Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Special Volume of Canadian Journal of Human Rights (v.4, no.1) on Solitary Confinement is out.  

Open access at

A. Table of Contents

B. Title Page & Publication Information

1. Debra Parkes Introduction (English)

2. Debra Parkes Introduction (Francais)

3. Justin Piché and Karine Major—Prisoner Writing in/on Solitary Confinement: Contributions from the Journal of Prisoners on Prisons, 1988-2013

4. Lisa Guenther—Political Action at the End of the World: Hannah Arendt and the California Prison Hunger Strikes

5. Michael Jackson—Reflections on 40 Years of Advocacy

6. Lisa Coleen Kerr—The Origins of Unlawful Prison Policies 

7. Efrat Arbel—Contesting Unmodulated Deprivation: Sauvé v Canada and the Normative Limits on Punishment

8. Sharon Shalev—Solitary Confinement: The View from Europe

9. David C Fathi—United States: Turning the Corner on Solitary Confinement?


Bill C-51 Backgrounder #3: Sharing Information and Lost Lessons from the Maher Arar Experience
The proposed Security of Canada Information Sharing Act in Bill C-51 declares a legitimate government interests in sharing information about security threats. Yet after close textual review, we conclude that the proposed law is both excessive and unbalanced. 

Bill C-51 Backgrounder #4: The Terrorism Propaganda Provisions
Proposed s.83.222 of the Criminal Code creates a new concept of “terrorist propaganda”. It also allows judges to order deletion of “terrorist propaganda” from the internet.

We support the concept of deletion orders for “terrorist propaganda” in principle. We believe they can have a role as part of a balanced and evidence-based counter-radicalization strategy that aims both to reduce the supply of terrorist material and (even more importantly) the demand for it.

However, the details matter. We remain concerned about the breadth of the definition of “terrorist propaganda”. It includes cross-referencing to the new speech crime proposed by bill C-51. As we discuss in backgrounder #1, that new offence risks sweeping in too much speech that is not tied to violence or threats of violence. 

Bill C-51 Backgrounder #5: Oversight and Review: Turning Accountability Gaps into Canyons?
Canada’s system of national security “oversight” is imperfect. Its system of national security “review” is frayed, perhaps to the breaking point. The government’s antiterrorism law, bill C-51, will accelerate this pattern. Without a serious course correction, we risk the prospect of avertible security service scandals.

Kent Roach and Craig Forcese: Bill C-51: Our Statement to the Standing Committee on National Security & Public Safety
Professor Forcese and I have produced over 200 pages of detailed analysis of parts 1, 3 and 4 of Bill C-51. It is a complex omnibus bill that would add two new security laws and amend another 15 existing, including most notably the Criminal Code and CSIS Act. 

In our analysis we have tried to bear in mind the effects, including unintended ones, that the bill could have on both security and rights.
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The Plot to Privatize Common Knowledge
"Over the past three decades, modern culture has become infatuated with the idea that knowledge should be owned like real estate or stock shares. The original idea, of course, is that copyrights, trademarks, and patents reward people for their creative labors and thereby boosts the common good.

But this line of thinking has come to resemble a kind of Market Fundamentalism: copyrights, trademarks and patents are the only morally legitimate and practical method for managing creations of the mind. There is no middle ground. You either believe in intellectual property rights, or you support 'theft' and 'piracy.'

This fundamentalist approach shuts down a broader discussion about how knowledge ought to circulate in our culture.... today, copyrights and patents are going far beyond their intended goals—such as the US Constitution provision to 'promote progress in science and the useful arts'—to become ends in themselves. Instead of carefully balancing private interests and public needs, copyrights and patents are becoming crude, anti-social instruments of control and avarice."

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Americans' Privacy Strategies Post-Snowden
"It has been nearly two years since the first disclosures of government surveillance programs by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden and Americans are still coming to terms with how they feel about the programs and how to live in light of them. The documents leaked by Snowden revealed an array of activities in dozens of intelligence programs that collected data from large American technology companies, as well as the bulk collection of phone “metadata” from telecommunications companies that officials say are important to protecting national security. The metadata includes information about who phone users call, when they call, and for how long. The documents further detail the collection of Web traffic around the globe, and efforts to break the security of mobile phones and Web infrastructure.

A new survey by the Pew Research Center asked American adults what they think of the programs, the way they are run and monitored, and whether they have altered their communication habits and online activities since learning about the details of the surveillance. The notable findings in this survey fall into two broad categories: 1) the ways people have personally responded in light of their awareness of the government surveillance programs and 2) their views about the way the programs are run and the people who should be targeted by government surveillance."

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Rightful Policing
"Several high-profile incidents have called into question the ways in which police interact with the public and how satisfaction with police performance is measured. The author argues that the two dominant measures of police performance — its lawfulness and its effectiveness at fighting crime and increasing public safety — are inadequate, failing to take into account how ordinary people assess their treatment by state authorities. Drawing on research that indicates that people care less about the outcomes of their encounters with police than about whether or not they were treated fairly and with respect and their concerns were listened to, Professors Meares and Neyroud call for third way to assess policing — 'rightful policing.' Rightful policing looks at four elements of procedural justice in police encounters with the public — quality of treatment, decision-making fairness, voice and expectation of benevolent treatment. She argues that police conduct that takes into account these four factors leads to greater police legitimacy in the eyes of the citizenry and ultimately to more willing obedience to the law."

View the Report

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Policing by Fleecing, in Ferguson and Beyond
"The most important thing to understand about the problems with the police force in Ferguson, Mo., is that they’re not unique to Ferguson.

An investigation by the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, launched after a police officer fatally shot Michael Brown, would be upsetting, infuriating — pick your adjective of outrage — if Ferguson were a one-off.

The 102-page report depicts a department — indeed, an entire city bureaucracy — more focused on raising revenue than protecting public safety. Ferguson used its police force and court system to make ends meet — on the backs of poor and minority residents.

As described in the report, Ferguson police, under pressure to bring in fines to boost the city’s coffers, pile on multiple, often bogus, charges for minor infractions. Then they top that up with additional charges, fines, fees and even jail time for those who fail to pay promptly and in full.
Police see residents, especially African Americans, 'less as constituents to be protected than as potential offenders and sources of revenue,' the investigation found."

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Edits to Wikipedia Pages Traced to 1 Police Plaza
"Computers operating on the New York Police Department’s computer network at its 1 Police Plaza headquarters have been used to alter Wikipedia pages containing details of alleged police brutality, a review by Capital has revealed.

'The matter is under internal review,' an NYPD spokeswoman, Det. Cheryl Crispin, wrote in an email to Capital after examples of the changes were presented to the NYPD.

The edits and changes were linked to the NYPD through a series of Internet Protocol addresses, or IP addresses, which can be publicly tracked by various websites.... 

Computer users identified by Capital as working on the NYPD headquarters' network have edited and attempted to delete Wikipedia entries for several well-known victims of police altercations, including entries for Eric Garner, Sean Bell, and Amadou Diallo. Capital identified 85 NYPD addresses that have edited Wikipedia, although it is unclear how many users were involved, as computers on the NYPD network can operate on the department’s range of IP addresses.

NYPD IP addresses have also been used to edit entries on stop-and-frisk, NYPD scandals, and prominent figures in the city’s political and police leadership."

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U.S. Looks Overseas for Human Rights Abuses and Ignores U.N. Report Criticizing its Youth Detention Practices at Home
" a report released and presented ... to the U.N. Human Rights Council, Juan Mendez, the U.N.'s special rapporteur on torture, sharply criticized the U.S. model of youth detention where children are at 'heightened risk of violence, abuse, and acts of torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.' Even short periods of detention undermine a child's psychological and physical wellbeing. The report points out that children's healthy development requires developing emotional connections to caring adults, a requirement that most institutions consistently fail to meet.

The United State is the biggest jailer of children in the world.... nearly two-thirds are held for non-violent offenses, including theft, drug possession, or skipping school. And thousands of more children are locked up in adult jails and prisons in the United States. Children of color are over-represented in detention, particularly among youth serving extreme sentences. out the United States for being the only nation in the world that sentences children to die in prison.

The report makes several key recommendations including eliminating juvenile life-without-parole sentences for children and the detention of immigrant children. There should be no use of restraints or solitary confinement under any circumstances. No children should be tried in adult court, and all children should be held in age-appropriate facilities."

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Thursday, March 5, 2015