crime

Terrorism in Orlando

This past Sunday, Orlando U.S was faced with an act of terrorism that left 50 individuals dead and countless individuals traumatized. The attack targeted the LGBTQ community at a nightclub known as Pulse. A man armed with an assault rifle and handgun began shooting in the nightclub during the late hours of the night.

LgbtqAccording to some sources, the man worked for homeland security in the United States. Thus, this man was legally permitted to carry the firearms.  The assailants’ co-worker explained that the assailant had a short-temper when it came to topics regarding women, homosexuality and religion.  The assailants’ ex-wife stated that she had divorced him due to his “bipolar personality” and physical abuse. She also stated that the assailant had a history of using steroids which she believes altered his mental stability. Media sources had stated that the shooter, Omar Mateen had allegedly pledged himself to ISIS.

Today it was revealed that the man had ties to the LGBTQ community, in fact he was a regular at the nightclub. He was also an avid user of gay dating apps. Mateen’s ex-wife later explained on a Portuguese media station that the FBI had asked her not to share that he was gay with media.

Many Muslims are outraged and feel the FBI is orchestrating a hate crime of their own as conflicting theories have been released stating that Mateen had connections with ISIS and Al Qaida, two ideologies that run parallel to each other.

americanIn contrast to Canada, Americans have a legal right to bear arms. June is recognized as PRIDE month in Toronto. The LGBTQ community floods the streets of downtown Toronto to celebrate liberation, acceptance and freedom to be who they are. However, this event in Orlando has left many individuals scared for their safety. In light of the fear, the Canadian government has agreed to provide more security during the PRIDE parade this year.

There have been many attacks against the LGBTQ community including bombings of venues, setting homosexuals on fire and targeted mass shootings. However, some argue that the distinct factor in this case is the high death toll. Members of the LGBTQ community often face stigmatization relating to HIV and AIDS; consequently, LGBTQ members are also more likely to become victims of physical abuse than their heterosexual counterparts. Furthermore, teenagers belonging to the LGBTQ community are more likely to be suicidal than their heterosexual peers. This group of individuals is considered a vulnerable minority due to this harsh reality.

Canada has taken significant steps to embrace the LGBTQ community by proposing legislation to help protect their rights and choices. To read more about the proposed legislation, click on the links below.

What are your thoughts on this incident? How do you think the media handled this tragedy? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

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Jian Ghomeshi: Witness Collusion

untitledAlthough many individuals believed that former, CBC radio celebrity Jian Ghomeshi would be found guilty for sexual assault, he was acquitted. This piece is a follow up on my last piece.

Withholding evidence:

The victims had withheld information for varying reasons including; they felt the information was irrelevant, they believed they would be prepped before testifying and could address any inconsistencies before the trial and because they simply didn’t remember details.

Proving a case beyond reasonable doubt is a high standard to achieve but with good reason as the person will be serving time in jail. In sexual assault cases, reasonable doubt is established based on the creditability of the victims as the offender is presumed innocent until proven otherwise. As mentioned in the last article, each witness was deemed uncreditable.

Collusion:

Another damaging factor in the case was the on-going contact between victims. Despite clear instructions from the judge advising the witnesses to not contact each other, the witnesses did exactly that. There were approximately 5000 messages exchanged between the witnesses discussing the case and their stories.

untitled.pngWhy would the judge discourage interaction?

When parties choose to discuss the case, it can undermine the authenticity of facts because parties can be influenced by each other. In this instance, the Crown was relying on a pattern of similar incidents between the women, their stories sounded alike. However, the Crown argued and proved that two of the witnesses had discussed the case and one of them had made amendments to her original testimony which then sounded more like the other witness’ statement. Thus the judge found the women were working together to target Ghomeshi as they shared comments suggesting collaboration to take down Ghomeshi. The witnesses argued that they wanted Ghomeshi to feel ashamed and humiliated but had no intention of colluding.

Some are finding comfort in knowing that Ghomeshi’s career has experienced a setback from these allegations while others feel not enough was done. Although this case is closed, Ghomeshi is facing another trial in June regarding a sexual assault case that took place at his place of employment, CBC.

News reporters stated that the judge’s decision was just short of saying that the women were lying without stating they were lying. The witnesses in turn argue that the judge did not deny that the attacks did not occur but rather that there is not enough evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that there was an attack.

 

Below is a video available on the CBC website depicting the trial.

http://www.cbc.ca/fifth/episodes/2015-2016/the-trial-of-jian-ghomeshi

What are your thoughts after watching the trial and reading this article?
Points of Discussion:

1.  Are complainants permitted to discuss the case with each other in your country?

2. Do you think collusion was a reasonable conclusion for the judge to make?

3. What are your thoughts on the case?

Jian Ghomeshi: The Witnesses

jian.pngThe Jian Ghomeshi case seemed straightforward and simple when it began but Ghomeshi’s acquittal left most people shocked. What happened? If you are not familiar with the trial, please read my article “Jian Ghomeshi” first.

What was meant to be the foundation of the case, became the most damaging part of the case – the witness testimonies.

Three witnesses came forward alleging that Jian had assaulted them during intercourse. One victim shared her name while the other two remain anonymous under the publication ban. Each witness was critically analyzed on the stand and questioned about numerous details relating to the incident. This is how each witness held up, not in any particular order.

Witness 1 (Publication ban):

This victim told the police that she had not had contact with Ghomeshi after the attack; however, Jian’s defense lawyer then revealed an email sent by the victim to the accused after the alleged attack. The email included the victims phone number (for contact) and a picture of her in a string bikini.

In cross- examination, the victim stated that she did not recall sending the email but did remember drafting it. The victim also stated that she had sent Ghomeshi the email as a means to entice him to contact her so she could ask why he had assaulted her. The judge ruled that the witness was intentionally withholding information and was in breach of her obligation to tell the truth.

trial

Lucy being questioned by the defense attorney.

Witness 2:

Lucy DeCoutere guaranteed under oath that she had not maintained relations with Ghomeshi outside of a professional setting following the attack. Her statement was later refuted by the defense attorney who revealed a six-page love letter, an email stating that DeCoutere wanted to meet Ghomeshi again and pictures of the two cuddling in a park just days after the alleged attack. The email included language suggesting that she had enjoyed the sexual encounter with Ghomeshi. According to the judge, this revelation undermined DeCoutere’s argument of non-consent and portrayed her as less than truthful.

Witness 3 (Publication ban):

This witness stated like the others that she had been assaulted by Ghomeshi and had no contact with him after the fact. However, a day before the trial the victim came forward to admit that she had sexual relations with Ghomeshi after the attack. It is believed that she came forward with this information due to a news report stating that the defense had obtained email exchanges between the victims and Ghomeshi. After hearing the victims statement, the judge’s decision stated that he felt the victim would not come forward with the complete truth unless she was confronted with the evidence, making her testimony uncreditable.

awarenessWitnesses Speak- out:

When asked to defend their stances, the witnesses had much to say. One of the witnesses stated that she wasn’t sure what would come into discovery during the trial and hence was unprepared to determine what was relevant information to the case. The witness went on to state that some of the facts shared in court are irrelevant to the attack taking place. Another witness stated that she had expected the Crown to prepare her for court by asking her tough questions (similar to television dramas). In reality, the only onus for prosecutors is to prove beyond reasonable doubt that alleged offence did take place and put forth their best efforts to seek a conviction.  Witnesses stated that they felt vulnerable, humiliated and uncomfortable in court.

There is far more to this case and discussion, more posts will follow throughout the week.

Did this piece shed some light on the Ghomeshi case for you? If so, press “like” and subscribe!
Points of Discussion:

  1. What are your thoughts on the testimonies, the prosecution and defense?
  2. Do you believe the victims or Ghomeshi?
  3. Did this article highlight the complications of the case for you? Do you feel you understand the case a little better?

A Monster, Bullied Child or Both?

January 22nd 2016, left many families in La Loche. Saskatchewan devastated. One this day, a youth male came into La Loche Community School armed with a gun and fired at students and teachers. At first this incident appeared to be a random act but it was later determined to be intentional. The young offender has been charged with four counts of first degree murder, and seven counts of attempted murder and one account of possession of a weapon. Although the rest of Saskatchewan may not know the name of the young offender, whose name cannot be disclosed under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, the community of La Loche will. With only a population of 3,000 people, the community is described as close-knit.

bleechIn recent years, bullying is being treated much like a crime, particularly due to the popularity of cyber- bullying. There have been multiple laws put in place to deter youths from bullying. However, some individuals argue, there need to be more efforts put towards helping victims as well.

Stories have been released explaining the young male was relentlessly teased by his peers due to his large ears. The young male’s family argued that the boy was acting out in anger as a result of his own pain. The perpetrators’ family has argued that there is a lack of mental health resources to assist students in schools – an ongoing point of debate for years.

The family also pointed out that the young offender had deliberately chosen not to attack those who had shown him kindness. In fact, the offender vocalized this intention to his captives at the time. Some adults have reflected on their teenage years and empathized with the young offender’s experiences of being relentlessly bullied and desire to lash out; although they do not condone his behavior, they can relate.

Many organizations and groups have advocated for the need for better mental health programs for our youths and adults alike. It has been argued that mental health is too commonly overlooked and the impacts of negative experiences are underestimated. The La Loche community is known to have a high suicide rate. However, there has been little done to address the suicide epidemic. The stigma of discussing mental health at any level can often shut down a conversation before it starts.

Conversely, members of the community are stricken by grief and mourning the death of their young children. Similarly, the parents of the offender are devastated their son will soon be placed in a penitentiary. Contenders argue that the young offender has committed an adult crime and deserves an adult sentence while some community members blame the lack of resources and help. 
What do you think ? Do you feel mental health played a large role in this incident?

Do you feel the Canadian government needs to do more for the La Loche community?

Leave your thoughts below.

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Aboriginal Women Targeted By Police Officers

abVal d’Or is known for its longstanding history with aboriginal communities including the Algonquin and Cree tribes but not without conflict. Aboriginals have protested against how the police force treats their women for years and are now finally being heard.

Countless aboriginal women have stated that Sûreté du Québec officers have assaulted or punished women for being intoxicated by driving them out of town and abandoning them in the cold.  Police brutality towards aboriginal women was no surprise to many Quebecers but the presence of sexual abuse was shocking.

Many aboriginal women have stated that police officers would occasionally request the women to perform oral sex. Refusing to follow through would often result in agonizing repercussions. According to the women, the authorities were well aware of these complaints before they went public but chose to ignore them. Will this time be different?

Quebec’s public security minister stated that eight Sûreté du Québec officers were suspended due to 14 complaints of abuse of power and assault in a news conference. The officers are presumed innocent until proven guilty based on substantial evidence to support the claims made by the aboriginal women. Since the initial story was released additional aboriginal women have shared their own parallel accounts of sexual violence inflicted by the police force.

Retired judge Lawrence Poitras supports the concern expressed by aboriginal women when he stated “officers accused of abuse often retaliate with criminal charges against the accusers in order to cover their tracks.” – CBC article http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/val-dor-cameras-1.3290119

The Montreal police force is now responsible for overseeing the investigation. The aim is to prevent the SQ from overseeing the investigation and protecting its officers. Furthermore, Pierre Veilleux, the president of the Quebec provincial police union (APPQ), shared with CBC that the force is aiming to place cameras in cruisers beginning December to assess the severity of the situation.

Politicians are raising concerns about how prevalent this abuse of power might be in other parts of Quebec with aboriginal communities. Many politicians have also suggested the need for a provincial investigation to ensure that the protection of vulnerable members of the community.  Advocates have stated that a victim’s background including drug addictions and prostitution do not justify the abuse of power displayed by the officers.

Abuse of power results in a lack of trust in authorities and often results in rebellion; for example, many individuals are protesting against the abuse of power in the streets of Quebec. Furthermore, some aboriginals chose not to attend work as a form of protest.

If these allegations are proven true then one must question where aboriginals are to turn to seek justice if the authority that is supposed to provide them protection is exploiting them? Consequently, many officers are perturbed by the abuse of power and even angered by the lack of respect these officers displayed for their positions of power.

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Justice For Amanda Todd

bleech

This picture was created by one of her peers. Amanda was tagged in numerous photos similar to this one by her peers after leaving her school. In her video she elaborates on the difficulties she had moving on due to her peers tagging her in similar pictures such as this.

Amanda Todd was 15 when she took her life as a result of online bullying. She was blackmailed into exposing her breasts on webcam to an online predator and was stalked and bullied by him. She changed schools but he found her again and made a Facebook page with her friends showing her breasts as the profile picture. As a result, she was continuously bullied by peers. She committed suicide in October of 2012.  The Canadian justice system is trying to persecute the man allegedly behind this heinous crime, Aydin Coban, but is facing considerable difficulty due to international law regulations.

Aydin Coban resides in the Netherlands and was under suspicion for distributing child porn in Amanda’s case but was not formally charged with her death. Upon further investigation it was determined that Coban had been arrested in January of 2014 for harassing victims online and charges including indecent assault and production and dissemination of child pornography.  A few months later, the RCMP declared that he was also charged with five accounts including extortion, internet luring, criminal harassment and the possession and distribution of child pornography in B.C in relation to Amanda Todd’s case. Coban has been suspected of blackmailing youth from all over the world to perform sexual acts over webcam. He is also facing sextortion and distribution of child pornography in a case of another Canadian youth.

Coban’s trial is currently in pretrial-motion hearings stage; the parties argue before a judge what evidence should be admissible, who can or cannot testify and if the case should be dismissed completely. It has been stated that Coban will not be charged in relation to non- Dutch victims (including Amanda). Christian van Dijk, Coban’s lawyer, has disclosed that Coban is on trial for 39 alleged victims. De Bruin, the Canadian lawyer for Todd has stated that Coban could be handed-over to Canadian authorities if the authorities choose to take that path. Conversely, Van Dijk has explained that extradition is not an option so long as the case continues in the Netherlands.

With the expansion and complexity of technology it has become difficult to determine the jurisdiction and legal implications of international crimes. Cybercrime and exploitation have become easier through the internet and various social media facets. Alternatively, these tools also serve to create social awareness and can be used as tool for victims to have a voice. For instance, Amanda Todd made a YouTube video explaining how she was exploited and bullied.

Countless youths are targeted and blackmailed by unknown faces online and then isolated by their peers when their story is brought to the public eye. Unfortunately, there are still individuals who suggest “don’t show your boobs online “is the solution but the topic is far more complex than nudity, legally and morally. Sometimes victims are unaware that photos are being taken of them or being shared. Predators often have information about the victim’s family, their residence, their school and more to manipulate their victims such was Amanda’s story: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vOHXGNx-E7E .

What are your thoughts?

Do you believe Coban should have a Canadian trial?

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What Does a Canadian Citizenship Mean To You?

There is an ongoing debate surrounding what constitutes a Canadian citizenship. Is it a privilege or right? Has Canadian citizenship become a two-tier system? Many have conflicting attitudes when answering these questions. Media has portrayed the new Canadian citizenship act (Bill C-24) to be a two-tier system. Many individuals, especially immigrants are outraged to be considered “less Canadian” than their Canadian born counterparts. Zakaria Amara’s case highlights this issue.

Zakaria Amara is a convicted terrorist for his part in the Toronto 18 group. The group had planned to plant three bombs throughout Toronto which could have potentially killed hundreds of individuals. He was sentenced to life in prison in 2010 with a chance of parole. He has resided in Canada for most of his life but was born in Jordan. However, due to Bill C-24, his citizenship has been revoked. Consequently, he will likely be deported upon parole.

passportControversy
Some individuals argue that deporting Amara is a sign of xenophobia and only feeds the idea of a two-tier citizenship model within Canada. Many are perturbed by the idea that only individuals with dual-citizenships, largely immigrants, are subjected to this kind of treatment as another Canadians without a dual –citizenship would not have their citizenship revoked. These individuals argue that citizenship is a right and not a privilege; thus, his citizenship should remain intact and he should serve his sentence in Canada.

In addition, many individuals have begun questioning why citizenship revocation hasn’t been extended to other criminals including rapists and serial killers. The idea is other criminals with citizenships are tried within the law and they do not have their citizenship revoked and neither should terrorists. Terrorists should not be sent to their parent’s homeland as a result of their criminal conduct.

In opposition, Amara’s choice to partake in a premeditated terrorist plan to bomb Toronto shows he has no respect for his fellow Canadians. Consequently, terrorists should not be considered Canadian as they have failed to uphold their allegiance to the country and its values. Hence, anyone involved in a terrorist attack should have their citizenship revoked, regardless of if their parents are immigrants or not. Some individuals also feel that if you are born in Canada only then citizenship is a right and if born elsewhere it is a privilege.

FlagThis case has highlighted the question, what is a Canadian citizenship worth? Canadians and politicians are conflicted and divided in their opinions and sentiments. In the recent Munk debate, Trudeau and Harper stood on opposite ends of this issue. The Harper government put in place Bill C-24 while Trudeau wants to address its shortcomings and believes that terrorists should not have their citizenship revoked.

Where do you stand?

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Points of Discussion:

1. What are your thoughts?