Every once in a while, something happens to awaken us to the reality of the human rights violations happening all around us. Every once in a while, reports emerge in the media, about major human rights abuses taking place right under our noses. And occasionally, we come across incidents where people are not being treated with dignity – yet again awakening us to the fact that we still have some way to go, in human rights protection. When I had time to think about it, I realized that there are some five ways in which we can improve human rights protection.
Firstly, people need to educated on the rights. You realize that there are people who don’t know what their rights are. Naturally, such people can’t complain when their rights are abused – because they don’t know about the rights anyway.
Secondly, law enforcement officers need to be indoctrinated on the need for them to respect human rights. Many cases of human rights abuses are, unfortunately, linked to law enforcement officers.
Thirdly, all allegations of human rights abuses need to be thoroughly investigated. No allegation should be taken for granted, whatever the circumstances.
Fourthly, the media needs to be empowered, to report on all allegations of human rights abuses unhindered. The media can be a very powerful ally, in the endeavor to have human rights protected. Unfortunately, some cases of human rights abuses can be too embarrassing for the authorities. So they are tempted to intimate the media, directly or indirectly, to hush up such incidents (or to refrain from giving such incidents the limelight they deserve). This has to be avoided, if we are to get anywhere in terms of genuine human rights protection.
Fifthly, all people who are proven to have abused others’ rights need to be punished in a deterrent way. A strong message has to sent, to the effect that human rights abuses won’t be tolerated. If we make the mistake of giving people the impression that they can get away with human rights abuses, we will be treading a very dangerous path.