My Promise to #Children!

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My Promise to Children | Robert J. Burrowes

Every day, human adults kill 50,000 of our children. We kill them in wars. We kill them with drones. We kill them in our homes. We also kill children in vast numbers by starving them to death in Africa, Asia and Central/South America because we use military violence to maintain an ‘economic’ system that allocates resources for military weapons, as well as corporate profits for the wealthy, instead of resources for living.

Apart from those children we kill every day, we sell many others into sexual slavery, we kidnap others to terrorize them into becoming child soldiers, we force others to work as slave laborers, in horrific conditions, in fields and factories (and buy the cheap products of their exploited labor as our latest ‘bargain’), and we condemn millions to live in poverty, homelessness and misery. We cause many children to be born with grotesque genetic deformities because we use horrific weapons, like those with depleted uranium, on their parents. We also inflict violence on children in many other forms, ranging from ‘ordinary’ domestic violence to genital mutilation. And we imprison vast numbers of children in school in the delusional belief that this is good for them. See ‘Do We Want School or Education?’ Whatever other damage that school does, it certainly helps to create the next generation of child-destroyers.

Despite all of the above, we adults still maintain our delusion that we humans love our children. And that we are civilized. Mind boggling!

While some effort has been made by the international community to recognize that young human beings have needs (see, for example, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child), so far these efforts have failed to identify, and therefore meaningfully address, the primary reason why no child in the world today has their most fundamental needs met. This failure ensures that all of our other efforts to preserve and enhance life must ultimately fail, as our rush to extinction graphically illustrates. How can I say this? Consider this.

The man who inflicts violence on women was damaged during childhood. The white person who inflicts violence on people of colour was damaged during childhood. The employer who exploits workers was damaged during childhood. The individual who endorses the state violence inflicted on indigenous peoples was damaged during childhood. The terrorist, the political leader who wages war and the soldier who kills in our name were all damaged during childhood. The person who supports structures of violence (such as the military, police, legal and prison systems) was damaged during childhood. The person who supports structures of exploitation (such as capitalism and imperialism) was damaged during childhood. The person who thoughtlessly participates in destruction of the natural environment was damaged during childhood.

Violence does not ‘just happen’. It is perpetrated by damaged individuals, including ourselves. Or it is built into political, social and economic structures by damaged individuals, such as ourselves. So we have a choice. We can take responsibility for healing the damage done to ourselves. And we can take responsibility for ending the origin of all of this violence: the violence we adults inflict on children. Or we can continue to delude ourselves that there is another source of all of the violence in our world and devote more erroneous effort to addressing it.

All violence is an outcome of the visible, ‘invisible’ and ‘utterly invisible’ violence inflicted by adults on children. See ‘Why Violence?’ and ‘Fearless Psychology and Fearful Psychology: Principles and Practice’.

Once the child has been damaged, they will inflict violence on themself, the people around them, as well as non-human species and the natural environment; they will also play a part in maintaining structures of violence and exploitation (such as the education and legal systems, as well as capitalism) in which they are both victim and perpetrator.

Where violence has been exposed in other contexts, it has led to liberation movements (such as the anti-slavery movement; the anti-war movement; struggles against imperialism, colonialism and racism; women’s liberation; struggles for the rights of indigenous peoples; the environment movement; animal liberation; struggles for the rights of people with disabilities; and the struggle against homophobia) as well as solidarity movements (in which, for example, whites have acted in solidarity with people of colour, pro-feminist men have acted in solidarity with women, and humans have acted in solidarity with non-human species and the natural environment).

Clearly, a children’s and adolescents’ liberation movement, by whatever name, is long overdue. And while an appropriate charter of young people’s needs might include many provisions contained in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, it must ultimately include fundamental provisions that identify the need to live without the fear and experience of adult violence in its many forms, and the need to be listened to and allowed to act in accord with their own Self-will, even when this conflicts with adult preferences. Until we are able to acknowledge and support these needs of children, we are deluding ourselves about the possibility of effectively tackling the military, ecological and economic threats to our survival. And time is clearly running out. So, to all young people, everywhere, my promise is this:

I admit that I inflict violence on you, particularly when you have feelings that frighten me. I also admit that I do not listen to you and trust you when you tell me what you need because I like to pretend that I know better than you do or, and it’s scary for me to admit this, you might make choices that conflict with social norms or laws and I will have to make a stand with you, or even on your behalf.

From today, I promise that I will try to no longer inflict this violence on you, including that which I call ‘punishment’ so that I can pretend that I am not using violence, and I will do all that I can to stop other adults inflicting violence on you as well.

I also admit that we adults have done a bad job at looking after each other, including all of our children, and planet Earth, your home, and that you are going to have an increasingly difficult life as the natural world continues to break down. So I promise to participate in efforts being made to address all of these problems, such as that outlined in ‘The Flame Tree Project to Save Life on Earth’. You can do this with me, if you like.

I will also let you make all of your choices freely in the same way that I expect to make mine. If you make mistakes, if you change your mind, I will accept these as part of your learning and growing. (I still make mistakes and change my mind too although I like to pretend that I don’t!) This means, for example, that if you tell me that you do not want to go to school (where I know that other adults will tell you what to do in violation of your Self-will), then I will not force you to do so. There are better ways of learning and we can work out together how you might go about doing this.

If we have differences about what to do, I promise that I will talk about it with you until we find a way forward that seems fair to us both. When I was a child, the adults in my life didn’t give me much choice about what I did, so I am scared that talking about something means that ‘no-one will listen’ and I won’t get what I want. But I will try to trust that if I talk honestly to you about what I need, then you will listen carefully and help me to get what I need as well. I sort of know that if I listen and I am fair to you, and I trust you to listen and to be fair with me, then you will learn to listen and be fair with everyone. But this is hard for me. Conflict has often been scary.

I will not presume that you are less capable than I am, even though you are younger. I will treat you like an equal, just as we adults like to be treated as equals.

I will be honest with you about how I feel and what I need.

Most importantly of all, I promise that I will listen to you as best I can. See ‘Nisteling: The Art of Deep Listening’. I get scared when you are scared, angry or sad but part of me knows that you need to feel scared, angry or sad (or something else) when things don’t work out as you want, just as you will sometimes feel content, loving or happy when things do work out. Of course, it is easier for me to listen when you are content, loving and happy, and I wish that you were like that all of the time! But life isn’t like that hey? I also get scared when you tell me that your Dad/Mum or someone I think is our friend is abusing you but I will do my best to listen to and support you to defend yourself against this violence, one way or another. In my heart, I know that listening means listening to however you are and letting that guide what you do. In the adult world, however, this just isn’t easy to do every day. But I will try! This means, then, that I will also not try to scare you out of telling me the truth when I don’t like it, including your truth about me!

From today, in a nutshell, I promise that I will support you to act in accord with your own Self-will. I want you to be free and to be everything that you were born to be.

Oh, and finally, as best I can, I promise to love you and to respect you as a unique, beautiful and compassionate creation with a great deal to offer the world (as long as adults don’t get in your way). You are, indeed, a child of the Universe. You do, indeed, have a right to be here.

As an adult, would you be willing to make this promise too? To whom would you make it?

If you are not willing to make this promise, what does this tell you about yourself?

There is no doubt that giving every child (or adult, for that matter) all of the space they need to feel, deeply, what they want to do, and to then let them do it (or to have the feelings they naturally have if someone or something prevents them from doing so) will have some dysfunctional outcomes in the short term. This is because we have all been dysfunctionalized, to a greater or lesser extent, by the violence we have already suffered throughout our lives. But listening deeply to a child from birth (or starting today), and supporting them to act out their own Self-will, will lead to an infinitely better overall outcome than the system of emotional suppression, control and punishment of children which has generated the incredibly violent world in which we now find ourselves.

It will, of course, be difficult for some form of young people’s liberation movement to emerge given the extraordinary level of violence which children suffer and their economic dependence on adults. However, many social contexts still provide some space, and social media might offer new opportunities, for political organization by young people. Until they do organize politically, those adults who wish to act in solidarity with children can readily do so by doing any or all of the following seven things.

First, like some individual members of other violent/oppressive groups before you (such as anti-racist whites and pro-feminist men who sought to eliminate their own racism/sexism), you could take responsibility for identifying and progressively eliminating your own violence against children (using the information in ‘Why Violence?’ above as a guide or, preferably, by listening to children).

Second, you could raise awareness of violence against children and challenge/support others, including institutions, to take responsibility for ending their violence against children (perhaps by asking them to consider making the ‘Promise to Children’ above). Third, you could listen to children (in silence) with patience, love and compassion when children feel safe to talk of (or otherwise reveal, perhaps through some form of artistic expression) their experience of violence and to express their feelings (including fear, anger, sadness and others) about this violence.

Fourth, you could organize a safe forum (facilitated by someone experienced in listening to emotionally-disturbing events) in which a few children could share with each other (by talking or through some form of artistic expression) their experiences of, and feelings about, the violence they have suffered and witnessed. Fifth, you could support children’s efforts to communicate and organize around the issue of adult violence against children. Sixth, you could support children to take action against adult violence when those children feel courageous enough to act (or you could act on the child’s behalf when the child is too young or too terrified to act for itself).

Finally, you could act in solidarity with the child in yourself. You were a victim as a child and no one acted in solidarity with you. You can learn to listen to yourself while you have your feelings about violent childhood experiences or you can get someone else you trust to listen to you about what happened to you. In time, this will make you better able to listen to, and be an ally of, children (even when they tell you about your violence against them).

If you wish to join the worldwide movement to end all violence, including violence against children, you can sign online ‘The People’s Charter to Create a Nonviolent World’.

It takes courage to tell the truth that no-one wants to hear.
It takes fearlessness to act on it.

 

This article ‘My Promise to Children’ was originally published in various progressive news outlets in July-August 2013.

Source of this document: https://feelingsfirstblog.wordpress.com/my-promise-to-children/

via My Promise to Children

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#US Exceptionalism: #RegimeChange: Elliott Abrams: A #HumanRights Horror Show in Three Acts!

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Elliott Abrams: A Human Rights Horror Show in Three Acts | Brett Wilkins | CounterPunch | 1 February 2019

Last Friday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that Elliott Abrams would once again be returning to government, this time as President Donald Trump’s special envoy to help “fully restore democracy and prosperity” to Venezuela. Abrams, 71, is best known for abetting dictators and genocide in Latin America and for his role in the Iran-Contra scandal during the Ronald Reagan administration, as well as for his ardent support for the 2003 invasion of Iraq and for green-lighting a failed coup in Venezuela while serving in the George W. Bush administration. He is as reviled by countless Latin Americans as he is revered among neocons who pine for a more muscular US role in the hemisphere and beyond. What follows is an overview of the human rights horror show that has been Abrams’ government career, which now spans three presidential administrations over four decades.

Act I: Dictators, Death Squads and Drug Dealers

During the last decade of the Cold War, the Reagan administration staunchly supported right-wing military dictatorships throughout Latin America. The US was also instrumental in the creation and training of these regimes’ military officers, troops and security forces, some of whom committed assassinations, massacres and even genocidal violence with tacit, and sometimes open, American backing. The Reagan administration also covertly — and illegally — supported the brutal Contra rebels as they waged a terrorist war against the democratically elected government of Nicaragua. This was the state of affairs at the State Department when Abrams was hired in 1981, first as Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs and then as Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs.

No Reagan administration official worked harder to subvert human rights in the Americas than Elliott Abrams. After the Atlacatl Battalion, an elite Salvadoran army unit created at the US Army School of the Americas, carried out a series of horrific massacres including the wholesale slaughter of more than 900 villagers at El Mozote in December 1981, Abrams praised the murderous battalion’s “professionalism” while attacking reports of casualty figures and the journalists who reported them. He also whitewashed Contra atrocities as well as those of the genocidal regime of General Efrían Ríos Montt in Guatemala, the Argentinian military junta — which wasstealing and selling the babies of its victims at the time — and other pro-US, anti-communist regimes.

Abrams was point man on Reagan’s Panama pivot, in which drug-dealing dictator General Manuel Noriega was quickly transformed from friend to foe. When asked in October 1987 if the US was trying to destabilize Noriega’s regime, Abrams replied with a straight face that “Panama should not be run by a general; it should be run by an elected civilian government.” Meanwhile, the US supported military dictatorships across the region and around the world while going out of its way — and outside the law — to destroy the elected civilian government in neighboring Nicaragua.

Late in 1986 the world learned of a secret arms-for-hostages deal between the Reagan administration and US archenemy Iran. The US also used proceeds from the arms sale to fund the Contras, who also trafficked drugs to bankroll their insurgency. Both the Iran deal and supporting the Contra terrorists were illegal. It would emerge that Abrams, who worked closely with key Iran-Contra criminal Colonel Oliver North, knew about North’s efforts to illegally assist the Contras and was “directly involved in secretly seeking third-country contributions” to the rebels. Reagan was infuriated by press snooping into this dirty Contra war. Once again, the president called on his attack dog Abrams, who launched a smear campaign against Robert Parry and Brian Barger of theAssociated Press, two of the first journalists who reported on Contra drug running. The pair were even falsely accused of poisoning Oliver North’s dog to death.

Federal prosecutors prepared multiple felony counts against Abrams for his role in the scandal but he was never indicted; instead he cooperated with the government and struck a deal in which he pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor counts of withholding information from Congress. Neither Abrams nor any of the five other Reagan officials who pleaded guilty in the scandal ever spent a day in prison for their crimes; President George H. W. Bush, who as Reagan’s vice president was himself deeply involved in the Iran-Contra affair, pardoned them all on Christmas Eve in 1992.

Act II: Neoconned

In 1997, prominent neoconservatives William Kristol and Robert Kagan founded the Project for the New American Century (PNAC), a think tank dedicated to “the promotion of American global leadership.” PNAC’s roster featured many neocon hawks who would later serve in the George W. Bush administration, including Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, John Bolton and Elliot Abrams, who was appointed Senior Director for Democracy, Human Rights and International Operations at the National Security Council in June 2001. Many of PNAC’s goals — which included regime change in Iraq — aligned perfectly with George W. Bush’s aggressive post-9/11 foreign policy and PNAC members including Abrams found their power and standing elevated as the US entered the era of never-ending war on terrorism.

But before Iraq there was the matter of a failed coup against Hugo Chávez, the democratically elected president of Venezuela whose socialist reforms — which included nationalizing foreign commercial assets to fund programs of social uplift — infuriated Washington and Wall Street. According to the UK Observer, Abrams had advance knowledge of, and approved, the military coup that removed Chávez from power for 47 hours in April 2002. The coup plotters, who backed pro-US businessman Pedro Carmona for president, reportedly visited the White House several times, with the Bush administration rushing to recognize the illegitimate Carmona regime before Chávez loyalists quickly quashed the brief revolt.

As Bush’s special Middle East adviser, Abrams was one of the key intellectual architects of the 2003 US-led invasion and occupation of Iraq. He had long been an enthusiastic advocate of overthrowing Saddam Hussein’s regime, co-authoring a 1998 letter to President Bill Clinton urging regime change in Baghdad. Iraq wasn’t the only Middle Eastern nation that Abrams helped destabilize. The staunch Zionist, who ran the NSC’s Israel/Palestine desk, has been accused of leading the Bush administration’s effort to subvert the 2006 Palestinian elections to block the formation of a Fatah-Hamas unity government. “It was during Abrams’ tenure in the NSC that the United States lost all credibility as an honest broker among Palestinians,” Eric Alterman wrote in The Nation in 2013.

Act III: Prelude to Regime Change?

President Trump’s hiring of Abrams has perplexed many observers, not only because the president previously rejected him for being critical of his candidacy but also because Trump has repeatedly voiced disdain for neoconservatism. The president has called the Iraq war the “worst single mistake” in US foreign policy history and time and again has roundly rejected core neoconservative ideals including nation building and the spreading of democracy. Nevertheless, Abrams is now the second prominent Bush-era neoconservative after National Security Advisor John Bolton to be hired by Trump.

This is an ominous development for Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro and the millions of Venezuelans who still support him and the Bolivarian Revolution despite his increasingly authoritarian rule. Last September, the New York Times reported Trump administration officials held secret talks with coup-minded Venezuelan military officers to discuss overthrowing Maduro. If Trump, who has repeatedly raised the possibility of invading Venezuela, embraces regime change in Caracas — which many believe he already has by recognizing presidential pretender Juan Guaidó — Abrams will certainly play a starring role in what is sure to be a brutally bloody affair. It will be a fitting third act in the human rights horror show that is Elliott Abrams’ appalling career.

Brett Wilkins is editor-at-large for US news at Digital Journal. Based in San Francisco, his work covers issues of social justice, human rights and war and peace. 

via Elliott Abrams: A Human Rights Horror Show in Three Acts

#Rohingya Survivors in #Rathedaung Fear of Spillover from Fightings between #Myanmar Military and #Rakhine Rebels

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athedaung — As their fightings with the Rakhine rebels (or Arakan Army) continue to escalate, the Myanmar military are taking shelter in/nearby a few surviving Rohingya villages in northern Rathedaung at night, triggering fear among the local Rohingya survivors of becoming victims of spillover.

The fightings between the Myanmar military and the Arakan Army (AA) broke out nearby Rohingya village ‘Akar Taung’ hamlet of ‘Yat Khone Taing’ village tract in northern Rathedaung around 9:30am today (Jan 26). Sounds of large calibre weapons and artilleries were heard, according to the villagers. As the fightings temporarily ceased in the afternoon, the Myanmar military apparently had more deaths and casualties. As a result, the military have reinforced more member of troops and now besieged ‘Yat Khone Taing Rakhine’ village.

A Rohingya Genocide survivor in northern Rathedaung said “the military are taking shelter in the Rohingya villages at night. It’s like they are inviting Arakan Army to come into our villages to fight them at night. It’s like they are taking safety behind us by putting us as shields in the front line. “We are really afraid that our people will be killed in a fight which is not related to us. We fear that our remaining villages will be destroyed amidst the fightings. We request the government of Myanmar to instruct the military to not take safety in our villages.”

There are a few Rohingya villages that have survived onslaught of arson attacks carried out on the Rohingya villages in Arakan since 2012. As the International Aid Agencies have stopped providing the survivors Humanitarian Aid since October last year, with no access to works and livelihoods, the villagers are now on the brink of starvation now.

For more on this, please our previous report on this: Confined and Neglected, Rohingya Survivors in Rathedaung Face Risks of Starvation [Reported Ant Kyaw Win; Edited by M.S. Anwar]

via #Rohingya Survivors in #Rathedaung Fear of Spillover from Fightings between #Myanmar Military and #Rakhine Rebels

#RuleOfLaw – #Canada Style. — Counter Information

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By Jim Miles Global Research, January 26, 2019

Well, that didn’t last long. Yesterday Canada’s ambassador to China, John McCallum, presented three arguments concerning Meng Wanzhou, one of the leading executives for Huawei, who was arrested in December in Vancouver airport, at the request of U.S. authorities. Today he recanted, saying he created confusion, misspoke, that his comments are not accurate – yet at the same time he did not outright deny the truth of his comments.

“I regret that my comments with respect to the legal proceedings of Ms. Meng have created confusion. I misspoke. These comments do not accurately represent my position on this issue. As the government has consistently made clear, there has been no political involvement in this process… .Canada respects its international legal commitments, including by honouring its extradition treaty with the United States. The rule of law is fundamental to all free societies, and we will continue to defend and uphold this principle.” (John McCallum, Canada’s ambassador to China. Thursday, January 24, 2019).

His three points from yesterday were,

Political influence/interference from the U.S.
U.S. laws were being applied extraterritorially, in other words out of their jurisdiction.
the supposed criminal action occurred because Huawei executive Meng had dealt with a country under U.S. sanctions – sanctions not supported by Canada as they result from the U.S. abrogation of the Iran nuclear deal, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, signed along with Russia, France, Germany, China, and the U.K.
All three points are still valid today so while he misspoke and created confusion, perhaps that stems from the truth of his statements. PM Justin Trudeau stuck to his usual rule of law platitude but also did not negate the statements, allowing a degree of wondering if the comments were vetted, or if they were being allowed to pass for concerns about foreign policy political relationships with China.

And then we come to the “rule of law” so beloved of political leaders attempting to side step an issue. McCallum repeated the mantra, perhaps to save his own skin, but also to allow domestic politics to play out as Trudeau wants to manage them.

There is much that can be presented about Canada’s real “rule of law” both domestically and internationally, ranging from the bombing of Serbia and the bombing and overthrow of Gaddafi in Libya to the denial of indigenous rights across Canada. But the real example of operating outside the law is Canada’s response to another hotspot – Venezuela.

Canada Provides Itself “Wiggle Room” for China’s Huawei Case
Rule of law for Venezuela

Ben Rowswell, former Canadian ambassador to Venezuela (2014-2017) was a guest on CBC’s Power and Politics today. He supported Canada’s proclamation that the Maduro government was not the real government of Venezuela and that Juan Gaido was the acting president. His reasoning revealed either ignorance (not likely) or complicity with U.S. interests (most likely) – his main argument was that this was neither a Canadian nor a U.S. issue but a Venezuela issue. It is absolutely a U.S. issue as the U.S. has interfered in Venezuela at least for the past two decades, using covert operations and sanctions against the government.

The main issue is not dictatorship versus democracy as the U.S. is quite willing to be friends with dictatorships (see Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States, Egypt). The problem is about oil and U.S. global hegemony (see also Syria, Iraq, Libya, Sudan). Without being able to control oil and its pricing in U.S. petrodollars the U.S. economy would sink rapidly into recession/depression.

Canada has long supported U.S. hegemony, indeed is an important pawn in the whole situation, and it is in that sense that Canada’s declaration on the Venezuelan opposition leader comes into play. Therefore it is very much in line with Canada’s foreign policy to abrogate international law, international customary law, and declare Maduro’s government to be invalid.

Venezuela looks like Chile

Another red-herring argument presented by those supporting Trudeau’s position is one of Canada’s support being in synch with the Lima group of countries. If the latter are looked at closely they are all countries in which the government has at one time or another been overthrown by U.S. interests, covertly or overtly, and are all now right wing sycophants of the Washington consensus. Columbia in particular for decades has been essentially a U.S. operations base for the so called “war on drugs”. Most of these governments use militaries and paramilitaries who have received their training at WHINSEC, the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, where a good schooling in subversion, torture, interrogation and extra judicial ‘rules’ can be obtained. Venezuela is looking a lot like Chile during the Allende-Pinochet coup.

The main rule of law throughout this whole scenario are the rules of law as established by CIA/NSA cronies supporting the ability of U.S. corporations to extract whatever they want from the countries, using U.S. dollars for trade, and sourcing cheap unprotected labour.

Clear, disciplined and principled?

Returning to the China fiasco (at least it is in Canada’s position), the CBC also had the former ambassador to China, David Mulroney on as a guest. He described McCallum’s action and words as a “bad idea that went badly wrong,” a judgement that is at best premature and not very nuanced as to what might have occurred behind the scenes before and after the comments. He further thought that the comments might raise “questions over our integrity”, and that Canada operates in a “clear, disciplined, and principled manner.” All his talking points sound academically fine and well spoken, but are only the usual cover for Canada’s attempts at creating the global perception that we are the good guys.

Are we clear? Clearly between a rock and a hard place – the U.S. and China, and clearly on the U.S. hegemonic side when it comes to cases such as Venezuela. Clearly not wanting to offend the U.S. government – not Trump himself as such, but the deeper state.

Are we disciplined? For sure: disciplined by our status as a pawn within the U.S. global empire, tied to them economically and increasingly politically. To be sure, we are self-disciplined when it comes to imperial projects around the world, a large part of our British inheritance.

Principled – Oxford definition a “personal code of right conduct.”? Not at all. Canada survives on the support of the US$, in terms of its overall economic ties, in terms of its oil exports priced in US$. Canada supports U.S. foreign policy which at its base is a militarized economy supporting corporate adventures anywhere in the world that it can – and in those areas that it cannot, it will do its best to subvert the government and place their ‘owned’ cronies in place.

In all areas of foreign policy and in many areas of domestic policy, Canada remains servile to U.S. interests, mostly willingly as those in power very much wish to stay there. Much of the world surely recognizes this, while the “western” world continues to play out its myths.

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Jim Miles is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

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Copyright © Jim Miles, Global Research, 2019
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via Rule of Law – Canada Style. — Counter Information

We Need a Martin Luther King Day of Truth

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We Need a Martin Luther King Day of Truth | Edward Curtin | OffGuardian

As Martin Luther King’s birthday is celebrated with a national holiday, his death day disappears down the memory hole. Across the country – in response to the King Holiday and Service Act passed by Congress and signed by Bill Clinton in 1994 – people will be encouraged to make the day one of service. Such service does not include King’s commitment to protest a decadent system of racial and economic injustice or non-violently resist the U.S. warfare state that he called “the greatest purveyor of violence on earth.”

Government sponsored service is cultural neo-liberalism at its finest, the promotion of individualism at the expense of a mass movement for radical institutional change.

“Nothing in all the world is more dangerous,” warned Dr. King, “than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”

How true those words. For the government that honors Dr. King with a national holiday killed him. This is the suppressed truth behind the highly promoted day of service. It is what you are not supposed to know. It is what Thomas Merton, as quoted by James W. Douglass, called The Unspeakable:

It is the void that contradicts everything that is spoken even before the words are said; the void that gets into the language of public and officials declarations at the very moment when they are pronounced, and makes them ring dead with the hollowness of the abyss. It is the void out of which Eichmann drew the punctilious exactitude of his service.”

The word service is a loaded word; it has become a smiley face and vogue word over the past 35 years. Its use for MLK Day is clear: individuals are encouraged to volunteer for activities such as tutoring children, painting senior centers, or delivering meals to the elderly, activities that are good in themselves but far less good when used to conceal an American prophet’s radical message. After all, Martin Luther King’s work was not volunteering at the local food pantry with Oprah Winfrey cheering him on.

THE ASSASSINATION

King was not murdered because he had spent his heroic life promoting individual volunteerism. To understand his life and death – to celebrate the man – “it is essential to realize although he is popularly depicted and perceived as a civil rights leader, he was much more than that. A non-violent revolutionary, he personified the most powerful force for a long overdue social, political, and economic reconstruction of the nation.” Those are the words of William Pepper, the King family lawyer, from his comprehensive and definitive study of the King assassination, The Plot to Kill King, a book that should be read by anyone concerned with truth and justice.

Revolutionaries are, of course, anathema to the power elites who, with all their might, resist such rebels’ efforts to transform society. If they can’t buy them off, they knock them off. Fifty one years after King’s assassination, the causes he fought for – civil rights, the end to U.S. wars of aggression, and economic justice for all – remain not only unfulfilled, but have worsened in so many respects. And King’s message has been enervated by the sly trick of giving him a national holiday and then urging Americans to make it “a day of service.” The vast majority of those who innocently participate in these activities have no idea who killed King, or why. If they did, they might pause in their tracks, and combine their “service” activities with a teach-in on the truth of his assassination.

Because MLK repeatedly called the United States the “greatest purveyor of violence on earth,” he was universally condemned by the mass media and government that later – once he was long and safely dead and no longer a threat – praised him to the heavens. This has continued to the present day of historical amnesia.

Educating people about the fact that U.S. government forces conspired to kill Dr. King, and why, and why it matters today, is the greatest service we can render to his memory.

William Pepper’s decades-long investigation not only refutes the flimsy case against the alleged assassin James Earl Ray, but definitively proves that King was killed by a government conspiracy led by J. Edgar Hoover, the FBI, Army Intelligence, and the Memphis Police, assisted by southern Mafia figures.

THE TRIAL

This shocking truth is accentuated when one is reminded (or told for the first time) that in 1999 a Memphis jury, after a thirty day civil trial with over seventy witnesses, found the U.S. government guilty in the killing of MLK. The King family had brought the suit and Pepper represented them. They were grateful that the truth was confirmed, but saddened by the way the findings were buried by the media in cahoots with the government.

Pepper not only demolishes the government’s self-serving case with a plethora of evidence, but shows how the mainstream media, academia, and government flacks have spent years covering up the truth of MLK’s murder through lies and disinformation. Another way they have accomplished this is by convincing a gullible public that “service” is a substitute for truth.

But service without truth is a disservice to the life, legacy, and radical witness of this great American hero. It is propaganda aimed at convincing decent people that they are serving the essence of MLK’s message while they are obeying their masters, the very government that murdered him.

It is time to rebel against the mind manipulation served by the MLK Day of Service. Let us offer service, but let us also learn and speak the truth.

“He who lives with untruth lives in spiritual slavery,” King told us, “Freedom is still the bonus we receive for knowing the truth.”

via We Need a Martin Luther King Day of Truth — OffGuardian

EXPERTS IN THE FAMILY COURT: PERMISSION TO ADDUCE EXPERT EVIDENCE REFUSED — Civil Litigation Brief

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EXPERTS IN THE FAMILY COURT: PERMISSION TO ADDUCE EXPERT EVIDENCE REFUSED | January 18, 2019 · by  · in Civil evidenceExpert evidenceExperts

I usually look at cases in the family courts when there are judgments that may be of some interest to civil litigators.  The judgment  of Mr Justice Keehan in M v Derbyshire County Council & Ors [2018] EWHC 3734 (Fam)     has several matters of general interest to litigators and expert witnesses. The rules relating to expert evidence in the family courts are different to the civil courts,  but there are major similarities. The expert’s duty to the court is identical. What is interesting here is the judge looking at another case in which the expert had been involved.

THE CASE

The courts had made parents adverse to the parents in a childcare case in 2010. The parents sought permission to reopen findings of fact made in that hearing.  They did not challenge the subsequent adoption.  The parents sought permission to rely on three experts.  Mr Justice Keehan refused permission in relation to two of those experts.

THE JUDGMENT ON WHETHER PERMISSION SHOULD BE GRANTED TO RELY ON THE EVIDENCE OF TWO OF THE EXPERTS

 

    1. When considering whether I should grant permission for one or more of the reports of these three experts to be admitted in evidence I have regard to and take account of the provisions of:
i) s.13 of the Children and Families Act 2017, most especially the provisions of s.13(7);
ii) Part 25 of the Family Procedure Rules 2010; and
iii) Practice Direction 25.
    1. The matters a court must consider are set out in s.13(7) CFA 2014 which are set out in paragraph 25 above.
    2. For the purposes of this application the relevant provisions of FPR 25 are:
“25.10.—(1) An expert’s report must comply with the requirements set out in Practice Direction 25A.
(2) At the end of an expert’s report there must be a statement that the expert understands and has complied with their duty to the court.
(3) The instructions to the expert are not privileged against disclosure.
(Rule 21.1 explains what is meant by disclosure.)
Use by one party of expert’s report disclosed by another.”
    1. Similarly, the relevant provisions of Practice Direct 25B are as follows:
“When experts’ reports are commissioned before the commencement of proceedings, it should be made clear to the expert that he or she may in due course be reporting to the court and should therefore consider himself or herself bound by the duties of an expert set out in Practice Direction 25B (The Duties of An Expert, the Expert’s Report and Arrangements for An Expert To Attend Court). In so far as possible the enquiries of the expert and subsequent letter of instruction should follow either Practice Direction 25C (Children Proceedings – the Use of Single Joint Experts and the Process Leading to an Expert Being Instructed or Expert Evidence Being Put Before The Court) or 25D (Financial Remedy Proceedings and other Family Proceedings (except Children Proceedings) – the Use of Single Joint Experts and the Process Leading to Expert Evidence Being Put Before The Court).
In particular, a prospective party to children proceedings (for example, a local authority) should always write a letter of instruction when asking a potential witness for a report or an opinion, whether that request is within proceedings or pre-proceedings (for example, when commissioning specialist assessment materials, reports from a treating expert or other evidential materials); and the letter of instruction should conform to the principles set out in Practice Direction 25C”
The expert’s overriding duty
An expert in family proceedings has an overriding duty to the court that takes precedence over any obligation to the person from whom the expert has received instructions or by whom the expert is paid.
Particular duties of the expert
An expert shall have regard to the following, among other, duties –

(a) to assist the court in accordance with the overriding duty;

(aa) in children proceedings, to comply  with the Standards for Expert Witnesses in Children Proceedings in the Family Court which are set out in  the Annex to this Practice Direction;

(b) to provide advice to the court that conforms to the best practice of the expert’s profession;

(c) to answer the questions about which the expert is required to give an opinion (in children proceedings, those questions will be set out in the order of the court giving permission for an expert to be instructed, a child to be examined or otherwise assessed or expert evidence to be put before the court);

(d) to provide an opinion that is independent of the party or parties instructing the expert;

(e) to confine the opinion to matters material to the issues in the case and in relation only to the questions that are within the expert’s expertise (skill and experience);

(f) where a question has been put which falls outside the expert’s expertise, to state this at the earliest opportunity and to volunteer an opinion as to whether another expert is required to bring expertise not possessed by those already involved or, in the rare case, as to whether a second opinion is required on a key issue and, if possible, what questions should be asked of the second expert;

(g) in expressing an opinion, to take into consideration all of the material facts including any relevant factors arising from ethnic, cultural, religious or linguistic contexts at the time the opinion is expressed;

(h) to inform those instructing the expert without delay of any change in the opinion and of the reason for the change.

Content of the expert’s report
The expert’s report shall be addressed to the court and prepared and filed in accordance with the court’s timetable and must –

(a) give details of the expert’s qualifications and experience;

(b) include a statement identifying the document(s) containing the material instructions and the substance of any oral instructions and, as far as necessary to explain any opinions or conclusions expressed in the report, summarising the facts and instructions which are material to the conclusions and opinions expressed;

(c) state who carried out any test, examination or interview which the expert has used for the report and whether or not the test, examination or interview has been carried out under the expert’s supervision;

(d) give details of the qualifications of any person who carried out the test, examination or interview;

(e) answer the questions about which the expert is to give an opinion and which relate to the issues in the case;

(f) in expressing an opinion to the court –

(i) take into consideration all of the material facts including any relevant factors arising from ethnic, cultural, religious or linguistic contexts at the time the opinion is expressed, identifying the facts, literature and any other material, including research material, that the expert has relied upon in forming an opinion;

(ii) describe the expert’s own professional risk assessment process and process of differential diagnosis, highlighting factual assumptions, deductions from the factual assumptions, and any unusual, contradictory or inconsistent features of the case;

(iii) indicate whether any proposition in the report is an hypothesis (in particular a controversial hypothesis), or an opinion deduced in accordance with peer-reviewed and tested technique, research and experience accepted as a consensus in the scientific community;

(iv) indicate whether the opinion is provisional (or qualified, as the case may be), stating the qualification and the reason for it, and identifying what further information is required to give an opinion without qualification;

(g) where there is a range of opinion on any question to be answered by the expert –

(i) summarise the range of opinion;

(ii) identify and explain, within the range of opinions, any ‘unknown cause’, whether arising from the facts of the case (for example, because there is too little information to form a scientific opinion) or from limited experience or lack of research, peer review or support in the relevant field of expertise;

(iii) give reasons for any opinion expressed: the use of a balance sheet approach to the factors that support or undermine an opinion can be of great assistance to the court;

(h) contain a summary of the expert’s conclusions and opinions;

(i) contain a statement that the expert–

(i) has no conflict of interest of any kind, other than any conflict disclosed in his or her report;

(ii) does not consider that any interest disclosed affects his or her suitability as an expert witness on any issue on which he or she has given evidence;

(iii) will advise the instructing party if, between the date of the expert’s report and the final hearing, there is any change in circumstances which affects the expert’s answers to (i) or (ii) above;

(iv) understands their duty to the court and has complied with that duty; and

(v) is aware of the requirements of FPR Part 25 and this practice direction;

(vi) in children proceedings, has complied with the Standards for Expert Witnesses in Children Proceedings in the Family Court which are set out in  the Annex to this Practice Direction;

(j) be verified by a statement of truth in the following form –

“I confirm that I have made clear which facts and matters referred to in this report are within my own knowledge and which are not. Those that are within my own knowledge I confirm to be true. The opinions I have expressed represent my true and complete professional opinions on the matters to which they refer.”

Where the report relates to children proceedings the form of statement of truth must include –

“I also confirm that I have complied with the Standards for Expert Witnesses in Children Proceedings in the Family Court which are set out in the Annex to Practice Direction 25B- The Duties of an Expert, the Expert’s Report and Arrangements for an Expert to Attend Court””

    1. In respect of Dr Ayoub, I note there was no letter of instruction, it is unclear what material was provided to him by the mother, save for the imaging taken of Y’s skull and left leg and there is no expert’s declaration as required by FPR 25.10(2). The mother did not when referring this matter to Dr Ayoub comply with the provisions of FDR PD paragraphs 3.1 and 3.2 nor does it appear that the duties of an expert witness, as set out in FDR PD 25B were brought to his attention. There has been a wholesale failure to comply with the comprehensive requirements of PD25B.
    2. When determining the issue of permission to admit Dr Ayoub’s expert into evidence, I have regard to the decision of Peter Jackson J, as he then was, in St Helens Council v M and F (Baby with Multiple Fractures – Re Hearing) [2018] EWFC 1. In respect of Dr Ayoub’s suitability as an expert witness he said at paragraph 42,
“It is not seriously disputed between the parties that if the Family Court had been asked to approve the prior instruction of Dr Ayoub as an expert witness, it would have been unable to do so. There are two fundamental reasons. Firstly, he does not have the necessary expertise to offer an opinion to a court on the origin of radiological appearances in infants, particularly pre-term infants, as they are a patient cohort of which he has no clinical experience. Secondly, his approach is shot through with the dogma that child abuse is over-diagnosed. It does not matter for this purpose whether he is right or wrong. The expert with a scientific prejudice may perform a service to science by asking questions that challenge orthodoxy, but be unsuited to be an expert witness, a role that requires objectivity when giving answers.”
    1. Jackson J continued:
“Nothing in Dr Ayoub’s evidence in the present case led me to a different view. He made himself available at an early hour at personal inconvenience and gave his evidence in a serious manner. However, his evidence was characteristic of his general approach. Having taken up a position, he advanced it with the tenacity of an advocate and was dismissive of alternative possibilities. He entertained no doubts about the correctness of his opinion, a dangerous mindset for any expert witness.”
    1. He concluded at paragraph 44:
“I therefore conclude that the family or criminal courts in England and Wales are unlikely to find that Dr Ayoub meets the requirement that an expert witness must be objective and unbiased. At all events, if it is proposed that he should give evidence in any future case concerning fractures in infants or young children in this jurisdiction, the relevant court should be made aware of the matters contained in this judgment.”
    1. In an email dated 24th July 2015 Dr Ayoub set out his preliminary opinion as follows:
“I did look over the images,
the skull line is not an acute fracture. It is likely a fissure, possibly an old fracture, but in fact, there is a shorter but similar line on the right side
I do not believe the fissure has anything to do with the scalp swelling
the femur was not acute fracture, it was likely a residual from development, and could have been residual defect from earlier life rickets. There was no signs of active rickets and at most some evidence of advances healing rickets from early infancy”
    1. In a subsequent letter dated 18th August 2015 Dr Ayoub set out his qualifications and his academic and clinical experience. He set out his summary of x ray findings, namely:
“1) Y did not appear to have a skull fracture. There were bilateral suture variants in the parietal regions, more prominent on the right side. There was soft tissue swelling of the scalp nearby but not directly overlying the right sided fissure. There was sclerosis along the margins of the defects, also supporting a normal developmental variant.
2) There is flaring of the bilateral distal femurs. There was irregularity along the medical aspects of each lower femur, more prominent on the left side. This is most likely a variation of the perichondral ring. Follow-up examinations failed to demonstrate a healing response known to occur in fractures, supporting the notion of a normal variant.
In conclusion, Y did not appear to have evidence of a skeletal fracture. I have enclosed two papers that describe the nature of both the skeletal variants I have discussed with this brief report (Shapiro, 1972 and Kleinman 2009).”
    1. There are two important matters to note:
i) Dr Ayoub is not a qualified paediatric radiologist; and
ii) his opinion that the x rays did not demonstrate evidence of any fractures is completely at variance with the consensus of expert medical opinion before HHJ Watson in 2010 and is contrary to the expert opinion of Dr Chapman.
    1. In light of the observations of Peter Jackson J in the St Helen’s case (above), I would not have granted permission to seek an expert report from Dr Ayoub. In light of the breaches of s.13 CFA 2014, FPR 25 and PD25A, I am satisfied the opinion of this expert was irregularly obtained. There is other expert evidence available to me: s.13(7)(d) CFA 2014. In all of the circumstances I am wholly satisfied that I should refuse permission for this expert’s report to be admitted in evidence.
    2. The criticisms made in paragraph 35 above in respect of the instruction of and report of Dr Ayoub apply with equal measure to the instruction and report of Professor Holick.
    3. Professor Holick’s report is dated 18th August 2015. In it he recorded the fact of a conversation he had with the mother but not the content of the same. He referred to having reviewed ‘the information and medical records you provided me regarding your son (sic) Case” but does not specify the information he was given nor identify the medical records he received.
    4. Professor Holick is, as set out in his report, a professor of Medicine, Physiology and Biophysics at the Boston University School of Medicine. He specialises in endocrinology, diabetes, nutrition, Vitamin D and bone fragility research. In his report he said of his clinical experience:
“As Director of the Bone Healthcare Clinic, I am responsible for reading all of the bone densities performed at our hospital. I have seen many children and adults with this genetic disorder who have lower bone density than was appropriate for their age. I have personally seen children and adults with this disorder who have had multiple fractures with minimum or no trauma as well as easy bruisability and soft tissue swelling.”
    1. The opinion on Y set out in his report is as follows:
“It is with a high degree of medical certainty that if your son Case has the same genetic disorder as you and several of your family members have this could help explain the soft tissue swelling observed over the right temporoparietal area of the skull and the symmetrical bilateral fissures that were observed. This could also explain the so-called femur fracture. Although there is question that this could be a residual from development even if it was a fracture this could be easily explained by the underlying bone fragility genetic disorder Ehlers Danlos/hypermobility syndrome that your son likely has. I would be happy to see Case in my clinic to determine if he does have this underlying bone fragility genetic disorder.”
  1. Mr Tughan QC and Ms Cook QC both submitted that the issues of Ehlers Danlos Syndrome and its potential connection with resulting bone fragility and/or fractures is a fast-developing area of medical science and is in some aspects controversial. It is, therefore with, real concern to read that Professor Holick expressed his opinion in the terms in which he did, namely ‘It is with a high degree of medical certainty’ etc. Professor Holick had not undertaken a medical examination of the mother nor a medical examination of Y, whom he referred to throughout his report as ‘Case’. I know not why. Crucially there is no explanation, cogent or at all, in his report as to why he could express his opinion with ‘a high degree of medical certainty’ in what is asserted to be a fast developing area of medical science which is in some aspects controversial. Professor Holick provided no clinical, medical or factual evidence to support his opinion. There has been a wholesale failure to comply with the comprehensive requirements of PD25B.
  2. In the circumstances set out above I am satisfied that Professor Holick’s expert report was irregularly obtained. Professor Holick is not a paediatric radiologist. I am not aware of his expertise to provide an opinion on the interpretation of the radiographs as he purports to do. It may be he has relied on the opinion of Dr Ayoub. In light of my conclusions about Dr Ayoub’s report in this matter, such reliance undermines the reliability of Professor Holick’s subsequently expressed opinions.
  3. In the premises I am satisfied I should not give permission to admit Professor Holick’s report into the evidence in this application.

via EXPERTS IN THE FAMILY COURT: PERMISSION TO ADDUCE EXPERT EVIDENCE REFUSED — Civil Litigation Brief

#Gambia: #Truth First, #Reconciliation Later — Foreign Policy

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BANJUL, Gambia—Everyone in the room was patient. Many had waited two decades for a meeting like this. So they sat, quiet, even as monologues meandered and temperatures rose. The seven panelists stood, one after the other and spoke about the end of the old Gambia and the beginning of the new. For 22 years, this country had been in the clutches of a dictator as capricious as he was cruel. No longer, the justice minister said. Tall, dressed in an off-white robe, and with a bump on his forehead in the spot where it touches a prayer mat five times a day, he told the hundred-odd people gathered in August 2017 that each of them had a role to play in the building of their new nation. And that day, their role was to help build a truth and reconciliation commission.

The audience obliged. A man in a periwinkle robe stood. He operated the only Gambian mental health clinic and said the traumatized should receive counseling. One woman spoke of the need for reparations, lamenting that her friend, a torture victim, died destitute after his injuries left him unable to work.

These insights, offered by regular citizens, have been folded into Gambia’s Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC), which held its first trial this week. For the next two years (a tenure the government can extend), the 11 commissioners—apolitical individuals, “of high moral character” from diverse backgrounds—will oversee the televised trials and establish an impartial narrative of what happened in the violent shadows of former President Yahya Jammeh’s regime. They’ll also, more tangibly, produce a report with recommendations on what the government should do on reparations, amnesty, and prosecution—including, potentially, the prosecution of Jammeh himself.

Prosecution tends to be the most important objective for victims. The government’s emphasis, meanwhile, is often on reconciliation. And this isn’t the only fault line—there is also the question of defining victimhood. So far, the word has been used liberally, even to describe those who suffered “pecuniary loss” at the hands of the former regime. But in a country whose poverty was deepened by Jammeh’s avarice, who hasn’t suffered financial loss by his hand? There’s also the challenge of what to do about the victims who, prior to their suffering, were themselves perpetrators.

After seizing the presidency in 1994, Jammeh and his allies consolidated their power through intimidation, disappearances, and torture. Finally, in December 2016, the unexpected happened: Jammeh lost re-election to a newly formed coalition and fled into exile. On the campaign trail, the coalition promised a truth commission, and it quickly got to work after taking office, going on a nationwide tour to get public input on the commission and drafting the bill that established the TRRC.

Historically, according to the Canadian author and politician Michael Ignatieff, commissions such as this strive to lay out two types of truth: factual truth (establishing what happened) and moral truth (establishing why those things happened and who did them). In places like Chile and Argentina, he argues, the commissions laid out the former while falling short on the latter.

One of the reasons is that, in the pursuit of stability, amnesties were granted widely. And this is a central question all commissions have to grapple with: How much accountability is appropriate? Too much, and it’s a witch hunt threatening the broader political transition that’s taking place; not enough, and there’s no substantive transition to speak of. In Latin America, some of this balance was achieved through reparations to victims. But in South Africa, where there was also broad amnesty, the reparations were disappointing, fostering lingering resentment and structural inequality.

Officials in Gambia have brought in international experts and met with the architects of other commissions, hoping to avoid mistakes made elsewhere. Still, there are tensions. For victims who are also perpetrators, there’s a need for justice, compassion, and deliberation on the question of reparations. More broadly, there’s a need for wariness when it comes to the role of politics in the process, especially as victims agitate for justice and officials set their sights on reconciliation.

On Thursday, April 14, 2016, eight months before Jammeh’s defeat, Fatoumatta Sandeng woke early to pray with her father. She then got ready for work, he to lead a protest. Before they parted, her father, Solo Sandeng, a leader within Gambia’s largest opposition party, urged her to keep the rest of the family safe. “The day of the protest, he knew something was going to happen to him,” Fatoumatta said as we sat in her living room. “I knew personally he was going to be arrested, but I didn’t expect he was going to be killed.” Sandeng was detained by the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) and, within a day, tortured to death.

“You can’t just kill my dad today, and then the next day, I see you passing,” she said. “It can prompt me to do something. … Because there is something that needs to be cooled, like there is some fire in you that needs to be cooled off. There needs to be justice. Let them face it.”

In fact, Sandeng’s killers are the first to face the prospect of justice for Jammeh-era abuses. They’ve been on trial for more than a year, and their case offers a glimpse into the future truth commission, highlighting the problems that arise when proceedings are politicized.

“The NIA case is more political. … It’s more of a vendetta,” said Fabakary Ceesay, a wiry, formerly exiled journalist. “Because it involved the death of a senior official of the biggest political party … there was much more anger.” But whether the state will be as supportive of prosecutions in other cases is far less clear, several victims said.

On one day of the trial last year, observers packed the courtroom. The gray-wigged prosecutors showed a key piece of evidence: a video of Sandeng’s interrogation. In it, Sandeng wheezes through answers to questions posed by an off-screen voice, holding up a swollen hand. A woman in the courtroom scurried to the exit, pulling her headscarf over her mouth to hide her sobs. All around the courtroom, people sucked their teeth and shook their heads at the pain that Sandeng had clearly endured—and at the pain that was yet to come.

Even with this seemingly ironclad evidence, the trial is complicated, especially as the justice system recalibrates itself for a post-autocratic era. In July, for example, one of the accused said he was tortured into confessing. This added to concerns that the case was rushed haphazardly, driven by the desire to score a quick political victory.

That came a few months after another major bungle in the case; one prosecutor had to recuse himself after tapes leaked showing he’d secretly met a defendant’s wife. To many Gambians, that was a signal that elites would prioritize one another over justice—a risk in the TRRC proceedings, too.

Such events have contributed to public mistrust of the campaign for justice. Fewer than half of Gambians said they trusted the TRRC “a lot” or “somewhat,” an Afrobarometer survey showed. Indeed, in early, private discussions, senior justice officials were “not really interested” in prosecution, one source close to those talks said, worried that it could be incendiary and conflict with their primary objective of reconciliation. Also at play was elites’ desire to protect their own. This is a big challenge in a country so small, where tiny elite circles are tightknit. This smallness also means many current officials also held power in the former regime and now float through morally gray spaces.

One young woman, introduced to me via a victims’ group, recounted over sobs the story of her father’s disappearance, speaking of her desire for justice and reparations on his behalf. Her father was the former head of the NIA, Daba Marenah.

“His hands are not clean,” Ceesay said of the former spy chief. “May he rest in peace, but … during his days, a lot of people were tortured, and a lot of people were killed.” He is implicated in the 2005 execution of 44 Ghanaians, who were accused of trying to overthrow Jammeh but were actually migrants in transit. Over the past several months, there have been growing calls to prosecute those connected to these killings.

There’s wide agreement that complex victims like Marenah—those wronged wrongdoers—deserve truth and that crimes committed against them should be adjudicated. Several arrest warrants have been issued in connection with his death, including for an ex-minister currently in Swiss custody. But there’s no consensus as to whether a victim like him should get reparations.

“For those people … tell them that the victimization that they’ve been through is the payment for what they did,” said John Njie, the head of a Gambian NGO association, who helped draft the TRRC bill. “Are you going to compensate somebody like that?”

Giving reparations to these complex victims has risks: It could foment resentment, and here, where many victims are elites, it could reinforce suspicions that the system panders to the powerful. Still, there’s a fundamental reason why it should be done: Justice should be equitable. There is room to be creative in how it happens—there could be specialized panels, for example, that have the ability to make innovative recommendations, such as rehabilitation as a form of reparation, as Luke Moffett of Queen’s University Belfast writes.

Any kind of reparation will be difficult to secure, however, if history holds any lessons. It certainly won’t be easy in a country with an annual GDP of less than $1 billion and an ex-president who helped himself to state funds for 22 years. So far, the government has helped some victims get medical care and psychological support, with more initiatives in the pipeline.

“Those who were victims, most of them were breadwinners and left kids behind,” said Awa Sanneh, the widow of a victim. Her husband, Omar Barrow, was a journalist and Red Cross volunteer, who was shot while providing medical assistance to protesters during student demonstrations in 2000. Their first child was 5 months old at the time. “It’s hard to be a single parent,” Sanneh said.

“There was a time when I thought, ‘How can I feed my kids?’” Sunkary Yabo recalled. Her husband, Lt. Basiru Barrow, helped Jammeh stage the bloodless coup that brought him to power but was accused of plotting a countercoup a few months later and executed alongside a dozen others. His killing, one of the Jammeh regime’s earliest crimes, will be among the first heard by the TRRC.

“The truth has to come out first,” said their son Abdul Aziz, too young to have any real memories of his father. “Justice definitely. And then, yes, reconciliation … maybe.”

via Truth First, Reconciliation Later — Foreign Policy

The Bournewood stitch up and the precarious legal nature of Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards. — finolamoss

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“OUR courts used our HRA to create DOLs in England only, this allowed all decisions to be removed from anyone assessed incapable illegally ,as must relate to specific decisions needed to be made at a specific time in a person’s best interests not general . These were then stopped from appeal fromm those ordering DOLs in the local County Courts which could be controlled. DOLs have now by MAY in the MHA review been converted to Liberty Safeguards , allowing the CCGs/LA commissions to assess those incapable for life and effectively allow their commissioned service providers to make all decisions for life without court oversight. So executive have complete control over harvesting the incapable they deem for profit within their commissioned for profit homes. Such is the strategic gerrymandering of courts, executive of our law out of our Human Rights which are then destroyed for life.”

Originally posted on finolamoss: In an age of gay marriage affecting 1.6% of the population, transgender toilets and a vague Supreme Court pronouncement on wheel chairs on buses, our Local Authorities encage over a million and increasing. Before the Court of Protection was created, you had to be convicted of a crime, or be so mentally…

via The Bournewood stitch up and the precarious legal nature of Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards. — finolamoss

UK’s Islington Council banned pro-Palestinian musician at behest of Israel’s far-right Likud-Herut — Redress Information & Analysis

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Austerity-hit, Labour-controlled Islington Council hired a top legal firm that worked for Israel Premier Netanyahu’s financier Sheldon Adelson to ban pro-Palestinian musician Gilad Atzmon from playing at a local concert at the behest of Israeli Likud-Herut’s UK director.

via UK’s Islington Council banned pro-Palestinian musician at behest of Israel’s far-right Likud-Herut — Redress Information & Analysis