“Human Rights Must Not Be Considered a Favor,” says Joe Bongay

By Nelson Manneh

Mr. Joe Bongay, the executive director of the Young Volunteers for the Environment, YVE, said Human Rights must not be considered a favour or luxury, but that every person is born with his or her rights; civil and political, such as the right to life, equality before the law and freedom of opinion and expression, freedom of peacefulassembly and association; economic, social and cultural rights, such as the right to work with equal pay for equal work, social security, health care and education; or collective rights, such as the right to development and self-determination.

Mr. Bongay made these statements in a symposium organized by the drama and human rights club of Banjulnding Upper Basic and Senior Secondary Schools.

The Executive Director of YVE said every individual is entitled to enjoy human rights without discrimination. He continued: “On 10 December 1948, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, UDHR. The UDHR sets out basic civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights that all human beings should enjoy and has been widely accepted as the fundamental norms of human rights that everyone should respect and protect,” he noted.

He said, the UDHR, together with the international covenant on civil and political rights are two protocols that form the bill of human rights.

Mr. Bongay added that International human rights are expressed by international laws and the general principles of customary law. International human rights law creates obligations for states to act in certain ways in order to refrain from certain acts to promote and protect the human rights and fundamental freedoms of individuals or groups. “These rights are an inherent and integral part of the human being. Without them there is no dignity,” he said.

Mr. Lamin Jawara, the Vice Principal of Banjulnding Upper and Senior Secondary School said rights go with responsibilities.

“As a human being before you advocate for your right, you should try to know your responsibilities in order to match them. You cannot talk about your rights and forget that you have vacancies to fill up,” he noted. Mr. Jawara added that as young people, it is good that they learn to know their rights but must also take up their responsibilities.

Ensa Jesus Jatta, the coordinator of the drama and human rights club, said as a school, it is not easy to run such a club, but was happy with the participation of the students. “The students have taken up the responsibility of owning the club and they are really working hard to make sure it stands as a new club,” he noted.

Mr. Jatta added that they will be conducting such events to educate students on their rights and responsibilities.