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Showing posts with label TRUTH AND RECONCILIATION COMMISSION. Show all posts
Showing posts with label TRUTH AND RECONCILIATION COMMISSION. Show all posts

Saturday, May 3, 2014


In this past year, the State Legislature has heard stories from parents and grandparents in family court who have faced horrible abuse and corruption. 
I have frequently talked about my own experience of spending $200,000 in order to retain custody of my own children, even though up until filing for divorce I had always been primary caretaker of my children. 
Others have talked about Guardians Ad Litem who charged hundreds of thousands of dollars for their services and emptied out their ward's college funds in the process. 
I hear from people every day who talk about how expert witnesses, particularly mental health experts, have blatantly lied in their cases.  I hear of attorneys who have threatened parents and blackmailed them for money.  One litigant talked about how he was asked to provide a bribe in order to obtain custody of his children. 
Overall, it appears that Connecticut Family Court has descended into chaos as judges ignore the law and rule in ways that are arbitrary and capricious.  The result has been children in the custody of abusive parents, mothers and fathers who have been denied any access at all to their children based upon fabricated evidence, and children denied their most basic needs for emotional and physical security. 
Recently, the Connecticut State Legislature passed a Guardian Ad Litem reform Bill S.B. #494, the first in an anticipated series of legislative steps to reduce the wrongdoing which has been rampant throughout our state Family Court system. 
Once this Bill is implemented, its provisions will provide additional safeguards for litigants and their children who enter Family Court in the future.  But what should be done for those, like me, who have endured severe financial damage as the result of court abuse, as well as the many other parents who still do not have access to their children because of past wrongdoing.  Is it too late for us? 
Some advocates have said that it would be na├»ve to expect the State Legislature to take steps immediately to return our children to us, to return our stolen money and assets to us, and compensate us right away for the suffering that we have endured.  I don't think so. 
In my view, the State of Connecticut needs to establish a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to investigate the wrongdoing that has taken place in Connecticut Family Court and provide reparations to the victims for that wrongdoing.  Some of the reparations could be financial while others could simply consist of public exoneration and public apologies from the Connecticut Judicial Branch.
What is a Truth and Reconciliation Commission?  A Truth and Reconciliation Commission has four major tasks:  1.  The exposure of the truth through investigating and reporting on atrocities; 2. Victim rehabilitation and reparation; 3.  Amnesty or punishment of perpetrators; 4.  Education and reconciliation.  
A Truth and Reconciliation Commission is a Commission that does the job of investigating and reporting on wrongdoing by the government and its enforcement agencies.  It is a way to address crimes that have been left unpunished and to address human rights abuses which have taken place, I would say, for example, in Connecticut Family Court. 
Most important is that a Truth and Reconciliation Commission can prevent the historical revisionism that often takes place subsequent to a major atrocity, such as the problem with holocaust deniers.  An example of historical revisionism which we find among Family Court perpetrators are statements to the effect that folks who report on these abuses don't deserve to be taken seriously.

Through the operation of the Commission, victims of human rights abuses can provide their testimony which is then placed on the permanent record and perpetrators have the opportunity to provide testimony acknowledging their crimes. 
The Commission can then take steps either to punish or give amnesty to the criminals involved and formulate what would be appropriate reparations for the victims. 
These activities are expected to educate society about the harm and damage that took place so that it does not happen again, and to provide instructions on how society should better conduct itself in the future. As one journalist has put it, "The truth-seeking processes [of such Commissions] allow societies to examine and come to grips with past crimes and atrocities and prevent their future repetition." 
Further, the activities of these Commissions should ultimately lead to reconciliation--forgiveness for the perpetrators, validation and compensation for the victims so that the people involved can pick up the pieces of their lives and move forward, and truthful information so that Society can proceed to operate in a more enlightened and mutually supportive manner on behalf of all segments of Society. 
The most well known examples of such Commissions is the Truth and Reconciliation Commission that was assembled in Cape Town, South Africa in 1996 after the abolition of apartheid.  In this situation, witnesses who were identified as victims of gross human rights violations were invited to give statements about their experience and some were selected for public hearings.  Perpetrators of violence could also give testimony and request amnesty from both civil and criminal prosecution.
Closer to home, in 2013 Canada established a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to investigate the human rights abuses that took place in the Canadian Indian Residential School System starting in 1876.  Apparently, for over a century generations of aboriginal children were taken from their parents and raised in overcrowded, underfunded and often unhealthy residential schools across Canada.  They were often denied the right to speak their own languages and told their cultural beliefs were sinful. 
Some of these students did not see their parents for years and a considerable number of them simply died.  The result was the destruction of Indian culture, lives cut short by drugs, alcohol, and violence.  Although the majority of these schools were closed in the 1990s, the devastating impact these schools had on the native peoples of Canada still remains.  The bulk of the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Canada remains to be done. 
In Argentina, a Truth and Reconciliation Commission also addressed human rights violations and the disappearance of 30,000 students and intellectuals who were targeted because of their left wing political leanings during what has been called their "dirty war" which took place from 1976 to 1983. 
Chile established a National Truth and Reconciliation Commission to investigate the deaths and disappearances that took place during the Pinochet Regime.  The report of this Commission came out in 1991 and was supplemented by the Valech Report in 2005 and 2006 which was produced by the National Commission on Political Imprisonment and Torture. 
In addition, there have been additional Commissions like this in places like the Czech republic, El Salvador, Fiji, Kenya, Morocco, and many, many more. 
The Connecticut Judicial Branch has no means to assist the many parents who testified this past year about the financial exploitation and the legal abuse they have endured in the last two decades. 
So what is going to happen to those parents who have lost children and have been barred from seeing their children in violation of their constitutional rights? 

What about parents who have overwhelming evidence that their children are being sexually and physically abused by the other parent, yet instead of those children being protected they have been placed in the custody of the abuser?
What about parents who have had attorneys empty out their savings accounts, retirement accounts, and had them foreclose on their homes? 
What about parents and children whose private medical records, most particularly psychiatric records, have ended up quoted at length in memoranda of decision published on the internet for everyone to see? 
What about parents who have seen the opposing attorney in their case file lie after lie in documents submitted to the court?
And  what about parents who have had to endure hours of testimony by witnesses who made false statements about those parents in Court?
What about parents who have had no recourse in the face of memoranda of decision which judges deliberately filled with fabrications in order to silence parents and prevent them from speaking out about how they've been harmed?

What about parents with disabilities who have repeatedly been denied reasonable modifications which they are entitled to under Title II of Federal ADA law and who have seen their character and reputations unfairly destroyed based upon bigoted attitudes towards people with disabilities? 

What about the many, many children in cases in Connecticut Family Court who have disabilities which are documented in detail but who are also denied their right to access to Family Court and end up being medically abused and neglected? 
It is clear that the legal system has failed.  It is completely broken to the point where the State of Connecticut needs an independent means to repair the damage.  We have parents and children who need to be reunited NOW, without delay.  We have families teetering on the verge of bankruptcy NOW who need immediate compensation and cannot wait. 
A Truth and Reconciliation Committee with a mandate to investigate these crimes and bring them to light and make reparations is the only way that this can be done.
Therefore, the Divorce in Connecticut blog, on behalf of the victims of Connecticut Family Court, requests that the Connecticut State Legislature take steps to establish such a Commission immediately.