Know Your Rights (KYR) Campaign
The KYR is an advocacy initiative that engages the public through the use of mainstream media - radio, television and newspapers; Facebook and public forums, and a program for secondary school students.
The program is entitled Students with the Right Attitude (SRA).
The KYR campaign focuses on providing opportunities for citizens to understand the Universal Declaration on Human Rights (UDHR) and other UN Conventions, Treaties and Declarations.
KYR campaign features weekly radio discussions with human rights and social justice activists on themes such as Justice, Inclusivity, Human Rights Education, Corporal and Capital punishment and the rights of the vulnerable and marginalized sectors of society.
Similarly, monthly public forums are conducted throughout the island on these and other themes.
The SRA program features weekly discussions with students on understanding the UDHR, civic space and principles of respect, tolerance and discipline during their school days.
The objectives are:
- Provide opportunities for all citizens to know their rights and responsibilities.
- Ensure citizens are engaged in the process of inclusion and dialogue, thereby helping them to understand the UDHR and other UN treaties and Declarations that the state has ratified.
- Build capacity of citizens with respect to human rights education and awareness, enabling them to promote and protect these rights.
- Create a human rights conscious society.
- Lobby policy makers to fulfill state obligations to international human rights law and to ensure that all citizens get to know their rights and responsibilities
- Empower all citizens with the knowledge of what their rights are, in their respective interests.
HOW THE OBJECTIVES WERE ACHIEVED
The objectives were achieved by conducting radio and television programs, newspaper articles and through monitoring the various responses and comments from listeners, viewers and readers from the various activities - media, fora and the SRA program in six educational institutions.
Milton Coy, a career journalist, hosted radio programs, was the guest on several television shows and was the the lead coordinator for the SRA sessions.
As a human rights and social justice advocate, Coy led many discussions with partner organisations and individuals on the issues of knowing one's rights and responsibilities as a citizen. Additionally, several training sessions (workshops and seminars) for SRA Coordinators (support team) were facilitated by Coy in preparation for, and implementation of the various activities in the KYR campaign.
Coy operates a media training centre and institute through which many local reporters and journalists have been introduced to advocacy journalism.
Several innovations were applied during the campaign. These included the observance of UN recognised days - including International Women's Day (March 8th); Elder Abuse Day (June 15th); Universal Children's Day (November 21st); International Day for Tolerance (November 16th); World Aids Day (December 1st)) and International Human Rights Day (IHRD) - (December 10th).
Through these observances the issue of rights was emphasized and promoted in respect to the focus of the specific days.
Students were also engaged in promoting a culture of rights within their school environment, as part of the education and awareness campaign. These were done though school events like Courtesy week, Service Day and the Helping Hands Initiatives.
As a result of the campaign, citizens are engaged in dialogue and discussions about their rights and responsibilities.
Citizens are now able to have a better understanding and apply the UDHR and others international treaties and declarations that the state has ratified.
Students, the youth, older persons, persons with disabilities and those living with and affected by HIV/ Aids, woman, workers, men, and the LGBTI community are now calling on the state to fulfill its obligations in their respective areas of interests.
Additionally, members of various human rights focused organisations and groups are empowered to effectively educate persons within their membership with regards to what their rights and responsibilities are as defined by their mandate for advocacy.
Education is the best weapon we can use to eradicate ignorance from within our societies. The promotion of knowledge is one sure way to create a society that is conscious about their rights and responsibilities
The biggest challenges include limited resources (financial and personnel) and the availability of members of the public to participate in the KYR process.
Citizens have a very limited understanding and knowledge of international human rights law and how it can be applied domestically - in local laws.
We do not have many local media practitioners interested in advocacy journalism, who are willing to promote the rights of citizens.
The lessons learnt include:
The importance of knowing ones rights is relevant to protecting those rights.
Through the participation and collaboration of Civil Society Organisations a stronger partnership can result in more knowledge about the various international, national and regional human rights' issues and how citizens are being affected.
When people in a society know their rights they can demand respect for those rights.
The application of rights can significanly reduce incidences of abuses and violation of one's rights.