December 8, 2019

The Editor speaks: Human rights

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Stand up for human rights!

Today (December 10) is International Human Rights Day.

This year marks the 70th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (“the ”). To celebrate the 70th anniversary of the , the United Nations (“the UN”) has launched a year-long campaign building on its existing ‘Stand Up for Human Rights’ campaign.

The UN describes the UDHR as “a milestone document that proclaimed the inalienable rights which everyone is inherently entitled to as a human being — regardless of race, colour, religion, sex, language, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.”

The Human Rights Commission celebrated the day by issuing a Press Release saying:

The Commission takes this opportunity to reiterate the importance of promoting, protecting and preserving human rights in the Cayman Islands and encourages all members of the public to join us as we ‘Stand Up for Human Rights’ by celebrating International Human Rights Day 2018 and the 70th Anniversary of the UDHR.

For more information on the Commission or to learn more about the Bill of Rights, Freedoms and Responsibilities, call 244-3685 or visit our website and Facebook pages.

It didn’t exactly grab me enough to bother to call the telephone number or go to the websites, even though the Commission said how important the day is.

There was no big banging on the drum by our Commission even though there are headlines exploding all over the media sites all the time saying:

‘A crisis for human rights’: new index reveals global fall in basic justice”

“More than 70 of 113 countries surveyed for latest Rule of Law Index report their fundamental human rights are being eroded”

“The Erosion of Human Rights Protection Systems”

USA, UK, Turkey, , Russia, Poland, and Denmark all have passed or threatened new legislation this year. All will betaking away human rights we have enjoyed for years.

Journalist, Måns Molander, writing in the Advokaten, said it well:

“A new generation of political leaders is challenging the entire system. Purporting to speak for “the people,” they claim that human rights only protect minorities, terrorist suspects or asylum seekers. These politicians make the claim that rights simply are an impediment to the security, prosperity and stability of the nation. They claim that the majority should make do with weaker human rights protection in return for secure jobs and prosperity, defense of traditional values, resistance to cultural changes, and prevention of terrorism.

“The attack on human rights is often politicized. Lawyers who dare to pursue claims arising from alleged torture by British forces are dismissed as “left-wing human rights lawyers” by Theresa May. But human rights are not a question of party politics – they are legal rights, laid down in a country’s laws and constitution. Rights that other people have suffered for, fought for, gone to prison for, and even given their lives for.”

“In my opinion, the greatest threat to our children’s future is the dismantling of the defenses built to prevent another human catastrophe – the systems at the national and international level that guarantee the freedom and human dignity of vulnerable people.

“This is a dangerous trend. If we start eroding the rights of certain groups, it will not be long before we have a whole list of groups lined up awaiting their turn: beggars, Roma, criminals, Muslims, immigrants, drug users, terrorist suspects. The very thing that the experience of the 20th century taught us to avoid if our society is to survive.”

: https://www.hrw.org/news/2017/03/08/erosion-human-rights-protection-systems#

Even here in the Cayman Islands, we now have one person – the Ombudsman” overseeing three agencies that were created some years ago to look at our complaints and rule upon them. Apparently, one is better than the two we used to have. It is, for the government, but not us.

We have our Commission but words don’t match action. And I have seen less and less of both with action being almost non-existent.

And, by action I mean speaking out and not by bloody demonstrations with thugs smashing up everything they see, and attacking the police, etc. etc.

All that does is take away even the rights we still have. It plays into the new wave politicians hands.

Stand up and speak out. That is the way to go. And don’t forget writing. Use social media the write (sorry couldn’t resist that one) – the right way.

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