Ombudsperson’s Nichole Tirant-Gherardi’s message on Human Rights Day – December 10 ‘Youth standing up for human rights’ | 10 December 2019
“In this 30th anniversary year of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, it is only fitting that Human Rights Day today is commemorated under the theme ‘Youth Standing Up for Human Rights’.
“The message is clear: We call upon our nation’s youth to take leadership as constructive agents of change and be a source of inspiration for a better future. We encourage them to join their counterparts the world over to stand up for rights and stand against racism, hate speech, bullying, discrimination, climate change, and any violation of those fundamental rights we attribute to Humankind.
“One can never be too young to change the world and the youth have a crucial role to play in positive change. They bring fresh ideas and solutions for a better world. Through their amplified voices, they can engage global audiences as major drivers of political, economic and social transformation in promoting and protecting rights.
“Young people are often marginalised and sometimes encounter difficulties in accessing and enjoying their rights because of their age. In Seychelles, we see high unemployment rates among our youth and a tragic number of our youth ensnared in drugs addiction and abuse. This alone should serve to galvanise everyone into positive action to empower our youth.
“In this respect, the empowering speech by young Misael Bristol addressing the National Assembly on the occasion of World Children’s Day stands out in our minds. He voiced concern on the issues affecting our youth, citing social media, drugs abuse and mental health, all of which are directly linked to basic human rights. He is living proof that our youth can and do have the power and motivation to stand up for human rights – And we should all listen.
“If we are to succeed as a nation and achieve sustainable development for everyone, we must demand the full participation of everyone, especially the youth. Participation in public life is a fundamental human right and a fundamental human duty exercised by the greater number through the ballot box. When young people seek to participate in those decisions that have a direct and indirect impact upon their wellbeing, they must be heard so that our decision-making can be more effective and lead to sustainable development for all.
“Empowering our youth with the knowledge of and ability to claim their rights and fulfill their duties and responsibilities throughout their daily lives can only be achieved through education. Education is the key to teaching them to not only protect themselves, their peers and community but also about tolerance, cooperation and active participation.
“Education must teach our youth about the roles played by different state institutions in upholding and defending their fundamental rights. These include the Human Rights Commission, the judiciary, the police, the National Assembly and even the Ombudsman.
“With human rights at the heart of the UN SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals), we cannot progress on all SDGs and reach those goals and drive sustainable development in the absence of human dignity. “That dignity is only guaranteed by the respect of Human Rights. That Catch 22 is the basis of the 2030 Development Agenda.
“Human Rights remain relevant to everyone in our society, every day. These universal values are at the very core of our shared humanity and whenever and wherever we abandon those values of equality, justice and freedom, we are all at greater risk, unable to stave off violence and sustain peace.
“On this Human Rights Day, I call on everyone to support the young people who have taken up the banner for human rights. I encourage all youth to stand up for human rights and remind them that standing up for those rights is not only a right, it is a privilege and an imperative duty shared by all.”
Office of the Ombudsman