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End Human Rights Violations

Updated on December 10, 2009

Please note, some quotes will not appear correct in American English.

When violations of human rights are mentioned, most people think of third-world countries and rightly so. There are daily occurrences of abuse and rape of women and girls, kidnapping, human trafficking, forced labor, boys forced into armies, massacres, poverty, disease... the list goes on.

One country's violations included discrimination, poverty, hunger, homelessness and denial of religious freedom, education, the right to vote, health care, security, protection of property and/or wages and the right to stop underground nuclear testing (are you kidding me?!) and/or the right to have a say regarding proximity of toxic waste storage. The government also failed to protect against police abuse and torture, hate acts and groups, and to protect prisoners against abuse and rape. The government itself also participated in torture, illegal detention and invasion of privacy. Where did all of this occur? The United States of America.

These atrocities and MANY others which have occurred worldwide are being brought to the forefront today as the United Nations honors Human Rights Day.

In the current United Nations' Human Rights Index, there are more than 97,480 rights violations noted worldwide. These violations are indexed by general, widespread violations not by individual incidents.

Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control. - Universal Declaration of Human Rights

The United States, champion of personal rights and freedom, now allows more discrimination and has fewer rights than allowed under the U.N.'s Universal Declaration of Human Rights which was ratified 61 years ago.

While the U.S. is far from the worst of the offenders with only 526 violations noted, it must not be overlooked or dismissed. Action must be taken.

According to the UN, the U.S. needs to eliminate the obstacles that currently prevent or limit access to adequate health care, such as poor or no health insurance, unequal distribution of health-care resources and persistent racial discrimination in the provision of health care and poor quality of public health-care services.

In some cases, those who are homeless or extremely poor become victims of disease as a result of their living conditions such as nutrition-related illnesses, tuberculosis, infections, pneumonia, severe dental problems, AIDS, alcoholism, mental illnesses, diabetes, hypertension and physical disabilities. Without shelter, people also combat frostbite and violence.

The homeless, poor, mentally ill and others who cannot get enough sleep face serious health risks. If one does not get enough sleep, the brain's ability to function deteriorates. This deterioration impairs the ability to maintain a healthy immune system and the ability to think and problem-solve. If the lack of sleep becomes chronic, more serious problems such as hallucinations, heart failure, stroke and mood disorders materialize.

Once this cycle starts, it's nearly impossible to stop it and to survive these individuals may turn to crime. In instances of severe hallucinations and other possible mental illnesses, people could become homicidal through no fault of their own.

“There is no national anti-poverty legislation in the U.S., but rather, a patchwork of different laws addressing aspects of poverty in a limited manner, the TANF Cash Assistance Program is limited to five years in a lifetime and can be further reduced by states, Medicaid does not reach everybody and excludes many groups of working poor and immigrants and social security for the disabled and elderly do not reach everybody and even if it did, levels of benefits are grossly inadequate.”

The UN report also stated that authorities need to re-examine the income poverty line as many are not identified as - but are - suffering from poverty.

All cases involving children (under 18) in which the children have been sentenced to life without the possibility of parole should be reviewed according to the report and the laws which permitted it changed. It notes there are 2,225 youth offenders serving life.

“Committee is of view that sentencing children to life sentence without parole is of itself not in compliance with article 24 (1) ICCPR (articles 7 and 24).”

The Index also noted abuses at the hand of law enforcement including torture and of those in prison including rape (wants implementation of Prison Rape Elimination Act). Cross burning, it claims, and other dissemination of hate is not covered under the first amendment and should not be permitted.

It also stated the Patriot Act should be repealed.

“State, including through National Security Agency (NSA), has monitored and still monitors phone, email, and fax communications of individuals both within and outside U.S., without any judicial or other independent oversight,” the report states. “Ensure that any infringement on individual's rights to privacy is strictly necessary and duly authorized by law.”

Numerous notations addressed poor treatment of Native Americans including resumption of underground nuclear testing on Western Shoshone ancestral lands and federal efforts to open a nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain.

Criticism regarding the use of mercenaries and torture was not a surprise. In terms of the Guantánamo Bay detention facilities, the UN called to them to be closed immediately and detainees transferred to facilities on U.S. territory. The U.S., according to the report, needs to stop torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, punishment, discrimination, violations of health and denial of freedom of religion.

To read all of the U.S. violations listed in the Index, click here (you will leave this site).

Last year on Human Rights Day, the United Nations celebrated the 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which include:

  • All human beings are born free, equal in dignity and rights and are entitled to these rights without distinction of any kind, such as race, color, sex, language, religion, jurisdictional or international status, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.
  • No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms. No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him.
  • Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state and country as well as the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives and equal access to public service.
  • Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to have a family but only with the free and full consent.
  • Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, opinion, expression, conscience and religion and alone, in public or in private, may manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.
  • Everyone has the right to work, free choice of employment, just conditions of work, protection against unemployment, equal pay for equal work, reasonable limitation of working hours and periodic holidays with pay.
  • Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.

In honor of Human Rights Day, look in the mirror and see if you – in your daily life – honor the rights of people you encounter. Strive to make changes to any areas in which you fail to uphold the sentiments in the Declaration and urge your representatives and family to do the same. If everyone strives to treat people fairly, it will be a much better world.

It's been said charity begins at home. So let's begin.

More info:

Every Human Has Rights
Know Your Rights
The United Nations' Universal Human Rights Index
The High Commissioner of Human Rights (UN)


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