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Sunday, February 25, 2024

Who protects our human rights?

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With Aisha Jallow

The short answer to ‘who protects our human rights?’ is:?’All of us.’ Whether it’s the UN, our governments, public authorities, institutions, businesses, or each of us as individuals – we all have a role to play in understanding, respecting and defending human rights.

Respecting the rights of others begins with each of us. We all want to be free to make our own decisions about what we say and do, but of course the limit to our freedom is when our actions or words start to cause harm to others.

However, it’s not just up to individuals to work out what is right and wrong or how to deliver on the promise of human rights – our governments are instrumental in respecting and fulfilling human rights.

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Governments must never violate our human rights, but they must also proactively make sure people’s rights are upheld and fulfilled. For example, it’s one thing to have the right to an education written in a declaration or charter of rights, but unless our governments create the policy settings that ensure schools are functioning and accessible to all children, that right won’t be realised. Likewise, without a system in place that allows us to safely and freely cast a vote, our right to have a say in choosing our government becomes meaningless.

So while we all as individuals, organisations or businesses, have a clear responsibility to respect and not to violate human rights, our governments have that same duty but also a further obligation to ensure human rights are both protected and fulfilled.

Ackording to the UN, the United Nations, the human rights are rights inherent to all human beings, regardless of race, sex, nationality, ethnicity, language, religion, or any other status. Human rights include the right to life and liberty, freedom from slavery and torture, freedom of opinion and expression, the right to work and education, and many more.  Everyone is entitled to these rights, without discrimination.

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How about the government in The Gambia, do you feel they are protecting your human rights as written above? Right to life and liberty- how about the women who die while in labour? Don’t they have their right to live to see their children grow up?

What about the children who die unnecessarily in diseases that could have been treated if their parents could afford the treatment and there would be healthcare clinics everywhere? The children who died could have become our future law makers, doctors, lawyers or inventors. They were deprived their lives because the ones who could have saved them didn’t care enough to invest in proper and affordable healthcare for all people.

Freedom from slavery and torture can also mean that instead of the 150,000 jobs promised by our Big Chief, in Saudi Arabia, could have been job opportunities in The Gambia where people know each other and they don’t become discriminated because of the colour of their skin. They could work in their own country, live with their families and move freely, instead of being incarcerated in baracks, forbidden to step out in their free time.

The slavery work in Saudi Arabia means that you can’t leave and go home, because your employer has taken your passport. If you leave your barrack at night you will be arrested and beaten. If you are a female, you will live in your employer’s home. You will have no freedom at all, work every day of the week and be beaten if you don’t do a good job. During the nights you are a sex slave to your employer, and you can’t complain to his wife because she refuses to believe you. You can’t leave, because you have no passport and you can’t step out because then you will be arrested, beaten and raped while being in custody. Isn’t this slavery and torture of modern times? It is an official secret, but still it hasn’t found its way to our rulers.

Freedom of opinion and expression is a human right that doesn’t weigh heavily in The Gambia. The limitations of this human right are wrong, but for our president seems more right than anything else. He has the right to express his opinions, but you have no right to contradict him. Is this right? Of course not, but as long as not enough people question this fact it will remain at this level. At a press conference, the leader of the UDP, Ousainu Darboe, expressed his opinions about the national budget. According to Mr Darboe, this budget demonstrated a clear lack of vision for the development of the country. It did not prioritise the wellfare of ordinary Gambians.

He is so true, but is anyone surprised?

The rich, the powerful and the well connected are the beneficiaries of this budget, and seeing this I don’t know if I should laugh or cry. How many times haven’t I told you that those who are responsible for your wellfare don’t give a damn about it? The corruption is worse than ever, worse because we were promised something else and that promise is not worth the paper it is written upon. The inequality, poverty and unemployment is on the rise, together with the prices of all our living expences and taxation. What do you get for the taxes you are paying? You have the right to know, all this information should be official, but you are not allowed to have any insight in these matters.

The right to work and education are some more of our human rights. The foundation for every thriving state is education, and as long as this right is withheld the citizens, there will be no development. Those who can afford go abroad to get a proper education, but what about most of you? For how long will you accept that the lousy education system you have had for too long, in The Gambia, remain as it is? Don’t you wish for anything better for your children, for the future of your country? The president doesn’t , that we all know, because he doesn’t understand the value of a proper education as he is lacking one himself.

So; who is protecting our human rights? We must all be the protectors, we must never relax or resignate. We must always keep on fighting for our rights to have a good life. Learn about your rights! Use your smart phones to search for information instead of wasting your time on TikTok, Facebook or YouTube. Don’t be a mental slave, be a mental warrior instead and fight for the rights to proper information and education . You are worth it, believe in yourself even if you feel that no one else does that. Protect your human right to protect yourself.

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