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Human Rights Watch

Ottawa, Ontario:

As Stephen Harper pushes through his new crime bill, critics are claiming that it is a step in the wrong direction. The bill, according to Corrections Canada will almost double the costs of the current system from 1.6 Billion to 3 Billion dollars, and potentially see crime prevention programs slashed. In a country that is seeing our lowest crime rate since 1973, one must ask the question, is this necessary? While some of the aspects of the bill are reasonable, it will be vital for watchdogs to make sure this bill doesn't have a negative impact on a system which seems to be working. Some of the more troubling aspects of the bill are hard time for crimes usually committed by young people, and mandatory prison periods of six months for people owning six marijuana plants. While I do not condone the use of marijuana, it is clear that this part of the bill is completely at odds with the will of the public. It's subtle, but borderlines on an infringement of the rights on an individual. We need to be moving away from criminalization, and allow police resources to be used on protecting the streets from hard drugs. You should not be able to prohibit growing and using a natural product. I know I am odds with most of my colleagues, but can wisdom be legislated? I do not believe so, and a foolish decision, should not be met with jail time. However, hopefully this bill is used to protect, and not ignore those who legitimately need resources, programs and help for the poor choices they are making.

Georgia, USA:

In one of the most high profile execution cases in recent American history, the Supreme Court failed to listen to reason, and allowed the execution of a very likely, potentially innocent man. It is sobering to realize that such an outdated, and barbaric form of justice is still taking place in the land of our friends the United States. With seven of the nine eye witnesses recanting their testimony, and the unchanged fact that Troy Davis was convicted without any physical evidence, the state of Georgia allowed Troy Davis to die, in what can be argued, was a state sanctioned act of murder. With the world looking on, the state and the highest court failed to look at the overwhelming amount of reasonable doubt, ignoring criticism from even many pro-death penalty supporters. I am reminded of the fact that the justice system in the West still has miles to go, and am praying that this incident will be a catalyst for change.

Saudi Arabia:

In an attempt to appear progressive, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia has proclaimed that women will be able to vote in elections come 2015. Here is hoping that this a step in the right direction, but one can only wonder how this will shape the policy of the country, where elections are often fictitious, and so much religious fanatics dictate policy. In a related story, the sentence of 100 lashings for a women convicted of simply driving a car (which is illegal in Saudi Arabia) has been revoked. One can only imagine the hellish conditions that so many women are experiencing. My respect and prayers go out to the brave women who are trying to fight for their equality.

New York, New York:

Occupy Wall Street protests continue as anger over the corrupt relationship between US policy makers and financial institutions boils over. It was simply a matter of time before the massive majority of Americans getting steamrolled by risky, greedy corporations fought back. If things don't change quickly, it would appear that more future financial crises will occur with a US administration that mirrors the previous failures. Police Officers have responded with a heavy hand and many unlawful and violent arrests have taken place against peaceful demonstrations. The police brutality is appearing to come from all levels of the NYPD, and the sooner the police realize that everyone is a film maker, and stop this blatant abuse of power, the sooner we can help rebuild the shaky bridge of trust that exists between the law abiding activist population and the law enforcement. I will do my best to keep writing on the developments of this story.


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