Posted by: bklunk | April 2, 2007

Is There Really No Such Thing As Bad Publicity?

The main tool of human rights regimes is producing bad publicity in hopes of persuading states to do better in their policies.  Is that better than nothing?

Sri Lanka draws flack from HRW over child soldiers

Today, March 29th, 2007, Sri Lanka again questioned about it’s use of and recruitment of child soldiers.  The Human Rights Watch (HRM) recovered evidence last month which reported that the pact, set out previously by other members of the international community, was being violated by Sri Lanka.  Apparently Sri Lanka has been abducting young children from it’s country and forcing them into war zones and all of the other horrible situations that child soldiers have to endear.  After hearing this HRM asked for proof that Sri Lanka was not doing this, and Sri Lanka never responded.  The Hindu News reported that “Despite promises to investigate abductions of children by the pro-government Karuna group, Sri Lankan authorities have taken no effective action and abductions continue.”  There have even been stories told to the HRW by parents in Sri Lanka who have had their underaged children abducted by the goverenment.

To look into this problem further the HRW visited Sri Lanka where they reported seeing children under the age of 17, some armed with assault rifles, guarding offices of the Karuna group in the eastern district of Batticaloa while Sri Lankan soldiers and police passed by.  HRW’s Asia offical, Brad Adams said:  ”When government troops at a military base look across the street at children standing guard at a Karuna office and do nothing, it’s hard to believe the government is taking any meaningful steps to end this abuse.”

Even with the new pact in effect, these things are still occuring.  It’s hard to imagine what else we can do to stop these terrors from occuring.

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  1. I would say that yes, it is better than nothing because at least the human right regimes are making these issues available to the public. A lot of people would not know that events like these were occuirng if it were not for human rights regimes. However, I think that standing around and pointing fingers at those who are breaking the rules is not enough. It’s hard to understand how these regimes can know the magnitude of what’s going on and still not do anything. I understand that a lot of it is that they have little power, but it’s still hard to comprehend an organization to allow this abuse to occur.

  2. I would also agree that yes, it is better for there to be publicity on this sad issue than for it to go unnoticed by the international community. Publicity makes it impossible to plead ignorance, and also makes other countries look bad if they don’t step up and apply pressure to Sri Lanka to change their tactics and to keep their children out of harms way. In addition, it is important for Sri Lanka to see that their violation of pacts and treaties will not be tolerated; they need to play by the rules, just like every other country does.

  3. This issue is very similar to the other post about using children as suicide bombers-it is nearly as sad and just as deplorable. The children that are being taken by the government are not merely forced to be soldiers but they are being brainwashed into thinking that what they are doing is good. Children, especially young children do not have the capacity to understand the implications of their actions, they can be made to do almost anything during the time that their fledgling minds are just beginning to sort out right from wrong. Taking children from their families and making them into soldiers is sick- kids don’t have any idea that what they are being made to do isn’t morally right -they are only trying to please their authorities no matter who that may be and no matter what it is they are teaching. The lives of these children are being stolen from them. They are being socialized incorrectly for purely political gain…where has the sense of huminity gone?

    As for the publicity aspect, the media plays a huge role in how we see and understand our world. The way these events are represented to us by whatever media channel, will effect the way we respond. The fact of the matter is- Outrage breeds action. Negative publicity will not eliminate this problem in Sri Lanka but it sure may help.

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