‘The Universal Declaration of Human Rights’ is exactly what it says – Human Rights are universal and we are all entitled to these rights. Unfortunately, violations exist in every part of the world. Everyday people’s rights are abused by many countries in the world, some of these violations are extreme and result in the deaths of many innocent men, women and children. The real cost of human rights abuse is how it affects the citizens of countries that continue to ignore human rights. The ordinary people do not get the opportunity of an education, employment, health care, etc… which in turn affects the economics of that country, which is not working to its full capacity. The following ten countries are classed as ‘extreme risk’ for human rights abuse. (Human Rights Risk Index 2014)
The most serious human rights abuses are those committed by the militant group Boko Haram. This group is continually murdering members of the local population and raping women in the Northern parts of Nigeria. In recent days, the kidnapping of over 200 young school girls has brought Boko Haram on to the world stage. Violence against women which includes female genital mutilation is rife and this is one of the main reasons many women flee Nigeria to seek asylum in other countries. FGM is a cruel and unnecessary tradition that needs to be stopped.
Human trafficking and child labour, infanticide, sexual exploitation of children are just a few of the many human rights abuses that happen every day. The population of Nigeria is nearly 179 million (which is the largest population of the African Continent) so protecting the population comes way down the list in order for this amount of people to survive on a daily basis and as a fully functioning nation. Nigeria is an oil producing country which means that many foreign governments do not mention human rights abuse when dealing with government officials in Nigeria. Nigeria is number 10 on the risk index list, but it is very likely it will have moved up the list by 2015.
Yemen is an Arab country in Western Asia. The most significant human rights problems are arbitrary killings, disappearances and kidnappings. There is a lack of transparency and significant corruption across all levels of government which means that the small oil reserves that exist in Yemen do not benefit the population. Violence against women and children is commonplace and the security forces use child soldiers, as do tribal groups and other informal militia. Discrimination is widespread against people with disabilities and also race, gender and ethnicity. Forced child labour also exists in Yemen.
When Aung San Kyi was released after 15 years house arrest in 2010 it was assumed that things would change in Myanmar, but there are still many human rights problems existing here. Corruption once again is the catalyst for the abuse of human rights. The Muslim population is continually discriminated against, along with the use of violence. Ethnic armed groups have recruited child soldiers and use both adults and children for forced labour. There is a sign that there has been a reduction of killings, rape and torture in the ethnic minority border states. It will probably take some years for Aung San Kyi to ensure that human rights are respected and upheld in her country – she is an elected member of parliament but unfortunately her political party does not hold the power.
Severe human rights problems persist in Iraq. The terrorist group Al-Qaida carry out sectarian and ethnic killings. As in most of the countries that human rights abuses exist, lack of government transparency and widespread corruption appears in all levels of society and government. Women’s social status and rights have been violated for many years. It is felt that the invasion of Iraq has led to this oppression as in the years before the invasion, women were allowed to wear what they wanted and to go where they wanted. Today, women’s rights have fallen to the lowest in Iraqi history. Taking women’s rights away reduces a state’s chance of developing the society in an equal and conflict free way. On the 25th of February 2014 the Iraqi Council of Ministers approved a new status law called Ja’fari law; this law allows the legal age of marriage for females at nine and males at fifteen. Human trafficking and violence against individuals on perceived sexual orientation and gender identity are also part of the human rights abuses in Iraq.
The most significant human rights problems are torture and abuse of detainees; increased targeted violence, endemic societal discrimination and widespread violence against women and children. A young Afghan woman had her nose and ears cut off because she ran away from her abusive husband and there are many more girls like this young woman who are abused in this way. The Taliban kill civilians and security force personnel using improvised explosive devices, car bombs and suicide attacks and the truly horrific practice used by the Taliban of using children as suicide bombers. Child labour and human trafficking are common.
The on-going conflict in Somalia contributes to the human rights abuses that occur every day in this war-torn land. Humanitarian assistance is confiscated by armed groups, thereby depriving the civilians of food and medical aid. Members of the media are targeted and killed – obviously these groups do not want it to be known how and what they are doing. Women and girls are subjected to violence, discrimination, rape and female genital mutilation (FGM). Human trafficking and child labour occurs along with all the other human rights abuses that the population of Somalia have to endure every day. The effects of this conflict will not just disappear over night, they will be there for many years to come and those that have been trafficked will more than likely never see their families or country again.
Sectarian violence, disappearances and torture are just some of the human rights abuses endured by the people of Pakistan. Corruption among the government and police is an everyday occurrence. Human trafficking, which includes forced and bonded labour is another serious problem. Once again women and children are the target of human rights abuses – rape, violence, honour crimes and the commercial sexual exploitation of children persist freely. Honour killing is when a member of the family decide that a woman has brought shame upon the family; honour killings have occurred in many parts of Europe. Afghanistan has just brought in a law that will allow men to beat their wives, sisters and children without any fear of being punished for doing so. As most violence against women takes place in the family, this new law will make it practically impossible for women to prove that there was any violence perpetrated against them.
3. DR Congo
The three most serious human rights problems in DR Congo is the armed conflict in the East, the lack of an independent and an effective judiciary and no punishment is administered throughout the country for many serious abuses, which include killings, abduction, and the use of rape as a weapon of war. As is usual in a war, it is the women and children who suffer the most. Children in the DR Congo are engaged in the worst forms of child labour, they are forced into mining, soldiering and agriculture. The children mine diamonds, copper and gold among other minerals. Working in mines exposes the children to fatal accidents such as collapse of the mine-shafts and explosions. The children forced to be soldiers are coerced to serve as combatants, porters, spies, domestic servants and sex slaves. The Rebel Militia, some of whom are supported by foreign governments, continually subject the civilian population to violence. Another fact that makes the DR Congo among the top ten high risk countries with regard to human rights abuses is the mineral wealth in the country that everyone wants to control and own.
Government forces and government-aligned groups commit unlawful and extra-judicial killings. The Sudanese government has taken no steps whatsoever to prosecute or punish members of the security services and elsewhere in the government who commit abuses. The security forces have carried out torture, beatings, and rape on members of the local populations. Again, women are violently abused both physically and sexually. Female Genital Mutilation is widely practiced and 89% of women have undergone some form of cutting. Children are targeted for recruitment as child soldiers and forced into child labour. Human rights abuses are directed at ethnic minorities. Tribes people in the Darfur region were systematically massacred. The cost of conflict and human rights abuses in Sudan is costing lives – if the fighting continues it is possible that” half of South Sudan’s 12 million people will be displaced, starving or dead by the end of this year” (Secretary General of the United Nations – Ban Ki Moon)
Top of the list on the Human Rights Index is Syria, the Assad regime continues to use indiscriminate and deadly force to quell protests. In August 21 2013, the regime used sarin gas and artillery to target the suburbs of Damascus, and killed over 1,000 people. Human trafficking has increased due to the conflict and there are no laws or practices in force to combat this trafficking. Violence and societal discrimination against women and minorities continue, and workers’ rights remain restricted. The government did not make any attempt to detain or bring to trial any of the officials who had abused civilian’s human rights.
As in other war-torn countries, Syria is using violent rape as a weapon of war, victims of rape are often ostracised and this can lead to the destruction of communities and families thereby weakening the strength of the protesters. Kidnappings, disappearances and the targeted killing of protesters, journalists and medical professionals are among the other human rights abuses occurring in Syria. Syria seems to have slid down the ladder of the media news, yet the violence is still happening. Millions of people have fled to neighbouring countries for safety but will they ever be able to return to their true home?