In early 2013, the Central African Republic (CAR) erupted into chaos as in-fighting began between Muslim Seleka rebels and anti-Balaka Christian militias. The brutal fighting quickly displaced thousands and turned the nation – one of the world’s poorest – into a war-zone. The crisis soon prompted a response from the United Nations, which sent in thousands of UN “peacekeepers” to ostensibly protect the traumatized populace. However, constant accusations along with internal UN reports have shown that these peacekeepers have only added to the immense suffering of the embattled nation’s civilians.
Accusations against the UN peacekeepers, particularly soldiers hailing from France and the European Union, first began to emerge almost as soon as the soldiers themselves had arrived. Though initial reports of sexual abuse of minors seemed isolated at first, evidence began to appear suggesting that the abuse was much more widespread than previously thought – likely involving hundreds of separate incidents. Then, in early 2015, a senior UN aid worker blew the whistle on the rampant sexual abuse of children by UN troops. Ander Kompass, then-director of field operations for the peacekeeping operation leaked an internal UN report detailing horrendous abuses of children by soldiers to the French authorities. Kompass argued that he leaked the document due to the UN’s failure to stop the abuse. Indeed, after Kompass officially exposed the peacekeepers’ crimes, he faced suspension from his position, underscoring the UN’s interest in keeping these egregious crimes hidden from public view.
However, after the release of their internal report, the UN could do little to stem the tide of accusations against their troops stationed in the CAR. NGOs, CAR civilians, and other UN employees began to release chilling testimonies of systematic abuse of the CAR’s most vulnerable inhabitants. Children as young as 7 were found to have been forced to participate in horrific sexual acts by UN troops, who often “paid” their victims with food or small sums of money to keep them quiet. One of the first documented reports of abuse chronicled how numerous male youths were forced to perform sexual acts on French soldiers in exchange for food. Others detailed how young girls were plucked off the street where they were taken into bases or armored vehicles and raped. Many of the victims were found to have trusted the soldiers, according to an officer working with the NGO Yamcuir. “I know children who socialized with French troops because they played football and volleyball with the kids. That’s when most of the rapes happened,” the officer told Sputnik News.
Despite the mountain of evidence against the French soldiers as well as the French government’s “zero-tolerance” policy for such crimes, not one soldier has been brought to justice. In 2015, five were questioned and reprimanded but no meaningful form of punishment was offered. A years-long UN inquiry into the accusations similarly failed to produce any meaningful results beyond the firing of a handful of employees. Popular movements, such as petitions to remove all French troops from the CAR, also ultimately proved unsuccessful.
Unfortunately, just days ago, any hopes that these young, voiceless victims may have had of seeing their tormentors brought to justice evaporated. On January 4th, a panel of French judges decided not to bring charges against a group of six French soldiers accused of sexually abusing minors in the CAR between December 2013 and June 2014. According to French judicial sources, the panel’s leading judge decided there was “insufficient evidence” to warrant prosecution. Though prosecutors have three months to produce more evidence to justify a new investigation, if evidence from CAR civilians, NGOs, and the UN itself have all been deemed insufficient, it seems little can now be done to change the situation. If anything, this latest rejection of justice for victims of sexual violence will only further discredit UN operations in the African nation and will likely foment popular anger directed at the UN’s continuous presence as they are seen as an occupying force. Just a few months ago in October, four civilians were killed by UN peacekeepers when protests against the UN’s presence in the nation broke out and soon turned violent. With neither the UN nor the guilty soldiers likely to be held accountable, it seems that the CAR’s already desperate situation will continue to devolve, largely thanks to the very forces exploiting the vulnerable civilians they are meant to protect.
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Palm Beach, FL — In what could be one of the most effective solutions for excessive force by police, federal marshals seized the personal possessions — from the sofa and lamps to clothing and an iron — of a South Florida deputy who shot a man holding a cell phone, paralyzing him.
Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Deputy Adams Lin spotted 19-year-old Dontrell Stephens in a “high-crime area” — the man’s own low-income neighborhood — on September 13, 2013, riding a bicycle in a manner the deputy found suspicious.
Lin stopped the youth, who dismounted the bike with a cell phone in his hand and slowly approached the officer. Just outside the range of dash cam video, the officer shot Stephens four times — claiming he was in fear for his life — but footage and evidence clearly showed the claim to be baseless.
Three of the bullets remain lodged in Stephens’ body, according to the Sun Sentinel — two in his arm and one in his spine, which left him paralyzed and dependent on a wheelchair for mobility.
In a lawsuit against Lin and the sheriff’s office, a jury awarded Stephens over $23.1 million — an amount later slightly lowered to $22.4 million — which, as standard practice, would come straight from the pockets of taxpayers.
Since Florida law places a $200,000 limit on payouts like that awarded to Lin’s victim, the case must go before Florida state legislature — but that may never happen. While the settlement languishes, Stephens’ attorneys demanded Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw to make good on the $200,000 — but he balked and filed an appeal.
U.S. Magistrate Barry Seltzer upheld the $22.4 million verdict in a 40-page decision, writing, as cited by the Palm Beach Post,
“Stephens lost use of his lower extremities, lost control of his bowel, lost control of his bladder, lost his sexual function and suffers constant and severe pain,” adding insight from another case, “Put simply, the enormity of the award is matched by the enormity of the plaintiff’s damages.”
But the judge also understood Lin couldn’t be stripped of all income, considering he has a daughter and family responsibilities.
“In November,” the Sentinel explains, “U.S. Magistrate Judge Barry Seltzer ruled that none of Lin’s $82,400 in wages should be garnished to help pay off the judgment because he proved he was ‘head of a family’ since he provides more than half of the support for his 6-year-old daughter.
“Lin pays his ex-wife $400 a month to care for their child, and he also picks up the tab for school lunches, after care, ice skating and taekwondo. His overtime is exempt, too.”
It seemed Stephens would not receive justice for being unjustly shot and bound to a wheelchair — but the deputy’s personal possessions aren’t exempt in the matter. So when Sheriff Bradshaw refused to pay, Seltzer gave the green light for federal marshals to seize everything of value from the deputy to be sold at auction to help pay the man’s medical and living expenses.
Four federal marshals came to Lin’s townhouse to serve the court order, Stephens’ attorney, Jack Scarola, told the Sentinel, who reported:
“Lin read the court order, became visibly shaken, and fainted, collapsing to the ground, Scarola said.
“Paramedics were called and when Lin recovered, he sat on a sheriff’s squad car and watched movers load up his belongings and ‘empty out virtually everything …”
“Among the items taken: his car, couch, coffee tables, end tables, lamps, his collection of Samurai swords, flatscreen TV, iron, ironing board, computer, golf clubs, bicycle, tools, and almost all of his non-Sheriff’s Office clothing, Scarola said,” according to the Sentinel.
“I don’t think we took any shoes and I don’t think we took any underwear,” Scarola told the outlet, but “shirts and pants and shorts are all gone, jackets.
“We left behind cups and saucers and dishes. There’s nothing of any significant value in those.”
Scarola lamented that Lin’s possessions had to be seized — an action he said he warned the sheriff would happen if the $200,000 weren’t paid — but the horrific aftermath of the deputy’s unjustified use of force must be addressed.
Unfortunately for Stephens, marshals, movers, towing fees, and other expenses from the seizure will have to be paid before he receives a cent — but the young man will eventually receive funds to assist with his expenses.
“I took no pleasure in having to do what we did, but we have an obligation to [act] for our client,” Scarola stated. “Dontrell is very pleased we’re making every effort to protect his legal interest. It was the only alternative open to us and definitely the right thing to do.”
Perhaps, if law enforcement officers feared losing literally everything but the clothes on their backs, the decision to shoot — rather than de-escalate or employ a less-lethal weapon — might not come so quickly.
The North Carolina police officer who shot and killed Keith Lamont Scott, 43, will not face charges, according to the district attorney who cited a gun in Scott’s hand as the main reason why officers opened fire.
Charlotte District Attorney Andrew Murray announced Wednesday that officer Brentley Vinson “acted lawfully” when he shot and killed Scott, claiming that Scott “stepped out of his SUV with a gun in his hand and ignored at least 10 commands from the five officers on the scene to drop it.”
The shooting sparked controversy after cell phone video was released by Scott’s wife, Rakeyia Scott, who documented the Sept. 20 incident.
In the video, Rakeyia Scott can be heard pleading with police, “Don’t shoot him. He has no weapon. He has no weapon. Don’t shoot him.” A family member on Facebook also claimed that Keith Scott was not armed, and was instead holding a book.
Police insist that a book was not found in the front seat of Scott’s car, and that there was a handgun found at the scene. Murray even went as far as to claim that police found text messages between Keith and Rakeyia Scott discussing the ownership of a gun.
“A month before the shooting there were text messages between Mr. and Mrs. Scott arguing about a gun,” Murray said.
The shooting in September was initially met with peaceful protests at the scene. Police responded in riot gear, and the protests turned violent to the point where “bystanders and police were both injured, one man was fatally shot, and more than 100 people were arrested.”
The group Charlotte Uprising noted that it is prepared for more protests in anticipation of the decision on its Facebook page: “If they choose not to indict these killer cops, or if they do not release an announcement, let’s turn up to demand justice for Keith Scott!”
Not only that, the law also gives the intelligence agencies the power to hack into computers and devices of citizens (known as equipment interference), although some protected professions — such as journalists and medical staff — are layered with marginally better protections.
In other words, it’s the “most extreme surveillance law ever passed in a democracy,” according to Jim Killock, director of the Open Rights Group.
And that doesn’t even account for the three-quarters of people who think privacy, which this law almost entirely erodes, is a human right.
There are some safeguards, however, such as a “double lock” system so that the secretary of state and an independent judicial commissioner must agree on a decision to carry out search warrants (though one member of the House of Lords disputed that claim).
A new investigatory powers commissioner will also oversee the use of the powers.
Despite the uproar, the government’s opposition failed to scrutinize any significant amendments and abstained from the final vote. Killock said recently that the opposition Labour party spent its time “simply failing to hold the government to account”.
But the government has downplayed much of the controversy surrounding the bill. The government has consistently argued that the bill isn’t drastically new, but instead reworks the old and outdated Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA). This was brought into law in 2000, to “legitimize” new powers that were conducted or ruled on in secret, like collecting data in bulk and hacking into networks, which was revealed during the Edward Snowden affair.
Much of those activities were only possible thanks to litigation by one advocacy group, Privacy International, which helped push these secret practices into the public domain while forcing the government to scramble to explain why these practices were legal.
The law will be ratified by royal assent in the coming weeks.
The highly anticipated 2016 presidential election has finally come to an end.
After months of rigorous campaigning from both Trump and Clinton, Donald J. Trump has been officially declared President-elect of the United States.
However, as to be expected, the ‘tolerant liberals’ have taken to the streets to violently protest and riot against this victory. So triggered by the fact that their paradigm of censorship, a sugar coated reality and their wishes for the continuation of a status quo government have been shattered.
The phrase ‘Love Trumps Hate’ has become incredibly ironic, given that the almost all of the hatefulness and violence has been initiated by Hillary’s minions harassing and physically harming Trump supporters throughout this election cycle, and only increased in severity since the start of the Trump protests.
When interviewed by CNN, a protester alarmingly went so far as to state that “there will be casualties on both sides, there will be, because people have to die to make a change in this world.” Clearly inciting extreme violence and exemplifying the intolerance of the ‘progressive’ left for any diversity of opinion. It has also just been reported that on Saturday morning a man had been shot during an anti-Trump protest on Morrison Bridge in Portland. Luckily his injuries are not life-threatening.
Hillary Clinton lost the election, and with this, the Democrats’ dream of a society which panders to a politically correct agenda and suppresses freedom of speech has been diminished if not destroyed. The countless tactics and lies told about Trump and his supporters failed to manipulate voters. The people of America rightfully distrusted the mainstream media, their polls showed Trump could have never succeeded, yet here we are, with Trump having won electoral votes by a clear margin.
In an article by The Washington Post on Thursday, Asra Q. Nomani, a female Muslim immigrant, explains why she voted for Trump, and rejected the lies told by the left to smear Trump’s name. Stating very accurately that we’re seeing a “liberal honor brigade” that is “shutting up and silencing people who disagree,” Nomani also stated that “the liberals and the left have really betrayed America” when it comes to addressing real and prominent issues.
As the results began to come in from each state, it became more and more evident that a Trump presidency was likely. States like Pennsylvania, with a history of voting Democrat, went Republican. Like we’ve seen with Brexit, this momentous victory for Trump marks a populist uprising against a system run by corrupt career politicians who have provided nothing for the citizens of America for so long. The American people have taken a stance against transgressing into a society of cultural Marxism pushed by the left, rejected a politically correct narrative, and elected Donald J Trump to be the 45th President of the United States.