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Human Rights Course in Geneva: “We have to follow the principle of the dignity of the human being”

During these two last weeks on the Human Rights Course, I had an internal battle in my heart trying to understand the International Humanitarian Law, or the law of armed conflict. The International Human Rights Law and humanitarian law impose clear obligations on States during war, to all parties of non-international conflicts on the treatment and protection of all persons in their custody. Detainees must be treated humanely and protected from violence of life and threatening conditions, including any form of torture or ill treatment. Medical care and sufficient food are to be provided. This is the theory.

However, the reality is too different. I could hear in the debate of the Human Right Council, during the Interactive Dialogue when the Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders and the Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment presented their Reports, they showed, how both parts (the State in conflict and the armed groups) are violating the International Humanitarian Law. They are perpetrating the war crimes of murders, rape, torture, imprisonment; enforce disappearance, people are summarily executed following illicit trials, taken hostage and mass execution. There is nothing to justify that, and I thought we have to be with those who are suffering, Jesus chose to be with people facing all kind of inhuman treatment. We remember this every year during the Holy Week.

One thing was really clear for me and came from the words of the Special Rapporteur of Freedom of Expression and Opinion Mr. Frank La Rue: “We have to follow the principle of the dignity of the human being”.

Another thought that spoke to my heart came from a Dalit Activist, “If you are not considered as human, human rights do not apply to you” Mona Rani Das. Those words reflect also the situation in Latin-America, millions of people are not being considered as human beings, and they are facing discrimination, exclusion and inequality.

Finally, I would like to say thanks to those who made possible my participation in the Human Rigths training, in order to improve our mission in Latin-America: Province of Mid North America, Province of Southeast Latin America, and sisters at the GSIJPO in Geneva for the warmly welcome.

Marta Iris Lopez, NGO Regional Designate-ECLAC