Buraku Liberation News July 1999 No.109

BLL questions the Draft Report of the Council for Promotion of Human Rights Protection.

The Council for Promotion of Human Rights Protection, established in May 1997 based on the Law of Promotion of Measures for Human Rights Protection and commissioned to file a report on human rights education in two years, as well as to compile a report for the remedial measures for victims of human rights violations within five years, made announcement of a draft report on human rights education and awareness raising on 18 June 1999. The Ministry of Justice, which works as a secretariat of the Council, has opened the draft for 1 month for public comment.

In reaction to the context of the draft, several NGOs, including BLL, and the Human Rights Forum 21, which monitors the Council since its establishment, organized a public comment campaign locally and internationally to urge concerned citizens as well as organizations to send their comments to the Justice Ministry before the deadline.

The following are the excerpt of the views on the draft (Please refer to the emergent appeal at our webpage http://blhrri.org for the full text of the draft). 

Excerpt of Views on the "Draft Report" of the Council for the Promotion of Human Rights Protection

Buraku Liberation League Headquarters

June 18, 1999

Today, the Council for the Promotion of Human Rights Protection announced its draft report entitled "Inquiry No.1 - Draft Report on the Basic Matters Concerning the Comprehensive Promotion of the Policies with Regard to Education and Awareness-Raising for Better Understanding of the Philosophy of Respect for Human Rights among Citizens." While the importance and the promotion of human rights education and awareness raising are the keynote of the draft report, the text does not reflect opinions and suggestions raised by some of the Council members who are well informed of human rights issues. Indeed, the draft report was completely arranged by the initiative of bureaucrats. Naturally, it does not reserve due evaluation. 

Before anything else, it should be pointed out that the draft does not include any single sentence that explains about how the Council was established. In fact, the Council was fruits of consultations made in 1996 among three parties that formed the coalition government then. Through the consultations, it was agreed "to start examination of possible legislative measures regarding the promotion of education and awareness raising." Following the agreement, the Council was created. The draft disregards how the Council was established and what were agreed upon. 

Second, it does not refer to legislative measures at all. As the background indicated, the Council has been strongly requested to explicitly mention about the importance of legislative measures and administrative/fiscal measures in the draft report. It is a primary mission of the Council which was created for the purposes of examining an ideal model of human rights education and awareness raising and giving the government relevant advice on policy making, in relation to human rights education. In the draft report, administrative and fiscal measures are at last referred to, but with no suggestion about the need for legislative tool which endorses the introduction of such measures. 

Third, the draft report disregards the state responsibility for the promotion of human rights education. Instead, it indicates that the responsibility rests with other actors including people, local governments, private companies and non-profit organizations. Actually, the Council has been expected to identify state's responsibility as well as to examine what the state should do for human rights protection and how it should do so. Nevertheless, the Council has failed to address this vital question.

Fourth, the draft report does not discuss the question about the government structure which supports promotion of human rights education and awareness. Human rights education and awareness raising is an agenda that the entire government should work on. The task should be carried out under the jurisdiction of ministerial office which is responsible for a blanket coordination of the entire cabinet (After the planned reorganization of the cabinet, this will have to be assumed by a new cabinet office). However, the Council has placed this important question outside the scope of examination. 

In addition, the following problems are found in the draft report:
* The issue of "human rights violations by the public authorities" is not discussed. 
* It does not attempt to think about the situation of people discriminated against nor to understand their struggles against discrimination.
* Using the artificial expressions such as 'symbiosis of human rights' and 'mutual understanding,' it actually places human rights NGOs under the pressure. 
* It is not based on UN recommendations or international treaties regarding human rights. 
* It does not understand the reality of human rights violations.
* It fails to identify real causes of discrimination and prejudice. 
* It neglects achievements that Dowa Education has made in the past fifty years. 

In the 'rough draft report' previously published on May 25, 1999, the Council disregarded not only the importance of legislative measures but also that of administrative and fiscal measures. In the draft report made public this time, it slightly touched upon the need for administrative and fiscal measures by stating, "In conclusion, it is hoped that the government immediately takes necessary administrative and fiscal steps." This slight improvement was made as a result of strong requests raised by local governments and the Buraku Liberation League. However, the Council again failed to fulfil the long-held expectation, i.e. coming out with a proposal for 'legislative measures.' This attitude does not help anything but grow people's distrust for the Council.

In fact, the request for 'legislative measures' has been repeatedly given to the Council by people/groups from different sectors. On March 30, 1999, the All Japan Conference on Dowa Measures, which consists of local governments of 36 prefectures where Dowa communities are located and nine government-ordinance-designated cities, submitted a petition to the Council calling for legislative measures. The petition specifically states, "It is urged that the Council study legislative measures and other measures which constitute foundations for promoting education and awareness raising activities concerning Dowa problem and other human rights problems." In July 1998, the National Association of City Mayors submitted a petition to the Council calling for implementation of relevant measures including legislative measures. Also, the National Association of Municipal Mayors adopted a resolution at its general meeting in December 1998 requesting legislative measures for promotion of human rights education and awareness raising programs towards elimination of discrimination. These moves are very reasonable for local public entities which are directly responsible for implementation of human rights education and awareness raising programs. 

Since the beginning of this year, local governments, including Osaka City and Fukuoka City, have individually dispatched a petition calling for legislative measures to the Council or the Ministry of Justice. In addition, Japanese Trade Union Confederation (Rengo) also submitted a petition stating, "Promotion of human rights education and awareness raising should be done at both national and local levels. It is needed to have an effective system which coordinates and facilitates such nationwide efforts, as well as to make a new law which endorses it." The attitude of the Council inevitably invites a criticism that it is purely for political reasons. Again, we strongly demand the Council to listen to the voices of people directly involved, and reflect them in its final draft report. 

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