Human Rights in Practice Part II

Human Rights in Practice 3

5: Critical voices are threatened

In Norway, many people take human rights for granted . We benefit from free elections, free media, an independent judiciary , welfare benefits and a greater degree of equality than in most other countries. Our forefathers and fathers have fought hard and secured us these rights. In many parts of the world, on the other hand, it is life-threatening to protect human rights and express oneself freely. Some examples of critical voices that are being silenced can illustrate this:

Journalists are a vulnerable group. Verda may be on its way towards ein new propaganda era, the forecast organization ” Reporters without limit r ” in May 2016. Deira ” World Press Freedom Index ” ranks 180 countries by choirs independent media, self-censorship, rule of law and openness. There is a bright spot on the list. Tunisia has become more open and free and climbs 30 places upwards. In Africa, Namibia is highlighted as an example of press freedom. And after the conflict in eastern Ukraine has subsided, press freedom there has improved.

The organization’s ranking nevertheless shows a sharp deterioration in the conditions of press freedom . The worst on the list are authoritarian states such as China, Syria, Turkmenistan, North Korea and – at the bottom – Eritrea. Europe is by far the region in the world with the greatest freedom of the press. Finland is ranked as the country with the greatest freedom of the press, followed by the Netherlands and Norway.

Poland dropped a total of 29 places to 47th place from 2015 to 2016, mainly due to the ultra-conservative government’s new media law. It gives the government the power to appoint and remove bosses in state radio and television. The organization also expresses concern that threats to journalists are increasing in line with nationalist currents.

6: Dangerous to defend people’s human rights

Being able to work safely for human rights without the risk of reprisals (criminal abuse) is necessary to ensure open and democratic societies. Human rights defenders – or human rights defenders – are individuals or groups who work to strengthen the protection and implementation of human rights without the use of force or force .

Human rights defenders defend the rights of others and are often spokespersons for vulnerable and marginalized (neglected) groups or for people who cannot or are unable to defend themselves. In many cases, they represent local forces that work for positive change where they live.

Defending human rights can be very difficult and dangerous . The authorities in many countries perceive the work of their proponents as a threat to their own power. Over large parts of the world, human rights defenders and their families are killed, threatened, harassed or otherwise prevented from working. Through bureaucratic rules, governments can prevent human rights organizations from registering or receiving money. Organized crime and corruption can prevent those who attack human rights defenders from being prosecuted.

The UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders emphasizes in particular threats against human rights defenders who promote women’s rights and those who work with human rights issues that have to do with the right to land and the exploitation of natural resources.

In March 2016, for example, environmental and indigenous activist Berta Cáceres was shot and killed in her home in Honduras by two men, after receiving a number of death threats. The award-winning activist Cáceres was particularly known for his fight against building hydropower plants and starting mining with major environmental disadvantages in areas where indigenous peoples live. She is far from the only one: Between 2010 and 2015, more than 100 people were killed in Honduras – one of the most violent countries in the world – to defend the environment and the rights of indigenous peoples. Conflicts are usually about natural resources.

Shortly after the assassination of Berta Cáceres, a new resolution was adopted by the UN Human Rights Council. It must secure human rights defenders who work to promote economic, social and cultural rights. Norway was the initiator and hired hard negotiators. Norway has for several years been at the forefront of the UN in defending the right to defend human rights. According to Polyhobbies, UNHRC stands for UN Human Rights Council.

The new resolution applies to individuals, groups and organizations that use fundamental freedoms, such as freedom of expression and freedom of association, to promote economic, social and cultural rights. The right to social development and the protection of women human rights defenders is an important part of the resolution. The resolution also addresses the business community, and provides advice on how one can contribute to safeguarding human rights, for example vis-à-vis minority groups.

7: Human rights under pressure – also in the West

All over the world, human rights are being violated. Even though people have better human rights protection in Norway and other Western democracies, human rights are also under pressure in our part of the world . Terrorism, violent extremism and refugee traumas challenge the protection of human rights in Western countries as well.

A number of human rights organizations and experts warn against the abuse of measures against terrorism and espionage . Some such measures have led several countries on the wrong course, also in the West, among other things by making more use of torture and surveillance. Following the terrorist attacks in the United States on September 11, 2001, prisoners from the United States’ “war on terror” were transferred to the military base Guantánamo , which the United States held against the will of the host country Cuba (a one-party state also criticized for human rights abuses, not least by the United States). Many were abducted, illegally imprisoned and subjected to gross and systematic torture and ill-treatment. None of the prisoners has been allowed to defend themselves in a fair trial .

Some have taken the human rights violations at Guantánamo more lightly because the prisoners are heroes for being violent extremists and / or terrorists who themselves do not respect human rights . The problem is that when one allows torture and other violations of individual rights because of who they are, what they believe in or what they have done, one is undermining the whole system that secures us all – in other words, the same values. invokes to defend in the so-called war on terror.

Human Rights in Practice 2