FeaturedNationalVOLUME 18 ISSUE # 04

Human rights are under threat everywhere

Human Rights Day is celebrated on December 10 every year across the globe in remembrance of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in the year 1948. Since then the day is observed regularly to create public awareness and mobilize political will to promote respect for rights and freedoms of individuals. The day is extremely important as human rights are inalienable. 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.

The UDHR is a historic document, which proclaims the inalienable rights that everyone is entitled to as a human being regardless of race, colour, religion, gender, language, political affiliations, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. The UDHR’s importance lies in the fact that it enshrines an agreement among the world’s nations on freedoms and rights that deserve universal protection in order for every individual to live their lives freely, equally, and in dignity.

The 2022 theme of Human Rights Day is dignity, freedom, and justice for all. Human rights activists across the globe mark the Human Rights Day by taking part in various events, including Amnesty International’s Write for Rights campaign. Human rights also include the right to protest against injustice and State repression. In recent years, authorities all across the globe have implemented a series of measures to suppress dissent. Protesters across the globe are facing a toxic mix of restrictions, with a growing number of laws and other measures to limit the right to protest. These include preventing, forbidding and criminalising protests, excessive and unnecessary use of force, the unlawful use of law enforcement equipment, unlawful arrests and detentions, targeted surveillance, internet shutdowns and online censorship, and harassment and stigmatization. People who face inequality and discrimination, whether based on race, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, age, disability, occupation, social, economic or migratory status are specially affected by restrictions on their right to protest and face harsher repression.

In response to the growing global threat to the right to protest, Amnesty International has launched a global “Protect the Protest and Write for Rights” campaign which highlights the plight of individuals who are persecuted and jailed for peacefully protesting against inequality and political repression.

Next year the world will celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). Human Rights Day, 10 December 2022, marks the beginning of a year celebrating the 75th anniversary of the adoption of the UDHR. Over the years some progress has been made to highlight the rights of all persons and identify the root causes of systemic violations of human rights, but significant challenges still remain, including growing discrimination, the erosion of democracy, climate crisis and armed conflict and protracted wars. To carry on the fight for human rights, everyone should lend a helping hand.

On the Human Rights Day on December 10, Pakistan reiterated its call to the world community to stop India from continue with its blatant human rights violations in Occupied Jammu and Kashmir. Minister for Human Rights Riaz Hussain Pirzada, addressing a news conference, said that India must immediately withdraw its troops from Occupied Kashmir and lift all restrictions imposed there since 2019. He said Pakistan would continue to support the Kashmiri people who are facing Indian atrocities.

He called upon the world community to fulfil its responsibility to uphold the sanctity of law and human rights in Indian Occupied Kashmir and Palestine. He said Pakistan stands steadfast with its Kashmiri brethren and will raise their voice at every international forum. He asked the United Nations and other world bodies to play their role in stopping the Indian military’s atrocities against the people of Indian occupied Kashmir.

It is relevant to point out here that the need for governments to respect human rights is not just based on altruism. It also makes good business sense. Countries that respect human rights are seen as safer investment destinations. Investors fear that if people’s human rights are not respected, then their rights may also not be protected. To advance human rights, meet international commitments and fulfill UN mandated obligations, structural changes need to be made by the government leadership as well as the judiciary and law enforcing agencies.