News

Human Rights Around the Globe Still Uneven

Indian school children pose with placards for World Human Rights Day in Amritsar, India, Dec 10, 2009 (file photo)
Indian school children pose with placards for World Human Rights Day in Amritsar, India, Dec 10, 2009 (file photo)

Multimedia

Audio

It's been 62 years since the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was written and the anniversary is marked around the world Friday, December 10.

Femi Peters Junior is battling the Gambian authorities in order to get his father freed from prison. Femi Peters Senior is serving a one-year prison sentence in Gambia because, says his son, he organized a peaceful political protest.

"It's difficult not to have my dad around me. He's the head of our family and him being in prison is not very good for me. I'm 30 years old, I've got an 11-year-old brother back home, and at this age, I had my dad around me to guide me and support me. Now at this age he's not having that support and that hurts."

Peters has campaigned hard to get his dad released, writing letters and organizing rallies. So far to no avail, but it's the work of human rights defenders like him and his father that make the world better according to Claudio Cordone from Amnesty International.

"Human rights defenders are the most important vehicle for change. You often do not get change without fighting for it," said Cordone.

He says that's why it's important that people like Liu Ziaobo are celebrated. Chinese dissident Liu is this year's winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. His country, China, is one of the world's top human rights offenders says Cordone - but not the only one.

"Every region in the world, and in fact every country, has its own problems," he said.

The Britain-based business risk assessment firm Maplecroft released a report Thursday in connection with Human Rights Day. It ranks the Democratic Republic of Congo as the worst country for human rights, along with Somalia. Another three sub-Saharan African nations ranked among the worst 10: Sudan, Chad and Zimbabwe.

In Asia, Pakistan, Myanmar [Burma], Afghanistan, North Korea and China get the lowest marks, with Russia the worst in Europe.

Maplecroft maintains human rights around the world are getting worse rather than better.

It's a long way off from what Human Rights Day is designed to celebrate: the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Chaloka Beyani, an expert in international law at the London School of Economics, however, said the declaration has brought change. He said he has seen its effects in the Great Lakes region of Africa.

"The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was of great value in putting in place a framework that would actually contain conflict and also move towards the resolution of conflict - from prohibiting member states to resort to the use of force to protecting specific rights including of internally displaced persons, sexual violence against women, so there's a huge effort," said Beyani.

He said many governments, though, still refuse to face up to what the declaration means in practice. "Within the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, article 21 says that the authority of the government is based on the rights of the people and yet we have seen many instances in Africa and elsewhere where election and their outcomes have been usually contested, from Zimbabwe, Kenya 2007, and now Cote d'Ivoire as we speak, where there was an election, a winner was announced, but the incumbent president refuses to leave office."

And it's that kind of abuse that affects the daily lives of people like the younger Peters. "I hope my dad lives to see my grand kids, if I have them, but most importantly I want him back for Christmas - that's all I ask for."

It's a simple wish for many around the world.

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Communityi
X
Sharon Behn
August 03, 2015 2:23 PM
A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Community

A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Bangkok Warned It Soon Could Be Submerged

Italy's Venice and America's New Orleans are not the only cities gradually submerging. The nearly ten million residents of the Bangkok urban area now must confront warnings the city could become uninhabitable in a few decades. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Thai capital.
Video

Video Inclusive Gym Gets People With Disabilities in Fitness Spirit

Individuals with special needs are 58 percent more likely to be obese than the general population. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, they also have an increased likelihood of anxiety, depression and social isolation. But a sports club outside Washington wants to make a difference in these people's lives. With Carol Pearson narrating, VOA's June Soh reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Special Olympics Show Competitors' Skill, Determination

Special Olympics competitions will wrap up Saturday in Los Angeles, and the closing ceremony for athletes with intellectual disabilities will be held Sunday night. In a week of competition, athletes have shown what they can do through skill and determination. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Shooter’s Grill: Serving Food with a Touch of the Second Amendment

Shooter's Grill, a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, attracts visitors from all over the world as well as local patrons. The reason? Waitresses openly carry loaded firearms as they serve food, and customers are welcome to carry them, too. VOA's Enming Liu and Lin Yang paid a visit to Shooter's Grill, and heard different opinions about this unique establishment.
Video

Video Despite Controversy, Business Owner Continues Sale of Confederate Flags

At Cooter’s, a store in rural Sperryville, Virginia, about 120 kilometers west of Washington, D.C., Confederate flags are flying off the shelves. The red, white and blue battle flag, with 13 white stars representing the Confederate states, was carried by southern forces during the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s. The South had seceded from the Union over several key issues of disagreement, including slavery. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs