Climate change could spur “brain drain” from developing world — researcher

West African migrants and refugees wait at the transit centre in Niamey. (AFP)
Updated 07 April 2017
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Climate change could spur “brain drain” from developing world — researcher

DAKAR: People who are driven to migrate by floods, droughts and other disasters linked to climate change come overwhelmingly from middle-income countries, not the poorest parts of the world, as is commonly believed, new research finds.
And those who move abroad due to natural disasters are likely to be highly educated, suggesting climate change could exacerbate “brain drain” from developing countries, according to Linguere Mously Mbaye, a consultant for the African Development Bank.
Very poor people cannot afford to migrate and the richest have other ways of coping such as accessing social services in the wake of disasters, she found.
There are no reliable estimates of the number of people who have migrated or will do so due to environmental changes. But forecasts range from 25 million to 1 billion globally by 2050, according to the International Organization for Migration.
The issue has garnered political attention amid a global refugee crisis, and led to growing calls to give people fleeing climate-linked disasters similar protections to political refugees under international law.
But the reality of climate migration is often misunderstood, said Mbaye, whose research was recently published by online database IZA World of Labor.
“People think we’ll have a whole bunch of people coming to rich countries due to climate change, but they overestimate (this),” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. “If you look at the literature, it’s not that straightforward.”
Between 2008 and 2014, developing countries accounted for 95 percent of global displacement due to disasters, but 86 percent of those uprooted came from middle-income countries such as India, China and Pakistan, and only 9 percent from lower-income countries, she found.
On top of the misconception that climate migrants come from poor nations, people tend to assume that climate change causes people to move overseas when in reality, most move within their own countries or to neighboring ones, she said.
In Bangladesh, for example, researchers found that moderate flooding over more than a decade increased people’s likelihood of moving locally but made them less likely to migrate long-distance, Mbaye said.
But in places like sub-Saharan Africa, weather shifts that hurt farming can drive villagers to cities, which in turn may put a strain on urban jobs and fuel migration overseas.
Despite myriad warnings of displacement caused by climate change, the world remains unprepared to deal with the problem, experts said last month in a policy brief for the Group of 20 major economies, adding that international law and aid policies need urgent reform.
To prevent large-scale displacement, governments should fund infrastructure projects and social protection programs so that families can cope with climate shocks, experts said.
“Investing in resilience in source countries is absolutely crucial to helping people remain in place, which they often prefer,” said Shiloh Fetzek, a senior fellow at the US Center for Climate and Security.
“But migration shouldn’t be seen as a failure of resilience. Migration is often an important part of resilience,” she added.


Judge acquits 3 Chicago officers of Laquan McDonald cover-up

Updated 18 January 2019
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Judge acquits 3 Chicago officers of Laquan McDonald cover-up

  • The black teenager’s shooting death in 2014 led to massive protests in the US
  • Last October, jurors convicted officer Jason Van Dyke of second-degree murder and aggravated battery

CHICAGO: A judge on Thursday acquitted three Chicago officers of trying to cover up the 2014 shooting of Laquan McDonald, dismissing as just one perspective the shocking dashcam video of the black teenager’s death that led to protests, a federal investigation of the police department and the rare murder conviction of an officer.
In casting off the prosecution’s entire case, Judge Domenica Stephenson seemed to accept many of the same defense arguments that were rejected in October by jurors who convicted officer Jason Van Dyke of second-degree murder and aggravated battery. He is scheduled to be sentenced Friday.
The judge said the video showed only one viewpoint of the confrontation and that there was no indication the officers tried to hide evidence.
“The evidence shows just the opposite,” she said. She singled out how they preserved the graphic video at the heart of the case.
McDonald’s family questioned how the two cases could produce such different decisions. His great uncle, the Rev. Marvin Hunter, told reporters that the verdict means “that if you are a police officer you can lie, cheat and steal.”
“To say that these men are not guilty is to say that Jason Van Dyke is not guilty.” He added: “It is a sad day for America.”
Prosecutor Ron Safer tried to put a positive spin on the verdict.
“This case was a case where the code of silence was on trial,” he said, referring to the long tradition that officers don’t report wrongdoing by their colleagues. “The next officer is going to think twice about filing a false police report. Do they want to go through this?“
Special prosecutor Patricia Brown Holmes said she hoped the verdict would not make officers reluctant to come forward when they see misconduct. Her key witness, officer Dora Fontaine, described how she had become a pariah in the department and was called a “rat” by fellow officers.
The shooting has provoked periodic street protests since 2015, when the video came to light, and the acquittals could renew that movement.
“We will be down here tomorrow by the hundreds, and we will cry out for justice for Laquan,” activist Eric Russell said.
The trial was watched closely by law enforcement and critics of the department, which has long had a reputation for condoning police brutality.
Officer Joseph Walsh, officer Thomas Gaffney and detective David March were accused of conspiracy, official misconduct and obstruction of justice. All but Gaffney have since left the department. They asked the judge, rather than a jury, to hear the evidence.
After the verdict, Walsh would say only that the ordeal of being charged and tried was “heart-breaking for my family, a year and a half.”
In her ruling , the judge rejected prosecution arguments that the video demonstrated officers were lying when they described McDonald as moving and posing a threat even after he was shot.
“An officer could have reasonably believed an attack was imminent,” she said. “It was borne out in the video that McDonald continued to move after he fell to the ground” and refused to relinquish a knife.
The video appeared to show the teen collapsing in a heap after the first few shots and moving in large part because bullets kept striking his body for 10 more seconds.
The judge said it’s not unusual for two witnesses to describe events in starkly different ways. “It does not necessarily mean that one is lying,” she said.
The judge also noted several times that the vantage points of various officers who witnessed the shooting were “completely different.” That could explain why their accounts did not sync with what millions of people saw in the video.
Both Van Dyke’s trial and that of the three other officers hinged on the video, which showed Van Dyke opening fire within seconds of getting out of his police SUV and continuing to shoot the 17-year-old while he was lying on the street. Police were responding to a report of a male who was breaking into trucks and stealing radios on the city’s South Side.
Prosecutors alleged that Gaffney, March and Walsh, who was Van Dyke’s partner, submitted false reports about what happened to try to prevent or shape any criminal investigation of the shooting. Among other things, they said the officers falsely claimed that Van Dyke shot McDonald after McDonald aggressively swung the knife at the officers and that he kept shooting the teen because McDonald was trying to get up still armed with the knife.
McDonald had used the knife to puncture a tire on Gaffney’s police vehicle, but the video shows that he did not swing it at the officers before Van Dyke shot him and that he appeared to be incapacitated after falling to the ground.
Attorneys for Gaffney, Walsh and March used the same strategy that the defense used at Van Dyke’s trial by placing all the blame on McDonald.
It was McDonald’s refusal to drop his knife and other threatening actions that “caused these officers to see what they saw,” March’s attorney, James McKay, told the court. “This is a case about law and order (and) about Laquan McDonald not following any laws that night.”
The lawyers ridiculed the decision to charge the three officers, saying they merely wrote what they observed or, in March’s case, what the other officers told him they saw. And they said there was no evidence that the officers conspired to get their stories straight.
“The state wants you to criminalize police reports,” McKay bellowed at one point.
City Hall released the video to the public in November 2015 — 13 months after the shooting — and acted only because a judge ordered it to do so. The charges against Van Dyke were not announced until the day of the video’s release.
The case cost the police superintendent his job and was widely seen as the reason the county’s top prosecutor was voted out of office a few months later. It was also thought to be a major factor in Mayor Rahm Emmanuel’s decision not to seek a third term.
The accusations triggered a federal investigation, resulting in a blistering report that found Chicago officers routinely used excessive force and violated the rights of residents, particularly minorities. The city implemented a new policy that requires video of fatal police shootings to be released within 60 days, accelerated a program to equip all officers with body cameras and adopted other reforms to change the way police shootings are investigated.