Human rights concept and violations

D.R.Bhagat
The history of Human rights is about 25 centuries old when a king named Cyrus invaded the city of Babylyon in 539 B.C and made its subjects slaves but later on released them all recognising that they are the human beings and have the right to freedom. Human rights are the basic rights possessed by all human beings irrespective of their race, caste, nationality, sex and language etc. by virtue of their being born as human beings. These rights are not to be taken away by any legislation or by any act of the Government. These are also known as Natural Rights. After its concept there was a gradual advancement in the field of Human Rights. The petition of Rights Charter was passed in Europe 1628. The U.S constitution of 1776 also recognised the importance of human rights. The first convention of human rights was held in Geneva in 1864 in which the issue of human rights was discussed in length. Its importance was much felt after the Second World War when there were large scale violations of human rights. The United Nations Organisation came into existence in 1945 and the protection of human rights became its core issue. The commission of Human Rights was established in 1946 to supervise the problem of protection of human rights. With a number of countries coming forward, the ‘Universal Declaration of Human Rights’ was drafted and adopted by the General Assembly on 10th December, 1948 which became a basis for further promotion of human rights globally. The UDHR broadly classified these rights into three categories as General rights, Civil and Political rights, Economic Social and Cultural Rights. The article 1 states that all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. The Civil rights include the Right to Life and Liberty, Right to Equality before law and Right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. The Economic, Social and Cultural Rights include the right to Social Security, Right to Work and Right to Education. The General Assembly proclaimed December 10, as International Human Rights Day in 1950. Yet another milestone in the history of human rights came in 1993 when the conference on Human Rights was held in Vienna. The office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights was created. This was a step forward to make rights a reality for all. The office of the High Commissioner has spearheaded the work of the United Nations to further human rights globally. Through a wide range of mechanisms it advocates for victims, asks states to live up to their obligations and supports human rights bodies.
In India the human rights have been dealt under Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles of State Policy. They have also been enumerated under various articles of the constitution. The protection and preservation of human rights is a challenge to every country in the world. Cases of violence, murder, torture, rape, custodial deaths and child abuse are rampant in the society. More than six thousand people were killed in Afganistan in an armed conflict in 2007. Gross Human Rights violations are taking place in Iraq and Syria where thousands of innocent people are being murdered mercilessly by the Islamic militants. The Right to Life and the Right to Religion is being violated. India has also witnessed grave human rights violations. The abject poverty prevailing in the country denies the basic human rights to millions of people in our country. Child Labour, Bonded Labour and illeteracy are the main rights violations due to poverty. The human rights of women are violated from birth to death. The female infanticide is common in many parts of the country even today. Sexual abuse of female children, dowry deaths, flesh trade and rape cases are some glaring examples of violations of the rights of the fair sex. Children under the age of 14 are forced to work in factories, denied the right to education and in some cases are compelled to beg for others. Children are sexually assaulted in orphanages by their so called custodians.
Further the spate of violence  in Kashmir  Hindus started by the separatists and supported by Pakistan has compelled the mass exodus of Kashmiris who have become refugees in their own country and living in deplorable condition away from their homes. Another violation is concerning the refugees of West Pakistan who migrated to our state of Jammu and Kashmir in 1947. They are not eligible for voting rights and government jobs. Their Right to Nationality, Right to Education and Right to Work is being violated. The violations under the cover of’ Armed Forces Special Powers Act’ are also being reported.  One more aspect of Human Rights violation is the Death Penalty. No doubt it is awarded through an established legal process, yet it violates the Right to Life. Some jurists have termed it as a judicial murder. In the ‘ second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political  Rights’ held in December 89, it was decided that no person shall be executed within the jurisdiction of the State parties signing this protocol. More than 40 nations had signed this protocol at that time. At present there are more than 140 countries where this punishment has been abolished or have put a moratorium on it. India is not a member to this protocol.
The concept of human rights is a democratic one. It is based on the principle of the essential freedom of the human being and respect for his person. It is the duty of the state to protect these rights. The Human Rights Commission was established in India under the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1994. The Act has also provided for the establishment of Human Rights courts in districts by the concerned State Governments to deal with the cases of human rights violations. Undoubtedly the National Human Rights Commission has done some work in this direction. The commission has asked the States and Union Territories to compulsorily video graph the post mortem examination in all the cases of custodial deaths. The commission has also asked the State Governments to sensitise the police and the jail officials. Cases of violation of children’s rights like trafficking in children, child marriages and imprisonment to juveniles have also been taken up by the commission. Its work in rape and torture cases is also praise worthy. However, it cannot be denied that the commission has no teeth and it can take no action directly. It can only recommend and the government may or may not accept the recommendations. The commission has also in certain cases especially in respect of action taken by the armed forces against terrorists  seems to be taking one sided view and seems to be oblivious of ground realities. Even though it is now internationally recognised that terrorism constitutes denial of human rights, the reports of the commission always highlight the excesses committed by the armed forces and never highlights the excesses committed by the terrorists. Further many NGO’s are working in the field of human rights. India has a largest number of NGO’s working in this field which are assisting the Government and the National Commission for Human Rights in the protection of human rights. However, the real progress can be achieved through general awakening which makes everyone understand the eternal values of life and dignity of an individual irrespective of caste, creed or sex.

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