A rights activist from the Human Rights and Protection Section of the United NationsMission in Liberia or UNMIL says the state must be held responsible for the increasing violations of the rights of the people.
Mr. Kedar Poudyalsays often people complain their rights are being violated by others with impunity, but they failed to understand there is no law at the scene of a violation to stop people from abusing their colleagues.
He says if the State refuses to implement policy or rules on the book, it gives one courage to violate another person’s rights in the society or the country at large. Mr. Poudyal spoke over the weekend during a one-day workshop on Freedom of Speech and Opinion held in Monrovia.
The workshop was conducted under the auspices of the Liberia Law Office in collaboration with the Human Rights Section of UNMIL. It brought together representatives of the Ministry of Justice, the Press Union of Liberia, and media practitioners.
“When two people jump into fighting”, the UNMIL human rights activist explains, “one will claim that his rights have been violated by his friend, but rather it is the State that should take appropriate measure or institute laws that will prevent people from fighting in the streets.But since there is no law for that, no one can say his or her rights are being violated by the other when they jump into confusion that will result into a fight.”
He emphasized that under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights or ICCPR, Freedom of Opinion and Expression are indispensable fundamental rights for individual dignity, essential foundation for democracy, rule of law, peace, stability, sustainable inclusive development, and participation in public affairs, adding that they are intertwined with other human rights including freedom of association, assembly, thought, religion or belief, the right to education, to take part in cultural life, vote and other political rights.
He said free, diverse and independent media are essential to facilitating free flow of information and ideas on matters of general interest. “Without freedom of expression and freedom of media, an informed, active and engaged citizenry is impossible”, Mr.Poudyal said.
He said freedom of expression under Article 19 of the ICCPR includes amongst others, the right to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds as well as covers political discourse, commentary on public affairs, canvassing, discussion of human rights, journalism, cultural and artistic expression, teaching and religious discourse.
The ICCPR is monitor by the United Nations Human Rights Committee. It came into force on 23 March 1974.
By Lewis S. Teh-Edited by Jonathan Browne