JD research symposium showcases significant work related to human rights, criminal law and access to justice

Law journal books behind text say Osgoode hall law Journal 2023 JD Research Symposium

JD students showcased the depth of their research during a day-long symposium recently, presenting significant papers on issues ranging from migrant workers and child soldiers to Canadian companies that commit human rights violations abroad.

The March 23 event, hosted by the Osgoode Hall Law Journal, featured papers by six students in Osgoode’s juris doctor program and was held at Osgoode’s Helliwell Centre.

“I want to congratulate the students who are presenting their work today,” Associate Dean (Students) Karen Drake said in a written message.

“It is not easy to write a research paper that makes a significant contribution to a legal topic and to present your work publicly,” she added. “We are very fortunate at Osgoode to be able to benefit from such high-quality student research and from an event such as this that gives us access to that research.”

Kicking off the event, student Naomi Santesteban presented research exploring how the enactment of Canada’s Temporary Foreign Worker Program “has created a unique form of violence experienced by migrant workers that is not adequately captured by the country’s anti-human trafficking framework.” Acknowledging that violence can be multifaceted and that each person’s experience of violence is unique, Santesteban then analyzed the often-ignored racial dimensions of violence, as well as gender-based violence and bodily violence. She concluded by reflecting on the significance of the topic in the context of future social justice activism and the work of Parkdale Community Legal Services.

In her paper, student Anisha Nag explored how children accused of international crimes are sometimes denied refugee protection, arguing that children cannot meet the test for exclusion under Article 1F(a) of the Refugee Convention because their actions cannot be described as voluntary. Making a defence of infancy available to children, she argued, would accord with Canada’s international legal obligations towards children.

Student Madeleine Worndl explored in her paper how lawmakers in Canada could make Canadian corporations more accountable for human rights violations carried out in foreign jurisdictions by enacting due diligence provisions within Canadian federal and provincial corporate statutes to require corporations to prevent and account for human rights impacts in their global operations.

The symposium’s afternoon session focused on research related to criminal law and access to justice. In the fourth paper of the day, student Alicia Cooke presented research focusing on the predominant interrogation method used by Canadian police, known as the Reid Technique, arguing that it has a propensity to elicit unreliable confessions leading to wrongful convictions and should be entirely prohibited.

In his paper, student Jonathan Carlson drew on the experiences of defence counsel and access-to-justice research to shed light on the barriers to justice that continue to be faced by Indigenous persons being sentenced, resulting in their continuing overrepresentation in the justice system.

Finally, in her paper, student Joeley Pulver explored the access-to-justice crisis faced by self-represented prisoners, looking at the lack of resources available to them and the lack of regulated standards of access in Canada. She concluded with a series of recommendations on how federal, provincial and territorial legislators could increase access to justice for self-represented prisoners.

The students’ papers will be published in the Osgoode Hall Law Journal, which has provided an interdisciplinary forum for legal innovation and provocative approaches to legal knowledge since its inception in 1958.