HRC2: The Wrongs of Rights
To know your rights as a human being is to have access to a form of protection of your freedom and actions, but, does being a criminal make you any less human? Today, the United Nations faces the issue of unequal treatment within the system of justice and the officers ignorance of basic prisoner rights.
The Current Situation
The fight for equality is a battle still raging, a battle that some prisoners know much about. In 1955, the ‘Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners’ was addressed in Geneva which, provided prisoners around the world with basic rights. Today deeper story lies behind closed doors as allegations of prejudice and unfair treatment regarding severity of crime and race come to light. Alongside poor prison conditions and cases of malnutrition, various states across the US and groups such as Amnesty International face accusations of sexual harassment and ill treatment of prisoners.
The UN’s Response
Since these accusations by Amnesty international, the UN has taken cautious steps into ensuring the safety of prison individuals in an attempt to diminish prejudice. In 2005, the UN published the ‘International Human Rights Standards for Prison Officials’ under which requires the understanding that ‘All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights’ as stated within the handbook. Additionally, laws that protect prisoners against torture techniques and undignified acts have been implemented as early as 1990. Yet the effectiveness of these laws have recently come into question as cases of acts of sexual harassment against women, particularly in North Korea, have made news where the UN had been prohibited from entering for further investigation in late 2013.
Rehabilitation or Retribution
The ill treatment of prisoners due to their crimes poses the question, can these individuals be reformed into future members of society or do they deserve to be punished? With cases of retribution in the US prisons on the rise, the issue of prisoner rights around the world is in need of an effective solution. Will the minds of hopeful delegates be able to combat an international crisis? Much is to be expected from THIMUN 2014.
By: Vanlee Trindade
Photo by: Aya Ibrahim