Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Friday, November 24th, 2017

Degrading Mankind

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Degrading Mankind

The international Humanitarian Law (IHL) seeks to protect the rights and dignity of civilians, wounded soldiers, and war prisoners – whose rights are being violated in one way or another. Based on IHL, warring sides have to observe the rights of those who are not involved in war. They are not supposed to torture prisoners, either.
Human dignity is highly significant in both Human Rights Law and IHL. Respecting human dignity is an international, religious, and moral principle. Dishonoring an individual for eliciting confession or torturing one which is against human’s dignity are not allowed at all. Dignity is an inherent and inalienable right of mankind and will not be ended even after one’s death. In short, one is not allowed to disrespect even a dead body of an individual.
However, people’s rights and dignity are violated on a large scale around the globe. Prisoners are tortured, the wounded in action are killed, and civilians are massacred or amputated. The indiscriminate killings of non-combatants are rife in war-torn countries since terrorists neither observe international instruments nor religious or moral principles.
After all, a number of states also violate the rights of prisoners, ethnic minorities, etc. For instance, Human Rights Watch (HRW) reports that Rwanda military torture prisoners systematically and accuses judges of being complicit in the creation of a culture of impunity for the armed forces. HRW says that victims were beaten until they signed confessions, often on fabricated charges, in a series of centers around Rwanda claiming that Rwandan officials use torture whenever they please.
According to HRW’s researcher Lewis Mudge, HRW confirmed 104 cases of people who were illegally detained and in many cases tortured or ill-treated in military detention centers in Rwanda during a seven-year period. He is cited as saying, “Some men spoke of having weights tied to their testicles, others of being handcuffed with their hands behind their backs for days on end.” Mudge added, “Beatings, asphyxiations, electric shocks, mock executions … these were just some of the types of torture used to extract confessions or get detainees to accuse others.”
It is said that such degrading acts are used against those suspected of association with groups hostile to Rwanda such as the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) – an armed group based in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo – and, to a lesser extent, the Rwanda National Congress (RNC), an opposition group in exile. In spite of the fact that FDLR have carried out, and continue to carry out killings, rapes, and other serious abuses against civilians in eastern Congo, this will not justify Rwanda’s humiliating torture. After all, the bulk part of prisoners is simply suspected of having ties to the FDLR.
This is not the first time Rwanda has been accused of torture. The HRW research shows the prisoners’ torture continues unabated from 2010 to 2016. In 2012, Sarah Jackson, Amnesty International’s acting deputy Africa director, said that though Rwandan military’s “human rights record abroad is increasingly scrutinized, their unlawful detention and torture of civilians in Rwanda is shrouded in secrecy.”
It should be noted that the cruelty of prisoners will not justify violating their dignity. For instance, a country is not allowed to persecute a criminal or humiliate them. However, executing prisoners on the basis of law will not be violation of dignity.
Notwithstanding the IHL principles, the dignity of people are violate in many parts of the world. Women are harassed sexually or raped not only in prisons but in public places and not only by militants but also by simple individuals, passersby, etc. Currently, prisoners in Rwanda and the Rohingya in Myanmar are prone to this issue. Reports say that Rohingya women are raped by Myanmar security forces on the basis of their racial and religious backgrounds.
In many societies, including Afghanistan, people’s dignity is deemed more valuable than their blood. They are ready to be killed but not be dishonored, mainly the women of virtue.  
In addition, an individual or a group is not allowed to target civilians, the wounded in action, and those who lay their arms to the ground. Indiscriminate killings is not only against international instruments but also against religious tenets and ethical code.
To sum up, human dignity is inalienable and it should be violated under no circumstances. The international community should scrutinize the cases and prevent countries from violating human rights and dignity and humanitarian law – which is deemed war crime. If this trend continues, it is believed that the public will lose their trust in international community and view it as a symbolic body. Therefore, it must not underestimate such issues and take more practical step in preventing countries and groups from violating people’s rights and dignity.

Hujjatullah Zia is the permanent writer of the Daily Outlook Afghanistan. He can be reached at zia_hujjat@yahoo.com

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