The role of media in safeguarding human rights is as important as that of the judiciary. Human rights refer to the “basic rights and freedoms to which all humans are entitled.” Examples of rights and freedoms which have come to be commonly thought of as human rights include civil and political rights, such as the right to life and liberty, freedom of expression, and equality before the law; and economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to participate in culture, the right to food, the right to work, and the right to education.
“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.”
Human rights violations occur when any state or non-state actor breaches any part of the treaty or other international human rights or humanitarian law. Media plays a vital role in everyone’s life. It solves their problems. Media is something that is must for today. It helps and provides vital information to the people. Media is considered to be the 4th pillar of the society. The other three being legislative, executive and judiciary. It definitely plays an important role in the welfare of the society. Media has a constructive role to play for the society. Media plays an important role in the society. They help us to know current affairs on the spot. They put their lives in danger during a terrorist attack or a natural disaster, just to inform us about it. It is partly because of them that there is awareness spreading in the society. It is the media who shape our lives. Without media our lives are incomplete. Without the media, it would have never been possible for us to become so much advanced. Human Rights which existed as mere theorical debate during the pre-Second World War have now become a practical goal of many modern Nation-states across the world. Today, the leaders of the world recognized the need to inculcate the indicators of human rights protections and practice as an input for development. So, In safeguarding human rights media plays a very important role.
Human Rights which existed as mere theorical debate during the pre-Second World War have now become a practical goal of many modern Nation-states across the world. Today, the leaders of the world recognized the need to inculcate the indicators of human rights protections and practice as an input for development. Human rights violations occur when any state or non-state actor breaches any part of the UDHR treaty or other international human rights or humanitarian law. In regard to human rights violations of United Nations laws. Article 39 of the United Nations Charter designates the UN Security Council (or an appointed authority) as the only tribunal that may determine UN human rights violations. Companies, NGOs, political parties, informal groups, and individuals are known as non-State actors. Non-State actors can also commit human rights abuses, but are not generally subject to human rights law other than under International Humanitarian Law, which applies to individuals. Also, certain national instruments such as the Human Rights Act 1998 (UK), impose human rights obligations on certain entities which are not traditionally considered as part of government (”public authorities“).
Multinational companies play an increasingly large role in the world, and are responsible for a large number of human rights abuses. Although the legal and moral environment surrounding the actions of governments is reasonably well developed, that surrounding multinational companies is both controversial and ill-defined. Multinational companies’ primary responsibility is to their shareholders, not to those affected by their actions. Such companies may be larger than the economies of some the states within which they operate, and can wield significant economic and political power. No international treaties exist to specifically cover the behavior of companies with regard to human rights, and national legislation is very variable
Human rights violations occur when any state or non-state actor breaches any part of the UDHR treaty or other international human rights or humanitarian law. In regard to human rights violations of United Nations laws. Article 39 of the United Nations Charter designates the UN Security Council (or an appointed authority) as the only tribunal that may determine UN human rights violations.
Human rights abuses are monitored by United Nations committees, national institutions and governments and by many independent non-governmental organizations, such as Amnesty International, International Federation of Human Rights, Human Rights Watch, World Organisation Against Torture, Freedom House, International Freedom of Expression Exchange and Anti-Slavery International. These organisations collect evidence and documentation of alleged human rights abuses and apply pressure to enforce human rights laws. Only a very few countries do not commit significant human rights violations, according to Amnesty International. In their 2004 human rights report (covering 2003), the Netherlands, Norway, Denmark, Iceland and Costa Rica are the only (mappable) countries that did not (in their opinion) violate at least some human rights significantly.
There are a wide variety of databases available which attempt to measure, in a rigorous fashion, exactly what violations governments commit against those within their territorial jurisdiction. An example of this is the list created and maintained by Prof. Christian Davenport at the University of Maryland.
Wars of aggression, war crimes and crimes against humanity, including genocide, are breaches of International humanitarian law and represent the most serious of human rights violations. When a government closes a geographical region to journalists, it raises suspicions of human rights violations.
The role of media in safeguarding human rights is as important as that of the judiciary, National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) Chairman and former Chief Justice of India Justice M.N. Venkatachaliah in on seminar delivered that : “We have a limited notion of human rights. The meaning of human rights transcends mere abuse of power. Even bad drinking water that impairs people’s health and efficiency is a violation of rights,” Justice Venkatachaliah said. He added that the role of media in highlighting the cause of human rights, “should include issues such as literacy, health, family relationships and not mere abuse of authority”.
He also cautioned that self-regulation is necessary in both media and judiciary. He remarked that politicians had become brokers of people’s anger and the media has failed to notice that. Citing a sample study conducted by the Commission that 78 per cent of the total deaths of prison inmates, most of them undertrials, had been due to pulmonary tuberculosis caused by the unhygienic, ill-ventilated and overcrowded jails, he said, “The media must address such unsung issues.” Advocate General, Punjab, H.S. Mattewal, said that poverty and crime are the underlying causes of all human rights violations.
Responding to an observation made by retired Supreme Court judge, Justice Kuldip Singh, that the Punjab government had failed in its promise to constitute a commission for looking into violations of human rights during terrorism. Mattewal pointed out that under Section 36 of the PHRA, the commission could not take up cases over an year old.
THE MEDIA AND HUMAN RIGHTS
Until a decade ago, the word ‘media’ was synonymous with the word ‘the press’, which in turn was synonymous with newspapers. However, the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1991, which led to the first Gulf War between America and Iraq, gave birth to the cable television network, and became a springboard for the Cable News Network (CNN) founded by Ted Turner of the Media Corporation. This was followed with the advent of the Internet, which has virtually revolutionized the scope and the reach of the media across the globe.
In India, the Press played a crucial role during the freedom struggle. The role played by great statesmen like Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Mahatama Gandhi and Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru is unparalleled, thanks to the zeal with which they devoted to their respective newspapers - Kesari, Harijan and National Herald. They succeeded despite the repeated efforts made by the British regime to curb their writings by charging and then sentencing them in one sedition case after another.
In 1978, the Government introduced ‘The Press Council Act - 1978’ to ‘preserve the freedom of the press and also for maintaining and improving the standards of newspapers and news agencies .in India’. This Act has to some extent helped the Press to be more transparent and also simultaneously be accountable.
The first major case of human rights violations ever to have been reported in the media, is the story of the blindings of prisoners in Bhagalpur jail and which threw light on the alarming state of affairs in the jail. Thereafter in mid eighties, Sheela Barse’s investigative story on the condition of exploitation and abuse of female inmates of Arthur Road Jail in Mumbai, also in Sunday, resulted in an enquiry into the condition of prisons all over Maharashtra.
The printed media has played a significant role during the last twenty-five years or so in reporting the violation of human rights. However, of late the printed media has been receiving stiff competition from television with the advent of news channels such as Star News, Zee TV and Aaj Tak were thrown to air.
“ This healthy competition between print and electronic media has compelled them to carve out a new kind of readership and/or viewership in other areas such as fashion, cuisine, health care, real estate, environment, sports etc. While defending the latest trends, the media say, “we cater for the demands of our readers and viewers.”
Modernization of media, worrying trend for human rights activists
But one fears that in the entire modernization and revolution process of the Indian media, human rights might take a back seat. This fear is further compounded due to the constant changes in the global economic pattern, which began with the introduction of the WTO six years ago. The recently concluded US-led war on Iraq is also going to change the financial and economic equations around the globe, in which ‘human survival’ might assume more importance than ‘respect for the human rights’.
Although the concept of ‘human rights’ came into existence way back in 1948 with the UN’s Universal Declaration to that effect, in India the National Human Rights Commission Came into existence forty-five years later, in 1993, with ‘The Protection of Human Rights Act ’. The State Human Rights Commission has came into existence barely two years ago and is still in the embryonic stage.
One might wonder why the enactment of a nationwide law was delayed for 45 years? Well, no such necessity was felt as many of the Articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights have already found place in the Fundamental Rights enshrined in our Constitution.
The Indian Constitution is one of the classical documents of its kind and has been drafted in such a systematic and simplified manner that is easy to understand, even for a layman. This speaks the volumes for the vision and energy of Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar whose efforts in the making of the Indian Constitution were quite gigantic.
However, when it comes to the reporting of the human rights-related incidents, the newspapers devote very little space to them, unless the incidents it self is a very newsworthy and has national importance. Newspapers seldom make a serious effort to follow up such stories, which they report with a greater zeal in the beginning.
A CLIMATE FOR PROFESSIONALISM AND RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS
Journalists need to work in professional and social conditions where they are free to resolve ethical dilemmas alone and where they can make professional decisions on editorial content. This is a prerequisite for good journalism not just in the world over. This type of editorial independence should exist both in publicly owned and privately owned media, irrespective of ownership. Actions to support independent journalism should build on the following principles:
(i) public scrutiny of the exercise of power is essential in a democracy;
(ii) law related to journalism and media should be consistent with international standards and only elaborated after the fullest consultation with journalists;
(iii) independent organisations of journalists are best able to defend media freedom;
(iv) media professionals have a duty to work to the highest standards and should accept
responsibility to set up structures for effective self-regulation.
Strengthening Media Professional Organisations
Media professionals (journalists, publishers, broadcasters) in India have the expertise, the talent and commitment to build new and lasting structures in all media. They are best able to identify obstacles to press freedom, to define solutions to media problems and to implement strategies for media development. Indian media professionals must be closely involved in the implementation of media training and assistance programmes. Too often, well-intentioned interest groups, particularly in the field of human rights and development seek to represent the needs of media. Journalists must be able to speak for themselves.
A Comprehensive, Integrated and Accountable Strategy
Strategies for media development and assistance in the region must be long term, they must tackle all obstacles to media freedom (covering legal conditions, professional and social organisation, training and media development) and they must involve all media professionals. In addition, the allocation and disbursement of public funds must adhere to the principles of transparency and accountability.
Media is the part of civil society. By “civil society” we normally mean all those organisations outside the state, the family and the market. This includes charities, community groups, professional associations, women’s organisations, advocacy, faith, self-help and recreational groups, academia, business and trade associations, employers’ associations and trades unions. The term “fourth estate” was, devised because of the very fact that the media are so difficult to characterise. Generally outside civil society are those media established in pursuit of political power or profit and market share. But the boundaries are fuzzy. Some of these governmental and commercial broadcasters do broadcast significant educational and non-party-political information that is of great public service.
Perhaps the concept of the “social entrepreneur” is helpful here. This refers to organizations and individuals who address civil society’s social, democratic, economic and environmental needs in traditional non-profit ways, but who make use of innovative, entrepreneurial and private sector approaches to deliver new and better services to their audiences. Public sector and even some commercial broadcasters could be described as social entrepreneurs, delivering knowledge and information that genuinely contributes to democracy and development.
Well and truly within the civil society sector are the growing number of community radio stations, who serve local communities, often in their indigenous language and from a civil society organization base such as a faith group or NGO.Increasingly perhaps we will see the growth in community internate broadcasters too.
THE MEDIA AND DEVELOPMENT
Civil society wants media that go beyond political dogma and entertainment to educate and inform the whole nation, free from government interference and commercial pressure. They want the media to help create a knowledgeable, entrepreneurial and confident society able to address and achieve development goals, particularly the Millennium Development Goals. Investment in the capacity of the free press, broadcasters and other media should be a high priority because they are best placed to communicate economic, social and environmental information and develop an educated public. In this way an informed consensus can be built around the difficult choices that are inevitable on the road to economic stability.
Strengthened media are also needed in order to deliver freedom of expression and freedom of information about the way citizens are being governed. These are fundamental building blocks of democracy, development and human rights as set out in the Indian Charter for Human and Peoples’ Rights.
ROLE OF MEDIA.
The violation of human rights, no matter in which sphere of life they occur, essentially takes place because ‘human values’ are not recognized in the first place. The importance of the human rights needs to be taught from the primary level in schools, when children are the right age to absorb them.
Police are often accused of violating human rights, but sadly, no effort is made by the home department to include the subject in the curriculum of police training academies. Here lies an opportunity to train policemen about the importance of respecting and observing human rights and the consequences of the breaching them.
The media can play a pivotal role by way of building up public opinion, and also by impressing on the government the need to incorporate the subject of human rights, both in schools and also in police training academies, and also in the training institutes for municipal councils, corporations and other revenue departments.
It is the duty of the government to provide its citizens with unpolluted air. But, if the local authority is going to give building construction permission in a ‘green zone’ or for the construction of a chemical plant in the area nearby to residential locality, then it would definitely be a violation of human rights. The de-reservation of plots for housing projects in metropolis is a huge scam, taking place with utter disregard to the human rights, but it is seldom reported in the media.
The priority of the Press
It is a common experience, at least in the big cities like Mumbai and Pune, that matters relating to de-reservation of plots by the builders, or the violation of environmental norms by the companies are rarely reported, as the reporting about their misdemeanors might deprive the newspapers of potential advertisements.
The print media these days is undergoing lots of changes, thanks to the challenges thrown up by the electronic media. Time was when the editor was ‘The Boss’ of the newspaper and it was he who used to call the shots with the management. Now a newspaper is treated like any other manufacturing product, with the marketing (also known as ‘Response’) department at the helm of affairs. The editor is being reduced to a ‘hired labourer’, working purely on a contract basis.
Such a sea change in the attitude of the management of some of the newspapers means that they are unlikely to antagonize the government by reporting stories relating to the violation of human rights, lest these stories rob them of the advertisements issued by the Directorate of Audio and Visual Publicity (DAVP). This is a dangerous trend from the human rights activists’ point of view.
DIFFERENT ROLES OF MEDIA IN HUMAN RIGHTS.
Media is really an important object in the society now a days. Without the media, it would have never been possible for us to become so much advanced. Though sometimes it becomes too intrusive, but still I think it plays a very important role in our society. It helps us to know about how the poor people are being exploited by the richer ones, how the students are being abused by the teachers, how the brutal fathers are killing their own baby in its mother’s womb as it is a girl. Had the media been not there we would have never been able to know a bit about all these.
The main important functions of the media are entertaining, educating and informing the society. For the society to cope in this technologically dependent era, they need to be media saturated. Today, media is considered the fourth pillar of the state all over the world, first and foremost British Member of Parliament Lord Macaulay had given this status to the media, in any country, the governing body has a significant position, then religious leaders have second position, after that general public has third position and media have fourth position. In any republican government system, there must be three administrative bodies, 1- Parliament, 2- Administrative department, 3- Judiciary body. In the absence of any of these three bodies, the government can not run systematically, but now it is felt that one body more is necessary to be with them, that is media, this body is considered more important these days, it plays an important role as an informative bridge between governing bodies and general public, in absence of media general public cannot know about what kind of bills and acts are passed in the parliament, and what are their positive and negative effects in the society, if media person close their eyes the government officials will do what they want, so media plays a very important and impartial role between government activities and general public, so much so that it is said that the freedom of media is the guarantee of success of republic government.
The Mass Media is an unique feature of modern society. It’s development has accompanied an increase in the magnitude and complexity of societal actions and engagements, rapid social change, technological innovation, rising personal income and standard of life and the decline of some traditional forms of control and authority. There is an association between the development of mass media and social change, although the degree and direction of this association is still debated upon even after years of study into media influence. Many of the consequences, either detrimental or beneficial, which have been attributed to the mass media, are almost undoubtedly due to other tendencies within society. Few sociologists would refuse the importance of the mass media, and mass communications as a whole, as being a major factor in the construction and circulation of social understanding and social imagery in modern societies. Therefore it is argued that the mass media is used as “an instrument”, both more powerful and more flexible than anything in previous existence, for influencing people into certain modes of belief and understanding within society.
Media plays an important role in today’s world. Through media we can get information in few minutes. But we should not see just one side of the coin as there are many good and bad things considering both the sides of the same coins. According to me, MEDIA in true sense acts as a connectivity bridge between people worldwide. It makes us aware about what all is happening in this world. It is only due to media which we are able to be safe from being involved in various dangerous activities.
Media plays a very important role in our lives, it is because of media that we are all aware of what is happening around us. Not only does it bridges the gap between the government and the the general public but it also provides us with the information about what is happening in the other parts of the world, the new technologies that is being developed, about inventions, disasters and almost everything. It is because of media that any kind of information is just one click away. When we talk about media, we are not talking about the electronic media only, it includes newspapers, magazines, radio, internet etc. Though it is true that electronic media is more prevalent and it has greater impact on the masses, but the role of other media cannot be neglected.