OUR CARIBBEAN: Human rights study in the US
IRRESPECTIVE OF nationalities and social status as we settle down for the final lap before Christmas Day celebrations, we could hardly ignore the worldwide pleas for respecting fundamental human rights amid the recurring heart-rending tragedies involving refugees and migrants – with hundreds perishing at sea – as they desperately flee the carnage flowing from organised international terrorism and religious/political hatred in their own homeland.
The need for respecting fundamental human rights today is not a matter of just academic interest, or for selected pitiful expressions. Rather, for new and urgent practical responses by all to combat the immense human tragedies being spawned by racial, religious and political arrogance and hatred.
The challenges require fresh thinking by all of us, and this season of “peace and goodwill” is an appropriate time for fresh thinking for active human rights involvement by governments, political parties, religious, educational institutions as well as more structured participation by the mass media.
Coincidentally, it so happens that as the major military and economic powers increasingly reveal their own fresh thinking on the need for practical cooperation against “jihadists terrorism” – and the related horrors of refugees and their children dying at sea – there has emerged a most refreshing development by the United Nations.
It involves a trio of women human rights specialists, chosen by the United Nations, to peruse an assignment on “gender equality” in, of all places – yes, the United States of America. There, in that celebrated “land of the free and home of the brave”, thousands are currently being instigated to keep away from inhabiting the White House any presidential candidate who is even a Muslim sympathiser or bears a muslim name. Are such religious/political haters mocking that iconic symbol to the world that was a gift from France?
For now, my focus on the relevance of the mission to the United States by the trio of UN human rights envoys is that it is such a sharply contrasting development to what has become an established norm – America and Americans probing human rights shortcomings – gender inequality or else – in any member state of the world, except America. The perceived assumption is that “America is okay” when it comes to human rights – in any area.
Now we are about to have the independent findings of the three UN experts – one from the United Kingdom, another from Poland and the third from Costa Rica, whose reports during a scheduled ten-day visit will be shared with the relevant authorities identified with varying forms of discrimination and abuse.
According to one report, the missing rights of women in the states visited extend to various sectors, including health, child-care treatment, penal institutions and workplace facilities, as well as discrimination in wages and religious freedom.
They concluded their visits with a trip to the White House and government agencies, including the departments of health and labour.
What a difference – now – in probing human rights violations against women in Uncle Sam’s nation state.
A pleasant and peaceful Christmas to all readers.
• Rickey Singh is a noted Caribbean journalist.