How to Prevent Human Rights Violations
The international human rights community has developed a practical
and theoretical approach, to address specific human rights violations.
To achieve this end, legislation, mechanisms, approaches, treaties
and protocols have been put into place. There are, for instance,
treaties and protocols on genocide, war crimes and torture. Nations
are often requested to ratify treaties and protocols in this regard.
With respect to the practical methodology, human rights theorists
have made achievements in many issues, based on two elements:
• Preventing the incidence of violations in the first place.
• Addressing violations when they occur.
Now, it is intended that this methodology be applied to all types
of violations, rather than specific violations. Thus, states can
follow all the necessary steps towards taking effective measures
and procedures that prevent the occurrence of violations; and also
to have in place mechanisms and legislation that would help in addressing
the effects of these violations and prevent their recurrence, if
they do occur.
The question is how to prevent the occurrence of violations at
the outset, based on the proverb: “An ounce of prevention is better
than a pound of cure”.
According to UN literature “Direct prevention aims to eliminate
risk factors and establish a legal, administrative and policy framework
which seeks to prevent violations. It is also contingent on establishing
a culture of respect for human rights, good governance and the rule
of law, and an enabling environment for a vibrant civil society
and free press.”
For example, the prevention of torture and cruel, inhuman and
degrading treatment or punishment includes adopting laws prohibiting
their use and providing for prosecution of those who violate them.
It also includes putting in place procedural safeguards – such as
registers in places of detention and video recordings of interrogations
– as well as ensuring independent oversight, including regular monitoring
of places of detention by independent bodies”.
But, what steps need to be taken by states in the event of incidence
of violations, and how can their recurrence be prevented?
The first step is to identify the root causes underlying violations
by conducting investigations;
Secondly, the prosecution and punishment of perpetrators according
to the law;
Thirdly, to ensure the right of victims to know the truth about
violations, as well as their right to an effective remedy, including
Fourthly, the development of legislation - in case of lack of
legislation- covering a specific violation, or amending some legislation
to close the legal gaps and hence prevent the recurrence of violations.
In all cases, the responsibility lies almost entirely with the
state to prevent violations, and this makes it incumbent on the
state to: ratify and implement human rights treaties; to create
and promote a tolerant culture that respects human rights; to activate
the national institutions and civil society in order to carry out
their functions; and finally, the state is responsible for assisting
and redressing victims of violations.