[council] Harassment and Helsinki
egmorris1 at toast.net
Fri Jun 24 12:31:29 UTC 2016
My fellow Councilors,
As all of you are aware, the issue of sexual harassment at ICANN meetings has become a topic both of conversation and of action by the corporation. Changes in ICANN's Expected Standards of Behaviour have been proposed and are currently open for public comment. We certainly had an extended discussion of the matter on Council earlier this year.
One of the problems faced by victims of sexual harassment at ICANN Meetings is that such harassment is often experienced at a location where the victim does not know the language, the local laws or how to access support and help from both law enforcement and victims support groups. That is why I believe it is imperative for ICANN to create a specific conference harassment policy complete with clear and simple reporting and enforcement procedures and mechanisms so that victims know where to turn for assistance. I know some disagree with my perspective. Regardless of anyone's view, such a policy will not be ready in time for the upcoming ICANN meeting in Helsinki.
As a graduate of the Faculty of Law of the University of Lapland in Rovaniemi, Finland I do have knowledge of the laws, customs and procedures of the Finnish state. Finland has a zero tolerance policy for harassment of any kind. Police officers in Helsinki are empowered to issue on the spot fines for what are considered minor forms of harassment. Victims also have full recourse to the Finnish legal system to pursue action, both civil and criminal, for any form of harassment they may experience.
I am ready to offer my personal assistance to any member of the ICANN community who feel they have been harassed during ICANN56 and would like to report such violations of their person to the appropriate authorities. I am not creating new laws and procedures; rather I am ensuring that lack of cultural or linguistic knowledge is not an impediment for victims of harassment who wish to pursue clams against their assailant. Towards that end:
1. I have made contact with the appropriate officers in the Helsinki Police Department whose focus is harassment type offences. I have directed them to documents, available online, that describe recent well publicized incidents of alleged harassment at ICANN meetings. I have been assured that all cases of alleged harassment that are reported to them will be taken seriously and will be fully investigated. The nationality of the parties involved is not a consideration. Assistance with these complaints in the English language is available 24/7. I have also been given a personal mobile telephone numbers of one of the specialist officers and have been directed to call her if the initial response to a complaint is not satisfactory.
2. I have spoken to NYTKIS - the Coalition of Finnish Women's Associations - and have been referred to two Helsinki based groups that are available to counsel and provide assistance to female victims of harassment on a 24/7 basis. I have made contact with SETA, the largest LGBT organization in Finland, and have similar contact information for any LGBT member of our community who feel they have been harassed and desires support.
3. I have arranged with two Helsinki based colleagues with whom I attended law school to provide pro bono representation for any victim of sexual harassment at ICANN 56 should legal representation be needed or desired.
Colleagues, I have been made aware of allegations of sexual harassment at three of the last four ICANN meetings I have attended. On two occasions I have counseled and attempted to help female victims who were so wounded that they broke down in tears describing what had happened to them. In another instance a community member accompanied me to an event she really was not interested in attending to escape a male who was harassing her but whom she did not feel to be in a secure enough position of employment to confront. This type of occurrence must stop. If I do nothing else through my involvement in ICANN I am determined to do whatever is necessary to change the rules and eventually the culture at ICANN so that ALL people feel that they are able to safely participate in ICANN activities in a professional and respectful manner.
Any GNSO member who feels a need to contact me in Helsinki with reference to this subject may do so by email at turkued at gmail.com, Skype at ejmorris or Wire at turkued at gmail.com. I will not in any way judge the validity of any complaint but rather will serve as a bridge to Finnish authorities and groups who are able both to do so and to offer the impacted party appropriate and caring support and counseling.
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