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Posts Tagged ‘Discrimination’

Burma’s Censored Census

September 22nd, 2014 No comments

By: Konstantinos Patsiopoulos

Blog Category: International Law & Race

Although not an official confirmation, a brief review of Burma on Wikipedia supports the proposition in TIME’s article that the Rohingya Muslim community have been discriminated against in the latest U.N. census.  Under the “Ethnic groups” category, Rohingya is not listed.  On February 25, 2014, TIME covered a story related to the release of a report alleging that the Rohingya people were victims of oppression by Buddhist-dominated government in Burma.  Roughly one month later, TIME reported that the Burmese government would not allow the Rohingya people to be identified on the census.

Since there have been accusations of involvement with U.N. officials, what remedial measures could the minority group take?  After approximately 140,000 Rohingya people have been essentially quarantined in displacement camps over the past two years, the minority group views this head-count procedure as just another discriminatory tool in the Burmese government’s arsenal.  Moreover, anti-Rohingya mobs have destroyed international aid boats and vehicles, which were transporting food, water, and medical supplies to the minority group.

Luckily, these reports and news articles caught the attention of the U.N. Population Fund, who expressed its concern.  Therefore, with U.N. assistance and continued international news coverage, remedial measures may be on the way for the Rohingya people.

The opinions expressed herein are strictly those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Widener Journal of Law, Economics & Race.

Sources: 

Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia, available at En.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burma (last visited Apr. 21, 2014).

Charlie Campbell, Burma Accused of ‘Crime Against Humanity’ Over Persecution of Rohingya, TIME (Apr. 21, 2014, 4:54 PM), available at http://time.com/9518/burma-rohingya-crime-against-humanity.

Charlie Campbell, Burma’s Racist Census Degenerates Into Violence, TIME, (Apr. 21, 2014, 10:00 AM), available at http://time.com/44891/burma-census-rakhine-rohingya.

Racism In The International Criminal Court

July 28th, 2014 No comments

By: Jason Staloski

Blog Category: International Law & Race

The International Criminal Court (ICC) is located in the Netherlands and was established in 2002. The ICC was created in order to prosecute individuals charged with either genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, or crimes of aggression. The ICC currently has jurisdiction over 122 states where these crimes occur. Recently, the African Union (AU) has levied allegations against the ICC claiming that the institution is racially discriminatory in deciding which cases to prosecute.

To support their allegation of racism, the AU notes that every prosecution pursued by the ICC originated from a country located in Africa. At the most recent AU Summit, the member nations of the AU unanimously agreed that a sitting head of state in a member nation of the AU should be hauled in front of ICC in response to William Ruto, the sitting Deputy President of Kenya, being forced to attend his trial in front of the ICC regarding the pending crimes against humanity charges. While the AU has not threatened to withdraw from ICC jurisdiction, the possibility has been discussed by AU nations.

Hailemariam Desalegn, chairperson of the African Union and Ethiopian President, has stated that, “The process [of the ICC selecting who to prosecute] has degenerated into some kind of race hunting.[1]” The ICC has defended itself by stating that a majority of its member nations come from Africa, therefore, it is only logical that there would be more cases arising from AU nations. The ICC also defended itself by indicating that of the 8 current investigations regarding AU nations, four of the ICC was requested by that state itself to investigate.

The opinions expressed herein are strictly those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Widener Journal of Law, Economics & Race. 

Sources: 

Richard Lough, African Union accuses ICC prosecutor of bias, Reuters (Apr. 5 2014), available at http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/01/30/ozatp-africa-icc-idAFJOE70T01R20110130.

Jacey Fortin, African Union Countries Rally Around Kenyan President, But Won’t Withdraw From The ICC, International Business Times (Apr. 5, 2014), available at http://www.ibtimes.com/african-union-countries-rally-around-kenyan-president-wont-withdraw-icc-1423572.

Al Mariam, The International Criminal Court on an African Safari?, Salon, (Apr. 5, 2014), available at http://open.salon.com/blog/almariam/2013/09/29/the_international_criminal_court_on_an_african_safari.

Australia’s Public Divided on Racial Discrimination Amendments

June 9th, 2014 No comments

By: Andrew Schneidman

Blog Category: International Law & Race

Australia announced major amendments to its Racial Discrimination Act that effectively reduce legal constraints on discriminatory speech.  Since 1975, and until now, the Act banned actions “reasonably likely . . . to offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate others because of the race, colour or national or ethnic origin.”  The new amendment removes from the Act the words “offend, insult, humiliate,” banning only actions “reasonably likely . . . [to] intimidate” or “vilify.”  Moreover, the Act grants a major exemption, legalizing actions of racial intimidation made for any genuine purpose in the public interest.  The change comes in the wake of the opinion handed down in Eatock v. Bolt, a 2011 case where a newspaper columnist was found to have breached the Act when he published two articles targeting fair-skinned Aborigines.

The amendment has triggered a public debate, with opponents arguing the amendment bolsters bigotry, and supporters claiming the amendment bolsters free speech.  Opponents contend that the amendments will open the floodgates to racial discrimination in all public discussions.  They fear the amendments’ exemptions are too broad, effectively endorsing acts of public discrimination in any public forum.  Supports reason that the amendments correctly shift racial discrimination claims from the perspective of the group claiming to be offended to “the perspective of a reasonable member of the Australian community.”  They maintain that the amendments simply bar frivolous lawsuits against innocent citizens.

Time will tell the true effect of Australia’s amendments to its Racial Discrimination Act, but one thing is clear: Australia’s courts have less say in matters of discriminatory speech.

The opinions expressed herein are strictly those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Widener Journal of Law, Economics & Race. 

Sources:

Gay Alcorn, Locked in a war of words to define free speech, The Sydney Morning Herald (Mar. 29, 2014), available at http://www.smh.com.au/national/locked-in-a-war-of-words-to-define-free-speech-20140328-35oi1.html.

Gillian Triggs, Race law changes seriously undermine protections, The Australian (Mar. 28, 2014), available at http://www.theaustralian.com.au/opinion/race-law-changes-seriously-undermine-protections/story-e6frg6zo-1226866727210#.

Martin Gilmour, Discrimination law change strengthening free speech, The Examiner (Mar. 29, 2014), available at http://www.examiner.com.au/story/2183828/discrimination-law-change-strengthening-free-speech/.

HUD Codifies Disparate Impact

September 16th, 2013 No comments

By: Joseph Squadroni
Blog Category: Housing/Entitlement Programs

Early last month, the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) codified its prohibition under the Fair Housing Act (FHA) against housing practices  that have a disparate impact on members of certain protected classes, including race.  While not changing the substance of the law in any way—the disparate impact standard has been employed by HUD and the courts for over 40 years—the new rule brings about a formalistic change in the law with several byproducts.[1]

First, the rule will provide a clear and uniform national standard under which to apply the claim of disparate impact.  This means that the minor degrees of variation in the ways different circuit courts have applied the disparate impact standard (i.e. with respect to who bears the burden of proving a less discriminatory alternative housing practice) will be fully resolved.[2] The use of disparate impact claims has long protected home buyers from discrimination on the basis of race, making loans more readily available at lower costs to lower income families, many of whom are minorities.

Second, and more significantly, the new regulation will serve as a protection of the disparate impact standard should the Supreme Court decide to hear the case Mount Holly v. Mt. Holly Gardens Citizens in Action.  The case involves a constitutional challenge to the use of disparate impact claims and many think that a conservative majority will rule against the standard.[3]  With the passing of the rule, HUD seeks to protect the standard by hoping the Court will defer to its judgment in interpreting the breadth of its enforcement power under the FHA.[4]

Critics of disparate impact rules range from those who argue that they force banks and creditors to ignore risk factors associated with granting loans out of fear of being prosecuted to those who are concerned that the new rule will lead to an increase in frivolous lawsuits.[5]  Given the long-standing history and use of the disparate impact standard, my opinion is that it is unlikely the disparate impact standard will be struck down entirely.  It is more likely that if any change occurs, it will be only a heightened showing of the disparate impact claimed. Or, perhaps, a doing away with the “less discriminatory alternative” provision.

The opinions expressed herein are strictly those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Widener Journal of Law, Economics & Race.


[1] Gregory D. Squires, Politics, HUD’s Disparate Impact Rule Praised by Fair Housing Advocates: Misunderstood by Critics, Huffington Post (Feb. 24, 2013), http://www.huffingtonpost.com/gregory-d-squires/huds-disparate-impact-rul_b_2755023.html.

[2] Id.

[3] Paul Sperry, CAMPS Real Time Legislative Information Under the Dome, HUD Formalizes ‘Disparate Impact’ Lending Rule To Sway Supreme Court, California Association of Mortgage Professionals (Mar. 9, 2013), http://realestatemarbles.com/campga/2013/03/09/hud-formalizes-disparate-impact-lending-rule-to-sway-supreme-court/.

[4] Id.

[5] Squires, supra note 1.

Untangling True Racial Profiling From Other Factors

September 9th, 2013 No comments

By: Jason Gibson

Blog Category: Racial Profiling & Traffic Stops

A study done in Cincinnati found that minority drivers experienced longer stops and higher search rates than white drivers.  Looking at this study in a vacuum it could be used to support an argument that these drivers were victims of racial profiling.  However, when researchers compared the data against white drivers who were stopped at the same time, place, and for the same reasons, the differences disappeared.

Identifying the disparity in treatment by police is the easy part.  The difficulty lies in separating the numerous other factors involved in a traffic stop from true racial discrimination.   If there are more police on patrol in a neighborhood with a higher minority population, then logically more minority drivers will be stopped.  Is the higher police presence a result of discrimination or is it in response to increased crime in a certain area?  Studies have shown that seatbelt usage is chronically lower among minority drivers.  When are officers being aggressive in enforcing these types of violations, and when is it due to racial bias?

The use of racial profiling in traffic stops, or any other area of law enforcement, is a disgrace.  It is a tool used by a few officers that tarnishes the reputation of entire departments.  No one talks about the specific officers who attacked Rodney King, they talk about the L.A.P.D.  By creating better methods designed to isolate true racial profiling, law enforcements agencies will be able to focus on identifying the offending officers more quickly and reduce the incidents of racial profiling.   This is why some researchers support creating benchmarks for individual officers to identify the offending officers before more incidents can occur.

The opinions expressed herein are strictly those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Widener Journal of Law, Economics & Race. 

Source:

Racial Profiling and Traffic Stops, National Institute of Justice, available at http://www.nij.gov/nij/topics/law-enforcement/legitimacy/traffic-stops.htm.

Putting the Red Light on Racially Motivated Traffic Stops

June 17th, 2013 No comments

By: Jay Patel

Blog Category: Racial Profiling & Traffic Stops

Putting the Red Light on Racially Motivated Traffic Stops

In the late 1990’s the State of New Jersey entered into a consent decree with the United States Department of Justice.[1] The basis: New Jersey State Troopers were using race as a means of discriminating among drivers stopped for traffic infractions.[2] The consent decree underscored a stark reality; police officers across the country were using race as a pretext to stop, and in many cases, harass minorities.[3] The question then becomes: How can we curb these flagrant abuses?

Several commentators have proposed suggestions which could be easily implemented and maintained.[4] The first proposal would establish internal police policies which would set forth standardized procedures that an officer would have to follow when conducting a traffic stop.[5] To ensure that these policies are followed, the author suggests financial awards or fines based on departmental adherence.[6] Another commentator has suggested that by either restricting or barring consent based searches race-centric stops will cease.[7] He would apply the Terry standard of reasonable suspicion for a stop and frisk as a prong to any motorist consent.[8] In short, law enforcement officers would need both the motorist’s consent and reasonable suspicion that illegal contraband was present before conducting a search.[9] The other plausible scenario would render ineffective a citizen’s consent to search and effectively bar the police from searching a motor vehicle.[10]

Ideally we would like to reside in a society where racial profiling does not exist; however, that is not the reality. Therefore, it is important that we consider one or many of the proffered solutions as a means to end racial profiling.


[1]  Noah Kupferberg, TRANSPARENCY: A NEW ROLE FOR POLICE CONSENT DECREES, 42 Colum. J. L. & Soc. Probs. 129,139 (2008).

[2]  Id.

[3] Id.  at 134 (detailing the United State Department of Justice’s investigation and subsequent consent decree with the City of Los Angeles); See also  David A. Harris, ESSAY: “DRIVING WHILE BLACK” AND ALL OTHER TRAFFIC OFFENSES: THE SUPREME COURT AND PRETEXTUAL TRAFFIC STOPS, 87 J. Crim. L. & Criminology 544, 561-69 (1997) (detailing several disturbing race-based traffic stops).

[4]  Id. at 576-79; See also, Timothy P. O’Neil, Article: Vagrants in Volvos: Ending Pretextual Traffic Stops and Consent Searches of Vehicles in Illinois, 40 Loy. U. Chi. L.J. 745, 772-779. (2009).

[5] Harris, supra, note 3 at 576-79.

[6] Id. at 579.

[7]  O’Neil, supra, note 4 at 774-75.

[8]  Id. at 773.

[9]  Id. at 778-79.

[10]  Id. at 778.