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.
    Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Rulingi
    X
    May 03, 2016 5:16 PM
    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.
    Video

    Video Elephant Summit Results in $5M in Pledges, Presidential Support

    Attended and supported by three African presidents, a three-day anti-poaching summit has concluded in Kenya, resulting in $5 million in pledges and a united message to the world that elephants are worth more alive than dead. The summit culminated at the Nairobi National Park with the largest ivory burn in history. VOA’s Jill Craig attended the summit and has this report about the outcomes.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With the conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, between the rebel PKK and the Turkish state, many Kurds are trying to escape the turmoil by focusing on the success of their football team Amedspor in Diyarbakir. The club is increasingly becoming a symbol for Kurds, not only in Diyarbakir but beyond. Dorian Jones reports from southeast Turkey.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora