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Julie Webb-Pullman: UDHR Report Card For US, Pt. 1

UDHR Report Card For US, Part I


By Julie Webb-Pullman * julie@prensa-latina.cu
From: Presa Latina

How does the United States measure up against the Universal Declaration of Human Rights? This, the first of a two part series, assesses US performance in relation to Articles 1 to 15 of the UDHR.

---- STUDENT'S NAME: UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

Article 1

All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

Student shows limited understanding of basic concepts, and requires adult assistance to comprehend inter-related ideas. For example, he (and a small group of friends) cannot comprehend that his own classmates, let alone a person in an African, Middle Eastern, or Latin American country, has equal rights to him, is deserving of equal freedom, dignity and respect, and is competent to make their own choices and decisions.

Student therefore responds inconsistently and inappropriately in group situations, is inconsiderate of others, and with few exceptions tends to impose himself, rather than working co-operatively, collaboratively, and respectfully with others. Student"s almost pathological sense of entitlement in regard to himself and his small group of classmates, and its effect on group decision-making processes, has resulted in a classroom situation of overt control of all class debates and discussions, and a de facto ability to veto anything that does not please him or serve his own interests.

Student therefore needs considerable support to grasp basic concepts, and make distinctions and connections between conflicting ideas, for example, notions such as "equality" and "democracy", and "power of veto" and "bullying".

Article 2

Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty.

See Article 1 - the difficulties already identified become compounded, as failure to grasp the most fundamental basics, such as "equality", have resulted in structures and processes that have institutionalised inequity and inequality, such as the Security Council, and power of veto, whereby all countries are equal, but some are more equal than others.

Article 3

Everyone has the right to life, liberty and the security of person.

Student is experiencing considerable difficulty understanding the concept of universality, i.e. that this applies to everyone, not just him and his family and group of friends. Student did not appreciate that chaining a classmate to a doorhandle by the ankle, tying his hands between his knees, and standing him on a box wearing only a pair of underpants and a hood over his head, impinged on the classmate"s liberty, and personal security and integrity.

Article 4

No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.

Had seemingly made some progress, but recent behaviour suggests he is falling back into bad habits.

Article 5

No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

Space does not permit a full report, but each picture speaks a thousand words. Please call the school to make an urgent appointment to discuss this matter.

Article 6

Everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law.

I appreciate that the student is from a family of considerable influence, and has so far managed to avoid facing his responsibilities in this regard in several locations, such as Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, Afghanistan and other countries in which prisoners are being held without observance of fundamental rights. However, this sets a bad example to the rest of the class, and in fact threatens classroom stability and security given that others may take it into their heads to behave in a similarly irresponsible manner.

Article 7

All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination.

Although indicating he comprehends these concepts, given his frequent recourse to them to justify several of his own highly questionable behaviours, student is unable to apply them in a real-world situation, as demonstrated by the existence of several laws discriminating against one of his closest classmates, making it illegal to trade with, or even visit them, based solely on their national origin. Student has also attempted, largely unsuccessfully, to incite students from other classes to act towards this neighbour in a similarly discriminatory fashion.

Despite repeated condemnations of this behaviour from the school council, student refuses to modify his behaviour. I understand that some family members are also concerned by this behaviour, and I seek your prompt assistance in addressing it as a matter of urgency.

Article 8

Everyone has the right to an effective remedy by the competent national tribunals for acts violating the fundamental rights granted him by the constitution or by law.

Although student possesses the requisite resources to perform satisfactorily in this area, and has demonstrated on previous occasions that he has the necessary skills and knowledge, he seems to have gone off-track in recent semesters, especially in Guatanamo, but also in his dealings with the Cuban Five. The outcome of the latter process may indicate that there has been some small improvement, but until the results are available I remain extremely concerned in this regard, and consider that the student needs to repeat this module until he can get it right, every time.

Article 9

No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.

Student"s behaviour over a couple of hundred years and in a variety of environments shows a significant and completely unacceptable pattern of practice. Whilst there have been short periods of improvement, there has been a recent escalation in the arbitrary arrests of citizens, including those of the US, at legitimate public demonstrations, airports or seized from their homes. There has been an exponential increase in arbitrary detentions in the US, Guantanamo, Afghanistan, and Abu Ghraib, and several attempted or successful exiles of democratically-elected leaders, such as Chavez in Venezuela and President of Haiti, Aristide. I have no option but to award a fail in this module, and in fact student"s performance rates a negative grade, of less than zero.

Article 10

Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair, and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him.

Selective use of the required concepts is evident, for example at Guantanamo, student utilises the concepts of "tribunal" , "determination" and "criminal", but has not grasped the notions of "independent and impartial".

Student clearly requires continuous support and direct adult supervision to be able to achieve a passing grade in this module.

Article 11

1.Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defence.

2.No one shall be held guilty of any penal offence on account of any act or omission which did not constitute a penal offence, under national or international law, at the time when it was committed. Nor shall a heavier penalty be imposed than the one that was applicable at the time the penal offence was committed.

His behaviour with respect to Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, and other secret prisons in Iraq, Afhagnistan and other locations indicate that he requires considerable reteaching and ongoing individual instruction to be able to define, demonstrate and describe fundamental word meanings, such as "innocent", before being able to utilise them in more complex phrasal structures, such as "until proven guilty". Requires similar strategies to comprehend even more complex notions, such as "due process". Again, a minus grade is unavoidable.

Article 12

No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.

Student has of late accorded himself extremely wide "legal" powers to conduct such interference in his own home, in addition to the more sinister powers against his neighbours, already being exercised daily through the use of subversive intelligence-gathering mechanisms such as ECHELON. Student has even been caught spying on the school council itself, as well as participating in activities designed to bring the council into disrepute.

Of extreme concern is student"s interference and attacks on the classmate sitting next to him, against whom he has maintained a constant campaign of subversion and personal persecution for some 50 years - classmate is unable to even watch television or listen to the radio without student"s interference. Such overt bullying will no longer be tolerated in the classroom - student is on notice.

Article 13

1.Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each State.

2.Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.

Student"s limited application of these concepts, restricted to his own limited interpretation of "everyone" as being "everyone he wants to extend the right to", is at odds with school rules. His selective appreciation of these concepts has resulted in student inviting, welcoming, and/or hosting several highly undesirable miscreants in the classroom, some of whom he has even assisted to escape from detention. Further, student has used his gang of friends to ensure their free passage in and out of the classroom, despite the very real fears of teachers and classmates alike concerning their safety.


Sixto Reinaldo Aquit Manrique (aka, El Chino Aquit), sharing the platform with Bush in Miami, May 20, 2002. The UN Rapporteur cited Aquit firing a 50 caliber machine gun at a Cypriot tanker in Cuban waters in his 1994 annual report on human rights in Cuba.

Article 14.

1. Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.

2. This right may not be invoked in the case of prosecutions genuinely arising from non-political crimes or from acts contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.

Student displays considerable confusion in the use of prepositions, particularly his propensity to substitute "for" in the place of "from". This has led to serious consequences, with student embracing classmates of extremely dubious character, welcoming them into his circle as a reward for their persecutory past.


Bush and terrorist Luis Manuel Zúñiga Rey embracing in the White House Rose Garden, May 2003

Article 15

1. Everyone has the right to a nationality.

2. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality nor denied the right to change his nationality.

The confusion in the previous two areas becomes further compounded here, with student abjectly failing to appreciate the converse, and arbitrarily handing out US citizenship to friends of highly questionable status, in diametric opposition to his own stated laws and regulations, and against the recommendations and advice of experienced school prefects. While student considers this to be a load of old Bosch, several million law-abiding Mexican and other Latinos fail to understand why they are not similarly treated.

*************

* The writer is a New Zealander, who edits and writes for Prensa Latina.

Part II to follow.

mh/jwp

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