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David Cameron: Will investigate possible racial bias in courts

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London: David Cameron, British Prime Minister asked his lawmakers to investigate possible racial bias against black defendants and other ethnic minorities in the criminal justice system of the country.

At present, black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) individuals make up more than a quarter of prisoners, compared to 14 percent of the wider population of England and Wales, according to statistics released by Downing Street, Xinhua reported.

Latest figures also show that BAME people make up a disproportionate 24 percent of Crown Court defendants, and those found guilty are more likely to receive custodial sentences than white offenders.

“If you’re black, you’re more likely to be in a prison cell than studying at a top university. And if you’re black, it seems you’re more likely to be sentenced to custody for a crime than if you’re white. We should investigate why this is and how we can end this possible discrimination,” Cameron said in a statement.

The Prime Minister has appointed David Lammy, a member of parliament, to lead a review of the criminal justice system in England and Wales to investigate evidence of possible bias against black defendants and other ethnic minorities.

Lammy was asked to report back in the spring of 2017 and provide recommendations to reduce the proportion of BAME individuals in the criminal justice system and make sure that all suspects and offenders are treated equally.

The review will consider BAME people’s treatment and outcomes to identify and help tackle potential bias or prejudice, according to Downing Street.

It will address issues arising from the point of arrest onwards, including through the court system, in prisons and during rehabilitation in the wider community.(IANS)

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Increasing Number of Elderly Chinese-American Citizens Contemplate Suicide Because of Discrimination, Claims New Research

The research by University of Michigan traces the relationship between discrimination and suicidal thoughts, also understood as suicide ideation among aged Chinese-American

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Chinese American
Discrimination at public spaces and work, alike often prompts aged Chinese-Americans to feel like they are not ‘welcome’ in the area. Pixabay
  • A new research examined how racial bias prompts elderly Chinese-Americans to contemplate suicide 
  • Discrimination can impair an individual’s physical, emotional and mental well-being
  • The study revealed that individuals are twice as likely to think about taking their own life when subjected to discriminatory behavior 

Chicago, September 2, 2017 : According to World Health Organization (WHO), about 800,000 people end their lives every year, and there are countless more who attempt suicide. These deliberate deaths have long-lasting effects not just on the families of the people involved, but also on the larger society. According to a new research, people who experience discrimination of any form are twice as likely to contemplate taking their own life in comparison to those who didn’t experience similar thoughts.

The research by University of Michigan traced the relationship between discrimination and suicidal thoughts, also understood as suicide ideation among aged Chinese-American citizens.

Lydia Li, associate professor at the University Of Michigan School Of Social Work and a co-author of the study believes prejudicial treatment or racial bias is an extremely challenging experience for the elderly that can hamper not just emotional, but also mental and physical well being, according to a report by ANI.

“It’s a serious matter. It’s not something you can just forget” she said in an interview with HuffPost, further adding, “It cuts into peoples’ thoughts about their place on this planet.”

The Research

The research examined over 3,000 Chinese American seniors aged 60 years and above in the greater Chicago area, who had immigrated to the United States and have been living here for more than twenty years.

Further, 57 per cent of the study participants were women.

Professor Li along with the team obtained and analyzed the background information of all participants, including their age, education, and marital status through a detailed questionnaire. The participants were also asked to share specific experiences of discrimination, if faced any. Additionally, the questionnaire gauged their take on suicide and questioned if they had ever harbored suicidal thoughts.

Revelations Of The Study

The study revealed that about 4 per cent of the participants had debated suicide all within a period of 30 days. Furthermore, 21 per cent had reported experiencing discrimination in a variety of situations.

The participants in the research revealed experiencing prejudicial discrimination at public spaces and work, alike which often prompts them to feel like they are not ‘welcome’ in the area.

According to the study, participants who experienced discrimination were twice as likely to contemplate taking their own life in comparison to those who didn’t experience similar thoughts.

Chinese-American
The study asserts that the impact of racial bias on health shouldn’t be underestimated, or ignored. Wikimedia

According to Professor Li, apart from raising a sense of vulnerability and isolation, discrimination among older Chinese-Americans also impedes them from seeking help. In her opinion, “Assimilation difficulty, cultural beliefs and family pride may preclude them from seeking help. Consequently they may come to see suicide as a viable alternative”, as reported by ANI.

The participants of the research belonged to the ethnic minority of Chinese-American immigrants who did not face any such bias in their own country. Delving on this fact, Professor Li noted that it gets increasingly difficult for the aged people belonging to this group to cope with the indifferent behavior because “It’s not something they’ve been trained to deal with.”

Risk Factors And Remedial Mechanisms

The study revealed noteworthy risk factors that can potentially prompt the older population to contemplate deadly actions. These include,

  • Age
  • Depression
  • Seclusion
  • Pain

The research also noted that the treatment imparted to citizens can vary among people settled in the rural areas.

ALSO READ Suicide is Preventable: Alarming Effects of Self-harm on Families, Communities, Societies

However, the problem can be combated with sufficient support from the family. Professor Li also noted the positive contribution of clinicians, who must recognize the gravity of the situation and its impact on the ethnic minority in the old-age bracket.

The need of the hour is to make the larger public aware of the health hazard that discrimination of any kind poses to individuals. Efforts must also be taken to empower people who are at the receiving end of racial bias and bigotry treatment in a way that makes them feel an intrinsic part of the larger society. Professor Li suggests doing so by particularly helping new immigrants establish themselves in the mainstream society and assuring them that these vile instances are not their fault.

 


 

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US publicly announced $400 Million Payment to Iran as ‘Leverage’ in Release of Prisoners

The prisoners were The Washington Post's Tehran bureau chief, Jason Rezaian; Marine veteran Amir Hekmati; Christian pastor Saeed Abedin; and a fourth man, Nosratollah Khosravi-Roodsari

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President Barack Obama is photographed during a presidential portrait sitting for an official photo in the Oval Office, Dec. 6, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza). Image source: Wikimedia Commons

August 20, 2016: On Thursday, for the first time the Obama administration clearly and publicly said a cash payment of $400 million to Iran was used as leverage to ensure the release of a group of American prisoners being held by Tehran.

Earlier this month, in August, President Barack Obama denied that the payment to Iran on the same day as a hostage release was “some nefarious deal,” pointing out that the transfer was announced in January, a day after implementation of the U.S. nuclear deal with Tehran.

On Thursday, State Department spokesman John Kirby repeated the administration’s position that the negotiations to return the Iranian money, the result of an aborted arms deal in the 1970s with the U.S-backed shah were conducted separately from the talks to free four U.S. citizens in Iran.

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“We had concerns that Iran may renege on the prisoner release,” Kirby told reporters, citing years of mutual mistrust between the two countries. “Obviously, when you’re inside that 24 hour period and you already now have concerns about the endgame in terms of getting your Americans out, it would have been foolish, and prudent, irresponsible, for us not to try to maintain maximum leverage.

“So if you’re asking me was there a connection in that regard at the endgame, I’m not going to deny that,” he added.

Jason Rezaian. Image source: Wikimedia Commons
Jason Rezaian. Image source: Wikimedia Commons

The prisoners were The Washington Post’s Tehran bureau chief, Jason Rezaian; Marine veteran Amir Hekmati; Christian pastor Saeed Abedin; and a fourth man, Nosratollah Khosravi-Roodsari, whose disappearance had not been publicly known before he was freed.

The cash transfer and the release of the hostages — both on January 17 — came at the same time as Iran’s deal with the United States and five other world powers restraining Tehran’s development of nuclear weapons, along with the lifting of sanctions that had hobbled Iran’s economy.

Critics, especially those who oppose the Iran nuclear deal, have termed it a ransom payment. Republican lawmakers also criticized the action, saying it undermined the longstanding U.S. opposition to ransom payments.

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Iranian media reports have quoted senior defense officials as saying they considered the cash as a ransom payment.

On the day of the transfer, non-U.S. currency cash — in euros and Swiss francs among others — was stacked on wooden pallets and flown into Iran on an unmarked cargo plane.

It was the first installment on a $1.7 billion settlement stemming from the failed U.S. weapons pact with Iran in 1979 just before its last monarch, Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, was toppled. The U.S. dispatched the cash in foreign currencies because any transaction with Iran in dollars is illegal under U.S. law. (VOA)

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Dallas Killings: 3 Suspects in Custody and 4th in Standoff for shooting 11 Police Officers

Officials say the attackers had intended widespread damage and a suspicious package has been secured by the city's bomb squad

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Emergency responders administer CPR to an unknown patient on a stretcher as law enforcement officials stand nearby at the emergency receiving area of Baylor University Medical Center, early Friday, July 8, 2016. Image source: AP
  • The attackers had intended widespread damage and a suspicious package has been secured by the city’s bomb squad
  • NAACP President and CEO William Brooks told VOA the rights organization is pushing for the passage of several pieces of legislation 
  • There have been 509 fatal police shootings in the United States in 2016 compared to 990 in 2015

The Dallas police chief said early Friday morning, July 8, three suspects are in custody and police are negotiating with a fourth who is in a standoff with police at a downtown garage in the area where a demonstration held Thursday to protest the slayings of two black men by police erupted into chaos with 11 police officers shot.  Four of the officers have died.

Police Chief David Brown said the suspect at the garage said “the end is coming” and that there are bombs “all over the place” in the garage and in downtown.

Brown said one of the detained suspects is a female.  The other two suspects being interviewed, Brown said, were seen with camouflage bags, prompting officers to follow their car.

Officials say the attackers had intended widespread damage and a suspicious package has been secured by the city’s bomb squad.

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Dallas police detain a driver after several police officers were shot in downtown Dallas, Thursday, July 7, 2016. Image source: AP
Dallas police detain a driver after several police officers were shot in downtown Dallas, Thursday, July 7, 2016. Image source: AP

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings has asked people who work in the downtown area where the shootings occurred to stay away Friday.

Police had issued a photograph of an armed black man in camouflage dress who attended the demonstration as “a person of interest” in Thursday’s shooting.  The man later turned himself into authorities, who say he was apparently not involved in the shootings.

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings. Image Source: www.texasobserver.org
Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings. Image Source: www.texasobserver.org

Police say two snipers opened fire on police during the demonstration that was being held to protest the police killings of two black men earlier this week in separate incidents – one in Minnesota, the other in Louisiana.  The two killings of the black men are the latest incidents in a string of shootings in the U.S. of what is widely viewed as examples of the excessive use of force in police dealings with minorities.

The deadly violence came just hours after President Barack Obama urged American law enforcement to eliminate racial bias from its ranks, saying “all of us as Americans should be troubled” by the videotaped police shootings of black men this week in Minnesota and Louisiana.

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“We’ve seen tragedies like this too many times,” Obama said upon arriving in Warsaw Friday morning for a two-day meeting of NATO leaders. He said he felt compelled to address the shootings in a televised statement — in addition to a Facebook post published hours earlier — given the “extraordinary interest” in the incidents.

The president said all Americans should be concerned about the problem of frequent police shootings of black people, which he called “symptomatic of a broader set of racial disparities that exist” in the U.S. justice system. He said those disparities are backed up by statistics that show African Americans and Hispanics are treated differently by police.

US President Barack Obama talks upon Dalla Shootings. Image Source: www.telegraph.co.uk
US President Barack Obama talks upon Dalla Shootings. Image Source: www.telegraph.co.uk

Earlier this week, an African American man was fatally shot by a police officer during a routine traffic stop in the midwestern city of Falcon Heights, Minnesota, prompting Governor Mark Dayton to call for an independent federal investigation.

Police say 32-year-old Philando Castile of nearby St. Paul was killed after a policeman pulled over his vehicle. They said the incident began when an officer initiated a traffic stop, but they have not further explained what led to the shooting. They said the officer involved has been placed on paid administrative leave, which is standard procedure in cases like this.

Governor Dayton said he does not believe Castile would have been treated that way if he had been white.

The state’s Bureau of Criminal Apprehension has been called in to investigate.

A child and a woman were passengers in the car when Castile was killed. Shortly after the shots were fired, the woman began broadcasting video on her cell phone, streaming it live on her private Facebook account.

Castile was shown slumped in the car and bleeding profusely with at least one officer pointing a gun through the driver’s side window.

The shooting came one day after police killed 37-year-old Alton Sterling in the southern city of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Two white officers, responding to a call about an armed man, had Sterling pinned to the ground when at least one officer shot him. The investigation into the shooting is being led by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division.

NAACP President and CEO William Brooks told VOA the rights organization is pushing for the passage of several pieces of legislation, including comprehensive racial profiling laws at the state and federal levels.

“The laws that govern when police can use lethal force need to be reformed and they need to be reformed now,” said Amnesty International’s Jamira Burley. “Philando Castile should not have had to fear for his life during a traffic stop.”

Samuel Walker, a professor emeritus at the University of Nebraska and an expert on police accountability, told VOA, “There’s deep-seated racial prejudice” among some white Americans “and that plays out in police encounters.” Walker said some police officers have “an unconscious bias” that causes them to “react accordingly.”

Dallas shootings protest, Image Source: abc7.com
Dallas shootings protest, Image Source: abc7.com

With the proliferation of video recording devices, Walker said the United States is in the midst of “a digital revolution of policing” that is having a “tremendous effect” on the practice nationwide.

Although fatal police shootings go unabated, videos have had a “huge impact on public understanding of policing,” he said.

There have been 509 fatal police shootings in the United States in 2016 compared to 990 last year, according to a national database maintained byThe Washington Post. (VOA)

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