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“Humans must not carry a price tag”
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“Humans must not carry a price tag”

Refugees mistreatment in Libya requires immediate action, writes Sunday Memba, 22, a Correspondent from Matete in Kenya, but he argues it is also a sign of a deeper issue facing development of African society.

One of the cruelest ventures man has forever abhorred is treating fellow humanity as a good or service that can be sold for monetary value.

Be that as it may, in the full glare of humanity, Africans have become merchandise. Libya’s story is indeed a sorrowful tale to even whisper. Men and women have been sold at a paltry $400. Simply put, the slave merchants estimate that the value of these people  is less than that of an iPhone 8, a Swiss watch or any number of consumer products. It is indeed a very sad tale.

Worse still is the state of the people being sold to slavery. Vulnerable refugees and migrants who have escaped unimaginable terrors at home to seek better opportunities find the same terrors in a place of refuge.

Shockingly, Libya is one of the African states that has ratified the 1969 OAU Convention Governing the Specific Aspects of Refugee Problems in Africa. This convention governs how states respond to a refugee situation. In essence, the convention demands that states protect, uphold and promote the fundamental rights and freedoms of persons who are asylum seekers and refugees. In allowing this prohibited vice to spread it roots from Tripoli to Benghazi, the Libyan government has failed to uphold the spirit and letter of the treaty.

Slavery is one of the jus cogens norms in Public International Law. A jus cogens is a principle in international law and relations which is fully found by states to be non-derogable. States acknowledge slavery, genocide, torture and maritime piracy as tenets which cannot be allowed to exist in a free and human world. If these cruelties occur, then, states have devised a manner in which persons who participated in the perpetration of these wrongs face justice. Through the International Criminal Court based in The Hague, humans can be found culpable. For the rule of law to be relevant in this age and time, persons who have committed crimes, especially those that demean humanity, must face the penalties and punishments.

However, as the situation still persists, states must come and terminate the cancer that now affects the body politic of Libya. Every person that acknowledges the value of fellow humanity must come up and raise their voices lest a people are enslaved to eternity. Like Paul Pogba, the versatile Manchester United midfielder, humanity must not watch and see but should speak in in their various portfolios. The great American preacher and a true embodiment of justice, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr in his work, A Letter from the Birmingham Jail said, ‘’ Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. We must all resist.’’

But in addressing this issue we must seriously consider the spring of this issue. This problem did not begin magically. It began when people in various states in Africa discovered that their political leaders cared less about the needs of the public good and cared more for their own needs. It began when people could not afford to live in poor and unbearable conditions while a small portion of society lived in mansions built by the poor man’s penny. It began when education did not mean much and belonging to a particular tribe, colour or gender that associated itself with the wielders of state power was better.

It began when people saw Europe a better home than their very own home in Africa. Unless Africa sits down and asks why these problems still face us years after independence was granted to us, we will lead ourselves down the garden path.

photo credit: andres musta HELLO! HUMAN RIGHTS via photopin (license)
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About me: I am a young Kenyan who believes in social justice and promoting the rights of every man, woman and child. My ability to write provides one of the best platforms to address key issues in Kenya.

Currently I am a law graduate and a writer with the Nairobi Law Monthly magazine. I am also enthusiastic about writing and reading.

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?
To learn more about becoming a Commonwealth Correspondent please visit: http://www.yourcommonwealth.org/submit-articles/

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