Internationally, human rights records are at crisis level. An institutional right to every human being from birth regardless of any bias, yet so few countries manage to uphold their responsibilities to their citizens. In some cases western countries fairing no better.
The UK fortunately stands highly amongst its western counterparts with a very good human rights records. In fact The Human Rights Act 1998 (c42) is an Act of Parliament of the United Kingdom which received Royal Assent on 9th November 1998. It came into force on 2nd October 2000, its aim was to incorporate into UK law the rights contained in the European Convention on Human Rights.
At a global level, every country should adhere to these principles set out by the Human Rights Act. In Europe most western European countries do meet these standards. Countries in Asia, Africa and the Middle East however often struggle to meet even the most basic standards of human rights laws.
International intervention in the form of pressure from the UK, USA & the UN is offen applied on countries who break the rules. In rare cases sanctions can also be placed on these countries, yet very few countries take these threats seriously. Many national pressure groups protest for fairer and equal rights outside their government buildings’ but to little avail.
Through The Khawaja Foundation’s human rights blog, Make it Write! for the past couple of months our team have been conducting a research of a number of countries who sit on the Human Rights Council. As such you would expect these member countries to “uphold the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights,” as stated in its mandate.
Yet you would be surprised at the following countries human rights records:
Saudi Arabia Expertise in human rights: Death sentences for apostasy and adultery; corporal punishment including flogging and amputation; judiciary controlled by regime; beheading more peoeple than ever before; arbitrary arrests of dissenters and minorities; no freedom of speech; jails blogger Raif Badawi.
Venezuela Expertise in human rights: Widespread arbitrary detention; imprisonment of opposition leaders; intimidation of journalists; torture; policies causing mass hunger and health catastrophe.
China Expertise in human rights: Denial of freedom of speech, religion, and association; extrajudicial killings; repression of civil society; discrimination against Tibetans and other minorities.
Cuba Expertise in human rights: Systematic violation of freedom of speech, assembly, press; elections are neither free nor fair; threats and violence against dissidents.
Iraq Expertise in human rights: Pro-government militias commit widespread human rights abuses, including assassinations, enforced disappearances, property destruction.
Qatar Expertise in human rights: Inhuman conditions for 1.4 million migrant workers; women denied basic rights to equality, denied right to be elected to legislative council; finances ISIS and Hamas.
Burundi Expertise in human rights: Police killings of peaceful protesters; government forces commit summary executions, targeted assassinations, enforced disappearances; arbitrary detention, torture, sexual violence; genocide warning.
Bangladesh Expertise in human rights: Extrajudicial killings, forced disappearances, killing of secular bloggers by Islamist groups, restrictions on online speech and the press, early and forced marriage, gender-based violence, abysmal working conditions and labor rights.
United Arab Emirates Expertise in human rights:No political parties, no option to change government; restrictions on freedoms of speech, press, assembly, association; arrests without charge, incommunicado detentions, lengthy pretrial detentions; police and prison guard brutality; violence against women; anti-gay discrimination; mistreatment and sexual abuse of foreign domestic servants and other migrant workers.
Thus, the question remains then how can such abusers of human rights be “responsible for strengthening the promotion and protection of human rights around the globe”?
Is this just a simple issue of weak governance from the UNHRC? Do you think such countries should be excluded from sitting on the board of the Human Rights Council? Should they be penalised for their poor human rights records?
Let us know your thoughts and views in the comments section on what you think should happen to countries who fail to meet International Human Rights standards.