Human rights include some basic rights as human beings in a civilized society. These are the rights of life and property, of food and raiment, of freedom of movement and expression of opinion. As a whole, it should be A honoured in every civilized society and it is the most talked-about subject today in the civilized world.
Its origin can be found at the beginning of an institutionalised social and political order. It has travelled a long path since then. The concept of human rights finds expanded expression today as human society itself continues to evolve to higher levels of development. So it covers new areas constantly. At first, it was confined to the civil and religious rights of the individual. Then it was felt that the said fundamental rights could not be realized without the guarantee of economic and political rights. These included the rights of disadvantaged groups of people to special protection.
In fact, human society all over the world is today broadly divided into two groups — the rich and the poor, the ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’, the privileged class enjoying all the good things of life and the helpless unprivileged who remain as they were. To make things worse, the government of some states also deprive the opponents of legitimate human rights. This intolerance often leads to the imprisonment of the protestor with or without trial in law-courts. Inhuman torture by third-degree methods is applied to the political prisoners in an organised manner in some countries by imposing Emergency. In some countries, military heads have captured power directly or with the help of some puppets. The destiny of the common people is trodden under the steam-roller of the autocrats and all these do not always come to light. We do not know much about the ways of atrocities of Saddam Hussain of Iraq till his death or about the ways of George Bush in Iraq. A number of generals were killed there the other day by the Firing Squad and thousands of people were still being killed. Aung San Suu Kyi, who won the last general election in Myanmar and later on won the Nobel Peace Prize, was till the other day under house arrest. Solzhenitsyn, the Russian Nobel Laureate in literature, had to spend about twenty precious years of his life in exile as the communist government of the then Soviet Union was not favourable to him. Taslima Nasrin cannot return to her hometown Dhaka till now, as the fundamentalists of Bangladesh give constant threatening to kill her.
The only silver lining is that international public opinion is snowballing to protect human rights all over the world. In the estimate of Amnesty International, a large number of prisoners are detained without trial in jails of some countries including India. However, the question has been recently raised whether the militants and well-armed terrorists—who seek to destabilise the states, sometimes aided by foreign countries—should also be allowed to come under the purview of the sacred code of human rights. Some say that terrorism flourishes on frustration on economic and political grounds. So, the best way to solve the problems is to offer an open call to the so-called terrorists and talk and settle the knotty issues in a cordial spirit. Now the study of human rights is becoming the subjects of concern for both national and international lawyers, diplomats, statesmen, reformers, activists, policy-makers and citizens. At present, the Constitutions of most of the countries which believe in the rules of law have incorporated the provisions of basic human rights. In India, there has been set up an Apex Body of Human Rights and its state branches have also been organised. Their activities have been welcomed by the weaker sections of the society. They are recommending many proposals including the condition of the prisons and safeguard of the womenfolk.
But the state governments, as well as the central government, tend to ignore their recommendations where their interests clash. It proves that the Human Rights Commission must have adequate power to fit the situation. It is a matter of shame and disgrace that as yet there is no such national or international authority with mandatory powers to prevent those who indulge in the nefarious game of violating basic human rights.