Human Rights Day – Continuing the Fight to Protect and Defend Inherent Human Rights | Causes, Not Just Cases®

On December 10th the United Nations and the world will celebrate the 63rd annual Human Rights Day. This annual celebration commemorates the adoption by the United Nations in 1948 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Today the focus of this day is embodied in countless worthy initiatives – from fighting for safe working environments, the right to healthcare in 3rd world countries, the elimination of violence against women and many, many other worthy causes.

With the sad news of Nelson Mandela’s passing, this day becomes even more significant in order to keep alive the passion, perseverance and perspective that he brought to the world.

The declaration applies to all people and nations and promotes the concept that “all human beings have certain inherent rights that are inalienable.” As U.S. citizens we recognize this concept from our Declaration of Independence—we are taught it at an early age in school and carry it with us as a core belief.

At Motley Rice we have the privilege of representing clients who, unfortunately, have had their basic human rights violated as a result of a variety of types of mistreatment.

Earlier this year we resolved a very tragic case of a Chinese immigrant whose dignity and rights were trampled upon by authorities in this country. Our client, Jason Ng, was arrested and detained by ICE for overstaying his visa. He was transferred to three different private detention facilities while his deportation order was being appealed. After a few months in detention, Jason began to feel ill, developing a rash and a pain in his back. Jason complained about his condition as it grew worse. Unfortunately, he received scant and inadequate medical attention. Inexplicably, as his condition began to rapidly deteriorate, the correctional staff, medical personnel and administration of the detention facility decided that Jason was “faking” his illness.

Jason’s back pain soon progressed to where he was unable to walk without assistance. Fellow inmates helped Jason walk to get his medication and meals as the facility staff refused to deliver them to Jason’s cell. Jason’s medical condition continued to worsen and continued to be ignored by the facility. He was denied access to a wheelchair which prevented him from meeting with his attorney and from obtaining desperately needed pain medication.

Such cruel and degrading behavior culminated in the staff dragging Jason early one morning from his cell to be taken by a van to ICE headquarters in another state. This inhumane treatment was captured on a video that is shocking and disturbing to witness. Jason screams in pain as he is dragged through the facility to the van, crying and pleading to the officers that he is unable to walk. Jason passed away ten days later from advanced liver cancer that had spread throughout his body and had crushed his spine. The mistreatment he experienced was extraordinary and the suffering that he underwent was unimaginable. He left behind a wife and two young sons.

So, this year on Human Rights Day December 10…

Please pause to remember and give strength to all who haven’t been given the human rights they deserve, including Jason Ng and his family, thousands in the Congo and South African mines, and the brave survivors, families and loved ones affected by the terrorism of 9/11 and continue to fight for justice.

Please reflect on Article 1 of Universal Declaration of Human Rights:

“All human being are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and shall act towards one another in a spirit of Brotherhood.”

At Motley Rice we strive to always adhere to this declaration and work hard each day to try to uphold it.

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Robert J. McConnell