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Open Letter to Honorable Claire D. Cronin on Transnational Repression in Ireland

Open Letter to Honorable Claire D. Cronin on Transnational Repression in Ireland

Open Letter to Honorable Claire D. Cronin on Transnational Repression in Ireland

Dear Esteemed Ambassador Cronin:

I am writing to you with the hope of scheduling a meeting to discuss the practice of transnational repression in the Republic of Ireland that is impacting the lives of American asylum seekers. I believe that it is within my best interest to leave Ireland and to pursue my research and educational aspirations in a different country, as I fear my freedom and life would be threatened if I returned to the United States of America (hereinafter “United States”). First, furthering my educational pursuits abroad will give me the opportunity to fulfil one of the requirements of my B.A. Law undergraduate degree. Second, it will give me a unique opportunity to contribute to the development and growth of my society. Be that as it may, I fear that if I do not proceed further with my claims against the United States, there would be a risk to my life and my freedom. These fears are based on the following:

I. Asylum Claim Between 2013-2023

The United States is privy to the claims I made against it dating back to 2013. Receiving States, such as Ireland, sometimes share information with authorities in the applicant’s country of origin, disclosing that the applicant has filed an asylum claim. While States may share limited information with the authorities in the applicant’s country of origin after they have exhausted all available legal remedies, evidence suggests that Ireland, or one of its colluders, has informed the United States of my asylum application well before my case was heard by the International Protection Office.

Evidence suggests, assurances were negotiated during the examination of my asylum claim, which violates the principle of confidentiality and my right, as an asylum seeker, to access and enjoy fair asylum procedures. Moreover, authorities in Ireland have prevented me from (1) challenging the decisions of the International Protection Office and the International Protection Appeals Tribunal rendered, and (2) barred me from creating structures that would support an application for Leave to Remain, which infringes upon my right to an effective remedy.

As a result, I am concerned that Ireland’s disclosure to the United States has aggravated my position in relation to the U.S. Government, who I assert, is responsible for my persecution. Thus, I am concerned about being exposed to a flagrant denial of justice, and potential risks to my life and freedom that I could face as a result of my political activism, and the claims I made against the United States for police sexual violence and brutality; racial persecution, and gender-related discrimination.

While I am deeply committed to advocating for the values of democracy, human rights, and freedom of expression in the United States and abroad, I do not feel that I cannot continue my activism in the United States without retaliation by government officials and other powerful interests in our nation.

The United States’ alleged interference with my asylum claim abroad has led me to believe these dangers will only escalate if I return home. This interference has infringed on my right to self-determination, which guarantees me the liberty to pursue freely, my economic, social and cultural development without outside interference. This right under international law also implies that I should have the liberty to determine freely, my political status and my place in the international community, based upon the liberation of peoples from colonialism and,by the prohibition against subjugation, domination and exploitation.

It cannot be denied that living abroad has provided me with a sense of security and freedom that I simply cannot find in the United States. Although I disagree with the United States’ position that its citizens should not file asylum claims abroad, I am prepared to (1) forego any future asylum claim against the United States now, and in the future, if the United States discontinue reprisals and/or forego any and all reprisals, legal or otherwise on the soils of the Republic of Ireland and the United States of America, pertaining to my Article 14 right to seek and to enjoy asylum in other countries from persecution—and the claims I made against the United States from February 2013—to the date I sit before the Office of the Ambassador to withdraw my asylum application Ireland.

II. Scope of 2021-2023 Research

As a dedicated researcher, I have always strived to conduct myself with the utmost professionalism and integrity.

However, as with any human endeavor, there are going to be instances where some allege the researcher, advertently or inadvertently, crossed the line or made a mistake. In my personal opinion, I believe that it is important for researchers to have the freedom to pursue their work without fear of legal repercussion for alleged mistakes or alleged misunderstandings that allegedly occur in the field. Without such protections, the pursuit of knowledge and scientific discovery could be severely hindered. I further believe that any action taken during my research periods, as a human rights defender, were done in good faith to expose the unlawful persecution of transgender and American asylum seekers in Ireland—with the ultimate goal of advancing knowledge on the ill-treatment of safe country nationals during the international protection process.

Indeed, human rights defenders investigate, gather information and report on human rights violations which focus on one specific instance of human rights abuses. Under the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, I have the right to freely to publish, impart or disseminate to others views, information and knowledge on all human rights and fundamental freedoms. I also have the right to study, discuss, form and hold opinions on the observance, both in law and in practice, of all human rights and fundamental freedoms and, through these and other appropriate means, to draw public attention to those matters.

For the last three years, my rights as a human rights defender have been severely curtailed. The United States nor the Republic of Ireland have taken all necessary measures to ensure I am protected from: threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure and other arbitrary actions as a consequence of my legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the Declaration.

Irrespective of these challenges, I remain committed to pursuing my education and research, and contributing to society in a positive way. I am deeply grateful for the opportunities I have been afforded to learn and study, and I believe that my contributions to society, if provided a fair opportunity unmolested, can be even greater if I am allowed to remain abroad. The United States may disagree with my assertions. Even if it does, I think we could resolve this entire matter amicably.

As a United States citizen, I am prepared to (1) forego any future asylum claim against the United States now, and in the future. However, there are publicly accessible decisions and judgments relating to my asylum claim, and wrongful arrest images relating to the 2013 incident that could interfere with my right to life, right to liberty, right to work, right to self-determination and my freedom from degrading treatment or punishment.

In light of this fact, I ask that the United States remove publicly accessible decisions and judgments relating to my asylum claim, and wrongful arrest images relating to the 2013 incident that could interfere with my right to life, right to liberty, right to work, right to self-determination and my freedom from degrading treatment or punishment. In order to effectively eliminate all reasonably possible manifestations of persecution in my case, I must be able to gauge reliability of assurances obtained in response to claims I made relating to torture and ill-treatment. At this point, I have no assurance that all possible manifestations of persecution in my own case have been eliminated.

III. Housing Assistance Abroad

Lastly, I am strongly considering entering an LLM program abroad and would appreciate the United States’ support. There are several reasons why I believe your office can play a crucial role in helping me enter this program and to find suitable housing, should I be accepted in an LLM program. As you may be aware, if move to any country, I will be hobbled by the United States government’s perception of me. Moreover, homelessness due to circumstances beyond my control will also impact me significantly. While the United States may disagree that it has directly contributed to my situation, I must disagree. In my opinion, the United States has participated in and acquiesced to certain structures and systems that have contributed to widespread housing insecurity and racial inequality. As a citizen of the United States, I am seeking to resolve this matter amicably, and the only way I can do this is with the full support of the United States in (1) securing housing, and (2)the United States’ employees, agents, officials, informants, progenitors and allies do interfere with my educational pursuits abroad.

As for housing, the Office of the Ambassador has a wealth of knowledge and resources when it comes to navigating foreign housing markets. With your help, I can avoid any potential pitfalls that may arise when searching for housing in an unfamiliar country. As a representative of the United States, I also believe it is important to have access to safe and secure housing. This will not only ensure my personal safety, but also ensure that I am able to carry out my duties effectively while abroad. Finally, I believe your office’s assistance in finding suitable housing will ultimately benefit the United States as a whole. By ensuring that I have a comfortable and safe place to stay, I will be better equipped represent the real values of democracy in a positive light, which I have been unable to do before.

For these reasons, I respectfully request a meeting with the Office of the Ambassador and its assistance with suitable housing during my travels abroad. I believe this is a matter of importance that warrants your attention.

Assistance from the Office of the Ambassador in securing accommodation and other basic needs abroad would, undoubtedly,be the embodiment of the American Dream.


Quianna Canada


United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

Case Postale 2500

CH-1211 Genève 2 DépôtSuisse

P: +41 22 739 8111

Open Letter to Honorable Claire D. Cronin on Transnational Repression in Ireland


1 UNSC Res. 1624 (14 September 2005), Preamble para. 7, adopted during the 2005 World Summit most recently affirmed in UNSC Res 2368 (20 July 2017).

2 United Nations. “About Human Rights Defenders: Special Rapporteur of human rights defenders.” OHCHR, para. 4.

3 United Nations. Declaration on Human Rights Defenders. A/RES/53/144. See Article 6 (b)(c), p. 4.

4 Id

5 Convention against Discrimination in Education, Article 4 (make secondary education in its different forms generally available and accessible to all). Available at:

6 UNHCR. (2005). Advisory opinion on the rules of confidentiality regarding asylum information. Available at: See also, Art. 30 of the Recast Procedures Directives.My understanding is that it is against the 1951 Convention for a State to share personal data or any other information relating to asylum seekers with the authorities of the country of origin before a final rejection has been made on theasylum claim

Has Police Misconduct and Excessive Use of Force in the US Decrease Post-George Floyd?

Has Police Misconduct and Excessive Use of Force in the US Decrease Post-George Floyd?

Has Police Misconduct and Excessive Use of Force in the US Decrease Post-George Floyd?

It has been nearly 3-years since the murder of George Floyd and there are still no signs from the US Senate that it intends to combat police excessive use of force, racial bias in policing and police misconduct.

Excessive force against African Americans has been a persistent problem in the US. Due to law enforcement’s discriminatory treatment against marginalized communities, the House of Representatives introduced the George Floyd Justice Policing Act, the Eric Garner Excessive Use of Force Prevention Act, the Stop Militarizing Law Enforcement Act and the End Racial and Religious Profiling Act, all of which has either been stalled in its introductory phase or has not made it pass the Senate.

At the time of this article, 42% of individuals who identify as African American or Black reported personal discrimination by American law enforcement. There are eleven specific cases that breathe more life into this harrowing statistic.

Amaurie Johnson

In 2021, La Mesa police officer Matthew Dages falsely arrested Amaurie Johnson. Dages alleged that Johnson assaulted him during the encounter. However, video footage of the incident did not show Johnson assaulting Dages. As a result, Johnson sued the city on grounds of racial discrimination, excessive force, and wrongful imprisonment.

After footage of the incident went viral, the La Mesa police department decided not charge Johnson. However, a US jury still acquitted the police officer,[1] even though video evidence did not support Dages version of events.

In La Mesa, Whites make up 54.4% of the population, followed by Hispanics, who make 25.8%. Black American comprise of 7.3% of the population.[2]

Shane Lee Brown

In 2022, Las Vegas police officers misidentified Shane Lee Brown for a suspect of a different race and twice his age. Although Brown continued to explain to police that he was not the suspect, law enforcement officers held Brown in pre-trial custody for eight days.[3]

Michael Jennings

During the same year, a Childersburg officer wrongfully arrested Michael Jennings while he was watering the neighbor’s flowers. Under Alabama law, an officer “may stop any person abroad in a public place.”[4] Nonetheless, Jennings was not in a public place; he was on private property. This case demonstrates that even if a citizen is not committing, has not committed or is not about to commit a crime, the officer may still racially profile an individual if they feel they are committing, has committed or is about to commit a crime.

Johnathan William Ellish

Two months after the Jennings incident, East Ridge police officers used excessive force on Johnathan Ellish. Bystanders who recorded the incident on their cell-phones assert the Tennessee police officers arrested them in retaliation for documenting the Ellish incident.

Jamie Satterfield also reported that East Ridge police pushed a woman’s face onto a police cruiser and arrested her for disorderly conduct after she recorded them shooting an unarmed woman with a stun gun.[5] Satterfield stated that camera footage showed police officers using a stun gun on unarmed citizens within minutes of encountering them.[6]

It is worth mentioning here that White allies are often brutalized in the US for coming to the defense of African Americans. One need only refer to the case of Ronald Cummins, who East Ridge police officers’ assaulted and falsely arrested when he questioned their ill-treatment of a Black motorist in 2021.

Eddie Irizzary

On August 14, 2023, Philadelphia police officer, Mark Dial, shot and killed Eddie Irizzary. Philadelphia Police Department initially claimed that Irizzary lunged at police officers with a knife.[7] However, surveillance footage demonstrates that never happened. The surveillance showed Dial approaching Irizzary’s vehicle with his gun drawn. Although Irizzary remained in his vehicle with his window up, Dial fired six shots into the driver’s seat.

US Law Enforcement’s Violence Against Women

Safiya Satchel

In 2020, Jordy Yanes Martel, a Miami-Dade police officer abused his authority when he forcibly removed Safiya Satchel out of her vehicle and slammed her to the ground. He then knelt on her neck and tased her stomach, which was carrying her unborn child. According to reports, Satchel had miscarried, though it’s unclear if this was the result of the unreasonable use force.

Fort Lauderdale Victim

A Fort Lauderdale police officer charged an un-named Black woman with battery after she elected not to get out of her vehicle. Body-worn camera footage shows the woman waiting in her and talking on the phone to her mother. When the Fort Lauderdale officer walks up, he demands that the woman step out of her car. However, she refused. This led to the police officer opening the driver’s door. He then pulled the woman out of the car and threw her to the ground. The woman asserted that the police officer struck her in the face repeatedly, causing bruises to her eyes and face.[8]

Nerilla Laurent

In June 2023, Boca Raton police received a “domestic situation” call, where a couple’s car stalled on the road. Boca Raton officer Matthew McNichol forced Nerilla, a pregnant woman, to the ground and put his knee on her back. He then placed Nerilla in a heated patrol car and did not let down the windows.[9] Nerilla said to McNichol that she was coughing because she could not breathe. Nerilla was charged with resisting an officer without violence. Although Nerilla may have had an active warrant for driving with a suspended license, this fact alone does not justify the forced McNichol used on her.

Los Angeles Woman

The same month, a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputy threw an un-named Black woman to the ground after she recorded the sheriff’s interaction with her husband.[10] Bystander video shows the deputy hurling the woman the ground, placing his knee on her neck, and pepper spraying her face.

Ta’Kiya Young

On August 24, 2023, Ta’Kiya Young walked into a Kroger’s store, shoplifted multiple bottles of alcohol, and was shot by Blendon Township police officers. This is yet another case that raises the question as to whether shoplifting in the U.S. in punishable by death.

While I personally do not condone Young’s actions, this was not a situation that called for the deadly use force. First, Kroger had surveillance of the alleged suspect shoplifting the alcohol, which means Blendon Township officers had a physical description of who would later be identified as Young. Second, authorities released surveillance footage of the parking lot where the incident transpired, which illustrates they had a description of her license plate.

Body-worn camera footage shows Young attempted to drive away from the scene—likely out of fear and to evade consequences. If it were to evade consequences, it is abundantly clear that the Blendon Township officer escalated the incident when he stepped in front of Young’s vehicle.

Theoretically speaking, if Young drove away with the merchandise, Blendon Township officers could have charged her with fleeing the scene and shoplifting. A warrant could have been issued and the matter would have been dealt with in court. In other words, Young and her unborn child would still be alive today. But as we have seen, the officers chose to escalate the incident and used deadly force on a woman whose crime cost less than $200.00. The Human Rights Committee has articulated crimes not resulting and intentionally in death, such as economic crimes, can never serve as the basis for the imposition of the death penalty under Article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Oniqua Morris

During the weekend of September 3, 2023, Morgan City police officers responded to a confrontation between two men. Oniqua Morris, an individual in the parking lot, made attempts to de-escalate the altercation by pulling one of the men away, but officer David Leonard Jr. forcefully shoved her to the ground. He then proceeded to shove another Black woman and pepper sprayed two African American men.

The Violence Against Women Act

President Biden signed into the law the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2022 (VAWA) which protects women against domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence and stalking.[11] However, the VAWA does not establish a federal civil cause of action for victims of violence perpetrated by police officers.

Gender-based violence inhibits women’s ability to enjoy rights and freedoms on a basis of equality with men.[12] Article 8 of the Convention for the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women applies to violence perpetrated by public authorities, such as police officers. Police brutality undoubtedly breaches the US’s obligation to protect under international human rights law. To be sure, international human rights courts have found that a State’s failure to act with due diligence to protect women from violence constitutes a form of discrimination that denies women their right to equality before the law.[13]

Use of Force and At-Risk Groups

Based on an earlier report, nearly 90% of the excessive force incidents identified by the Department of Justice involved excessive force used against African Americans.[14] In the 880 cases reviewed, the DOJ found African Americans accounted for some 88% of the subjects of non-deadly force used by BPD officers. In June 2023, the DOJ conceded that the Minneapolis Police Department used unjustified deadly force, the use of taser and excessive force against African Americans and Native Americans.[15] To put thing into perspective, MPD stopped 64,000 African Americans, yet they account for 18.4 % of the population. They also stopped 4,800 Native American individuals.[16] The 2022 Census found that Whites comprise of 63.1% of the Minneapolis population.[17]

Evidence shows African Americans were stopped 6.5 times the rate at which it stopped White Americans.[18] Even though the DOJ acknowledged that discipline for MPD officer misconduct is rare[19] and made several recommendations to improve training and reduce racial disparities, the report does not outline any action on part of the DOJ that would discipline Minneapolis police officers who engage in pretextual traffic stops, racial bias in policing, excessive force, and police misconduct.[20]

Are US Courts Convicting Police Officers for Malfeasance?

In 2021, Dewayne Emberton filed suit against Chase Winkle, a Muncie police officer, alleging that Winkle violated his constitutional rights during an arrest. Specifically, Emberton asserted that Winkle tasered him and inflicted bodily harm. Emberton further claimed that since Winkle’s father was Muncie’s chief of police, the City allowed the officer to get away with numerous civil rights violations. Irrespective of these contentions, the Court dismissed Emberton’s claim against Winkle for failure to furnish summonses in time. Nonetheless, the Court allowed the suit to remain active against the city of Muncie.

This year, a court sentenced Winkle to 10-years in prison for physically assaulting five arrestees and falsifying numerous reports.[21] In 2018, Winkle struck a teenager twice in the head with a closed fist and slapped him in the face twice.[22] Winkle also slapped another teenager in the face during the same incident, while they were being handcuffed by another officer.[23] During another incident, Winkle knocked a suspect unconscious and wrote a false police report about the incident.[24] It is quite likely that Emberton was one of the victims named in the DOJ press release. Another individual Winkle assaulted was an Italian man, Manny Montero. Judge Tanya Walton stated that Winkle’s actions “terrorized the community.”

A court sentenced another Muncie police officer, Jeremy Gibson, to 14-months in prison for his participation and involvement in the assault of Montero.

It cannot be denied that Winkle and Gibson were sentenced for their crimes. However, these are exceptional cases. For instance, the 9th Circuit found that officer Edward Agdeppa was entitled to qualified immunity in the killing of Albert Ramon Dorsey, whose singing in a 24-hour Fitness gym locker room created a disturbance. Reports further claim that Dorsey had trespassed, which is not an offence punishable by death.

A study found police and prosecutors rarely convict or discipline police officers for actions that lead to a wrongful conviction.[25] Even when prosecutors do pursue punishment, police officers are given light sentences (e.g. the Satchel incident).  In that study, Black defendants were more likely than White defendants to be victims of police misconduct. The study also found more than half of all wrongful criminal convictions were caused by government misconduct.

No Policies at the Federal Level to Eliminate Racial Profiling

There are currently no policies or procedures at the federal level that would require federal law enforcement agencies to eliminate racial profiling.[26]

Last year, the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination stated the persistence of racial profiling by law enforcement officers in the US was concerning. The CERD further noted the persistence of excessive use of force by American law enforcement officials and urged the US to adopt policies regulating the use of lethal force that are in accordance with international law and international standards.[27]

Despite the recommendations of the CERD, the US Government has yet to pass legislation that would tackle police misconduct against African Americans, as they remain disproportionately affected by police mistreatment. Further, the US Government still has not ratified the CEDAW and has failed to repeal the doctrine of qualified immunity, a defensive strategy that emboldens police officers to engage in misconduct and allows persecution against marginalized communities to continue.


Thus, I call on the US Government to:

– Repeal the qualified immunity doctrine; and

– Ratify the CEDAW — the US must refrain from engaging in any act or practice of discrimination against woman and, must ensure that police departments and its officers act in conformity with the obligation of non-discrimination.

I also call on the US Senate to pass:

The George Floyd Justice Policing Act

This Act lowers the criminal intent standard from willful to knowing or reckless. It serves to convict law enforcement officers for misconduct in a federal prosecution.

The Eric Garner Excessive Use of Force Prevention Act

This Act prohibits the application of different punishments, pains or penalties, such as chokeholds, based on an individual’s status, color or race.

The Stop Militarizing Law Enforcement Act

This bill restricts the Department of Defense from transferring certain surplus military property, such as firearms, ammunitions and weaponized drones, to federal, state, or local law enforcement agencies, which are often used at protest to chill speech and disperse the people’s freedom of assembly in their call for justice.

The End Racial and Religious Profiling Act

This Act would eliminate racial profiling at the federal, state and local levels and authorizes individuals to call on the Department of Justice to bring civil suits on their behalf.

[1] Hernandez, D. (2021) Former La Mesa officer charged with filing false police report in arrest of Black man. San Diego Union-Tribune.

[2] California Demographics. (n.d.). Is La Mesa the best California city for your business.

[3] BBC News. (2022). US Black man mistaken for older White suspect – lawsuit, BBC News.

[4] Burke, M (2022). Black Alabama pastor says he was wrongfully arrested while watering his neigbor’s flowers, NBC News

[5] Satterfield, J. (2022). Suits against East Ridge cops over excessive force and false charges pile up, Tennessee Lookout. Available at:

[6] Id.

[7] ABC 7 Chicago. (2023). Cop charged with murder after deadly shooting: bodycam video released. YouTube.

[8] Indisputable. (2023). Exclusive: Black Woman Bruised, Battered by Feckless Florida Cop.

[9] WPTV News. (2023). ‘I hadn’t done anything:’ Woman arrested in Boca Raton traffic stop. YouTube.

[10] GMA. (2023). Video shows LA County sheriff’s deputy throw woman to the ground outside store.

[11] WH. (2022). Fact Sheet: Reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). White House. Available at:

[12] UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women. (1992). CEDAW General Recommendation No. 19: Violence against women, 1992, available at: [accessed 26 August 2023].

[13] IACHR. (2018). African Americans, Police Use of Force, and Human Rights in the United States. OEA/Ser.L/V/II., Doc. 156, at p. 129, para. 523

[14] US DOJ (2016). Investigation of the Baltimore City Police Department, see p. 47.

[15] Office of Public Affairs (2023). Justice Department Finds Civil Rights Violations by the Minneapolis Police Department and the City of Minneapolis.

[16] DOJ. (2023). Investigation of the City of Minneapolis and the Minneapolis Police Department, p. 32.

[17] United States Census Bureau (2022). QuickFacts Minneapolis city, Minnesota.

[18] Id.

[19] Id., p. 76.

[20] Id., pp. 27-28

[21] DOJ. (2022). Former Muncie, Indiana, Police Officer Pleads Guilty to Eleven Civil Rights and Obstruction Offenses for Assaulting Arrestees and Writing False Reports. U.S. Department of Justice. [date accessed 10 September 2023].

[22] Id.

[23] Id.

[24] Id.

[25] Jackman, T. (2020). More than half of all wrongful criminal convictions are caused by government misconduct, study finds.

[26] See S.597, End Racial and Religious Profiling Act.

[27] CERD/C/USA/CO/10-12

US Practice of Handcuffing Children Violates International Human Rights Law

US Practice of Handcuffing Children Violates International Human Rights Law

US Practice of Handcuffing Children Violates International Human Rights Law

“There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children,” said the late President Nelson Mandela at the launch of the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund in Pretoria, South Africa.

Mandela’s quote is timely as it is true; a nation that allows child suffering is gospel of its real stance on human rights. One need only ask 12-year-old Tashawn Bernard, whose life changed after police officers in Lansing, Michigan placed him handcuffs.

Tashawn was carrying garbage to a dumpster from his apartment when Lansing police officers stopped him, alleging his neon green shorts matched an individual who the department connected to a string of car thefts in the area.

While Tashawn did have on neon green shorts, the Bernards disagree that Tashawn’s grey shirt resembled the attire of the alleged suspect.

One cannot deny that Tashawn’s clothing had some similarities to the alleged suspect. However, one must distinguish carefully between harmless mistakes and harmful practices.

The practice of handcuffing children is harmful as is the practice of police officers drawing their guns on children. “The way they execute their duty is wrong,” Michael Bernard told WLNS 6 News, “plain wrong,” he continued.[1] Mr. Bernard disclosed to media outlets that the handcuffing incident traumatized Tashawn.

Evidence supports the plight of Mr. Bernard, as handcuffing has been shown to invoke feelings of fear, inferiority and anxiety in a child.[2]

Statistics Show Michigan Black Youth Are Disproportionately Arrested

The maltreatment Black youth are subjected to in Michigan is only a fraction of the community’s concerns. For instance, research shows Black youth are disproportionately funneled into criminal justice system. They also comprise of 75% of children arrested and make up most—if not all—the children referred to juvenile court.[3]

It is worth stating at this point that Tashawn’s experience is not an isolated incident in the US. Reports surfaced online that Volusia County Sheriffs placed an 11-year-old Florida girl in handcuffs after she made a false kidnapping report to 911. While the false report the young girl made to the sheriff’s dispatcher was a cause for alarm, sheriffs did not have to use restraints to teach the young girl “a lesson.”

In addition to the incidents above, reports indicate policing in Sacramento have become racialized. For instance, Sacramento police stereotyped a group of Black children as “ghetto” and used discriminatory words to suggest they have a general learning disability. After their discriminatory comments, Sacramento police handcuffed the 14-year-old boy.[4] An investigation found Sacramento police officers failed to document that police had the 14-year-old boy handcuffed for 27-minutes. Like many police departments, Sacramento does not have a policy that prohibits the handcuffing of minors.

United Nations Rules for the Protection of Juveniles Deprived of Their Liberty

Under the Havana Rules, instruments of restraint and force can only be used in exceptional cases.  Further, all other control methods must be exhausted and shown to fail before law enforcement can place a child in handcuffs. When police departments decide to place a child in restraints, their actions must be explicitly authorized and specified by law and regulation. As I have stated before, handcuffing a child must meet the rational connection test and the minimal impairment test.[5]

After reviewing footage of the Bernard incident, I am not convinced that the Lansing police officers’ actions met either test. First, Lansing officers did not exhaust other control methods. Even if Lansing police officers had done so, the footage unequivocally demonstrates that Tashawn was neither combative nor belligerent.

The United Nations makes clear that law enforcement officers cannot handcuff a child who poses no imminent threat of injury to themselves or others.[6]

If not combative nor belligerent, then Lansing police’s actions were not appropriate to achieve a proper purpose: inquiry into whether Tashawn was the suspect of the thefts.

The incidents above further raise the question as to whether American law enforcement’s handcuffing of children constitutes an unlawful attack on their reputation. After reviewing the Sacramento and Florida incidents, it is quite likely that the restraints used in those incidents rose to the level of humiliating and degrading treatment.[7] Such actions violate Article 16 (1) of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

State Parties, such as the US, must take all appropriate legislative and administrative measures to protect children from all forms of maltreatment.[8] In light of the ongoing violation on children rights, I renew my call for the US to ratify the CRC.

Sources Consulted

[1] WLNS 6 News. (2023). Father of boy in viral video reacts to son being detained. WLNS 6 News, retrieved August 11, 2023,

[2] Canada, Q. (2023). The Arbitrary Practice of Handcuffing US Children: Why Ratifying the UN Convention on the Rights of a Child is Crucial for Children Rights. Journey to the Center. Retrieved August 14, 2023.

[3] Fox 47 News (2023). Lansing community demands change after wrongful detainment of 12-year-old. Fox 47 News, retrieved from

[4] Clift, T. (2023). Sacramento police called kids ‘ghetto’ before handcuffing 14-year-old Black boy, The Sacramento Bee, retrieved July 25, 2023, available at

[5] Supra, note 2.

[6] Id.

[7] General Assembly (1990). Limitation of physical restrain and the use of force in United Nations Rules for the Protection of Juveniles Deprived of their Liberty, at para. 64. While paragraph 64 refers to incarcerated children, one should always remember that restraints should never be used to humiliate or degrade a child, as witnessed in the Florida and Sacramento incidents.

[8] Convention on the Rights of the Child, Article 19 (1)

From Hero to Villian: The Dark Side of Colorado Springs’ Automotive Repair Industry

From Hero to Villian: The Dark Side of Colorado Springs’ Automotive Repair Industry

From Hero to Villian: The Dark Side of Colorado Springs’ Automotive Repair Industry


My brother was subjected to predatory behavior by the mechanics known as Break Plus in Colorado, Springs Colorado. My brother strongly feels the predatory behavior of this mechanic had a racial element and I believe him. #predatory #mechanic #racism #unitedstates #blacktiktoks #blacktiktokcommunity #blacklivesmatter

♬ original sound – Quianna Canada
Quianna Canada talks about anti-black racism in US consumer services.

Drivers who have been on the road for a considerable period of time can easily identify the evident signal of a vehicle in need of an alignment: the steering wheel is off center when one drives straight; the vehicle pulls to the right or left side, and sometimes the steering wheel vibrates.

For many consumers in the US, taking a motor vehicle to a repair shop for an alignment is relatively cheap and can take all of twenty minutes. Unfortunately, countless consumers across the US consistently find themselves facing an enduring struggle for fair treatment when it comes to car servicing and repairs.

Just ask Mr. Xavier Nunn, who sought services from the Brakes Plus in Colorado Springs earlier this month, only to find that mechanics labored on coercing him into paying for additional services he never anticipated. “If you are in Colorado Springs—do not, I repeat do not—go to Brakes Plus on Eighth Street for an alignment,” warned Mr. Nunn, giving a narrative in frustration and disappointment to viewers on the social media platform TikTok.

Mr. Nunn visited the Brakes Plus on 740 Abbot Lane and sought an alignment and expected to pay no more than the advertised $89.00. He also assumed that Brakes Plus would provide him with accurate information regarding its services and that it would deal fairly with him at all stages of their business relationship.

Yet, the mechanics informed Mr. Nunn that an alignment could not be performed because the lower control arm bushing on his motor vehicle needed to be repaired. “We pride ourselves on quality repairs,” alleges Chad Dreiling, the manager at the Brakes Plus in Colorado Springs.

Dreiling alleges if they performed an alignment on Mr. Nunn’s vehicle without addressing the lower control arm problems first, they “would have been stealing money from him.”

While Mr. Nunn admits that his motor vehicle had axil problems in the past, his TikTok public service announcement discloses that he recently made repairs to the axil boot and other parts of the vehicle. He further disputes the claim that his motor vehicle had lower control arms problems, asserting that stealing his money is exactly what the mechanics at Brakes Plus attempted to do. “If you go off in there and try and get that $89.00 alignment and you’re Black, you gone come out with another problem in your vehicle—trust me,” Mr. Nunn warned to the community.

Research shows that costly automotive repairs are driving US consumers into a financial ditch. US automotive shops have been investigated for unauthorized and unnecessary repairs, theft of parts and vandalism to vehicles while in the shop’s care. These deceptive practices have spawned an Insider Edition hidden camera investigation into the automotive repair industry.

According to Insider Edition, investigators placed hidden cameras under the hood of the car and an Insider Edition sticker on the oil filter to see if mechanics would changed the filter. Despite a service station in Long Island charging investigators a $130.00 for an oil change and new filter, the mechanic never changed the filter.

While the owner of the shop did refund the investigators, claiming failure to perform the services promised was an honest mistake, footage illustrates the sticker had not been removed from the filter cap. Indeed, the presence of the sticker on cap illustrated that mechanics never replaced the filter.

From Hero to Villian: The Dark Side of Colorado Springs’ Automotive Repair Industry

Further, more than a dozen people in Colorado Springs reported they had lost money to an auto repair shop who didn’t perform the services on their vehicles as promised. Those grievances bring us to Brakes Plus, who is no stranger to the frequent remonstrations of consumers in the state of Colorado.

A Better Business Bureau archive on Brakes Plus reveal a slew of consumer concerns related to the auto repair shop, from deceptive practices to problems with products and services.

It is worth mentioning here that two June 2023 complaints filed with the BBB bears some similarity to Mr. Nunn’s concern. Based on the details of these complaints, the customers went into Brakes Plus for an alignment and left the shop with a host a problems the consumers assert wasn’t there before.

The Federal Trade Commission

When consumers find themselves in this predicament, some turn to the Federal Trade Commission for relief. The Federal Trade Commission’s mission is to enforce civil antitrust law and to promote consumer protection. Howbeit, the US Supreme Court has recently curtailed the powers of the Commission.

For example, in AMG Capital Management, LLC v. Federal Trade Commission, the federal court granted the Commission’s request for relief, finding AMG Capital Management violated § 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act’s prohibition against unfair or deceptive acts or practices in the area of commerce. AMG Capital Management appealed the decision to the Ninth Circuit who affirmed the lower court’s decision.

After the Ninth Circuit rendered its decision, AMG Capital Management appealed to the US Supreme Court, who ruled that § 13(b) of the Federal Trade Commission Act does not authorize the Commission to seek, nor allow a court to award equitable monetary relief such as restitution or disgorgement.[1] In other words, § 13(b) does not explicitly authorize the Commission to obtain court-ordered monetary relief on the behalf of consumers.[2]

The decision of the US Supreme Court propagated the 2021 Consumer Protection Recovery Act (H.R. 2668), to which authorizes the Federal Trade Commission to seek monetary relief in federal court from businesses that engage in unlawful commercial practices such as false advertising, consumer fraud, and anti-competitive conduct.[3]

That same year, the Office of Management and Budget for the Executive Office of the President applauded the bill, stating it would “require bad actors to return money earned through illegal activity” and allow the Federal Trade Commission “to seek both injunctive and monetary relief for consumers in Federal courts.”[4] Although the bill gained support in the House, the US Senate has yet to take legislative action on the bill to seal it into law.

The United Nations Guidelines for Consumer Protection

The purgatory state of H.R.2668 may violate international law. For example, the United Nations guidelines for consumer protection assists countries in maintaining adequate protection for their population as consumers.[5] It also assists countries, like the US, in curbing abusive business practices by all enterprises at the national and international levels which adversely affect consumers.[6]

Under the United Nations’ fair and equitable treatment principle, businesses like Brakes Plus, should deal fairly and honestly with consumers at all stages of their relationship. This principle is especially important for disadvantaged consumers[7] like Mr. Nunn.

More importantly, the United Nations’ commercial behavior principle states businesses, such as Brakes Plus, should not subject consumers to illegal, unethical, discriminatory or deceptive practices, such as improper behavior that may pose unnecessary risks or harm consumers[8]—as witnessed in Mr. Nunn’s TikTok video.

Brakes Plus and its mechanics have a responsibility to uphold consumer protection as an objective and should have due regard for the interests of all consumers, including Mr. Nunn.


[1] AMG Capital Management, LLC. V. Federal Trade Commission. (n.d.). Oyez. Retrieved August 13, 2023, from

[2] Id.

[3] H.R.2668 – Consumer Protection and Recovery Act (2021). Retrieved August 13, 2023, from

[4] Office of Management and Budget. (2021). Statement of Administration Policy: H.R. 2668 – Consumer Protection and Recovery Act. Executive Office of the President. Retrieved August 13, 2023, from

[5] United Nations. (2016). United Nations Guidelines for Consumer Protection. UNCTAD. Retrieved August 13, 2023, from

[6] Id.

[7] Id., p. 9, para. 11 (a).

[8] Id., p. 9, para. 11 (b).

Quianna Canada's TikTok: A Public Watchdog Account

Quianna Canada’s TikTok: A Public Watchdog Account


In her powerful TikTok videos, Quianna Canada fearlessly delves into the tragic deaths of asylum seekers within Ireland’s direct provision system. With unwavering candor, she exposes Ireland’s grave breaches of human rights obligations as outlined by the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), and various other international treaties.

Through her thought-provoking content, Quianna will shed light on the profound injustices faced by these vulnerable individuals seeking safety and protection in Ireland. Her passion for truth and accountability is evident as she emphasizes the urgent need for a thorough investigation into the deaths of asylum seekers within direct provision.

By bringing attention to this critical issue, Quianna compels viewers to address the systemic failures and disregard for human rights that perpetuate such devastating consequences. She calls for a comprehensive examination of Ireland’s treatment of asylum seekers, emphasizing the importance of holding the country accountable to its obligations under international law.

Quianna’s TikTok platform will serve as a catalyst for change, seeking to encourage individuals to reflect on their own role in advocating for justice and fairness. Her determined and unyielding voice hopes to amplify the voices of those who have been silenced, demanding answers, transparency, and compassion.

Through her commitment to shedding light on this pressing matter, Quianna fosters important discussions and prompts viewers to take meaningful action. In her concise and compelling videos, she urges us all to confront the uncomfortable truth about the deaths of asylum seekers under direct provision and offers a rallying cry for justice in pursuit of a more equitable society.

July 2023 Public Statement: Condemning Racial Profiling and Police Brutality Against African Americans

July 2023 Public Statement: Condemning Racial Profiling and Police Brutality Against African Americans

July 2023 Public Statement: Condemning Racial Profiling and Police Brutality Against African Americans

I am deeply concerned about the recent instances of racial profiling and police brutality targeting African Americans in the US. I condemn these acts of discrimination and violence, recognizing that they not only violate basic human rights but also contradict the principles enshrined in the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD).

The ICERD, a legally binding instrument ratified by the US in 1994, explicitly prohibits racial discrimination in all its forms. It emphasizes the equal rights and dignity of all individuals, irrespective of their race, color, descent, national or ethnic origin. It is disheartening to witness across social media platforms, the persistent instances where these principles are disregarded, leading to devastating consequences for marginalized communities, particularly African Americans.

We must acknowledge that these incidents are not isolated events but are indicative of systemic issues deeply rooted in society. Structural racism and biases have perpetuated a system that disproportionately affects African Americans, leading to unequal treatment, unjust arrests, and excessive use of force by law enforcement agencies.

In 2021, Los Angeles police tased documentarian Damien Smith in his home, mistaking him for a burglar. The next year body-worn camera footage show Paterson police shoot Khalif Cooper in his lower back, paralyzing him for life. Earlier this year, on June 2, 2023, Alabama police tased an unarmed African American to death after mistaking him for a burglar. Reports also surfaced this month that Northwoods police officer broke a man’s jaw with a baton, leaving him in Kinloch. Further, an American uploaded a video of a police officer giving him a warning because he was going 65 mph in a 70 mph speed limit.

Such practices erode trust between communities and the authorities, perpetuating a cycle of fear, discrimination, and violence. Indeed, the practices of racial profiling are raised with some regularity before the CERD Committee. General recommendation 31 urges State parties to take all necessary steps ‘to prevent questioning, arrests and searches which are in reality, based on the physical appearance of a person, that persons’ color or features or membership of a racial or ethnic group.’

The Committee further stated that racial or ethnic profiling against individuals of African descent (CERD/C/PAN/CO/15-20, para. 21) is regarded as dangerous in that it promotes racial prejudice or stereotypes (CERD/C/IRL/CO/3-4, para. 18).

As a Human Rights Defender committed to the promotion of equality, diversity, and inclusivity, I stand in solidarity with the African American community in the US and all those who have been victims of racial profiling and police brutality. I recognize the urgent need for immediate action to address these systemic challenges and create meaningful change.

To this end, I call upon the following actions:

1. Accountability and Transparency: Law enforcement agencies must be held accountable for any violations of human rights, including racial profiling and the use of excessive force. There should be transparent investigations into all incidents, and perpetrators must face appropriate legal consequences.

2. Training and Education: Comprehensive anti-racism and de-escalation training programs should be implemented for law enforcement officers to foster cultural sensitivity, emphasize human rights, and promote fair and unbiased practices. I further call upon the US to strongly consider implementing a new de-escalation unit in the nation.

3. Community Engagement: Officers must be willing to take the initiative to promote dialogue and foster trust between community members and law enforcement agencies They must also encourage open communication channels, establish community oversight mechanisms, and involve community leaders in shaping policing policies.

4. Policy Reforms: Advocate for the implementation of policies, such as repeal of the qualified immunity doctrine, that address systemic racism and bias within the criminal justice system. This further includes reviewing and revising policies such as stop-and-frisk, use of force, and racial profiling, with a focus on eliminating discriminatory practices.

5. Data Collection and Analysis: Allegations of police violence or misconduct haved trouble the Committee, who criticized the absence of independent monitoring mechanisms with powers to investigate complaints of misconduct. Therefore, I call on the US to enhance data collection on racial profiling incidents and use the information to monitor trends, identify areas of concern, and develop evidence-based policies and strategies to combat racial discrimination.

6. Collaborative Efforts: Encourage collaboration between government entities, civil society organizations, and community stakeholders to develop comprehensive strategies that tackle systemic racism, promote social justice, and ensure equal protection under the law for all.

I believe that it is our collective responsibility to address racial profiling and police brutality in order to build a more just, inclusive, and equitable society. Let us stand united against racism and discrimination, working hand in hand to create a future where fundamental human rights are respected, irrespective of one’s race or ethnicity.

For more information about July 2023 Public Statement: Condemning Racial Profiling and Police Brutality Against African Americans, please contact us here.

Unsafe Drinking Water Muddies the Water on US Human Rights

Unsafe Drinking Water Muddies the Water on US Human Rights

Unsafe Drinking Water Muddies the Water on US Human Rights

The impact of dwindling water supplies on humankind is evident worldwide.[1] Still, most presume that citizens of the United States live with close to universal access to potable water, sanitation, and safe drinking water.[2] While this is not true, I think the United States could do better. In the past, the American Society of Civil Engineers has given the United States a “C-” or below for wastewater infrastructure in their annual “Infrastructure Report Card[3] but I think the United States could improve its score.

Before we get to that, its important to state that The Natural Resources Defense Council released a report demonstrating the disproportionate impact on people of color posed by safe drinking water and clean water regulatory burdens which built on similar peer reviewed findings.[4] According to professors Mueller and Gasteyer, “clear household water access represents an ongoing environmental injustice in the United States.” Their research also found that millions of Americans live in counties where more than 1 out of 100 occupied households lack complete plumbing[5] and live in places with chronic Safe Drinking Water Act violations and Clean Water Act non-compliance.[6]

Access to Clean Water

The muddy water crisis in the United States is a growing concern for human rights activists. For example, organizations found Black and Hispanic individuals continue to be disproportionately affected by paying some of the highest water bills for unsafe water they cannot drink. Janene Yazzie, community activist, further asserts, the water crisis has become a public health, a rights, an equity, and a survival issue.

Is Access to Water a Human Right?

The Economic and Social Council has held “the human right to water is indispensable for leading a life in human dignity. It is a prerequisite for the realization of other human rights.”[7] The legal basis for the right to water is found in Article 11, paragraph 1, of the ICESCR. While the US has not ratified the ICESCR, it still has an obligation under A/RES/64/292. Additionally, the Council made clear the right to water is “…inextricably related to the right to the highest attainable standard of health (art. 12, para. 1) and the rights to adequate housing and adequate food (art. 11, para. 1).”[8] Here, the right to water, like any human right, imposes three types of obligations on the United States: the obligation to respect, protect and fulfill.[9] Unfortunately, the United States government has failed to take action. But I think frontrunners for the presidential race in 2024 can make clean water one of its campaign promises.

How Can the United States Raise its Score?

To raise the United States’ grade, it should develop and fund affordability programs to ensure that low-income and vulnerable communities do not bear a disproportionate burden of rate increases.[10] Lastly, the United States’ national water strategy and plan of action should be based on the principles of accountability, transparency and independence of the judiciary, since good governance is essential to the effective implementation of all human rights, including the realization of the right to water.[11]


[1] Niazi, T. (2008). Water Sources. International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences, 2nd edition. The Gale Group.

[2] Mueller, J. T., & Gasteyer, S. (2021). The widespread and unjust drinking water and clean water crisis in the United States. Nature Communications12(1)., p. 2.

[3] Infrastructure Report Card. (2021). United States. Available at:

[4] Supra, note 2, p. 2.

[5] Id, p. 5.

[6] Id.

[7] U.N. Economic and Social Council. (2003). The right to water (arts. 11 and 12 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights). E/C.12/2002/11

[8] Id., para. 3.

[9] Id., para. 20.

[10] Supra, note 3, p. 8.

[11] Supra, note 7, para. 49.

Is the Adoption of De-escalation Unit the Game-Changer in Eliminating US Police Brutality?

Is the Adoption of De-escalation Unit the Game-Changer in Eliminating US Police Brutality?

Is the Adoption of De-escalation Unit the Game-Changer in Eliminating US Police Brutality?

Police violence has reared its ugly head again across the US. With a significant increase in the number of lethal incidents and unarmed victims lost; communities have been left alone to process a devastating amount of grief that just won’t end.

Year 2022 was an insufferable year for American civilians—Mapping Police Violence (MPV) found—showing US police killed roughly 1,201 people.

The interactive tools on MPV show the rate of civilians killed by police in 2023 are dreadfully similar to the rate of 2022. During that year, Black Americans accounted for 26% of those killed by police. When you carefully consider the fact that Blacks represent 13% of the US population, most would agree the number of Blacks killed in police encounters is shocking.

MPV States 602 Civilians Have Been Killed By US Police

At the time of writing this article, US police have taken approximately 602 civilian lives. As reported by MPV, there have only been 11 days in 2023—since they last updated their website—where US police did not kill a civilian.

The data gathered by MPV further show Black people are more likely to be killed during police encounters. Terrifyingly, statistics indicate 95% of America’s largest police departments kill Black people at a higher rate. The citation of this statistic does not discount the killings of other civilians by police in the US. Indeed, lives taken at the hands of the police is deeply concerning for any group. To illustrate this point, one only need refer to the incident where an Orlando police shot and killed an unarmed man named Derek Diaz.

Most Killings With US Police Begin With Traffic Stops

Data further suggest most killings with US police begin with traffic stops, involve non-violent offenses and often transpire where no crime was alleged. This data takes shape in the recent killing of Diaz and the 2022 killing of Jayland Walker, a 25-year-old who Akron police officers shot following an attempted traffic stop and foot chase. Based on Erun Salam’s reporting, police officers can be seen firing more than 90 bullets at Walker, where he sustained 60 wounds.

As stated by MPV, nearly 33% of civilians killed by the police were either running away, driving away or otherwise try to flee. This converges with Pickett, et al.’s finding that “…many Americans find various types of interactions with police to be traumatic; they are afraid of those interactions occurring” and this “fear is a significant factor in their lives.” [1]

Evidence Indicates Black Americans Have Good Reason to Fear Police

We know Americans find interactions with police to be traumatic, which may be an indication that Black Americans have a good reason to fear law enforcement. For instance, Pickett, et al. found “…most Black respondents (58%) are either “afraid” or “very afraid” of being killed by the police.” The percentage recorded for other groups, such as White respondents, was markedly less.[2]

Strikingly, research showed 45% of Black respondents prefer to be robbed or burglarised than to be questioned by the police “without good reason.”[3] We must also take into account that such a percentage does not represent all Blacks. Certainly, there are Blacks, as well as other people, who rather not be robbed or burglarised. I know the people close to me, including myself who do not want to experience either.

“Too many people are dying. There is a dire need for de-escalation approaches in the US. A new de-escalation unit may just keep civilian lives safe.”


Even still, Pickett, et al. discovered that Blacks had a well-founded fear of police. Nearly 42% of Black respondents said they were “very afraid” that the police would kill them in the next five years compared with 11% of White respondents.[4] Such fear rings true for 37-year-old Jarrell Garris, who got caught in the cross-fire of these statistics and is now on life support at Westchester Medical Center after a New Rochelle police officer shot him. Police’s shooting of Garris preceded statements that he opened and ate food from a grocery store he did not pay for.

Is Shoplifting Now Punishable by Death in the US?

The shootings of civilians in search for food raises an important question as to whether shoplifting in now punishable by death in the US. In the past, I have condemned extreme punishments for minor theft offenses and called on the US to increase penalties for excessive or lethal use of force deployed by shop owners and law enforcement officers in shoplifting incidents.

I have also called on the US to raise awareness regarding excessive use of force and lethal violence dangers through public service announcements and other educational campaigns.


The US should prevent and most severely punish violence and all violations of human rights affecting Black Americans which are committed by State officials, particularly police officers.[5] It must also do the same for individuals like Diaz, who find themselves in the cross-fire. This recommendation further invokes the canon of supporting international standards regarding the conduct of State officials, including the general principle of proportionality and strict necessity in recourse of force. For instance, Canon 4 states “law enforcement officials, in carrying out their duty, shall, as far as possible, apply non-violent means before resorting to the use of force and firearms.”

Thus, my recommendations are as follows:


[1] 5 Pickett, et al.(2022). The American racial divide in fear of the police. Criminology. Volume 60, Issue 2, pp. 291-320. Available at: (at p. 295)

[2] Id., p. 303.

[3] Id., p. 310.

[4] Id.

[5] CERD. (n.d.). General Recommendations (A/60/18). Retrieved from

Vulnerable Victim Hypothesis: Addressing the Widespread Issue of Sexual Harassment

Vulnerable Victim Hypothesis: Addressing the Widespread Issue of Sexual Harassment

Vulnerable Victim Hypothesis: Addressing the Widespread Issue of Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment is a systemic and political problem because we live in a patriarchal society. Patriarchy is defined as a system of social, political, and economic structures and practices, in which men as a group/category govern, oppress, and exploit women as a group/category (Strida & Hearn, 2022).

The first idea that supports the argument that sexual harassment is a systemic issue rather than personal one is the vulnerable-victim hypothesis, which suggests that women in precarious positions who have the least workplace authority are subject to greater harassment. A proposition offered here is that when sexual harassment is reinforced through our political institutions, it relegates women to a class of vulnerability. Indeed, the failure of the law to offer women significant protections and equality undoubtedly places women in a tenuous position (Cushman, 2011) that go beyond what is perceived as personal.

The second idea that supports the argument that sexual harassment is a systemic issue is the power-threat model, which suggests that women who threaten men’s dominance are frequent targets of sexual harassment (McLaughlin, Uggen, & Blackstone, 2012). Assertive females are also seen as threatening the gender hierarchy (McLaughlin, Uggen, & Blackstone, 2012), as the patriarchal structure we currently live in gives imprimatur to men to keep women “in their place” (McLaughlin, Uggen, & Blackstone, 2012) through men’s harassing conduct. For example, men’s use of harassment and discrimination diminishes women employed in masculine occupations (McLaughlin, Uggen, & Blackstone, 2012).

To be sure, Fitzgerald (2017) found females in non-traditional jobs reported significantly greater subjective harassment by men. This finding was supported by McLaughlin, et al. (2012), who found females in predominantly male industries reported the same. Research on contrapower harassment further suggest that even when women possess greater organizational authority than the male harasser, her gender often imbues her male harasser with informal power (McLaughlin, Uggen, & Blackstone, 2012). Indeed, men’s sexual harassment of women in the workplace imposes a penalty upon women for “stepping out” of their traditional roles, and functions as a tool to enforce gender-appropriate behavior (McLaughlin, Uggen, & Blackstone, 2012).

Vulnerable Victim Hypothesis: Addressing the Widespread Issue of Sexual Harassment

Third, feminist studies have emphasized how men’s violence to known women can be understood as part of the system of structured power and oppression that constitutes patriarchy and patriarchal social relations (Strida & Hearn, 2022). This structured power is seen in Meritor Savings Bank v. Vinson, 477 U.S. 57 (1986), at the district court level, before the case made its way to the U.S. Supreme Court. For example, the lower court held Vinson engaged in “voluntary” conduct, which had nothing to do with her continued employment at the bank. Based on this argument, the district court found Vinson was not the victim of sexual harassment. Although the U.S. Supreme Court held the correct inquiry is not whether Vinson’s participation was voluntary, but whether her conduct indicated that the alleged sexual advances were unwelcome, the district court’s initial ruling demonstrates men’s treatment of women in the workplace wields phallic power gained through our patriarchal structure.

In the book, Because of Sex: One Law, Ten Cases, and Fifty Years That Changed American Women’s Lives at Work, feminist legal scholar Catharine MacKinnon offered two overarching principles that changed how the law viewed sexual harassment in the workplace. First, MacKinnon argued that the harassing conduct was “because of sex,” in that, the victim’s womanhood was the reason for the harassment (Thomas, 2016). Second, she argued that unwelcome sexual conduct directly—and adversely—affects the “terms, conditions or privileges” of a woman’s employment in a way that most men never had to experience (Thomas, 2016). Although opponents may contend that sexual harassment is personal rather than political, there is no way we can agree with this idea.

Patriarchy is thought to anchor the problem of violence against women in social conditions, rather than individual attributes (Strida & Hearn, 2022). This converges with the idea that sexual harassment in the workplace deals with society and its organizations, and how it legitimizes the behavior against women, rather than it being confined to an individual’s personal life. Indeed, the notion of patriarchy, as a system of violence, enables the theorizing of simultaneously existing structures of violence (e.g. sexual harassment), as an assemblage of multiple simultaneous overlapping systems (Strida & Hearn, 2022) that go beyond what is personal. That’s the big political problem of sexual harassment.

According to General Comment 19, CEDAW acknowledged that equality in employment can be seriously impaired when women are subjected to gender-specific violence, such as sexual harassment in the workplace. Furthermore, State parties should include in their reports information on sexual harassment, and on measures to protect women from sexual harassment and other forms of violence of coercion in the workplace (24)(j).


Cushman, C. (2011). Romantic Paternalism. In C. Cushman, Supreme Court decisions and women’s rights: Milestones to equality (p. 1.26).

CQ Press.Fitzgerald, L. F. (2017). Still the last great open secret: Sexual harassment. Journal of Trauma & Dissociation, 18(4), 483–489.

McLaughlin, H., Uggen, C., & Blackstone, A. (2012). Sexual Harassment, Workplace Authority, and the Paradox of Power. American Sociological Review, 77(4), 625–647.

Strida, S., & Hearn, J. (2022). Violence and Patriarchy. In L. R. Kurtz, Encyclopedia of violence, peace and conflict (pp. 319-327). London: Academic Press.

Thomas, G. (2016). In G. Thomas, Because of Sex: One Law, Ten Cases, and Fifty Years That Changed American Women’s Lives at Work. New York: St. Martin’s Press.

A Light Dimmed Too Soon: Honoring the Memory of Chanell Perez Ortiz

A Light Dimmed Too Soon: Honoring the Memory of Chanell Perez Ortiz

A Light Dimmed Too Soon: Honoring the Memory of Chanell Perez Ortiz

It happened again. But this time, it happened in Puerto Rico. Another trans woman trying to survive in this spine-chilling world; another trans woman murdered on US territory; another broken promise, and, more call-to-action lists that just keeps getting bigger as the days progress.

Her name was Chanell Perez Ortiz. She had pearly white teeth, a caramel complexion, and eyes that led one into a room where potential lies shelved on exhibition—from the love of pop culture to the art of styling lace frontal wigs. Ortiz was the amalgam of femenina.

There was not much on the internet about Perez’s upbringing; only that she was a cosmetologist and a “fashion nova” who adored hair and makeup.

Fashion, for some trans women, facilitates freedom of expression and brings trans women closer to realizing their right to life. Hair and makeup align trans women with their most authentic selves—bringing to life riveting art into human form.

At times, I let this undeniable truth decamp into criticism, “Why is the normative society expecting trans women to always appear in public with a full face of makeup and lace frontal wigs? Didn’t they know that not all trans women aspired to these patriarchal social conventions of beauty?” And this was the turning point for me, as I realized these aesthetics were: freedom.

Perez, like all human beings, are born free and equal in dignity and rights. This is a reference to Article 2 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and a guarantee to the people that all rights and freedoms outlined in the Declaration should be interpreted without distinction of any kind.

Regrettably, there are distinctions when it comes to transgenderism in Puerto Rico. For instance, trans women are judged to be an invisible and underserved group.[1] The invisibility of trans women in Puerto Rico’s social arena has potentially led to an escalation of violence against them.[2] This finding does not stand alone, as Ínaru Nadia de la Fuente Díaz said transgender people in Puerto Rico are “invisible in the eyes of the island” and this has contributed to a culture of violence.[3]

Between 2009 and 2011, Puerto Rico has seen 18 homicides against LGBT individuals.[4] While it is not immediately clear how many of these homicides were trans women, the number is still troubling. In 2012, a trans woman living in Carolina, Puerto Rico was stabbed to death in her home.[5] Then in 2020, this number increased: six trans people had been murdered. One of those deaths was Michelle Michellyn Ramos Vargas, a 33-year-old bartender and aspiring nurse. Based on the reporting of Assunção, Vargas was found dead on an isolated road in San Germán, Puerto Rico with multiple gun wounds to her body.[6]

It has been said that in Puerto Rico, the population places cultural value on adherence to polarized and rigid definitions of gender and sexuality.[7] Moreover, evidence seems to suggest that intolerance toward transgender people in Puerto Rico is rooted in religious heritage. Although the study conducted by Rodriquez-Madera does not explore all forms of violence, she did find the high levels of stigma toward socially marginalized and vulnerable populations were connected to religious beliefs.[8]

Again, there does not seem to be much online about Ortiz or if her murder was religiously motivated. What I do know is that human rights activists have seen a rise in attacks on trans women in the last couple of years.  

Based on the research I have been conducting, the continued verbal attacks on trans women have come from groups of individuals from both sides of the aisle. Some of these attacks are coming from public figures who are set in their beliefs about trans women. In the words of Bernard Baruch, “Every man has a right to his opinion, but no man has a right to be wrong in his facts.”

This is exactly how I hear the opinions about trans women; everyone has a right to them but not to their own set of facts. On the other side of the coin, I think most humans would agree that no person has the right to arbitrarily take a life, even if the life being taken is a trans life.[9]

I hope that the Puerto Rican government exercises its due diligence to effectively investigate, prosecute and punish the perpetrators responsible for Ortiz’s death, and to utilize the hate crime laws it enacted in 2002 to protect individuals like Ortiz from further violence on the bases of their gender identity and sex characteristics.[10] This could make Puerto Rico a safer place.

[1] Rodríguez-Madera, Sheilla L et al. “Experiences of Violence Among Transgender Women in Puerto Rico: An Underestimated Problem.” Journal of homosexuality vol. 64,2 (2017): 209-217. doi:10.1080/00918369.2016.1174026

[2] Id., p. 2.

[3] Cohen, Christopher Brito Li. “Transgender People in Puerto Rico Say They Are Invisible in the Eyes of the Island – and It’s Contributing to a Culture of Violence.” CBS News, 2 Sept. 2021,

[4] Supra., footnote 1, p. 3.

[5] “Transgender Murder 30th Anti-LGBTQ Homicide in Puerto Rico in Decade – Windy City Times News.” Windy City Times, 23 Oct. 2012,

[6] Assunção, Muri. “Another Transgender Woman Fatally Shot in Puerto Rico – the 6th Killing of a Trans Person This Year in the U.S. Territory.” Nydailynews.Com, 30 Sept. 2020,

[7] Supra, footnote 1.

[8] Id., p. 2.

[9] Principle 4 of the Yogakarta Principles: No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of life, including by reference to consideration of gender identity.

[10] United Nations. “Born Free and Equal – Un Human Rights Office.” OHCHR, 2019,

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