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  • Author: Joey White
  • Publication Date: 01-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center on Human Rights Education, University of Denver
  • Abstract: Our sister organization, Human Trafficking Center (HTC) are the experts on the matter of human trafficking and use academic rigor, sound methodology, and reliable data to promote understanding of human trafficking and its causes, conditions, and cures. In a recent blog, HTC defines the connection between trafficking and migration: “Trafficking is migration gone terribly wrong.” – David Feingold. These words given by David Feingold in his piece Trafficking in Numbers: The Social Construction of Human Trafficking Data give a whole new insight into what human trafficking is, what realms human trafficking occurs within, and how human trafficking happens. Indeed, human trafficking and migration are inextricably linked. Human trafficking is heavily influenced by migration. Any policies regarding one have a tremendous effect on the other. This is why it is so vital to examine immigration policies and take into account what impacts they will have in the anti-trafficking sphere, particularly in today’s political climate.”
  • Topic: Human Rights, Migration, Immigrants, Human Trafficking
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Cat Galley
  • Publication Date: 03-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center on Human Rights Education, University of Denver
  • Abstract: This year, The Center on Human Rights Education chose the theme of DISPLACEMENT to investigate and research in the context of human rights. To begin under this theme, we began with homelessness and evolved into immigration. We focused on homelessness in the context of the Denver-metro area and the state of Colorado. Immigration held a national focus during the winter quarter. In the spring, COHRE will investigate into the topic of refugees and displacement. Throughout the Fall Quarter, the connections between displacement and homelessness came to be understood. On a more national scale, in 2013, there were approximately 610,042 homeless individuals. This number includes US citizens, immigrants, and refugees.
  • Topic: Human Rights, Immigrants, Displacement, Homelessness
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Elizabeth Kirchhoff
  • Publication Date: 01-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center on Human Rights Education, University of Denver
  • Abstract: We are living in a tremendously important time in history, and the decisions being made by our social, economic, and political leaders today will go on to affect the trajectory of our societies for generations. With this in mind, the protection and promotion of human rights are even more crucial. And yet, while the Trump Administration’s cabinet already contains many problematic figures, Trump’s choice for U.S. Secretary of Labor is especially disturbing. Simply put, from a human rights perspective, there are many reasons why the Trump Administration’s nomination of Andrew Puzder as U.S. Secretary of Labor is the wrong choice.
  • Topic: Human Rights, Labor Issues, Domestic politics, Socioeconomics
  • Political Geography: United States, North America
  • Author: Kushagra Pokhrel
  • Publication Date: 01-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center on Human Rights Education, University of Denver
  • Abstract: Facing international criticism, in 2015, Qatar promulgated a new law regulating treatment of migrant workers – replacing the old Kafala (Sponsorship) system which tied the employment, as well as the immigration status, of a migrant worker to his or her employer. The Kafala system, which allowed the sponsor (often the worker’s employer) full control over a worker’s entrance and exit from Qatar, as well as their ability to transfer employment while in the country, was routinely accused of generating conditions of extreme worker abuse, including that of Forced Labor. Having been in effect since December 2016, the new Public Law No. 21 of 2015 does not, however, protect workers from the most serious abuses that came to typify Qatar’s construction industry as well as other low paying labor sectors. While the language has been altered – using the word Recruiter, instead of Sponsor as done previously – and there are modest alterations on job transfer and exit requirements, the new law, nonetheless, keeps the most exploitative features of old system largely intact. Under Article 8, it is still incumbent upon the Recruiter to acquire Residency Permit for its employees, with no consequences for the Recruiter for a failure to do so. Many laborers previously living under risk of deportation due to lack of Residency Permits find their situation unchanged under the new law.
  • Topic: Human Rights, Migration, Labor Issues, Migrant Workers
  • Political Geography: Qatar, Persian Gulf
  • Author: Morgan McDonald
  • Publication Date: 02-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center on Human Rights Education, University of Denver
  • Abstract: According to Article 19 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference, and impart information and ideas through any media regardless of frontiers”, meaning that freedom of expression is guaranteed globally by international human rights laws. Therefore, journalists and news sources are, or rather, should be protected by these international laws to form opinions and report stories to share publicly. Both globally and nationally freedom of the press is threatened daily as journalists and news outlets are continually reprimanded for their reporting. In the US, journalists and the media are protected by the First Amendment, a right that allows individuals and institutions to freely report and present the news. This freedom of the press is essential to a democracy, contributing to a transparent, accountable government, giving the press the right to produce high-quality stories, without fear of retribution from the government. But what does this mean for the responsibility of journalists and what role does, or should, the government play in this freedom of the press?
  • Topic: Human Rights, United Nations, Journalism, Freedom of Press
  • Political Geography: United States, North America
  • Author: Fawn Bolak
  • Publication Date: 02-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center on Human Rights Education, University of Denver
  • Abstract: Last September, thousands of incarcerated individuals in the United States launched an organized protest on the 45th anniversary of the Attica Prison Uprising, in an effort to protest racial discrimination, excessive force, and demand an end to the current state of legalized slavery within the U.S. prison system. Across the nation, prisoners in state and federal correctional facilities are exploited for their labor in industries related to agriculture, clothing production, machinery, and technology. While prison officials who strike up deals with large corporations like AT&T and Walmart share in the profits of cheap production, the incarcerated laborers themselves make mere cents per hour for full time work. Additionally, those locked up in federal institutions, who are physically capable of full time work, are mandated to do so as prescribed by Title 29 of the Crime Control Act of 1990. Over 2 million people are currently incarcerated in the United States, making the U.S. the #1 jailer in the world, surpassing Cuba, Russia, and China. Moreover, inmates in the U.S. are disproportionately people of color. According data from the Sentencing Project, black men are incarcerated at a rate 5.1 times the rate of white men, and in 12 states, predominately in the south and east coast, more than 50% of the total state prison population is black. There is a prevailing conservative narrative that asserts that the disproportionate incarceration of black individuals in our criminal justice system is a product of a “culture of violence” centered in “inner cities” and predominately black neighborhoods, rather than a product systemic institutional racism. However, a quick glance at U.S. history indicates that the mass incarceration of black men, current use of exploitative prison labor, and our past economic system built on slavery, is not a mere coincidence.
  • Topic: Human Rights, Race, Labor Issues, Prisons/Penal Systems, Slavery
  • Political Geography: United States, North America
  • Author: Joanna Beletic
  • Publication Date: 02-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center on Human Rights Education, University of Denver
  • Abstract: US economic strategy has been rooted in the belief that the benefits of liberal policies outweigh the associated growing pains. The new Administration’s stance on dismantling trade deals will have a ripple effects throughout society. Global trade has allowed lower income consumers in the US to purchase cheaper goods. Goods are now produced across the globe; without trade deals the costs of inputs needed for US exports will increase, threatening US competitiveness. As global consumers purchase products elsewhere this may lead to further job loss and economic destabilization. Therefore, liberalized trade is fundamental to the US economy. From the get-go liberal economic strategy should have been coupled with efforts to redistribute the benefits to counter the impact on the ‘losers’. This is where the US has failed. There is not only an economic need but a rights obligation to tackle these challenges. Across the aisle ideas have included: the implementation of apprenticeship programs, fortifying workers’ unions, and worker relocation assistance. Hilary Clinton’s plan was rooted in the creation of a clean energy economy in locations that were previously manufacturing heavy, including infrastructure expansion and job training. None of these options have managed to pick up steam because none of them are easy and none of them act as a ‘cure-all’. What is needed is a thorough discussion on how to utilize a combination of such strategies. The Trump Administration introduced an easy solution: bring back exported jobs. Sadly, it is unrealistic for several reasons. First, many manufacturing jobs are not exported, rather disappear due to increases in automatization. Further, as companies consolidate, jobs are often relocated within the US rather than abroad.
  • Topic: Human Rights, Labor Issues, Employment, Labor Rights
  • Political Geography: United States, North America
  • Author: Claudia Castillo
  • Publication Date: 02-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center on Human Rights Education, University of Denver
  • Abstract: Colorado’s need for a flexible labor force capable of surging during certain seasons without creating a significance increase in the immigrant population is the crux of the problem for the state. The realization that there may be trafficked laborers into forced labor on Colorado farms is not a novel idea but the difficulty of obtaining evidence that proves to what extent these human rights violations occur has proven to be extremely challenging. With such a huge population of undocumented agricultural laborers and the lack of oversight throughout Colorado, one can only surmise that violations of the Colorado immigration, human trafficking and forced labor laws implemented in 2006 exist. The lack of research and data of Colorado’s agricultural labor force coupled with the scarce numbers of prosecuted human trafficking and forced labor cases in the agricultural sector is not indicative that the problem does not exist; it just makes the argument for developing a research initiative to determine the extent of the problem. It is not enough to extrapolate human trafficking and forced labor data from national reports or adjacent states to try and identify Colorado’s level of trafficking and forced labor activity in the agriculture sector.
  • Topic: Agriculture, Human Rights, Labor Issues, Labor Rights
  • Political Geography: United States, North America, Colorado
  • Author: Elizabeth Kirchhoff
  • Publication Date: 04-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center on Human Rights Education, University of Denver
  • Abstract: How would you know if you met a victim of human trafficking? Would you know what to do? Human trafficking is a form of modern slavery where human beings are recruited and forced to work through abuse of power, coercion, intimidation, or other means, and effects every nation in the world. According to a recent report from the anti-trafficking organization, the Polaris Project, more than 21 million people are victims of human trafficking today, who are often hidden “in plain sight,” in many different industries—including agriculture, prostitution, domestic work, prisons, restaurants, hotels, and construction. And while the statistics on modern slavery in the United States and globally continues to be reliably grim, there are actually many ways—large and small—to combat it.
  • Topic: Human Rights, Trafficking , Slavery, Human Trafficking
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Joey White
  • Publication Date: 04-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center on Human Rights Education, University of Denver
  • Abstract: ver the past 20 years, marijuana talk has been a hot subject for law makers in the United States with 21 states decriminalizing marijuana, 29 allowing medical marijuana, and 8 states having legalized the recreational use of cannabis products. Illinois may be next to join the ranks of recreational marijuana, as lawmakers have introduced a bill late last month proposing the legalization of recreational cannabis. Based on sales trends in Colorado, it is estimated that for Illinois, legal cannabis could generate between $350 million to $700 million per year in revenue.
  • Topic: Human Rights, Finance, Drugs, Marijuana
  • Political Geography: United States, North America
  • Author: Fawn Bolak
  • Publication Date: 04-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center on Human Rights Education, University of Denver
  • Abstract: According to data taken from the Turkish Ministry of Interior Affairs in 2014, within a three-year span, 134,629 individuals under the age of 18 were legally married in Turkey, with underage girls disproportionately accounting for 128,866 of this total. This figure states that 14% of marriages in Turkey involve an individual who is underage. However, the information presented may not be an accurate representation of the scale of the issue, since many child marriages are not legally registered, but occur as religious ceremonies. Taking into account these religious marriages, a 2013 report from Gaziantep University estimated number of child marriages in Turkey is much closer to 37%, and in some rural regions of the country, the rate may be as high as 60%. This study also found that 82% of child brides in Turkey are illiterate. Researcher Dr. Erhan Tunç suggests that the trend in child marriages is occurring as a result of a lack of education and severe religious views.
  • Topic: Human Rights, Religion, Child Marriage, Marriage
  • Political Geography: Europe, Turkey, Asia
  • Author: Rougi Toure
  • Publication Date: 04-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center on Human Rights Education, University of Denver
  • Abstract: Recently with the sinking of the migrant boat off the coast of Greece, or the deceased of the Syrian child refugee on the beach of Turkey has us questioning how to tackle the refugee crisis. Deriving from the Refugee Convention of 1951, it states that a refugee is an individual “owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality, and is unable to, or owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country.”
  • Topic: Human Rights, Migration, Diaspora, Immigration, Refugees
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Elizabeth Kirchhoff
  • Publication Date: 04-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center on Human Rights Education, University of Denver
  • Abstract: Gender affects all of us, from the clothes we wear to the way we speak. But where does gender come from, and how does it affect our behavior as human beings over the course of a lifetime? More specifically, how does gender effect human behavior in relation to conflict? According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, gender is defined as, “the state of being male or female.” This said, it is easy to see how gender plays out in everyday life. The male gender, for example, has over time developed into a generalized stereotype characterized by aggression, action, expression, and domination, while the female gender has developed into an equally extreme and opposite stereotype of compliance, passivity, silence, and submission. And yet while we can observe the effects of these constructions on our lives, it is important to keep in mind that gender is socially and culturally constructed, and this means it changes over time and place and that each individual contributes to its ever-changing characterization. From this perspective, is is easy to find examples of how contemporary civilizations continually reinforce “gender norms,” and how this conditioning has serious implications for humanity and conflict overall. For example, according to a recent research study analyzing gender differences in toy design organized by the National Association for the Education of Young Children, “…girls’ toys were associated with physical attractiveness, nurturing, and domestic skill, whereas boys’ toys were rated as violent, competitive, exciting, and somewhat dangerous.” ¹ In this way, we can see that gender expectations are enforced from very young ages, and that this process of socialization goes on to have long-term effects for everyone, especially where conflict is concerned. While some may declare that there are no gender-based differences in life of conflict, whether in the workplace, academia, or physical behavior, extensive research shows that quite the opposite is true. For instance, gender differences in workplace behavior are well-documented, as where one psychological study explains, “…meta-analysis shows that men are more aggressive than women and finds that this sex difference is more pronounced for physical than psychological aggression.” ² Could it be that cultural reinforcements of male gender expectations such as physical violence and competition are responsible for this disparity?
  • Topic: Gender Issues, Human Rights, Conflict, Social Order
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Kate Morgan
  • Publication Date: 04-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center on Human Rights Education, University of Denver
  • Abstract: ince his rise to power in 2012, President Xi Jinping has cracked down on human rights lawyers, activists, and NGO actors. There have been multiple police raids, with one of the main targets being the Fengrui Law Firm in Beijing, which employs lawyers that are know to take on cases involving human rights activists. The most famous cases that arose from the Fenrui Law Firm were when they defended the dissident artist Ai Weiwei; Ilham Tohti, the Uighur academic sentenced to life in prison last year on charges of separatism; and Cao Shunli, a human rights campaigner who died after being denied medical care while in custody.
  • Topic: Human Rights, Political Activism, NGOs, Police
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Author: Jo Beletic
  • Publication Date: 04-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center on Human Rights Education, University of Denver
  • Abstract: The Brazilian prison population is growing faster than that of any other country. The justice system is staggering from its inability to fund prison development and address in a timely manner the custody hearings necessary. From 2005 to 2012 UNDP reported a 74 percent increase in Brazil’s prison population. Youth, those between the ages of 18 and 24, are the most imprisoned people and Brazilians of African descent are 1.5 times more likely to be imprisoned than others in the country. Interestingly, there has been a 70 percent increase in the imprisonment of men and a 146 percent in that of women. The increase in arrests has been to a large extent due to charges related to drug distribution. Brazil has the 4th largest prison population in the world; according to the Institute for Criminal Policy Research its occupancy level is currently 153.9 percent. In country-ran jails, there is an average of 680,000 inmates in prisons designed for 300,000. In extreme cases, such as Curado in Pernambuco, the prisons are reported to hold close to 7,000 prisoners in facilities designed for 1,800. The conditions that result are unhealthy and inhumane, violating both Brazilian and International law.
  • Topic: Crime, Human Rights, Prisons/Penal Systems, Youth
  • Political Geography: Brazil, South America
  • Author: Matthew T. Klick
  • Publication Date: 04-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center on Human Rights Education, University of Denver
  • Abstract: In recent months, the experience of Latin America’s LGBT community has come under renewed focus by myriad outlets. Perhaps somewhat surprising, much of the attention is positive – lauding new legislation or advancements in LGBT rights and policy across the region. But the achievements of some countries obscure a darker reality – an ongoing popular intolerance, evidence by hate crimes across the region. Indeed, the region has seen a wave – the so-called “rainbow tide” in fact – of progressive policies, lending an outward sense of LGBT tolerance, and even hemispheric leadership. Argentina, under Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, legalized same-sex marriage (2010), and more progressively yet, passed legislation that allowed individuals to change their names and gender identity on official documents without seeking court approval first. Chile has since approved its Agreement for Civil Union law, which grants same-sex partners identical rights regarding property, finances and health care as heterosexual couples. Progressive laws and policy have similarly swept Uruguay (the world’s most gay-friendly country according to some), Costa Rica, Colombia and Mexico. These advances take place despite the ongoing influence of the Catholic Church, and increasingly, an ardently conservative Evangelical movement throughout the region. Such gains should not be dismissed lightly. Unfortunately, however, the above gains have been matched by a spike in hate crimes, and attacks on prominent LGBT leaders. Six of the top eight countries in murders of transgender people are in Latin America (India and the U.S. are the others). In per capita terms, Honduras dominates all comers, but again the region as a whole is disproportionately represented, appearing in 12 of the top 13 spots. In Argentina, which has arguably been most lauded for its progressiveness, vocal trans activist Diana Sacayán was violently murdered. In a stunning turn, her death was the third transgender killing in Argentina that month, following the stabbings of Marcela Chocobar and Coty Olmos. Sao Paolo Police, meanwhile, brazenly, and viciously, beat Veronica Bolina beyond recognition, while she was in custody. These events, though gruesome and tragic, do not necessarily represent a systemic backlash by society. In other countries of the region, however, it is yet more dangerous still to openly identify as LGBT.
  • Topic: Human Rights, Discrimination, Violence, LGBT+, Sexuality
  • Political Geography: Latin America, North America
  • Author: Eli Banghart
  • Publication Date: 04-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center on Human Rights Education, University of Denver
  • Abstract: The human rights laws in the realm of rape within the United States have come under higher scrutiny recently. Perhaps most notably, the case of pop-singer Kesha (formerly known as Ke$ha, real name Kesha Rose Seibert) against producer Dr. Luke. The singer wishes to be released from her contract that requires six albums with Dr. Luke’s work featured in at least six songs per album. An appeal for a legal injunction was denied on 19 February 2016, striking rallying movements under the #FreeKesha tagline and an outpouring of celebrity support. This case’s impact has moved beyond Kesha, in her own words, turning into a movement against staying silent towards abusers.
  • Topic: Gender Issues, Human Rights, Reform, Sexual Violence
  • Political Geography: United States, North America
  • Author: Kate Morgan
  • Publication Date: 04-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center on Human Rights Education, University of Denver
  • Abstract: In the United States modern prison industrial complex (PIC), there are about 2 million inmates, marking the U.S. as the largest prison population in the world and the second highest incarceration rate per capita. The U.S. has 25% of the world’s prison population, but only 5% of the world’s population. With historical roots involved in using inmates as labor for agriculture, textiles, and other manufactured goods, this practice still continues by means of privatizing labor. Under the 13th amendment, forced labor is legally allowed when a person is imprisoned. Prisoners will never have “family emergencies”, ask for a pay raise, or refuse work without the threat of solitary confinement. This makes them the ideal economically conservative employee. Private companies and organizations will lease work out to prisons, and the prisons will then use their inmates to perform the needed work, whether it be mining, agricultural work, making military weapons, or making garments and clothing for Victoria’s Secret. The pay grade for an inmate doing this work can range from nothing to $3 per hour varying per state, with Texas and Georgia legally not having to pay anything to their inmates/employees.
  • Topic: Human Rights, Privatization, Labor Issues, Prisons/Penal Systems, Manufacturing
  • Political Geography: United States, North America
  • Author: Melissa Rary
  • Publication Date: 04-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center on Human Rights Education, University of Denver
  • Abstract: With effects of climate change becoming more prominent, it is important to examine what climate change will mean in terms of human rights and the impact on the most vulnerable populations. The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights emphasizes “increasing frequency of extreme weather events and natural disasters, rising sea-levels, floods, heat waves, droughts, desertification, water shortages, and the spread of tropical and vector-borne diseases” as a few of the many adverse effects resulting from climate change. Moreover, these issues threaten the enjoyment of the most basic rights including right to life, water, food, sanitation, among many others. Ethiopia, a country with over 80% of its population living in multidimensional poverty, is no beginner when it comes to dealing with famines. The Ethiopian Civil war began with a coup d’etat in 1973, which was largely a result of unrest after Emperor Haile Selassie refused to respond to the 1972 famine. In 1984, Ethiopia suffered a worse, more publicized famine, which is said to have killed over a million people. International initiatives were able to secure international aid, but political instability into 1991 led to lower rates of development as compared to its other Sub-Saharan neighbors. In the midst violence, a large sector of the Ethiopian population was lost, and the Ethiopian economy collapsed as a result of the government’s resistance to welcome international aid in rebel-controlled areas. The Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia was established in 1991 and was followed by a shift in Ethiopia’s resistance to international aid, ultimately jumpstarting the upwards trend of development.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Environment, Human Rights, Famine
  • Political Geography: Africa, Ethiopia
  • Author: Elizabeth Kirchhoff
  • Publication Date: 04-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center on Human Rights Education, University of Denver
  • Abstract: In 2016, the world is arguably more socially, economically, and politically interconnected than ever before. And yet, while the process of globalization offers humanity the possibility for unprecedented growth, learning, and progress brought on by connectivity, it also presents its own challenges. Perhaps most evident of these trials is the question of how to reconcile the human values of diversity and equality. In a world characterized by global financial inequality, disappearing languages, and mass migrations, the necessity to protect both equality and diversity is perhaps needed now more than ever. Indeed, research findings suggest that cultural and ethnic diversity within a country is correlated with greater levels of inequality as well. And yet, this is not true in all cases, and in order to avoid the pitfalls of cultural and ethnic uniformity and economic inequality in a rapidly globalizing landscape, it imperative to study and learn from countries that excel in both capacities. Canada, for instance, provides us with an excellent success story. According to a study from the University of Oldenburg, Canada has the greatest level of ethnic and cultural diversity in the Western hemisphere, and is also ranks 9th in the world on the UNDP’s Human Development Index. And so the question becomes, How have they done it? How has Canada, a nation with more than 200 ethnic groups and 200 languages managed to ensure both cultural plurality and relative equality? And perhaps more importantly, can other countries learn from Canada’s success?
  • Topic: Human Rights, Inequality, Social Policy, Diversity
  • Political Geography: Canada, North America