Every year in my Antrhopology of Law course at Erasmus Law School, a large part of my teaching is devoted to Australian Aboriginals and their concept of law.
This post, on Al Jazeera, shows again how the Australian government is blind to alternatives to their types of interventions, and crushes indigenous communities. The idea of ‘one law for all’ leads to devastating consequences for some.
Part of the article:
“Since its closure, most of the children who lived there have not returned to school, and youth suicides – cited by the government as a reason to close the town – have increased.
A 2011 Amnesty report found that the mortality rate for Aboriginal people living in urban areas was far higher than those living on ancestral lands. Some of Oombulgurri’s former residents are now homeless.
While the future of Western Australia’s indigenous communities remains uncertain, Aboriginal community organisers say the closure of these communities will bring social chaos and looking back on past policies, this plan could augur yet another lost generation of indigenous Australians.”
For the whole article: http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/inpictures/2015/09/indigenous-australians-lose-ancestral-land-150904105812729.html
Interesting forecast of Michel Foucault in 1979 about refugees:
“Q. The refugee issue has come up many times in the past, but if there is a new historical aspect in the case of Vietnam, what might that be?
A. In the twentieth century, genocides and ethnic persecutions happened frequently. I think that in the near future, these phenomena will happen again in new forms. First, because over the past few years, the number of dictatorial states has increased rather than diminished. Since political expression is impossible in their country and because they do not have the force necessary to resist, people repressed by dictatorship will chose to escape from their hell.
Second, in former colonies, states were created retained colonial borders as they were, so that ethnicities, languages and religions were mixed. This phenomenon creates serious tensions. In those countries, antagonisms within the population are likely to explode and bring about massive displacement and the collapse of state apparatuses.
Third, developed economic powers that needed labour from the Third World and developing countries have imported migrants from Portugal, Algeria or Africa. But, now, countries which no longer need this workforce because of technological evolution are attempting to send those migrants back. All these problems lead to that of population migration, involving hundreds of thousands and millions of people. And population migrations necessarily become painful and tragic and are inevitably accompanied by deaths and murders. I am afraid that what is happening in Vietnam is not only an after-effect of the past, but also a foreshadowing of the future.”
See for the citation: http://progressivegeographies.com/2015/09/29/michel-foucault-on-refugees-a-previously-untranslated-interview-from-1979/
The idea of ‘frames’ and ‘framing’ is that a loose set of general, mostly subconscious preconceptions about what the world looks like and ‘how people are’, together form a rather strong set or framework on how people conceive socio-legal issues. In the US one of those frames is called ‘race’, while in the Netherlands this would probably be called ‘culture’. On this website you will find a short report of a research done in the US. It starts like this:
“Despite popular notions that the U.S. is now “post-racial,” numerous recent events (such as the Rachel Dolezal kerfuffle and the Emmanuel AME Church shooting) have clearly showcased how race and racism continue to play a central role in the functioning of contemporary American society. But why is it that public rhetoric is at such odds with social reality?
A qualitative study by sociologists Natasha Warikoo and Janine de Novais provides insights. By conducting interviews with 47 white students at two elite universities, they explore the “lenses through which individuals understand the role of race in society.” Described as race frames, Warikoo and de Novais articulate two ways in which their respondents rely on particular cultural frames in making sense of race and race relations.” Read further.
Interessant om een uitzending te zien waarin Coen Verbraak aan rechters uitspraken weet te ontlokken die alle vermoedens bevestigen die ik in 1998 al in mijn proefschrift verwoordde: onbevooroordeeld de rechtszaal ingaan is een fictie en stereotypen doen ertoe. Zie de uitzending Kijken in de ziel van 27 juli 2015.
Every year De Volkskrant has a network analysis to find out who the people are with the most power in the Netherlands. Democratically chosen people are excluded. They make a Top 200. One thing is clear: the Netherlands is Paradise for employers. No 1 on the list for several years is Bernard Wientjes, head of the VNO-NCW lobby of employers organisations.
Some interesting facts:
– 25% is women (last year 20%); the first woman is on nr 10
– 5 have an ethnic minority background (last year only 1)
– average age is 58 (stable)
Such a top is always interesting, but the interpretations even more. What does it mean …?
Here is my blogpost from November 2011 on the same list.
The political and media debate on human rights and the interference of ‘Strasbourg’ (the European Court of Human Rights) with national politics and law, that raged two years ago and that died down somewhat, has returned to the Netherlands these days. Probably because of the 65 year anniversary of the UDHR of the UN. Anyway, the University of Leiden Law School in the name of Bastiaan Rijpkema more or less repeated its ‘anti’ sentiment by stating in a newspaper article ‘Please, not even more human rights’. Rijpkema argues that the human rights movement shows disdain for democracy. ‘The right answer to political questions in contemporary society should be found in the human rights documents’, he reconstructs their way of reasoning. In stead human rights should focus on its core business, not on whether people should be allowed to have a satellite antenna on their rented house, or whether people living in the Heathrow area have a fundamental right not to be disturbed by airplane noise at night.
Max Pam argues polemically that human rights have proliferated enormously, and that they have become a bunch of contradictory ideals and recommendations with which all states – be they Saudi Arabia or the UK – can do what they like. They give no guidance anymore.
On the other hand there is people like Marie-Benedicte Dembour who argues that human rights are obsolete – not to argue that they should be abolished, but that they should be even more extended to make a defence of the welfare state possible. Law=politics, and judges should be activists. ‘More Strasbourg!’ because ‘politics are highjacked by capitalism and the large media concerns’.
Latest contribution is by political commentator Martin Sommer on the ‘National Plan of Action Human Rights’ that was presented by Amnesty International last Tuesday. He observes a kongsi of human rights activists that ‘cite each other in order to conclude that the Netherlands does not live up to human rights standards’. He cites the debate on the subsiding of houses in the province of Groningen due to gas winning. ‘Should people really need to argue in terms of the right not to live in fear when a case can be filed under tort??!’ His real addition to the debate however lies elsewhere: the human rights activists and believers never talk about solving contradictory rights, and never talk about who will pay for all this. In politics you not only have to deal with contradictory rights and how to balance them, but the balance also includes a budget.
This week the Vrij Nederland magazine has the traditional survey on the judiciary. Which newspapers do they read? On which political parties do they vote? What is their opinion on the role of victims in court? Etcetera.
Would be interesting to compare if there is similar data from another country ….
The magazine also has extensive interviews with several judges. One small item among many is on the ‘secret of the chamber of deliberation’. The Netherlands knows no dissenting opinions. The judiciary ‘speaks with one mouth’ even if three judges might have had an extensive argument about the right verdict. Ybo Buruma, judge in the Supreme Court, says – as other judges do as well – that there is a strong urge to keep talking until there is consensus. ‘We are forced to talk until we agree.’ Buruma: ‘We are very Dutch in this, it is a bit of polderen.’
‘Polderen’ is a metaphor for those instances where spokespeople of groups that have opposing interest on a specific topic sit together as (more or less) equals to negotiate and talk as long as is necessary to reach consensus. The end result they call a win-win situation. The metaphor was long used for those instances where ‘beleid’ (policy) was formed in a pre or post lawmaking stage. Now we know that even the judiciary has it …
A survey among 866 doctors who do ‘first contact medical care’ (huisartsen) in the Netherlands shows how they fill in the discretionary left to them by supposedly strict rules. Cases of terminal care of patients, requirements of speedy actions etcetera ask doctors to be lenient with the rules. With palliative sedation (terminally ill patients), 10% of the doctors says they sometimes give a higher dose of medication than is strictly required, 7% says they started before acting was strictly necessary etcetera.
The survey was held because of a doctor who committed suicide a few months ago, when he was profiled in the media as someone who did not live up to the rules of euthanasia. Now turns out he is not the only one. Two reactions possible: 1. Doctors ignore the rules (and act criminally), or 2. Doctors act professionally, since in practice discretionary room for manoeuvre is necessary for decisions on a case by case basis. The first reaction is based on (legal) ethics, the second on knowledge of medical practice.
See here for more info and the results of the survey (in Dutch).