Tag Archives: Criminal Justice & State Violence

Switzerland Research | Black

Countering Racism in Switzerland

Following an uptick in reports of prejudice, harassment, and discrimination over the last decade, several Swiss federal agencies and civil organizations have undertaken research to outline the prevalence and dimensions of racism, discrimination, and racial prejudice in the country, focusing on the ways in which cultural, political, and administrative practices marginalize people of color and exclude them from conceptions of Swiss national identity. Anti-black racism has emerged as a phenomenon of particular concern, ranging from everyday prejudice and harassment to discrimination in housing, employment, policing, and access to public accommodations and services. The continuing growth of Switzerland’s Afro-descendant population—having doubled over the last decade to some 100,000 people—has made countering racism a priority in the integration of new generations of residents, and experts have begun issuing recommendations including increased service provision, media representation, anti-profiling measures, and data collection.


Recommandations sur le thème du racisme anti-Noirs en Suisse (Federal Commission Against Racismin French | December 2017)

Incidents racistes recensés par les centres de conseil (Federal Commission Against Racismin French | April 2017)

Rapports sur la discrimination raciale en Suisse (Federal Department of Home Affairs, in French | 2012-2016)


Racism in Switzerland: ‘People of colour are automatically perceived as foreigners’” (The Local | January 2018)


Myanmar News | Rohingya Muslims

Evidence of Rohingya massacre by security forces deepens crisis in Myanmar
  • The Associated Press uncovered evidence of a military-led mass killing of a Rohingya community in late August that left at least 75 and as many as 400 dead.
  • The report detailed documentary evidence of at least five mass graves in and near the village of Gu Dar Pyin along with videos and survivor reports of acid use to attempt to cover up the massacre.
  • While the Burmese government insists it is only targeting “terrorists” and denies mass killings, the international community is facing growing pressure to declare ongoing state violence against the Rohingya a genocide.

AP finds evidence for graves, Rohingya massacre in Myanmar” (The Associated Press | February 2018)

Evidence of Rohingya mass graves uncovered in Myanmar” (Al Jazeera | February 2018)

Myanmar denies report of new mass graves in Rakhine” (Reuters | February 2018)

Libya Feature | Black African Migrants

The Resurgence of Black Enslavement in Libya

Source: CNN/YouTube (November 2017)

As a byproduct of ongoing trans-Mediterranean mass migration by sub-Saharan African migrants and refugees, human trafficking in Libya has surged as smugglers extort and exploit migrants in search of passage to Europe. Reports of imprisonment, forced labor, human markets, financial extortion, physical abuse, and the denial of access to basic necessities like food and water involving black African migrants tell the tale of lawlessness and extreme vulnerability in the war-torn country.

With the E.U. pushing the largely disempowered Libyan government to crack down on migrants using its coast as a point of departure for Europe, poorly run detention centers have sprung up with little oversight to prevent migrants from attempting the trans-Mediterranean passage (where more than 10,000 have died since 2014). Corruption among detention officials, inertia in the repatriation process, and poor international coordination have resulted in some of the detained being leased out for day labor or sold to work on farms and in businesses instead of returned to their countries of origin. Global outrage has led to emergency meetings in multiple international organizations, but a long-term solution to the crisis remains elusive.


Slavery in Libya: Life inside a container” (Al Jazeera | January 2018)

Migrant slavery in Libya: Nigerians tell of being used as slaves” (BBC News | January 2018)

IOM Learns of ‘Slave Market’ Conditions Endangering Migrants in North Africa” (International Organization for Migration | April 2017)


Libya slavery scandal overshadows EU-Africa summit (Al Jazeera | November 2017)

‘Slave markets’ in Libya trap migrants heading for Europe (euronewsvia YouTube | April 2017)

Libya’s Migrant Trade (VICE News | September 2015)

Ghana Research | LGBT

The Ongoing Insecurity of LGBT Ghanaians

Source: Human Rights Watch/YouTube (January 2018)

A relatively stable constitutional democracy, Ghana has seen the beginnings of official outreach to its LGBT citizens in recent years as it has signed on to pro-LGBT international accords and treaties, but new research from Human Rights Watch (HRW) reveals ongoing persecution and gender-based vulnerabilities. Though rarely enforced, a law criminalizing same-sex relations that emerged from the country’s colonial legacy has led to the political and corporal endangerment of LGBT Ghanaians, exposing them to intimidation, violence, fears of public exposure, and little to no recourse to law enforcement protection. Lesbians, bisexual women, and trans men have faced especially high levels of violence and labor precarity, and anti–domestic violence laws have done little to protect them given the lack of trust in the legal system. In response, HRW conducted interviews with LGBT Ghanaians to track insecurity across a range of social, legal, and economic domains and issued a set of recommendations to improve protections for the community.


‘No Choice but to Deny Who I Am’: Violence and Discrimination against LGBT People in Ghana” (Human Rights Watch | January 2018)


‘One guy took a cutlass’: gay women at greater risk of violence in Ghana” (The Guardian | January 2018)


Solace Initiative

Israel News | African Asylum-seekers

Israel announces deportation plan for tens of thousands of African asylum-seekers
  • Some 40,000 African asylum-seekers—many activists and other dissidents from Sudan and Eritrea—are facing expulsion or imprisonment in Israel, with fewer than 1% of applicants having been granted refugee status.
  • The Israeli government announced that asylum-seekers will have 90 days to accept $3,500 and a plane ticket to a classified third country (speculated to be Rwanda or Uganda) or face incarceration.
  • In response, a network of more than a hundred rabbis called the Anne Frank Home Sanctuary Movement has formed and pledged to protect asylum-seekers from deportation.

Israel to tell African migrants: leave or face indefinite imprisonment” (The Guardian | January 2018)

Mass expulsion under way as Israel begins deporting 40,000 Africans” (Middle East Eye | January 2018)

Inspired by Anne Frank, Rabbis in Israel Plan to Hide African Asylum Seekers Facing Deportation” (Haaretz | January 2018)

Read More

Inside Israel’s Secret Program to Get Rid of African Refugees” (Foreign Policy | June 2017)


The Hotline for Refugees and Migrants

U.S. Research | Incarcerated Black & Latinx

Mixed Optimism in New U.S. Incarceration Statistics

Racial and ethnic disparities in incarceration in the U.S. have long been the target of research, with the gaps an indicator of the effects of unevenly policed populations and legacies of bondage, segregation, and criminalization. Nevertheless, the difference in rates of incarceration in federal and state prisons between groups has shrunk, and criminal justice reform advocates hope that the last decade has been an indication of a turning of the tide towards de-incarceration and the decriminalization of communities of color.

New data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics continue to enliven those hopes as they show continuing gains in 2016 in the wake of the incarceration apex in 2009, and analysts have begun offering a number of reasons for the tightening numbers, including changes in drug-related law enforcement and an increased focus on sex crimes. However, disparities at the the juvenile level have widened, and advocates and researchers continue to worry over the growth of contributing phenomena including the school-to-prison pipeline.

1,458,173 (2016) vs. 1,553,574 (2009)

Total number of prisoners (decrease of 6%)

486,900 (2016) vs. 584,800 (2009)

Number of black prisoners (decrease of 17%)

339,300 (2016) vs. 341,200 (2009)

Number of Latinx prisoners (decrease of <1%)

439,800 (2016) vs. 490,000 (2009)

Number of white prisoners (decrease of 10%)

33% (black) vs. 23% (Latinx) vs. 30% (white)

Percentage of prison population by race/ethnicity

12% (black) vs. 16% (Latinx) vs. 64% (white)

Percentage of overall population by race/ethnicity

1,604 (black) vs. 856 (Latinx) vs. 274 (white)

Number of incarcerated people per 100,000 adults in racial/ethnic group


Prisoners in 2016 (Bureau of Justice Statistics | January 2018)


The gap between the number of blacks and whites in prison is shrinking” (Pew Research Center | January 2018)

A Mass Incarceration Mystery” (The Marshall Project | December 2017)

Black Disparities in Youth Incarceration” (The Sentencing Project | September 2017)

Mass Incarceration: The Whole Pie 2017” (The Prison Policy Initiative | March 2017)

There’s been a big decline in the black incarceration rate, and almost nobody’s paying attention” (The Washington Post | February 2016)

Afghanistan Feature | Women

The Invasive “Virginity Tests” of Afghanistan

Despite its condemnation by international medical experts as scientifically unsound and official promises to ban the procedure, healthcare and judicial systems in Afghanistan have continued to rely on abusive assessments of sexual activity in women accused or suspected of extramarital sex. The potential social catastrophe that could result from a positive result has led to the development of a black market of so-called hymen reconstruction, which has led to further health insecurity for women who undergo the procedure. Even the administration of the test can bring social shame to those subjected to it, leading to poor outcomes in education and employment as well as a contracting social network. Afghanistan is far from the only country in which the tests continues, and globalized efforts to end the gender-discriminatory practice have encountered mixed success in changing deeply rooted cultural norms.


The shame of Afghanistan’s virginity tests” (BBC News | December 2017)

Despite Ban, Invasive Virginity Tests Remain Prevalent in Afghanistan” (The New York Times | January 2017)


Here’s Everything You Need To Know About ‘Virginity Tests’” (BuzzFeed News | November 2017)