Thursday, September 27, 2007

Potential Bloodbath in Burma (Mynamar)?

The actual numbers are inconclusive, but the results are disheartening. On September 24, 2007, the military junta of Burma, in power since 1962, open fired on peaceful protestors (including Buddhist monks) killing several, and arresting hundreds. In 1988, in a similar pro-democracy protest, thousands were killed and the iron curtain of secrecy descended even further in Burma.
The EU, the UK and the US have called for U.N sanctions against Burma through the security council --but Russia and China have vetoed it. So what now? Sit back and watch the slaughter in high-definition? What should be done?

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Bush Denounces "Brutal Regimes"

In a passionate address to the annual General Assembly of the United Nations on Tuesday, President Bush advocated stricter sanctions on Myanmar (formerly Burma) and denounced the “brutal regimes” of Belarus, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, and Syria for their human rights abuses.  Mr. Bush called for a moratorium on visas of those “responsible for the most egregious violations of human rights”, as well as economic sanctions. As a result, the United States Treasury will assemble an inventory of those who will feel the repercussions of the economic sanctions and the State Department will compile a list of people barred from entry into the U.S.  In addition, Mr. Bush specifically criticized Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe for human rights abuses in violation the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  He repeatedly referred to the Declaration, stressing the first article, which declares the universal equality of all humans.

Mr. Bush criticized the U.N.’s Human Rights Council, formerly the Commission on Human Rights, for hypocrisy and for targeting the nation of Israel for condemnation.  Finally, Mr. Bush challenged the “free world” to do more to stop the genocide in Darfur, insisting that 7,000 peacekeeping troops would not suffice.

In his fervent speech, President Bush stated, “every civilized nation also has a responsibility to stand up for people suffering under dictatorship.”  Are we bound by such a responsibility?  Should the United States be an international “watchdog”?  Do we have the right to intervene in other countries and “spread” democracy?  Or, is it a greater evil to stand by and allow human rights abuses to continue rather than intervening?

Human Rights for all or Just for some?

In the LA times on September 18th an article was posted by Jaime Fellner, she states that the right of being able to live in an environment free of sexual violence is detrimental to public safety. In addition to this she also states that California in particular does a poor job of implementing laws that prevent sex offenders from committing crimes that endanger many children in our country. There is a law that applies to anyone that has committed any kind of sex-related offense, which can include anyone from streakers to teenagers having consensual sex. At the same time juveniles as young as 10 years of age are subject to this law. Laws like this are not clear enough for such a serious topic as sexual violence. Proposition 83 also known as Jessica’s Law (named for Jessica Lunsford a victim of sexual violence, who was also murdered) states that sex offenders who have just been released from prison are forbidden to live no closer than 2,000 feet from any school or park to prevent any type of threat to children that play at the parks or go to the schools. “The evidence shows that family members, friends or acquaintances are responsible for more than 90% of sexual abuse cases involving children. As for repeat offenses, most convicted sex offenders do not have a lengthy history of repeating the crime. The U.S. Department of Justice reported a recidivism rate of 3% to 5% three years after release. A longer study found that three out of four did not re-offend within 15 years. These laws offer no protection against first-time offenders, who are responsible for 87% of reported sex crimes against children.”(Los Angeles Times, September 18, 2007)
So with that said human rights for sex offenders are not being considered. Having these laws in place actually make it difficult for sex offender to re-adapt to society. Jessica’s Law prevents sex offenders from living in cities and forces them to live far from accessibility to jobs, family, and society. Moreover the general idea of prison is to rehabilitate criminals, but instead of rehabilitating these sex offenders we are in fact isolating them, which can only make matters worse not better. Yes, isolating sex offenders with the use of the internet websites and etc. does decrease the chances that a child will be sexually assaulted, but at the same time using isolation as a means of punishment for all offenders which only 3 to 5 percent of them actually repeat the crime. In my opinion this seems perhaps a little harsh for the crime after serving there time. Does this isolation mean that there are human rights for some and not for all? Or does this suggest that there are human rights for the “Good” and not the “Evil?”

Circumcision of women as an African Tribe tradition - Should this be allowed?

While the circumcision of men has been medically proven to be beneficial, the circumcision of women is quite the different story. Certain tribes in Africa circumcise women to prevent them from experiencing any pleasure, so as to fulfill their reproductive functions without engaging in the 'shameful' act of sex. This circumcision takes place before the girl reaches puberty and is done against her will. Not only are the methods unsanitary, they are also medieval and thereby cause excessive pain to the unwilling women. Should such procedures be allowed without the consent of the bearer? Is this not a gross violation of the rights of so many young women who have had no say in the matter?

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Should this "Evil" Man be allowed to speak?

Iran's President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad spoke at Columbia University yesterday, and is scheduled to speak at the General Assembly of the U.N this week. Should he be given a public forum for his hate-mongering?

Monday, September 24, 2007

Is this Communalism gone mad in Uganda?

In Uganda, hundreds of thousands have died at the hands of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA). Increasingly there have been calls for "communal healing" rather than "Western-style persecution". Since when is "justice" Western? Can there be justice with mato oput?

Sunday, September 23, 2007

The Military Commissions Act of 2006: Denial of Human Rights or Measure of Protection?

Last week, the Senate blocked the passage of a Detainees' Rights Bill meant to counter the Military Commissions Act of 2006. While the debate over the 2006 Act has not been quelled, the blockage of this new bill highlights a very important ongoing controversy. The 2006 Act essentially removes a terror suspect's right to Habeas Corpus, supplementing that right with the right to appear before an ambiguous "Combatant Status Review Tribunal" that decides the fate of a suspected terrorist or enemy of the US. Terror suspects and other criminals are not granted the right to sit before a jury upon detainment. These suspects are merely shipped to Guantanamo Bay and held until they are scheduled to appear in front of the "Tribunal". However, as stated in the attached article, one must question the "proper balance between national security and personal liberty".
During times of war, do foreign enemies deserve the right to a fair trial or is the US better off detaining all criminals in order to ensure the safety of the nation? Personally, I feel that the 2006 Act does violate the human rights of the suspected terror suspects jailed in Gitmo. However, the US does need an effective way to ensure the safety of its homeland and troops overseas. Regardless, habeas Corpus is a necessary means of serving justice worldwide. If the right to Habeas Corpus were granted and the US courts found every inmate at Gitmo guilty, at least it would be done constitutionally with human rights in mind. For this reason, one must look to the Supreme Court.
In April, the Supreme Court denied to hear two cases (Boumediene v. Bush and Al Odah v. U.S.) regarding the constitutionality of the Military Commissions Act. However, this decision was reversed and the two cases will be heard as one in October. Time can only tell what the ruling will be on the constitutionality of the 2006 Act. However, the debate lingers - how can a nation balance national security with the need to protect individual liberties?