Natisni vsebino

Human Rights can't wait!

15.10.1999 15:19
Category: articles

At the end of a century marked by two world wars and the barbaric and inhuman acts connected with them and with various types of totalitarianism, and at the transition to a new millennium, human rights are becoming the guiding idea of modern democratic efforts and the struggle against all forms of totalitarianism.

The idea of human rights derives from the idea of the human being as a free and personally responsible being. When we talk of human rights we think first of the General Declaration on Human Rights passed and proclaimed by the General Assembly of the United Nations Organisation on 10 December 1948. In the thirty articles of this declaration the peoples of the world set out the fundamental rights which derive from the dignity of the human being and which therefore belong to every human being. These rights are not granted by any society, parliament, or authority: they are not granted rights but innate rights.

It is essential for human rights that they be unconditional. These rights are not earned, they are not conditioned by anything, since they derive from the fundamental fact that we human beings, with our innate dignity, are free and equal. Of course, as well as rights the human being also has obligations, but the meeting of obligations is not an absolute condition for the enjoyment of rights. The obligations of the human being as the holder of fundamental human rights can essentially be summarised by the requirement that he respect the same rights he claims for himself in relation to other people.

The idea of human rights does not assume or promise that because of it disputes and tensions among people or between society and individuals will simply disappear. First and foremost it means that we resolve tensions and dissent in accordance with the dignity of the human being as a rational being capable of differentiating right from wrong. The idea of human rights also wants to defend the individual from the violence and superior strength of those who have authority and who often try to present their personal/special interests as the interests of the whole of society or even of the whole of humanity. The idea of human rights derives therefore from the idea of the infinite and absolute value of the human person and means his or her defence against the superior strength of the state.

The respecting and protecting of human rights has enjoyed considerable development in the second half of the twentieth century. Nevertheless, barbaric acts insulting to the human conscience are still being committed. Events of this kind warn us again and again that the respecting of human rights must always be in the forefront of the efforts of those in positions of responsibility in all countries, Slovenia being no exception. The mere proclamation of rights does not automatically lead to their realisation. Many other factors are therefore necessary - from the suitable environment of a democratic state based on the rule of law, to the numerous mechanisms which protect and ensure the exercising of acknowledged rights. Efforts towards the respecting and exercising of human rights is a never-ending task which demands great persistence, and also patience and trust in humankind, in our fellow human beings.

In answer to the question of the extent to which human rights are respected and exercised in our country, we can say that general estimates of the respecting of fundamental human rights and freedoms in Slovenia are good. This does not however mean that there are not irregularities or that there are not numerous problems which are contrary to the provisions of binding international legal acts and the provisions of Slovenia’s Constitution. The problems we encounter in our work can be divided into two parts. One group is represented by so-called systemic problems, i.e. those problems where it depends on the actual functioning of the state, its regulation, whether it is possible to help the individual who applies to us. Human rights are not yet protected in full by the legal system, while the mechanisms of formal protection and in particular legal protection of rights are not always sufficiently effective. The other group of problems are individual problems: irregularities, deficiencies in the work of individual state bodies and other bodies which fall into our jurisdiction, arbitrary treatment, overstepping of authority and suchlike.

A still-present feature of the state of human rights in Slovenia is the unreasonable length of time needed for decisions in numerous legal and administrative proceedings. Ruling on rights, obligations and legally protected interests far exceeds legal deadlines in many administrative proceedings, while the legal protection of rights and decisions to prosecute require a disproportionate amount of time. It is a matter for concern that clear legal provisions are being breached and that from year to year no improvements are made that would prove that those responsible are at least endeavouring to observe the applicable laws. Problems in the area of exercising human rights are the consequence of the poor functioning of the state. Serious efforts at improvement can only be detected in a few areas, and results are hardly to be seen anywhere. Smaller growth in unresolved cases across the whole of the Slovene legal system is not a sign of an improvement of the situation. Of the urgently necessary new laws and amendments to existing laws important for the protection of human rights, only a few have been passed.

Despite all this we can state that the most basic rights are not being infringed and that the existing problems are clearly recognisable. These problems, which unfortunately drag on from year to year, are not insoluble. It is merely a question of setting suitable priorities both in legislative activities and in the work of the other two branches of authority. Above all, we must not reconcile ourselves to an unlawful and poor state of affairs - something which those responsible for the administration of the country need to be more keenly aware of. Human rights can’t wait!

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