The Maldives’ Human Rights Commissioner Mariyam Azra today said the country needed to improve its enforcement of those rights given to all world citizens under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, drafted over two years between 1947 and 1948.
December 10 marked International Human Rights Day. The declaration was adopted and proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly, and is the most translated document in modern history – it is available in more than 360 languages with more translations being added on a consistent basis.
In a statement released on Saturday, Azra said human rights are undeniably given to individuals, groups, and entire societies.
“The state should take particular care in enforcing the rights of children, the elderly and disabled as well as to concentrating on the general condition of the society,” the statement read. Poor education and domestic troubles including divorce and poverty are among the obstacles preventing children from realising their full potential.
Azra also observed that political and economic divisions needed to be overcome to create a more open and accessible society for the next generation.
Rights within the home were recently addressed during “World Day for Prevention of Child Abuse“, and UNDP followed up with “Did You Know?“, a public event to raise citizens’ awareness of their civil rights and how to exercise them in the Maldives’ democracy.
Speaking to Minivan News at the time, Human Rights Commission Maldives (HRCM) Commissioner Tholal attributing misconceptions of human rights in the Maldives to social instability. “There’s this idea that if a prisoner has rights, it’s at someone else’s expense. But human rights are not about protecting one person’s rights and not another’s.”
Tholal expected that public understanding of human rights would improve as the country adapted to the many change it has weathered since the government took office in 2008.
Azra said further measures were needed to guarantee given rights after declaring that children, elderly and disabled were not protected under any coherent system. She said the government has a wide responsibility to promote human rights by providing shelter and medical care, among other social services. According to the statement, the cost of ignoring these services is high.
Azra also reminded the government of its duty to ensure the humane treatment of expatriate workers, a demographic that has received attention for being widely abused and inappropriately imported at alarming rates.
Events are being held world wide in honor of International Human Rights Day. In a statement, the British High Commissioner to the Maldives and Sri Lanka said that while the declaration was “signed in a very different world to the one we live in today”, the core values remain the same across the region.
Social media, he said, is an important means for guaranteeing that world citizens are informed, protected, and able to promote human rights on all levels.
In a recent case, the Maldives rejected UN Human Rights Chief Navi Pillay’s request that the government issue a moratorium on flogging. As a debate grew over terms of human rights and religious integrity within a Muslim country, Tholal made the following observation:
“The key thing for the public to understand is that the Maldives is a 100 percent Muslim country,” he said. “The rules and regulations that this status calls for can exist within the framework of human rights. They’re not incompatible. If anyone says otherwise, they negate the mission of the HRC. The idea that human rights are compatible with Islam, and the constitution, needs to be accepted by the people.”