On Human Rights Issues

The issue of human rights is still problematic as it is still open to interpretations by the countries who have signed the Human Rights Treaty. Ironically, the governments who abuse human rights most are those who defend their records on respecting them. They accuse those seeking their rights as trouble makers or as a threat to national security.

Many countries are ruled by despotic regimes, with leaders seeking all means to stay in power by silencing their opponents through death, torture and imprisonment.

There are two countries in the news today which are an example of the violation of human rights: Zimbabwe and Burma. In Zimbabwe, there were many reported incidents of people victims of cruel physical assaults following the general elections. The government seemed to be doing nothing about it, by for example, opening an inquiry. In Burma, people hit by the cyclone are left exposed to hunger and disease for more than three weeks because of the military regime, despite the enthusiasm of the international community to help them.

These two cases show the impotence of the international community to intervene to put things right. There are sometimes political calculations. The West and other big countries like China and India turn a blind eye to the abuses of the human rights by regimes as long as they serve their interests.

What pressure can be put on governments abusing human rights to respect them? Are economic sanctions effective to make abusive regimes change their policies?

There are many illegal immigrants crossing to Europe mainly from Africa. What rights do these immigrants have to seek a better life?

My third question is about the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state:

On the Algerian territory, there are displaced people from Western Sahara who live in camps. They have been there since 1975. Many want to return to their homeland, but they are prevented by the Polisario Front fighting Morocco over this territory. Anyone caught trying to escape is subject to torture and imprisonment. Shouldn’t there be international pressure on this front to allow these people the freedom to live where they want to regardless of the differences it has with Morocco?

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