Latest Developments, June 8

In the latest news and analysis…

Euro racism
The Guardian reports that “several hundred people” at Krakow’s Stadion Miejski subjected the Dutch national football team to monkey chants at an open practice on the eve of the Euro 2012 tournament:

“Uefa subsequently tried to deny that it was racially motivated, saying they had checked with the Dutch squad and had been told it was not thought to be of that nature. Instead, the official line is that a small part of the crowd was protesting about the fact that Krakow had not been made one of the host cities.”

True ownership
Global Witness reproduces an open letter from civil society groups calling on the EU to require companies to disclose “their ultimate, or beneficial, owner”:

“Civil society has seen repeatedly how obscure company ownership structures have facilitated corruption, money laundering, tax evasion, environmental damage, terrorism and other crimes.

Stronger measures to address money laundering would contribute significantly to the EU’s stated aim of policy coherence for development. In 2010 there was a US$58 billion shortfall in the funds needed to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. Yet at the same time developing countries were estimated to have lost between US$775 billion and US$903 billion in 2009 to illicit financial flows; the opacity around the beneficial ownership of companies and other legal structures facilitates these flows on a vast scale.”

Drone legality
The Hill reports that the UN is considering looking into the legality of US drone policies:

“On Thursday, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said the investigations would focus on the rate of civilian casualties generated by the American drone campaign, and whether those casualties constituted human rights violations.

‘The principle of distinction and proportionality and ensuring accountability for any failure to comply with international law is also difficult when drone attacks are conducted outside the military chain of command and beyond effective and transparent mechanisms of civilian or military control,’ she said, according to local news reports.
When asked if American-led drone strikes in Pakistan can be considered a human rights violation, Pillay replied: ‘I see the indiscriminate killings and injuries of civilians in any circumstances as human rights violations.’ ”

Forcible returns
A new UN report calls on countries including the US, Canada and France to stop deportations to Haiti:

“Since the 12 January 2010 earthquake, several international bodies, including the Independent Expert, have urged UN member states to suspend forced returns to Haiti because of the ongoing humanitarian crisis. Despite the international community’s appeals, several UN member States have forcibly returned Haitian nationals to Haiti since the earthquake, placing these individuals in a vulnerable, life-threatening position and placing additional burden on Haiti. Due to the government’s instability, the shortage of resources in Haiti, the conditions under which forcibly-returned individuals are detained, and the severe humanitarian consequences – including separation of family members and exposure to deadly diseases – the Independent Expert is deeply concerned that the forced return of these individuals may constitute human rights violations.

Some States/territories that returned individuals to Haiti since 12 January 2010 had previously halted or decreased forced returns for humanitarian reasons, including the Bahamas, Canada, the Dominican Republic, France, Jamaica, Mexico, and the United States.”

Legal troubles
The Independent reports that former French president Nicolas Sarkozy whose immunity from prosecution is about to run out may soon be involved in “at least two legal cases” regarding allegations of illegal campaign funding:

“Just before this spring’s presidential election the left-leaning website Mediapart alleged that the former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi had ‘agreed in principle’ to pay €50m (£40m) to Mr Sarkozy’s 2007 campaign.
The website published a document in Arabic, signed by Moussa Koussa, Gaddafi’s former spy chief. The authenticity of the document is disputed. No official investigation is contemplated, but this may be the first of the ‘Sarkozy scandals’ to come to court.”

Western morality
Al-Akhbar’s Antoun Issa takes issue with the West’s indignation over the killings in Syria while it kills civilians elsewhere:

“Much of Western identity centers on a pillar of high civility, and by extension, high morality. It is a lingering legacy from colonialism where the West re-invokes its perception of the current world, where it is the civilized, and those beyond, hapless barbarians.

International relations does not base its machinations on slaughtered children, for if it did, there would be far fewer cases of massacres to report. Western nations expressing outrage over the Syrian massacre simply reeks of hypocrisy. The day preceding the Al-Kubeir massacre, a NATO airstrike in Logar Province, southeast of Kabul, killed 18 civilians.
On the morning of May 26, as the residents of Houla were coming to grips with the killings, another NATO airstrike blew up a family home in eastern Afghanistan, killing eight members of a single family, including six children.”

Evolving justice
Manuela Picq, most recently a visiting professor and research fellow at Amherst College, argues that it is precisely because “it is in the nature of power itself to resist and deny mechanisms of accountability” that the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, which has recently come under attack from a number of governments, is necessary:

“As the IACHR creatively interprets human rights norms, it expands the definition of rights, generates innovative, cutting-edge and progressive legislation. The IACHR’S pioneering role has inspired other human rights courts around the world, from Africa to Europe.
Tensions around collective rights to prior consultation like Belo Monte show the evolving face of human rights across the region. Cases brought to the Court against the depredations of mining companies reveal both the collective dimension of human rights and the intricate relationship between states, multinational corporations and indigenous peoples.”

Hierarchy of victimhood
In the wake of a fatal shooting at a downtown Toronto mall, York University’s Simon Black writes about the different facets of the city’s inequality of gun violence:

“Racism can be understood in part as the collective denial of the humanity of ‘the other.’ Unlike those deemed ‘innocent,’ poor, racialized young men impacted by youth violence are our ‘urban other.’ Victims and perpetrators alike are spoken of as ‘hoods,’ ‘gang-affiliated’ or ‘known to police,’ never as ‘citizens,’ full members of our community. They are criminalized in life and in death. This ‘othering’ is a form of violence in and of itself.
In our city it is the trauma and victimhood of those seldom exposed to gun violence that is prioritized. In response to last Saturday’s events, a headline on a Toronto Star column said, ‘It could have been any of us; it wounds all of us.’ Yet the reality remains that the primary victims of gun violence in our city are poor, racialized youth. And the primary sites of this violence are those neighbourhoods these youth call home.”

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