Standing Up for Victims of Hate
Human Rights lawyer Richard Warman talks with Shalom Life.
Richard Warman doesn’t shy away from controversy. For the past 20 years, the well-known Canadian human rights lawyer has dedicated much of his work to monitoring and fighting promoters of hate.
In 2007, Warman was recognized by the Canadian Jewish Congress for “distinguished service to the cause of human rights” with the Saul Hayes Human Rights Award. He has an impressive record in the courtroom, and has written a detailed report on Internet hate in Canada for B’Nai Brith’s Annual Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents.
Although he is not Jewish, he has been the target of anti-Semitic smears. Neither is he black or female, but he has made it his life mission to help people regardless of their gender, ethnicity, or religious background. In the process, Warman has discovered several allies working together for common causes. He references one case currently before the Federal Court in which multiple Jewish organizations are working with him, alongside an advocacy group for the African community.
“When your neighbours are being attacked, it is not just ‘their’ problem. It is everyone’s responsibility to take whatever action they can to stop those attacks,” Warman told Shalom Life. “Hate crime will be with us for some time until it is dealt with once and for all.”
Warman points out that many human rights complaints have been filed successfully under the Canadian Human Rights Act. Unfortunately, many victims still do not know that in Canada, it is illegal to promote hate on the Internet under this legislation.
Having human rights lawyers like Warman on side who understand such laws and know how the system works can help wade through legal jargon and enable victims of hate crime to better protect themselves.
Warman stresses that it is everyone’s responsibility to put a stop to hate-related incidents. He suggests that we all have a part to play to prevent corrupt ideas from snowballing into something much larger and harder to control.
As Canadians, we might tend not to think of all the various hate groups that are out there on the Internet or even in our communities, at least until someone we know or love becomes a victim of hate crime. “It is so hard to deal with hate propaganda because the Internet is such an international medium with considerable content that originates elsewhere,” says Warman.
The lawyer advises people to report Internet hate quickly, as soon as solid evidence is available and suggested working with community advocacy groups who may have experience and can help deal with the sometimes lengthy human rights or criminal processes. Despite the challenges, Warman sees Canada as a leader in the legal tools that are available to fight Internet hate propaganda.
Non-emergency cases relating to Internet hate should be reported to the Canadian Human Rights Commission (http://www.chrc-ccdp.ca/about/reach_us-en.asp). Criminal matters should be reported to your local police department.
Richard Warman can be contacted through his website: www.richardwarman.ca