Human rights indicators in development

Infrastructure and services in the public sector, in this case, the transport sector, continuing from the previous post on the MRT, can be systematically analysed from a human rights perspective. There’s an excellent website maintained by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) of Great Britain containing comprehensive yet digestible guidance information to users of public transport. It cites, for instance, examples of how public transportation violates aspects of human rights such as user access and expectations of quality service, viz.

Problem areas include poorly presented timetables, over-complex booking procedures, and airport waiting rooms, ferry terminals, and bus, coach and rail stations without adequate facilities or assistance for disabled people. Transport companies are obliged by law to make reasonable adjustments to eliminate these sorts of problems. By making changes to eliminate discrimination against disabled people, it is likely that non-disabled people will also benefit from the improvements.

Transport companies may also be breaking criminal law if the design of buses or taxis makes it difficult for people with mobility problems, including those with wheelchairs, to access the vehicle – there are regulations which cover these areas.

The railway safety performance story (by Montague et. al.) shown in the previous post indicates that public education is a component in behavorial change (among railway users), precisely what the EHRC website aims toward.  In the Philippines, the word ‘human rights’, like ‘environment’, is brandied about too casually but only a small portion of the population really knows what ‘human rights’ are out there.  Filipinos need to be educated what they ought to expect from their government in terms of citizen services.

Taking cue from the EHRC in Great Britain, the Philippine Commission on Human Rights is the right agency to do that.  On it’s website are communications on various national human rights issues which if I may say so need a bit of order and translation.  No common tao (or, most barangay captains/village chiefs for that matter), browsing the site, would comprehend the documents as presently written.  If the private sector could pay the best people to develop and design concise and witty ads to inform and persuade potential customers into immediately buying a perishable good, I’m sure this could also be done to sell a non-perishable good: human dignity (resulting from fulfillment and protection of human rights). If salespeople for a certain line of cosmetics could make themselves visible on street corners, educating potential customers about the benefits of the line, a bit thick-skinned by ridicule from passers-by, the same could also be done by the Philippine CHR offices in the localities in the education of the common tao.

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