December 10, 2014
Not only is every person in the world entitled to human rights every hour of every day, but we all have an obligation to uphold human rights, to expose abuses and to demand reform.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted in 1948 outlines the basic human rights for which every human being is entitled. Unfortunately, the upholding of human rights has not improved in 66 years.
Around the world human rights abuses are flourishing as wars rage, refugees flee war-torn countries, and torture is condoned as an interrogation method. An estimated one billion people lack food and clean water, while human trafficking has earned abuses billions of dollars.
In the United States human rights abuses thrive. Protests continue as over zealous law enforcement officials injure and fatality wound unarmed young black men with impunity.
Poverty in the U.S. is growing as the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. The city of Detroit, Michigan has shut off the water of the poor denying 27,000 households water for drinking, cooking, and bathing.
Many corporations have more wealth than entire nations, yet their employees earn wages under $8.00 an hour and receive public assistance.
I see poverty all around me. There are Disney employees in Orlando who are homeless and sleep in their cars. There are students who have their backpacks filled with food every Friday so they have something to eat over the weekend. The house next door to us was repossessed last month.
Farm workers who put food on our tables do not have enough to eat. As millions in our country go hungry every day, the U.S. Congress proposes to pass a budget that would reward Wall Street with government bailouts should they make risky moves with investments.
Human trafficking in the U.S. is growing with the $150 billion industry victimizing an estimated 29.8 million people in the U.S. The U.S. Government has been accused of human trafficking in overseas contracts.
The U.S. Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) is known for human trafficking cases. It was in the spotlight again today as Annette Nakatsukasa Basa was sentenced to 17.5 years for sex trafficking of children. Basa drugged the runaways and sold them to men for profit.
Alicia A.G. Limtiaco, U.S. Attorney for the Districts of Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands said:
“The sexual exploitation and abuse of vulnerable individuals is an affront to fundamental human rights and will not be tolerated. The defendant preyed on these young victims, manipulating and sexually exploiting them. [Friday’s] sentence sends the critical message that human trafficking is a crime that violates the very core and dignity of a human being and traffickers face severe punishment. The Department of Justice and U.S. Attorney’s Office remain committed to vigorously prosecuting and holding accountable those who perpetrate these heinous crimes.”It was a concerned citizen who brought this case to the attention of law enforcement officials as was noted by Judge Manglona. I applaud this person's courageous act that stopped this horrendous abuse of minors.
We all have an obligation to report human rights abuses, to protest human rights abuses and to speak up for the victims and condemn the abusers. I encourage every person to embrace the theme of this year's Human Rights Day and speak out to stop abuses in their neighborhoods, cities or towns, states and nations.