Specifically, the UN Human Rights Charter which is considered one of the most significant documents of the 20th century specifically states that human life is the foundation of all other rights! The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) is a milestone document in the history of human rights. Drafted by representatives with different legal and cultural backgrounds from all regions of the world, the Declaration was proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in Paris on 10 December 1948 (General Assembly resolution 217 A) as a common standard of achievements for all peoples and all nations. It sets out, for the first time, fundamental human rights to be universally protected and it has been translated into over 500 languages and is universally recognised and respected by all nations and peoples who consider themselves civilised! Of great significance and import is the preamble of this document which states that “Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world; Whereas disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind, and the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people; Whereas it is essential, if man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression, that human rights should be protected by the rule of law; Whereas the peoples of the United Nations have in the Charter reaffirmed their faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person and in the equal rights of men and women and have determined to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom; Whereas Member States have pledged themselves to achieve, in co-operation with the United Nations, the promotion of universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms; Whereas a common understanding of these rights and freedoms is of the greatest importance for the full realisation of this pledge; Now, therefore the general assembly proclaims this universal declaration of human rights as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations, to the end that every individual and every organ of society, keeping this declaration constantly in mind, shall strive by teaching and education to promote respect for these rights and freedoms and by progressive measures, national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance, both among the peoples of Member States themselves and among the peoples of territories under their jurisdiction.” Article one states that “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.” Article two says that “Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty.” Most importantly, article three recognises the Right to Life where it states as follows: “Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person!” This article three happens to be the most abused or neglected in recent times in our nation, thus a need for us all, both as citizens and leaders to once again acquaint ourselves of this inalienable right. From Zamfara to Delta, from Benue to Taraba, from Kaduna to Ekiti, the story has been the same. It appears that there is a competition for the number of persons killed both by state and none state actors! No day passes without some story of loss of lives either at the hands of bandits or at the hands of state actors. The recent losses in Kaduna and Zamfara cannot be overlooked” because those losses were at the hands of non-state actors. But the needless deaths of Shites was at the hands of state actors.
The recent losses in Kaduna and Zamfara cannot be overlooked” because those losses were at the hands of non-state actors. But the needless deaths of Shites was at the hands of state actors. It is important to remind everyone that the UN Charter also recognises the right of citizens to worship how they deem fit or whom they seem fit. The Shites to the best of my knowledge are covered by the Right of Freedom of Worship and should not be targeted or profiled on account of their religious leanings. Furthermore, they are also protected by the Freedom of Assembly, Freedom of Association and the Freedom of Movement within the country! All these Rights are enshrined in the UN CHARTER to which our country is a signatory! It is therefore the considered view of this column that while the state reserved the right to secure its borders and its people, shites also being Nigerians should rather be protected and not dispersed violently by the use of disproportionate force as in this case. No one can say that live bullets was tended to scare only. As the works watches, Nigeria brand is daily being degraded and demarketed by actions such as these which ought not to have been avoided in the first place. Furthermore, some of these actions are considered crimes against humanity, as such perpetrators may find themselves on the receiving end of world anger and justice. The sooner state actors understand that we now live in a global village of instantaneous communication, the more circumspect they would be in their actions. It will certainly be a good idea for the UN Charter to form part of the training manual of all military and paramilitary formations in Nigeria. This training should also be extended to civil servants and citizens at large to ensure a safer country. People who know their rights also tend to know their duties! – Aluta Continua.
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