Monday, February 24, 2014

Blatant racism on street in Los Angeles (VIDEO)

Although some try to deny it, people of African descent and other racial and ethnic minorities face blatant discrimination and double standards in day-to-day life in the United States and around the (western) world. So-called people of color face suspicion, arrests, detention, prosecution, imprisonment and in some cases the death sentence because of the color of their skin. A compelling video experiment supports this assertion.

There is a video circulating online of two men (one white and one black) trying to break into a parked car in broad day light in Los Angeles. According to the Huffington Post, Jason Roberts, host of a YouTube channel called Simple Misfits conducted a video experiment as a result of "unacceptable double standard" he once witnessed.

In the experiment, Roberts set up a camera and attempted (for 30 minutes) to break into a parked car. He set off the car's alarms, but onlookers were not alarmed by the purported robbery in progress. No one tried to stop him or call the police. A police patrol car even drove by. But when a black actor took his turn to break into the same car parked in the same space, LAPD officers showed up on the scene in no time and arrested the black actor.

I submit the video titled "Black Guy Breaks Into A Car" as "exhibit A" in a long-standing indictment against society for blatant racism that hunts and destroys countless people of color around the world. In my view, the response of the experiment, although not surprising, is testament to the plight of people of African descent in the United States and in many countries around the world. Racism is a widespread cankerworm that has fed on - and continues to feed on even the most "civilized" societies.

In 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King said amongst other things:

"When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the inalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this secret obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked 'insufficient funds.' But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt."

It is a shame that American society, including its judicial system, law enforcement and a chunk of ordinary citizens continue to default on the "promissory note" invoked by Dr. Martin Luther King.

I share the view that Dr. King's "promissory note" remains in default insofar as people of color are concerned -- 50 years after the March on Washington. America has made some progress but social injustice and widespread racism, including racism in the US legal system continue to destroy the fabric of society by denying people of color the right to equal treatment.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

ICC opens "war crimes" investigation in CAR while Assad enjoys impunity

A lot has been written about "double standards" and "selective justice" dispensed by the International Criminal Court at the Hague by "targeting" Africans for prosecution. But scathing criticism of the court seems to fall on deft ears as the first permanent, treaty based court continues to pursue cases in Africa while ignoring atrocities of international concern in other regions.

The Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) has reportedly opened a preliminary investigation into possible war crimes committed in the Central African Republic (CAR). The court will investigate "extreme brutality by various groups" in the African country, including "hundreds of killings, acts of rape and sexual slavery, destruction of property, pillaging, torture, forced displacement and recruitment and use of children in hostilities."

CAR has been in conflict for over a year after Muslim rebels seized power and allegedly orchestrated a series of brutal attacks on Christians -- prompting the creation of Christian militias and reprisals against Muslims. The situation has descended into ethnic cleansing and sectarian killings affecting all communities and tens of thousands of people have fled to neighboring Chad and Cameroon.

In my opinion, there's a need for investigation and prosecution of alleged horrific crimes committed in CAR, a country which signed and ratified the Rome Statute of the ICC on 7 December 1999 and 3 October 2001 respectively. [Source] Mindful of CAR's commitment under the Statute and its inability under the present state of affairs to bring perpetrators to book, the ICC has legal grounds to step in.

However, there's no denying that investigating crimes in CAR while turning a blind eye to heinous crimes elsewhere, including the use of chemical weapons in Syria points to "double standards" in the international criminal justice system. There are reports of gruesome crimes committed in Syria - even more gruesome than some crimes allegedly committed in CAR. Top UN officials, including Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon have explicitly said "many crimes against humanity" have been committed in Syria. But perpetrators enjoy impunity in the Syrian Arab Republic as there has been no investigation.

Although Syria has not ratified the Rome Statute, the situation there could be referred to the ICC by the UN Security Council acting under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations. Libya and Sudan (African countries) were not parties to the Rome Statute when situations there were referred to the ICC. The Security Council could do the same in the case of Syria. Failure to do so undermines the credibility of the international justice mechanism that has so far focused on bringing African perpetrators to book.

In my view, failure to investigate and prosecute alleged crimes of international concern in committed by the regime of Bashar al-Assad and rebel groups in Syria undermines the credibility of the international justice mechanism in general and the ICC in particular -- that has so far focused on bringing African perpetrators to book. As it stands, the court is perceived, and rightly so, as a political tool used by powerful nations in the controversial Security Council to keep political adversaries, predominantly in Africa, in check.

The ICC should be independent and the prosecutor should have the independent ability to initiate investigations proprio motu on the basis of reports of crimes within the jurisdiction of the court without waiting for politically motivated referrals by the UN Security Council -- referrals that would never be made in cases where the national interests of so-called super powers are at stake.

Failure to act in Syria is a lost opportunity for the ICC to show that it doesn't "target" Africans.

It is worthy to mention that despite its flaws, I oppose calls by some African Heads of state, governments, scholars and analysts for African states to withdraw from the jurisdiction of the ICC. Focus should be on reforming the court.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Buea University publishes online list of graduates

It is sad to state that Buea University in the south west region of Cameroon does not have a very good reputation internationally because of some [unscrupulous] individuals who claim they graduated from the university -- although in fact they never attended the university or completed studies. Verification of certificates is often difficult. But the university seems to be taking steps through the World Wide Web to solve the problem of "ghost graduates" by publishing a list of all graduates, in alphabetical order, on its website.

University of Buea (UB) now has a website that appears to be working fairly well, despite a few inactive tabs -- the last time I checked. The website provides useful information about the university, including its history, mission, anthem, teaching schedules, course registration, university news and admission requirements. It also provides information about its registrar's office and how students' credentials could be verified.

The website also carries a list of graduates - those who graduated between 1996 and 2011. The list showcases degree programmes, dates of award and names of graduates.

In my view, the creation of a website by the university is laudable -- mindful of the fact that in this digital age many institutions both in the public and private sectors in Cameroon still do not have websites. University of Buea is making progress.

The publication of a list of graduates is bad news to "ghost graduates" of the university and good news to those who actually graduated from the institution of higher learning. Interested institutions and employers can now easily verify if an individual actually graduated from University of Buea.

I welcome the idea of showcasing a list of graduates since it will, in my assessment, go a long way to deter false graduation claims and ease the process of degree verification. However, I am concerned about widespread bribery and corruption in institutions in Cameroon, and the negative impact the social ill could have on such a list. UB authorities should make sure the list of graduates is complete and accurate. An incomplete or inaccurate list could have damaging repercussions on further studies and careers of affected graduates and on the reputation of the university. The list should be updated to include more recent graduates (2012 - present).

It was nice to see my name on the list. According to information on UB's website, my Bachelor of Laws (LL.B) degree was award on 15 October 2010.

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