Life and Times of Louise Arbour

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There is much to be said about this woman who has been working on the side of justice since 1971. Critics are omnipresent, but in the case of Louise Arbour, the simplest of facts sing loudly of her praises. This once young girl attended a convent school, pushed herself through college and University of Montreal, only to embark on an extraordinary journey of justice. Louise Arbour is a Canadian who makes a difference as a UN Commissioner, as a judge for the Supreme Court, and through her role in the Kingston Penitentiary Inquiry.

There was an incredible report by Louise Arbour in the 1990's that rocked the boats of so many. Through this period of her life, she was working as a judge for the Court of Appeal of Ontario. Arbour's Inquiry into the Prison for Women at the Kingston Penitentiary in Kingston, Ontario was a large and controversial move. There was an event at the prison on April 22, 1994 involving six female prisoners. They suffered abuse at the hands of management, the guards, and male inmates. They underwent illegal segregation, strip searches, and the list sadly goes on. Louise held media attention for really the first major time in her career over this, and was up against a surprising amount of criticism. Even some of the inmates, those that she was helping in the first place, felt "Arbour was too lenient with officials who violated prisoners' rights" (Driedger, 1996) SQ. Her report was extremely important in the changing of ways that female convicts are handled through the Correctional Service of Canada. Her demands were just and fair, and essentially led to the closure of the prison in 2008. Her report holds the Correctional Service of Canada to a much higher standard. Women have an equal voice on the inside now; they have rights.

It was Secretary General Kofi Annan who named Arbour United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, which she graciously accepted in 2004. She had been working as chief prosecutor of war crimes for the...
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