Human rights work needs courage

Editorial

HUMAN rights are the basic freedoms and protections that belong to every single one of us.
All human beings are born with equal and inalienable rights and fundamental freedoms.
Human rights are based on dignity, equality and mutual respect – regardless of nationality, your religion or your belief.
There are five universal declarations of human rights – right to equality; freedom from discrimination; right to life, liberty, and personal security; freedom from slavery; and freedom from torture and degrading treatment.
PNG joined the United Nations in 1975 and in 2011 extended a standing invitation to all the thematic mechanisms of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights to visit the country.
In May 2010, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture visited the country and suggested that the country urgently ratify the Convention Against Torture (CAT) and its Optional Protocol.
The rapporteur suggested that PNG ratify the first Optional Protocol to the ICCPR which provides for the right of victims to lodge individual complaints to the United Nations Human Rights Committee and also the second optional protocol aiming at the abolition of the death penalty.
However, PNG has not yet ratified the instruments.
Human rights should not be seen as a new thing in PNG as it has been in the Constitution since independence
The Government recognises the challenges of not just having a Constitution that enshrines the rights of people but doing something about them.
Human Rights Watch reports most often do not reflect too well on PNG’s history of abuse.
The reassurance from Minister for Justice and Attorney-General Davis Steven that the Government is planning to create a human rights commission to address related issues in the country is yet to materialise.
And that is vital that every citizen in PNG must be made aware of their human rights and obligations.
PNG is faced with the challenge of making people aware of their basic human rights and obligation. Laws exist in PNG to protect people but the message needs to get out that wherever they live in the country and what they do, they must be aware of their human rights and obligations.
Transparent societies with a strong emphasis on the rule of law, accountability and human rights attract opportunities for growth.
Where there is human rights, there is obligation.
Quite interesting, too, that most of the human rights cases filed in the National Court nationwide are against the State and its officers.
There is a lot of cases against the state that arise from allegations of police misconduct and police brutality.
There are police brutality cases, cases of prisoners complaining against their sentences and treatments and cases involving an individual against another often go before the court. The courts have been successful in dealing with human rights cases since their establishment in 2011 and since then more than 2000 cases of human rights have been filed before the courts.
The obligation to protect requires States to protect individuals and groups against human rights abuses.
The obligation to fulfil means that States must take positive action to facilitate the enjoyment of basic human rights.
The biggest problem in the country was the lack of courage and conviction. Until there is a change for people to become courageous, we are not going to progress on this issue.
At the individual level, while we are entitled our human rights, we should also respect the human rights of others.

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