So first I would like to apologize for the major delay in this post. I
did not realize that when I got home there would be so much to do. I
will not get into the boring details of this past week in the United
States. Rather, I shall try to entertain and move you with my
description of my last week in Ireland.
When last we left off it was a
Friday and I was doing work. So as I believe I mentioned previously, the
next day was our trip to the Aran islands.
The Aran islands are
fascinating because of the history. They are one of the traditional
places in Ireland that speak the Irish language on a daily basis. They
moved to the islands to escape the British oppression during the
Cromwell period. Their primary industry was fishing until it turned to
tourism. We arose at the crack of dawn to meet our tour.
down a series of winding roads which made many people ill but did not
faze me at all, we reached the ferry. This ferry ride had to be one of
my favorite parts of the day. Lydia and I went all the way to the top
deck and let the water and wind rock us around like crazy. If you think
you are good at subway surfing try it on this ferry. On the lower deck
you will be successful, on the upper deck you will not. But as I stood
holding on to the railing for dear life, I withdrew into my thoughts. I
thought about the power of nature. How nice it can be to feel so small
and controlled by the elements in the best way.
When we reached the
island, we went for a snack. A very nice man at the Till gave me a free
chocolate bar. Then we took a walking tour around the island. If I am to
be completely honest I really did not want to do this. The last time I
went to one of the islands I took a hike. This time I really wanted to
explore the town center. Talk to the locals and such.
did not get much of a chance to do this, however, Lydia, Hayley, and I
had a lovely time picking flowers. Killian our tour guide taught Hayley
how to make daisy chains and she taught me. I felt like a fairy child
walking around with a daisy necklace and flowers in my hair. I truly was
born the wrong decade…I am a hippie.
So then we ate lunch at the top
of a hill next to a castle. Can you believe it, a castle in Ireland?!
Anyway, then came the absolute best part of the day. I have always
wanted to swim in a body of water in another country. I mean, Jones
Beach really is awful. Well, I finally got my chance. As I plunged into
the icy cold north Atlantic, I really thought my chest, my whole body
was on fire. It was the best feeling ever.
Sometimes, when you
experience a physical sensation along with just going through life it
really makes you feel alive. I really enjoy feeling alive. Sometimes,
when I travel I really don’t feel like I am experiencing anything
So what I can read about the history the tour guide tells us in
my pajamas at home. But when you can swim in the water or pick the
flowers of such a special place, you understand what traveling is all about.
Anyway, the rest of the day was relatively uneventful. A bird crapped
all over me and I got sunburned really badly. But apart from that there
is nothing too interesting to report.
Actually, that may be the most
eventful thing of the whole week. Sunday I did homework. For the rest of
the week, I went out with friends. My friend Sarah came up from Galway.
It was a good time.
It was really sad saying goodbye to everyone.
particularly the people who live in Ireland. Yes, especially you Triona.
Actually, I think I will talk about this for a minute. I was frustrated
that I needed so much help because I was there for such a short period of
time so I really couldn’t learn the place well enough to travel
independently, but if I had I might not have gotten to know Triona. So
maybe it’s not so bad.
Anyway, I figure because I was studying abroad
At the end of this post I will copy one of my assignments. If
you are incredibly bored by it just skip it I really don’t care. I loved
the class though. I would love to post my concluding thoughts about the
trip, but honestly, right now I am just not done processing everything.
So in a few more weeks I will do a final travel post about my true
concluding thoughts. Right now it just seems surreal.
Samantha Flax Human Rights
After the atrocities that occurred during the Second World War, the
nations of the world were determined to prevent such a tragedy from
taking place in the future. They created the United Nations as a means
to this end. In 1948, they wrote the universal declaration of human
rights. This monumental declaration was to serve as a guideline of
rights that every person in the world was entitled to. One of these
rights is written in article five, it states, “No one shall be subjected
to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”
The trouble with the declaration of human rights, is that at the time
there was no way of actually enforcing them. While currently the United
Nations has made efforts to enforce this right there is still a long way
to go until freedom from torture is recognized around the world.
In December, 1984, members of the United Nations got together to have a
convention against torture and other cruel inhumane or degrading
treatment or punishment. This was because even with article five of the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and article seven of the
international covenant on civil and political rights, which both
emphasized the right to freedom from torture, there was still a great
deal of torture around the world. The convention sought to define what
constitutes torture, set parameters for laws for individual states, and
to find a reasonable method for helping to enforce these laws. The
following is a summary of the convention.
Article one discusses the definition of torture as a use of mental or
physical abuse used for coercion or intimidation. It also addresses the
extremely important question of liability, stating that using the excuse
that an authority member instructed the person to commit the crime is
not a valid defense. Articles two through sixteen discuss the provisions
that the states who sign the agreement should follow, from what should
be included in domestic laws to how these crimes should be prosecuted.
It states that all states must have laws that prohibit torture. It must
be considered state offense. States will aid each other in the
extradition process. Law enforcement and other public officials shall be
instructed in what constitutes unlawful behavior. Any victims of torture
should be protected and the defendants have a right to a fair trial.
These are only a few of the most important provisions of the agreement.
Articles eighteen through twenty-six discuss the formation of the committee
that will be organized in order to investigate crimes of torture in
individual states. It explains how the committee will work and the
rights it has. The committee can only make suggestions to a country that
it thinks is guilty of crimes against humanity. It cannot enforce these
suggestions legally. The committee will be formed of elected officials
and they are required to submit an annual report.
The last articles,
twenty-seven through thirty-three, settle any disputes regarding the
convention itself in regards to states individual rights, for example,
whether or not they choose to agree and whether they are required to
acknowledge the competence of the committee. All of these things are
optional. While this is just a summary of the details, it does clearly
demonstrate while well-intentioned, and definitely a step in the right
direction, it has no legal validity in terms of actual enforcement. This
is represented by the crimes against humanity in the United States.
The United States has several provisions in its constitution and other
laws that protect human rights. These rights include the fifth, eighth,
and fourteenth amendments to the Constitution. The eighth amendment is
perhaps the most important regarding torture because it specifically
bans cruel or unusual punishment. However, despite these laws and the
United States general compliance with the United Nations there is a
shocking amount of neglect on countless human rights violations, from
jailing homeless people and giving children life sentences. As well as
various war crimes such as the use of drones. Most disturbing is the
United States’ use of torture in places such as Guantanamo bay. Despite
a supposed ban on torture techniques there are countless reports of
torture especially in military prisons.
The government uses national
security as a justification for strict actions, but the United Nations
has still accused the United States of several crimes against humanity
especially torture. The United Nations said that changing interrogation
techniques is not enough. One of the most controversial topics regarding
torture is the use of the death penalty in several American states. A
question that is asked by many people particularly in the United Nations
is how is death not cruel and unusual punishment? The answer is usually
something about how these people are killed humanely. For example, they
are killed painlessly and they get a last meal of their choice. Also, a
sick person cannot be killed. However, this still constitutes a
violation of the right to freedom from torture.
There are several steps that can be taken in order to significantly
decrease the amount of torture going on. Hopefully these measures can
eventually lead to the eradication of torture. Firstly, and most simply,
the public must be made aware of the government’s actions regarding
these heinous crimes in individual states and on a global level. Once
the citizens are made aware of what is happening they can petition their
governments to solve the problem. The main reason torture is able to
continue in America in particular, is that most citizens are not aware
of the magnitude of the problem, or they are told it is necessary for
national security. Next, there is a more complex solution. While the
United Nations is a wonderful organization regarding diplomacy and
negotiation, it holds little to no power when it comes to actually
enforcing its ideals and acts. If the UN could actually prosecute crimes
against humanity instead of just making suggestions, it would be much
more effective. This would be difficult because countries would feel
that they are losing their right to sovereignty, however, human safety
should come before self-determination when it comes to human rights.
This could be enforced through an international court of justice.
Instead of the articles from the convention against torture being
suggestions they should be requirements for at the very least anyone
that signs on. Ideally, it would apply regardless of a signature but at
the current time this is virtually impossible. Torture can be decreased,
but it will take hard work and cooperation.
Accountability for Torture | Amnesty International USA
www.amnestyusa.org > Our Work > Issues > TortureResult details
U.N. slams U.S. for torture, NSA spying | Al Jazeera America
Torture – HREA
UN Convention Against Torture – Human Rights Web
The universal declaration of human rights