Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Diminished confidence in Helsinki Appeal Court judges

Racist jokes and disparaging comments against women by Helsinki Appeal Court judges put into question their impartiality in cases before their court involving people of African descent, women and other minorities.

Helsingin Sanomat reported on 8 August 2013 that Helsinki Court of Appeal male judges told racist jokes and made disparaging comments and sexual suggestions against women.

According to the MTV3 report that initially brought the irresponsible conduct to light, the judges used racist and derogatory words, including the n-word during recess and decision deliberations in the courthouse. The judges also reportedly spoke disparagingly of Jews, Russians, homosexuals, prostitutes and victims of sexual crimes.

The revealing report states that the use of inappropriate language in the appeal court is "quite extensive".

After the shocking revelation that followed an internal investigation of the judicial system, Mikko Könkkölä, president of the appeal court, said the behavior of the judges involved was inappropriate but did not influence decision-making.  

I partly agree with the president of the court and applaud his attempt to protect the integrity of his court. The behavior of the judges was totally inappropriate, albeit the fact that "inappropriate", in my view, does not aptly describe the conduct. I however think that the judges' derogatory perception of minorities, victims of sexual crimes and prostitutes influence decisions of the appeal court.

In my opinion, the shameful behavior by supposedly honorable judges undermines the integrity of Helsinki's appellate court and puts into question the impartiality of its judges in cases involving women, people of African descent and other minorities. Racist and sexist jokes by judges - in or out of court - diminish confidence in Finnish courts.

The Minister of Justice condemned the remarks made by judges. She said their behavior does not create confidence in the judicial system.

I totally agree with Minister Anna-Maja Henriksson. Personally, as a person of African descent, I won't trust a judge who uses racial slurs to describe people who look like me.

In my view, the judges involved in this scandal should be asked to recuse or recuse themselves from cases involving minorities targeted by their racist and sexist expressions.

A formal complaint has been lodged with the parliamentary Ombudsman. It remains to be seen whether or not there will be consequences for the gross judicial misconduct by Helsinki Court of Appeal judges. Failure to take action against the judges would be a missed opportunity by the authorities to restore confidence in the judicial system.

*Image: HFHR

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Switzerland indebted to asylum-seekers

Switzerland, a small landlocked European country known for its corrupt banking system that provides safe haven for tax evaders and corrupt third world dictators is building another shameful reputation - a reputation of racism.

The Swiss Confederation has been on the news lately for wrong reasons, including racism against U.S. talk show host Oprah Winfrey and a controversial policy of segregation of asylum-seekers.

Some towns in Switzerland plan to segregate asylum-seekers from the general public. According to a BBC report, asylum-seekers will be kept away from public places such as libraries, swimming pools, playing fields, vicinity of schools and a church in the town of Bremgarten.

Human rights groups have branded the policy "racist" and likened it to apartheid in South Africa. It's hard to disagree with their assessment.

In my view, the policy is glaringly racist, restricts asylum-seekers freedom of movement and designed to undermine the right to seek asylum as laid down in the Refugee Convention, which Switzerland ratified in January 1955. Mindful of the global demographics of asylum-seekers, the policy is racist because it seeks to keep people of a certain race, ethnicity and color away from certain areas in Switzerland.

It is true that in Europe, Switzerland has the highest number of asylum-seekers per head of population. But it is also true that racism and segregation are not solutions to a "refugee crisis."

Looted money

Switzerland banks looted money from some of the countries where refugees originate, thereby providing support for dictators whose actions and policies force people to flee.

In my opinion, Switzerland aids and abets corruption in the developing world, and benefits from the spoils of bad governance and dictatorships in the region through its banking system. The country should be ready to accommodate those negatively impacted by the negative consequences of its secretive banking system.

According to an article on the New York Times, Swiss banks identified 470 million Swiss francs ($511 million) in accounts of Tunisian and Egyptian politicians and 360 million Swiss francs ($391 million) of Libyan assets following the "Arab Spring." The looted funds in question could have provided a better life for people in affected countries.

Rather than support a racist government-backed policy, the people of Switzerland should ask their government and those in position of power in the country's banking sector to stop providing safe haven for money looted by corrupt dictators who make countries in the developing world unlivable for millions of people - many of whom end up fleeing to Switzerland.

*Image of anti-immigration poster by right-wing Swiss People's Party: BBC

Friday, August 2, 2013

Suomen kansalaisuuden hakeminen vaikea päätös maahanmuuttajille

Monet ihmiset ajattelevat, että kaikille maahanmuttajille on helppo tehdä päätös hakea suomen kansalaisuutta. Ei ole totta.

Joillekin maahanmuuttajille suomen kansalaisuuden hakeminen on vaikea päätös, koska jos he saavat toisen kansalaisuuden he menettävät alkuperäisen kansalaisuuden, vaikka he eivät ole hyväksyttyjä niin kuin "tosi" suomalaiset suomessa. Minusta tällaisille ihmisille suomen kansalaisuuden saaminen on kuin olla kansalaisuudeton mielessään.

Jotkut maat eivät hyväksy kahta kansalaisuutta kansalaisilleen. Jos kansalainen saa toisen kansalaisuuden, hän menettää alkuperäisen kansalaisuuden. Ihmisille, tällaisista maista, suomen kansalaisuuden hakeminen on iso päätös.

Maahanmuutto keskusteluissa suomen yhteiskunnassa on eroavaisuus heidän välillä kuka on suomalainen ja kuka on suomen kansalainen.

Minun näkökulmasta, suomen yhteiskunnassa suomalaisia ovat valkoihoset suomea (tai ruotsia) puhuvat ihmiset, kun taas suomen kansalaisia ovat "kotoutetut" maahanmuuttajat, jotka ovat saaneet suomen kansalaisuuden. Niin ymmärrän julki vuorovaikutuksista internetissä.

Ruotsin Husby mellakoiden aikana, Perussuomalainen Kai Haavisto kirjoitti, että Uussuomalainen ei ole suomalainen. Hän tarkoitti, että ihmiset jotka ovat saaneet suomen kansalaisuuden eivät ole suomalaisia. Kommentit Haaviston kirjoituksen alla näyttää, että monet muut ihmiset ovat samaa mieltä.

Muissa maissa kansalainen on kansalainen. Yhdysvalloissa esimerkiksi yhdysvaltalainen on yhdisvaltalainen. Siellä ei ole mitään kuin "Uusyhdysvaltalainen". Sitä, minun mielestä, on yhdenvertaisuus.

Henkilökohtaisesti olen kamppaillut toisen kansalaisuuden hakemisen päätöksen kanssa. Ajattelen, että ei ole mitään järkeä virallisesti menettää alkuperäisen maan passia ja hakea uutta passia vaikka ei  ole tunnistettu samalla tavalla kuin ennemmistö ja kaikki muutkin, jotka kantavat samaa passia sinulle uudessa maassa.

Suomen kansalaisuuden mukana tulee edut ja etuoikeudet. Esimerkiksi maahanmuuttajat, jotka saavat suomen kansalaisuuden voi nyt hakea töitä jotka ovat varattuja vain kansalaisille, kuten Apulaisasiantuntijaohjelmassa, jonka ulkoministeriö järjestää CIMO:n kautta. Minun mielestä Apulaisasiantuntijaohjelma on syrjivä kuten olen aikeisemmin kirjoittanut.

Suomen kansalaisuuden hakeminen ei ole helppo päätös kaikille maahanmuuttajille, erityisesti nille, jotka katsovat etujen ja etuoikeuksien yli.

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