Human Rights In Perspective: Gross violations of human rights continue - both loud and silent Print E-mail

..... And lest Bush Jnr and his poodles forget, as they spew their virtuous "axis of good democracy": "Despite massive anti-war protests worldwide, America launched its multi-pronged attack on Iraq accusing Saddam of stockpiling chemical weapons of massive destruction. Essential services like water and electricity supply were discontinued. Like in any war, it is women and children in Iraq who have been the biggest victims Hundreds of innocent civilians perished in air attacks. Many lost limbs and were crippled for life. Fearing death, millions of people were forced to leave their homes for 'safer' places." - Lynette

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-- Tuesday January 10, 2006

Securing human rights for all

By Jagjit Singh
On Human Rights Day, December 10, what must worry the world is the silent violation of human rights
   
Violation of human rights remains one of the biggest challenges in the 21st century. “Gross violations of human rights continue - both loud and silent”, observes a United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) report.

“They are loud in Rwanda, where a million people died, in Bosnia and Herzegovina, with an estimated death toll of 150,000-250,000. There are also silent violations: about 790 million people not adequately nourished, 250 million children used as child labour, 1.2 million women and girls under 18 trafficked for prostitution each year, more than 150 million people living in income poverty in OECD countries,” elaborates the report and expresses deep concern over the fact that while the world is often aware of loud violations, it is not necessarily so of the silent violations.

The extent of violations of human rights is evident from the fact that the UN Commission on Human Rights receives, every year, over one lakh complaints of rights' violations from individuals and institutions.

The UN’s special rapporteurs and independent experts issued, between June 2001 and June 2002, over 945 immediate appeals to 56 states on the charges of torture, arbitrary detention, putting restrictions on the freedom of expression, extra-judicial execution and so on. “In many countries those responsible for administering justice are violators of law, not its guardians. The police are viewed with hostility because of their brutality, their involvement in the drug business, their mistreatment of prisoners and their failure to protect the people who need their protection most. Rapes by prison guards have been reported in many countries ­ in prison and outside,” observes a UNDP Human Development Report.

In the recent past, we saw gross violation of human rights by the US led forces in Iraq.

Despite massive anti-war protests worldwide, America launched its multi-pronged attack on Iraq accusing Saddam of stockpiling chemical weapons of massive destruction. Essential services like water and electricity supply were discontinued. Like in any war, it is women and children in Iraq who have been the biggest victims. Hundreds of innocent civilians perished in air attacks. Many lost limbs and were crippled for life. Fearing death, millions of people were forced to leave their homes for 'safer' places.

Being a signatory to the UDHR, India and its constitution gives equal rights to all. Over the years human rights commissions have been constituted at central and state levels to look into the complaints of rights' violation and redress the grievances of victims. Despite these laudable steps, violation of citizens' rights is a common thing in the country. Undoubtedly and undeniably, the judicial system in many countries has done exceedingly well to protect human rights and ensure freedom. In India, public interest litigation cases in education and environment have been important milestones in securing economic and social rights for people. However, in many countries, access to and administration of justice remains elusive due to multiple reasons such as poverty, inadequate infrastructure, unwarranted interference in the working of judiciary by the executive, confrontation between the Judiciary and the executive and last but not the least corruption in the judicial system in many countries.

In the Vienna Conference on Human Rights, there was a general consensus amongst the participants that the existing body of law be backed up by vigorous operational activities undertaken by the United Nations to ensure that these laws be carried out by the respective governments.

The Vienna Declaration proclaimed that "democracy, development and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms are inter-dependent and mutually reinforcing.”

However continuous violations of rights is indicative that the enforcement of various declarations on rights protection has been half-hearted.

Unless this approach is changed, enjoyment of all rights by all will remain a distant dream for millions of people.