The results of the Independent Jamaica Council for Human Rights sponsored Human Rights Writing Competition were recently announced. Michelle Thomas copped first place, Jeffrey Foreman second, and Wendy Beswick and Vanessa Taylor tied for third. The winners were selected from six essays, all of which were of a high quality. The judges had to consider all entries carefully and thoroughly to arrive at the winners. Each winner will receive a cash prize and an edited version of the top essay will appear in the West Indian Law Journal.
The topic for this year’s competition was economic and social rights. The actual question was phrased as follows –
We (the judiciary) are institutionally completely unsuited to take decisions on houses, hospitals, schools and electricity. We just do not have the know-how and the capacity to handle those questions. But we do know about human dignity, we do know about oppression and we do know about things that reduce a human being to a status below that which a democratic society would regard as tolerable. An implication of placing social and economic rights in a constitution is to say that decisions which, however well-intended, might have the consequence of producing intolerable hardship, cannot be left solely in the hands of overburdened administrators and legislators. Efficiency is one of the great principles of government. The utilitarian principle of producing the greatest good for the greatest number might well be the starting-off point for the use of public resources. But the qualitative element, based on respect for the dignity of each one of us, should never be left out.”
- Justice Albie Sachs
Does this have any relevance in the Caribbean today?
You can read the successful entries by clicking on the following links: