of border security, but the actual policy failures were in the processing and adjudication of claims for relief from migrants presenting in a mixed migration flow of humanitarian and irregular migrants. Inadequate judicial and legal resources left some migrants waiting two years or more for a hearing before an immigration judge. Such delays amounted to a de facto policy of open admission for children and families. Furthermore, the Obama administration’s responses to the rising Central American flows, including greater law enforcement resources at the border, expanded detention facilities, and the establishment of dedication child and family immigration court dockets, focused exclusively on immediate needs rather than longer-term solutions and they failed either to adequately protect vulnerable immigrants or to prevent future unauthorized flows.

This report explains the shifting patterns of Central American migration between 2011 and 2014, analyzes the root of the policy challenges posed by these flows, and outlines U.S. and regional policy responses to address the crisis. It also makes recommendations on policies that advance both critical protection and enforcement goals in situations of complex, mixed flows, and provides additional policies that the United States, Mexico, and the Northern Triangle countries of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras might adopt to better manage child and family migration pressures today and in the future.

California’s New Vagrancy Laws: The Growing Enactment and Enforcement of Anti-Homeless Laws in the Golden State

April 7, 2015 Comments off

California’s New Vagrancy Laws: The Growing Enactment and Enforcement of Anti-Homeless Laws in the Golden State
Source: Social Science Research Network

Vagrancy laws conjure up a distant past when authorities punished people without a home or permanent residence. Whether the objects of pity or scorn, vagrants could be cited or jailed under laws selectively enforced against anyone deemed undesirable. Although such laws have generally been struck down by courts as unconstitutionally vague, today’s “vagrants” are homeless people, who face growing harassment and punishment for their presence in public.

More than one in five homeless people in the country lives in California, and two-thirds are unsheltered. The state legislature has done little to respond to this widespread problem, forcing municipal governments to address homelessness with local laws and resources. Cities have responded by enacting and enforcing new vagrancy laws — a wide range of municipal codes that target or disproportionately impact homeless people.

Through extensive archival research and case studies of several cities, the report presents detailed evidence of the growing enactment and enforcement of municipal anti-homeless laws in recent decades as cities engage in a race to the bottom to push out homeless people. It concludes with a call for a state-level solution to end the expensive and inhumane treatment of some of California’s most vulnerable residents.

Resettling Refugees: Canada’s Humanitarian Commitments

April 3, 2015 Comments off

Resettling Refugees: Canada’s Humanitarian Commitments
Source: Library of Parliament

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimates that almost 960,000 refugees are currently in need of resettlement in a third country. These are refugees who, according to the UNHCR, can neither return to their country of origin nor integrate into their country of first asylum.

Together, the international community has committed to resettle around 80,000 refugees each year. Historically, Canada has resettled approximately 10% of this total; the government’s current goal is to resettle between 8% and 12%. In 2010, the government committed to increase the number of refugees resettled each year from abroad by 20% (2,500 people). For 2015, the government has agreed to accept up to 14,500 resettled refugees, out of a total of 285,000 new immigrants.

Canada admits refugees for resettlement on a humanitarian basis. Resettlement also provides a way for Canada to alleviate the burden for host countries and share the responsibility for displaced persons. In addition to commitments to resettle refugees, Canada has international obligations to those who come to Canada on their own and are found to be in need of protection (refugee claimants or asylum seekers).

This publication provides an overview of Canada’s refugee resettlement programs, explaining who is eligible for resettlement and the different programs in place. Finally, it concludes with some of the operational issues involved in refugee resettlement.

Asylum in the EU: Facts and Figures

April 2, 2015 Comments off

Asylum in the EU: Facts and Figures
Source: European Parliament Think Tank

Asylum is a form of international protection given by a state on its territory to someone who is threatened by persecution on grounds of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular group or political opinion in their country of origin or residence. In the EU, this consists of refugee status as defined in the UN Geneva Refugee Convention, and subsidiary protection for persons who do not qualify as refugees but in respect of whom substantial grounds exist that the person concerned, if returned to their country of origin, would face a real risk of suffering serious harm as defined in the Qualification Directive. The Lisbon Treaty introduced a legal basis for a common asylum policy that would make it possible to eliminate differences in the treatment of asylum-seekers across the EU. The Common European Asylum System (CEAS) was completed in 2013 and comprises five key acts. Notably, the Qualification Directive clarifies the grounds on which international protection is granted to asylum-seekers in EU Member States. Furthermore, the Dublin III Regulation establishes the criteria for determining which Member State is responsible for examining an application for international protection, and provides for the transfer of asylum-seekers to the Member State responsible under the Dublin rules. This briefing provides an overview of the number of third-country nationals seeking asylum in EU Member States, their success in asylum procedures, and requests for transfers between Member States, as a consequence of the Dublin Regulation.

Minorities in Iraq – Pushed to the brink of existence

April 1, 2015 Comments off

Minorities in Iraq – Pushed to the brink of existence
Source: European Parliament Think Tank

Iraqi minorities (Turkmens, Yazidis, Christians and other smaller communities) have long been discriminated against in Iraq. Violence against them has increased dramatically in areas of Iraqi territory that have fallen under the control of the Islamist terrorist group that has declared itself ‘the Islamic State’ (known variously as IS, ISIS or ISIL, and by the Arabic acronym ‘Daesh’ or ‘Da’esh’). After coming into power, this terrorist group called into question the very existence of several of these minorities, not least non-Muslim minorities, subjecting them to murder, rape, slavery and organ trafficking. Fearing for their life, people have been fleeing in unprecedented numbers: mass killings have led to the displacement of more than 2 million people, mainly to refugee camps in the Kurdistan region, these displacements are tangible evidence that the country is going through a process of reconfiguration and fragmentation. Past experience has shown that few displaced people ever return to their homes.

FALQs: Soviet Investigation of Nazi War Crimes

April 1, 2015 Comments off

FALQs: Soviet Investigation of Nazi War Crimes
Source: Law Library of Congress

Recently, people all over the world remembered how the Auschwitz concentration camp was liberated 70 years ago on January 27, 1945. Our readers might be interested to learn about the legal basis for the Soviet authorities’ involvement in the collection of evidence, investigation of crimes committed in the camp, and the prosecution and punishment of the perpetrators of these and other crimes. While the most notorious Nazi war criminals were tried in Nuremberg, and those accused of murdering people in Auschwitz were prosecuted later in separate trials in Poland and Germany, the collection of evidence and prosecution of war crimes had started well before the Soviets liberated Auschwitz.

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