Human rights commissions needed

A human rights commission is bad?


Mr. Patrick West stated (Caymanian Compass 26/03/08) that ‘the creation of a so-called human rights commission…is…some kind of bizarre plan to create employment for lazy bureaucrats’.

In fact, the creation of a human rights commission is the creation of checks and balances for the basic human rights of Caymanians.

The issue has been brought into the media because of freedom of speech issues in Canada.

Canada’s human rights commission is being attacked because it has broadened its reach from investigating discrimination in housing and employment to other aspects of human rights, namely freedom of speech. All of this recent attention is being used as ammunition to dissuade Caymanians from implementing a bill of rights and its corresponding Human Rights Commission.

If the issue at hand were ‘cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment’ (Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 5) of even a single individual, this would be a drastically different forum, and nobody would be against the commission.

Mr. West was correct to state that ‘serious mistakes have been made in both nations, [Canada and the US] during the last 200 years’, which is precisely the reason for developing human rights acts and human rights commissions.

It is the rights that we hold on to for protection, and it is the commission that we use for accountability. Without the checks and balances that a commission affords a society, what good are the rights?

Granted, freedom of speech was not the original mandate of Canada’s commission, but hate crime has become an issue since the commission’s creation, and as such, amendments were made.

To state human rights commissions as a whole are bad is atrocious. They are needed, not to ‘create employment for lazy bureaucrats’, but as checks and balances for our basic human rights.

What would we do without human rights we could rely on?

Amanda Hamonic

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