LIFE WITHOUT RIGHTS
a) Prison in Guantanamo Bay:
Guantanamo Bay is a naval base near Cuba, controlled by the American Navy.
The U.S.Forces secretly abducted about 600 people who they felt were responsible for the terrorist attack on New York which occurred on 11th September 2001 and imprisoned them here.
In lost cases, the governments of their countries were not asked or even informed about their imprisonment.
Families of the prisoners, media or even UN representatives have not been allowed to meet them. There has been no trial before any magistrate in the USA nor have the prisoners been allowed to approach the courts in their own country.
Amnesty international reported that the prisoners were being tortured in ways that violated the US laws. They were being denied the treatment that even prisoners of war must get as per international treaties. Prisoners were not released even after they were officially declared not guilty. The UN Secretary General said the prison in Guantanamo Bay should be closed down. The US government refused to accept these pleas.
b) Citizens’ Rights in Saudi Arabia:
The country is ruled by a hereditary king and the people have no role in electing or changing their rulers.
The king selects the legislature as well as the executive. he appoints the judges and can change any of their decisions.
Citizens cannot form political parties of any political organizations. Media cannot report anything that the monarch does not like.
There is no freedom of religion. Every citizen is required to be Muslim. Non-Muslim residents can follow their own religion in private, but not in public.
Women are subjected to many public restrictions. The testimony of one man is concerned equal to that of two women.
c) Ethnic Massacre in Kosovo:
Albanians formed the majority of the population in Kosovo but the Serbs were in majority in other parts of Yugoslavia.
Milosevic who became the Prime Minister wanted Serbs to dominate the country and to get rid of the Albanians.
Thousands of Albanians were massacred. Finally, several other countries intervened to stop this massacre.
Milosevic was captured and tried by an international Court of justice for crimes against humanity.
RIGHT IN A DEMOCRACY
a) What are Rights?
Rights are claims of a person over other fellow beings, over the society and over the government. A right possible when you make a claim that is equally possible for others. You cannot have a right that harms or hurts others. The claims we make should be reasonable. They should be such that can be made available to others in an equal measure. Thus, a right comes with an obligation to respect other rights.
Just because we claim some thing it does not become out right. It has to be recognised by the society we live in. rights acquire meaning only in society. Every society makes certain rules to regulate our conduct. They tell us what is right or what is wrong. What is recognized by the society as rightful becomes the basis of rights.
When the socially recognised claims are written into law they acquired real force. Otherwise they remain merely as natural or moral rights. When law recognises some claims they become enforceable. We can demand their application. When fellow citizens or the government do not respect these rights we call it violation or infringement of our rights. In such circumstances citizens can approach courts to protect their rights.
b) Rights are reasonable claims of persons, recognised by society and sanctioned by law. Why do we need Rights in a Democracy?
Fundamental Rights provide the conditions which are essential for the development of the inherent qualities in man and to secure his all round growth.
These are necessary to preserve human dignity and promote social progress in an atmosphere of freedom.
These provide civil liberties, without which democracy cannot be even conceived.
These are a significant check on the arbitrary use of the government.
Rights protect minorities from the oppression of majority.
RIGHTS IN THE INDIAN CONSTITUTION
In India, like most other democracies in the world, these rights are mentioned in the Constitution. Some rights which are fundamental to our life are given a special status. They are called Fundamental Rights. The preamble of our Constitution talks about securing for all its citizens equality, and justice. Fundamental Rights put this promise into effect. They are an important basic feature of India’s Constitution.
a) ‘Right of Equality’:
The various aspects of ‘Right of Equality’ are as follows:
Equality before Law: The constitution guarantees that all citizens are equal, before law. These is no discrimination on the basis of race, caste, sex or place of birth.
Abolition of all titles like khan Bahadur, etc.
People should be given equal opportunity to show their skill.
The State cannot discriminate against anyone in the matter of employment. All citizens can apply and become employees of the State.
Protection of Weaker Sections: the right of equality gives special provisions for women and children.
Reservation: In legislature, educational institutions, government offices, etc, some seats are reserved for the weaker sections.
Ban on Untouchability: Untouchability has made an offence. Anyone who practices untouchability is liable to punishment.
No citizen can be denied access to shops, public restaurants, hotels and places of public entertainment.
Two exceptions to the Right of Equality.
The Right to Equality contains two exceptions as follows:
The state can made special provisions for women and children, scheduled castes and scheduled tribes and backward classes. these classes need special protection because often they have been victims of unequal treatment.