Human Rights Watch: Minority Mistreatment

Posted: March 5, 2013 by pmaharaj91 in Uncategorized

For over 30 years, Human Rights Watch has been one of the world’s most prominent non-governmental human rights organizations. Human Rights Watch gives international support to those whose rights have been violated; they are the voice for troubled and worried individuals and they hold authoritarians accountable for their wrongdoings. It is a very powerful organization that builds extreme pressure for action when human rights have been desecrated. Human Rights Watch has worked exceptionally hard to place the legal and moral ground for change, security and even-handedness for individuals all over the world.

Moreover, there has much debate recently in regards to allegations of police abuse against aboriginal women in British Columbia and how Prime Minister Stephen Harper told victims to just “get on” with reporting the abuse. According to http://www.vancouversun.com/news/Human+Rights+Watch+says+missed+point+report+RCMP+abuse/7965033/story.html#ixzz2Md58yytt, the article discusses how the “Human Rights Watch from New York are accusing RCMP officers in abusing aboriginal women and girls in northern B.C, including allegations of rape.” The article goes on to state that the “alleged incidents were uncovered as part of a broader investigation into charges of systemic neglect of missing murdered aboriginal women along B.C.’s Highway 16, nicknamed the “Highway of Tears.” Harper said the government has asked the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP to look further into the allegations, but he urged those connected with the report to simply come forward and tell police their story.” Many aboriginal women, who were interviewed in regards to the abuse, indicated that they were wronged under custody, but an investigation is not in the process because many of these women and girls did not file a report. Throughout the allegations of the abuse, the RCMP has been extremely ignorant in showing any sign of remorse, or care. They seem to be struggling with the situation as a whole. Sameer Muscati, a Canadian researcher, stated that, “We have to stand by the victims who have asked us not to identify them because they are terrified of “police retaliation.”

Furthermore, there has been an extreme amount of controversy and commentary all over the internet about this article and regarding the allegations of police abuse against aboriginal women and girls in B.C. On http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/story/2013/02/12/bc-human-rights-watch-abuse-report.html, an individual stated that, “Maltreatment of Aboriginal women isn’t just limited to RCMP; it is systemic on reserves and in town as well. However, the RCMP if found guilty bear a much higher load of shame in that their job is to protect the weakest among us.” Reading the comments posted, it seems that a lot of individuals are just not surprised. One commenter stated, “Sadly… nobody should be surprised.” Another individual stated, “How is this surprising? There are many good police officers, but, many bigoted old guys who have ugly ideas about other races. It’s typical for most of Canadian society, wake up Canada.” Many are also shocked that it took Human Rights Watch this long to figure out what was going on, considering they have been around for over 30 years. The term “hotspot” is frequently used throughout the comments. One individual stated, “While B.C. seems to be an RCMP “hotspot” for bad police behaviour, nationwide the entire RCMP is structurally-misogynistic.” As far as the relationship is with the police and aboriginal individuals, people are again not surprised that the two parties seem to “but-heads.” Also what came up frequently was the comparison between the allegations of RCMP abuse of aboriginal women and “Highway 16.” On commenter stated that, “Ok can someone explain to me what connection the possible alleged RCMP abuse of the Native/white woman whom were interviewed has anything to do with the 18 woman whom disappeared on the so called “Highway of Tears. Anyone?” Another stated, “Sorry how did the Native groups and the CBC manages to relate their allegations against the RCMP with the stories of the 18 missing women and ‘link’ them together in the same article?”

Finally, What I think is this; I don’t understand why it has taken Human Rights Watch this long to come forward and do something because there has always been ill-treatment in Canada by the RCMP. How do we measure the credibility of these “stories?” How do we separate fact from fiction? Mistreatment does not just occur with one specific community, but all of them. My heart goes out to those who have been affected by these horrific crimes, but to just keep pointing fingers at the police is not right. I find that the Human Rights Watch report to be transparently biased. To close, holding police officers accountable for things they do wrong is important, using their discretion wisely and respecting every community is substantial. However, this report should not stereotype, or “taint” all police officers to be the same.

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Comments
  1. Mike Larsen says:

    You include the following comment from a CBC reader:

    “Sorry how did the Native groups and the CBC manages to relate their allegations against the RCMP with the stories of the 18 missing women and ‘link’ them together in the same article?”

    How would you respond to this question? The suggestion seems to be that the association is inappropriate. Is this the case? Are there common features that link the events that have taken place along the Highway of Tears and the events recounted in the HRW report? Several commonalities come to mind, but I would be interested in reading your thoughts on this.

    Regarding your comment:

    First, the “Why did it take HRW so long to come forward?” question is an interesting one. Note that HRW is not a Canadian organization, and it does not have an ongoing monitoring or accountability position in BC. Its investigation was a response to the public conversation about police-Aboriginal relations that has taken place during and after the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry.

    Your comment concludes with this statement:

    “My heart goes out to those who have been affected by these horrific crimes, but to just keep pointing fingers at the police is not right. I find that the Human Rights Watch report to be transparently biased. To close, holding police officers accountable for things they do wrong is important, using their discretion wisely and respecting every community is substantial. However, this report should not stereotype, or “taint” all police officers to be the same.”

    Questions:

    What do you mean when you say that it is not right to point fingers at the police? If the allegations are accurate, where should concerns be directed?

    What do you mean by ‘transparently biased’? Could you provide examples to support this position?

    Finally, how does the HRW report engage in stereotyping? Can you provide some examples?

    Looking forward to your responses,

    – Mike

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