Parting shot…

March 20, 2021

Huffington Post – Althia Raj
Canada’s Whistleblower Law Ranks Dead Last in International Rankings – Canada was chastised for ignoring its own legal requirement for periodic reviews of the effectiveness of its whistleblower law.

This story was first published and then updated on March 3, 2021 (HuffPost Canada has, unfortunately, since been bought out and closed down).  The whistleblower is near the last resource for exposing wrong doing in high places – when all due process is found non-responsive.  The duty of the state is to protect the whistleblower but such protection requires firm law and implementation.  “Canada is at the bottom of an international ranking of countries with whistleblower protection, lagging behind Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Botswana… The picture is especially bleak in Canada, which together with Lebanon and Norway, tied for the world’s weakest whistleblower protection laws. Canada’s Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act and its track record met only one of 20 criteria.”   Related article: Toronto Star – Rachel Mendleson   A child predator sting. A Canadian nuclear facility. And two men behind a ‘creep catch’ video who say bosses turned on them for exposing one of their co-workers

CNN (US) – Taylor Romine
New York is poised to limit solitary confinement in prisons and jails to 15 consecutive days

The 15 days is the UN Human Rights (Nelson Mandela Rules) recommended limit on solitary, a historic bill if ever.    Known as the HALT Act (Humane Alternatives to Long-Term Solitary Confinement Act),   the NY Senate yesterday passed the legislation which also prohibits “20 days total in any 60-day period. It also would ban solitary for those with mental or physical disabilities, pregnant women, or those in the first eight weeks of post-partum recovery, and inmates under 21 or older than 55.”  As Canada has learned, prohibiting the practice requires careful and extensive implementation.  Solitary is too engrained in corrections to be eliminated by fiat. “Senator Julia Salazar, Chair of the Senate Committee on Crime Victims, Crime and Correction, said, “It is no secret that the use of solitary confinement is inhumane, unethical, and constitutes torture under international law if it extends more than fifteen days. It must be discontinued immediately.  The HALT Act:

Ottawa Citizen – Tyler Dawson
There are currently 119 Canadians detained in China, held for a variety of reasons – Some have been jailed for alleged political or religious ‘crimes,’ others for drug crimes and, in the case of Kovrig and Spavor, allegations of spying

Canada’s most famous China prisoners – the two Michaels, Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, are not the only Canadians held in Chinese custody.  The 119 total may be an underestimation as well since some do not declare themselves to Canadian Embassy.  The circumstances of those with dual citizenship is particularly concerning.  There are currently four Canadians under death sentence in China.

Centre for Crime and Justice Studies (UK)
COVID-19 in prisons (A 88 minute video summarizing the Covid-19 status in UK prisons).

Four experts offer their assessment of the current status (after a number of previous videos) Professor Richard Coker, Emeritus Professor of Public Health, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine; Dr Alves da Costa, working for WHO EURO Health, Alcohol, Illicit Drugs and Prison Health Programme; Professor Nick Hardwick, Professor of Criminal Justice, Royal Holloway University; and former Chief Inspector of Prisons  Samson Nseko, Project Coordinator for Prison Reform International’s Africa Programme in Kampala, Uganda  Related article: Centre for Crime and Justice Studies – Richard Garside  Deaths in Prisons from Covid-19   Related article: Amnesty International Forgotten behind bars: Covid-19 and Prisons (Comprehensive reporting on Covid-19 internationally with executive summary and recommendations to various organizations; a 55 page downloadable pdf)

World Economic Forum (Davos) – Sean Fleming
A Californian city gave people $500 a month – no strings attached. Here’s what happened

Stockton, California, is a city of 300,000 and located 150 km east of San Francisco.  125 people received $500 per month for two years without any strings attached.  Candidates had to 18 years or older, residents of Stockton and live in a neighbourhood where the median income was less than $46,000.  “Giving people money can encourage them to become more economically productive… This seemingly counterintuitive conclusion is one of the findings of a real-life trial of the consequences of universal basic income (UBI) programmes – where people receive a regular payment, usually from the state.”  Another measure with considerable improvement is mental health.  In a most interesting chart of expenses, the recipients killed another bugaboo when researchers discovered that less than 1% of the income went to cigarettes or alcohol, and spent mostly on food.

Pro Publica (US) – Ken Schwencke
Why America Fails at Gathering Hate Crime Statistics – The FBI relies on local law enforcement agencies to identify and report crimes motivated by bias, but many agencies fumble this task.

Crime statistics have been problematic for some time in the US.  Now that Asian hate incidents are rising there is much discussion around what constitutes a hate crime, how many Asian hate crimes there are, whether they are increasing or not and where they are happening.  This link suggests why the statistics generated by the FBI are unreliable for any accurate picture of incidents.  Many hate crimes go unreported.  They are, if reported, first gathered by local law enforcement, perhaps using various criterion and definitions, and then sometimes sent to the FBI for accumulating the results.  “Local law enforcement agencies reported a total of 6,121 hate crimes in 2016 to the FBI, but estimates from the National Crime Victimization Survey, conducted by the federal government, pin the number of potential hate crimes at almost 250,000 a year — one indication of the inadequacy of the FBI’s data.” – Matthew Behrens
Please Sign to Overturn a Grave Miscarriage of Justice for Alberta Abuse Survivor

The link highlights the case of an Alberta woman who endured 30 years of an abusive husband and then killed the husband in self-defence.  The law accepted a guilty plea of manslaughter and sentenced her to 18 years in prison for having survived the abuse while the average sentence in practice is 2 years.  The case seems to suggest that prosecutorial leverage was the main thrust rather than justice or fairness.  Behrens, a justice advocate, is asking for petition support at the link.    Related article: Mirage (Australia) –  Federation of Community Legal Centres and Smart Justice for Women Investment in more prison beds will not help women