Human Rights Violations


Nature and Extent of Human Rights Violations

Human rights violation is the failure to protect or blatantly disregard human rights. Human rights violation is the denial of the fundamental rights of individuals. This occurs when the state or othe actors treats its people as if they are less than human and undeserving of respect and dignity. A state commits human rights violations either directly or indirectly. It can either intentionally perform the violation, or fail to prevent the violation.

When the law enforcer becomes the lawbreaker, the result is an assault on human dignity, on the law and on all institutions of public authority. Human rights violations by law enforcers make the challenging task of law enforcement more difficult. The violation can be physically violent in nature, such as police brutality. Further, rights such as the right to a fair trial can also be violated where no physical violence is involved. Other examples of human rights violations are acts that are typically referred to as crimes against humanity and include genocide, torture, slavery, rape, forceful medical experimentation and deliberate starvation.

Key Human Rights Violations by Law Enforcers

(a) Torture

This is any act committed with intent to cause severe pain or mental or physical suffering in order to obtain information, get a confession or an admission and to punish, intimidate or coerce the suspect.

(b) Enforced or involuntary disappearance

This includes arrest, detention, abduction or other deprivation of liberty by law enforcers where the fate or whereabouts of the victim is not disclosed or custody is not confirmed.

(c) Extra-judicial, arbitrary or summary executions

This is deprivation of life without full judicial and legal process. It includes death through the excessive use of force by police or security forces.

(d) Arbitrary arrest and detention

This is deprivation of liberty without lawful reason or due process by an act of the Government or its agents, or with their complicity, tolerance or acquiescence.

Effects of Human Rights Violations by Law Enforcers

The effects of human rights violations by law enforcers include:

  1. Erotion of public confidence and trust in law enforcers.
  2. Hampering of effective prosecutions in court.
  3. Isolation of law enforcers from the community.
  4. Miscarriages of justice and undermining the rule of law.
  5. Failure to accord justice to victims of crime.
  6. Law enforcement agencies become reactive rather than preventive in their approach to crime.
  7. Disrepute of law enforcement agencies and other institutions of public authority.
  8. Exacerbation of civil unrest.

Violation of Civil and Political Rights

The state and other actors can violate civil and and political rights through genocide, torture, and arbitrary arrest. Conflict can also trigger violations of the right to freedom of expression and the right of peaceful assembly. States are usually responsible for the violations as they attempt to maintain control and push down rebellious societal forces. Suppressing political rights is a common tactic for many governments during times of civil unrest. Violations of civil and political human rights can occur at any time, with or without any specific conflict in the country.

Violation of Economic and Social Rights

As is the case with all human rights, states and other actors can violate economic, social, and cultural rights. The United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights gives examples of violation of these rights:

  1. Contaminating water, for example, with waste from State-owned facilities (the right to health)
  2. Evicting people by force from their homes (the right to adequate housing)
  3. Denying services and information about health (the right to health)
  4. Discriminating at work based on traits like race, gender, and sexual orientation (The right to work)
  5. Failing to provide maternity leave (protection of and assistance to the family)
  6. Not paying a sufficient minimum wage (rights at work)
  7. Segregating students based on disabilities (the right to education)
  8. Forbidding the use of minority/indigenous languages (the right to participate in cultural life)

Author: DidiWamukoya

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