Thursday, April 30, 2009

Human Wrongs For the Sake of Human Rights?

A new report was released recently about the usage of waterboarding on suspected Al Qaeda suspects. CIA is reported to have waterboarded these two suspects a total of 266 times. Previously, ABC news reported that these suspects were waterboarded only once. These inconsistencies put to question the nature of the President Bush’s policies. President Obama has discouraged and condemned these acts.

Some are very angry at President Obama’s reaction and some say inaction about the subject. Meanwhile, some still argue that the wrong thing done for the right reason is still justified. Torture has clearly shown not to deliver accurate results. Does torture derive from the indignant feelings felt by the torturers? Is torture ever justified? We have been evaluating torture in third world countries for our asylum cases. When we evaluate torture by our own country, is it ever justified? Is it justified anywhere? Does the use of torture change based on countries’ economic standing? Is torture ever tolerable?

Blame it on the Genes!?

In Nigeria, it is legal for authorities to lock up people just because they are mentally ill even if they have no committed any crime or had committed such a trivial crime that they should not receive a prison sentence for it. However, in Nigeria they are being held in prisons in unsanitary and unacceptable condition only because they are mentally ill. This is no fault of theirs but one can blame it on their genes. They need to be put in mental hospitals and not in jails. That will not help the mental condition of any of the people if they are put in such conditions where there is no chance of them recovering or getting better. Treating them as prisoners and as people who have committed crimes is a human rights abuse. We often overlook human rights abuses like this and we don't think much of them. Can you imagine what a big issue it would have become if in America they imprisoned mentally ill people just because they were mentally ill and not because they had committed any crime or done anything wrong. That would just not be acceptable to anyone and human rights activists would be on the roads protesting. Why then in a third world country like Nigeria does this go unnoticed and unaddressed. How long will this go on for? When will such abuse stop? When will the third world countries citizen's be given the same type of rights that other citizens in the world have? I think it is very important to have each country accountable to a higher human rights authority that can deal with these issues of human rights abuses by authorities in all countries. At least that would make them accountable to someone.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

A Lack of Action on Darfur?

With a new President in office and a new Congress filling the Capitol Building and it's offices there seems to be little change in the policy regarding Sudan and the Darfur region. In fact, it looks as though this is not all too pressing of an issue because blogger has underlined Darfur as being spelt incorrectly because apparently the website does not know what it is. But it is a major issue as seen from my attached article.

With the looming credit crisis, the housing meltdown, and the roller coaster of the stock market, not to mention the newfound sensationalism of "swine flu," the Darfur region seems to have fallen off of the radar of worries and injustices in this country. I have heard little from the activist celebrities or other groups on the issue as of late, and even the protest in this article only gathered 5 lawmakers to stand up to the Sudanese government.

Though the State Department has referred to this issue as a "genocide," why is the Sudanese embassy still open in the face of their blatant disregard of the problem. Not only should the United States place pressure on our allies and countries such as China and Russia to not deal with the Sudanese until this is sorted out, but also we should send a stronger message to the Sudanese government as well voicing our disdain for the problem. This truly is an example of how there is not always human rights for all.

Monday, April 27, 2009

"A Family Divided by 2 Words: Legal and Illegal


This article tells the story of a family from Ecuador who uprooted their lives to move to the United States. As educated professionals in Ecuador, they gave up a comfortable life and rewarding jobs to live in a cramped apartment and work grueling jobs that are labor intensive. Despite the hardships, this family did it all to provide their daughter with a better education. As the mother notes, “My hopes are dead. Right now we’re just focused on the education of the children and their future. Let them reach their goals and have their dreams.”

Unfortunately, it is not that easy. This family represents nearly three quarters of 2.3 million undocumented families that have one child who is a United States citizen. Like this family, 400,000 of these “mixed-status families” have children that are both citizens and non-citizens. While the younger son lacks ambition, he is a US citizen and therefore can obtain a job in the country and has access to finical aid and scholarships to finance a college education. On the other hand, the daughter was one of the 65,000 young people that graduate from American high schools each year without immigration papers. Despite her stellar grades and obvious potential, her only options were the public universities in her state. Without a social security number, she was unable to obtain the kind of job her credentials merited after graduation. She now works as a bookkeeper, in a job that she is over-qualified for and underpaid.

Is it fair to these children that are brought to the United States by their parents to be so limited in their potential? This daughter had no say in coming to this country. Because of where she was born, she can continue to excel at school and work hard but she is extremely limited in where that work can take her. Since her brother was born here, he does not have this concerns and the sky is his limit. The New York State Youth Leadership Council is pushing Congress to pass the Dream Act, which would grant legal status to high school graduates who were brought to the United States by their parents before they were 15 years old and attend college for 2 years or serve in the military. Along with providing an incentive to work hard in school, it creates an essential opportunity. It is unfair to limit the potential of children of illegal immigrants who were given no choice in their situation and this act serves to create an equal playing field for these children in "mixed status families."

Sunday, April 26, 2009

A Caudillo Comes to Justice

After experiencing many years of fiscal, political, and social peril, Alberto Fujimori came to power in Peru in 1990 and stayed there through 2000 with his strong-armed tactics. Fujimori bribed countless politicians and government agents, he embezzled $1 Billion U.S. dollars from the Peruvian government, and would often use the military and his Intelligence supervisor to get what he wanted. However, these were only a few of his most deplorable actions. What could be seen as his worst is what he has recently been found guilty of, not in an activist European Court, but in his own country.

Fujimori was found guilty, on April 7, 2009, of Human Rights abuses stemming from his knowledge that a death squad, the Colina Group, had killed a number of Fujimori's opponents, individuals associated with "The Shining Path," a Maoist terrorist group which started in the hills of Peru, but quickly became involved with politics and violence within it's cities, such as Lima. Though the Shining Path did not consist of angels, this was still a brazen act of unjustifiable violence. The Court also ruled on the kidnapping and murder of 10 students from a teacher's training center. These cases are only a few of a number of kidnappings that the Colina Group participated in during the years of Fujimori, and are two known cases in which he can be implicated as the "indirect perpetrator." 

This is a monumental ruling due to the fact that after being dissolved of power some nine years ago, and his subsequent fleeing of the country, Fujimori had been brought back to justice by the new government, which coincidentally is headed by the President he took control from, Alan Garcia. Not only does this help solidify his control of the country and the justice that he sought to bring the people, this is also a major issue for the region in general. After the circus that became the deportation of Pinochet and his subsequent trial before his last days of 2006, it is refreshing to see that justice may be served in the area. Though there are many factions within Peru that appreciate what Fujimori did for the government and the country, there are many more that do not appreciate his heavy handed means in which he achieved his ends. The murders and kidnappings of their own citizens by governments and indirectly their own President is never something that should be condoned or glanced over, not even for the members of The Shining Path. Though this is a recent ruling, it can only be hoped for Peru, and for the region, that this ruling is upheld and that Fujimori will pay for the Human Rights abuses that his regime inflicted.