You don’t need to be a front line human rights defender to become involved in human rights. You may already be involved in human rights work or you may never have considered becoming involved before. There’s always more to learn and know, always something to do. Here are a few suggestions of things you could do today, on Human Rights Day, or afterwards.
Support a local, national, regional or international human rights organization. Support can come in different forms. Join. Volunteer. Participate in their campaigns. Attend their events. Make a donation. Read & share their literature. Follow them on social media.
Speak out. Write a letter. Sign a petition. Call a radio programme. Start a conversation in your family, community, social group, church, organization. Attend a demonstration or protest with your poster/sign/placard.
Learn about the life and work of people who have stood for the protection of human rights.
At different times. In different places. For different reasons.
Plan a visit to Parliament or court. Both are institutions which are supposed to play a role in the protection of human rights.
Donate your time in ways that support people who have experienced human rights abuses or who are at risk. Stay informed. Follow organizations & individuals on social media. Listen to/watch news reports. Read the newspapers. It’s impossible to follow or be involved in every issue, so choose one or a few to focus on.
Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights!
In Parliament yesterday, the Office of the Children’s Advocate’s (OCA) “Report on Investigations into the Conduct of the Child Development Agency Concerning Wards of the State: Sunshine Child Care Facility” was tabled by Minister of Youth and Culture, Lisa Hanna.
The report (see link below) details the OCA’s investigations, findings and recommendations regarding the Child Development Agency’s (CDA) removal of 34 children from a privately operated Place of Safety in February 2015. The children had all “been placed there at the instance of the Child Development Agency.”(p 3)
The investigation included a Hearing which resulted from the Children’s Advocate’s exercise of “her powers as a Judge of the Supreme Court…pursuant to the provisions of the First Schedule to the Child Care and Protection Act.” (p 2) The issues to be determined were:
The details given in the report describe a complete mishandling of the matter by the CDA, a disturbing disregard for the well-being and rights of the children and problematic responses on the part of some CDA personnel to the enquiries by the Children’s Advocate, Diahann Gordon Harrison.
One of the things that I found really troubling reading the report is that so many of the actions and attitudes described are not new. The specifics relate to a particular case, and having all occurred during this one case certainly merited focused investigation by the OCA and action regarding accountability and provisions for the affected children. But these types of actions and approaches by the CDA have been seen before, including:
failure to prepare children and child care facilities adequately for the removal/transfer of children from one facility/situation to another
transfer of children with no files or incomplete files
failure to advise child care facilities of medical/health conditions of incoming children, resulting in improper medical care, sometimes for serious/life-threatening conditions
transfer of children from one facility/situation to another resulting in disruption of their education
failure to provide/continue needed counselling for children being transferred from one facility/situation to another
The incidents involving the 34 children at one child care facility may serve to highlight general problems with approaches and practices within the CDA. However, one has to ask whether or not it is the first time that oversight mechanisms – within the CDA, at the level of the Ministry, at the level of the OCA – have picked up on such problems.
There is far more that needs to be questioned about the matters raised within the OCA’s report and about the functioning of the CDA, an agency that has experienced many problems since its inception. I will be interested to see what comes of the task force that has been announced by Minister Hanna and is due to report on certain aspects of the child care and protection systems in February next year.
I don’t know about you, but I am fed up with the amount of time I seem to spend waiting on the phone to talk with customer service agents. Listening all the time to company jingles, promos for new services, or messages repeated ad nauseam telling me that I am a valued customer but no-one can talk to me just yet. Sometimes I’ve said in frustration that in the time I spend waiting on the phone, I could actually go to the company office to talk to someone!
One morning last week, that’s exactly what happened. I had gone to the bank to conduct a transaction, which I was able to do fairly quickly. I then headed to an office to carry out some business, which depended on the transaction I had just completed at the bank. While there, I realised that there was one detail I needed to clarify with the bank, before going ahead with what I needed to do at the office. So I decided to call the bank.
In the Yellow Pages, the numbers of the individual bank branches are no longer listed, only a central Customer Service number. I called it, and after pressing the various buttons as directed by the automated voice, I was on hold waiting , listening to the message telling me that all their customer service agents were busy, but that I would be dealt with as soon as one was available.
After waiting a while and getting more frustrated by the minute, I decided to get back into my car and drive back to the bank. I drove all the way back to the bank, with the earbud in my ear, listening to the automated message. I was actually walking through the parking lot when an agent finally answered. I informed him that I no longer needed his services, as I had driven back to the bank while waiting.
There is something wrong with your customer service model if it takes the same length of time for a customer to drive to your bank as it does for a customer service agent to come on line. Don’t you agree? If yes, press 1; if no press 2….