“The right to truth is both individual and collective. Each victim has the right to know the truth and how violations affect them. Informing broader society about fundamental freedoms and how they have been violated is a vital safeguard against abuses recurring.”
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
Today is the International Day for the Right to the Truth Concerning Gross Human Rights Violations and for the Dignity of Victims, an important occasion where we honour the memory of victims of gross human rights violations, promote the importance of the right to truth and justice and remember those who have devoted their lives to promoting and protecting human rights for all.
Today is important because even as we make strides in ensuring the rights of victims of human rights violations, there is still a lot of work to be done. We also need to review the challenges that keep us from knowing the full and complete truth as to events that transpired, the circumstances surrounding the event, who participated in them, as well as the reasons for them. Only when that happens do we have resolution, closure and justice.
On this day, MARUAH would like to highlight the need to bring the Khmer Rouge trials to a satisfactory resolution, the necessity in Thailand of finding and prosecuting those responsible for the deaths in the 2010 ‘Red Shirt’ demonstrations, and the rights of various minority groups in border skirmishes. We would also like to call for more cooperation and international enforcement of anti-trafficking laws. Here in Singapore, charges of criminal defamation and contempt of court, including “scandalising the judiciary” are used to curb criticism of the government. Certain laws that can curtail truth from emerging transparently still exist. The Public Order Act that requires any assembly in a public place to obtain a permit and the Internal Security Act, are examples of such deterrents that exist.
Unless and until we make progress as individual nations and a region in addressing these violations, we cannot say that human rights have been upheld.
Today on the International Day for the Right to the Truth Concerning Gross Human Rights Violations and for the Dignity of Victims, MARUAH recognises all the hard work that has been done in pursuit of truth and justice for victims of human rights violations. Nonetheless, this violation continues and all groups working in the area will need to be vigilant in furthering the good work, so that the rights of victims are ensured.