Human rights in Erusia
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The term Human Rights in Erusia refers to, within the context of this article, the socio-economic conditions of citizens in the Democratic People's Republic of Erusia and how the Central People's Government of Erusia treats those citizens. Specifically, it refers to both how well protected the fundamental rights of Erusian citizens are and also to the level of Human equality and social justice in that micronation. This article addresses the matter of Human Rights in Erusia proportionately by taking acceped international norms and relating them to the micronational environment to provide a fair but critical analysis of the situation in the Democratic People's Republic. In this context, the DPRE has something of a mixed record when it comes to Human rights - it is intermicronationally renowned for it's great achievements in promoting social equality and has been praised for actively working to ensure the equality of it's citizens. On the other hand, the DPRE is noted for almost casually disregarding certain Human rights and has openly stated it does not "entirely comply with the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights".
Freedom of Speech and Demonstration
Freedom of Speech and Demonstration are described as being fundamental rights of all Human beings in the National Constitution of the Democratic People's Republic and as such inviolable Human rights. Article 36 of the National Constitution declares that "every Human being has the right to speak freely in public and in private" and "everyone has the right to freedom of speech and to peaceful, nonviolent demonstration". For the most part, the government of Erusia appears to have adhered to the constitution and respected this right, with critical statements from members of the opposition having been published before without subsequent legal prosecution or arbitary arrest by the authorities. There has, however, never been any kind of organised large-scale protest against the ruling Erusian National Communist Party and as such it remains to be seen if the Party would still respect the right to peaceful demonstration in such an event.
Freedom of the Press
Under the 2008 National Constitution, Freedom of the Press was guaranteed and censorship was abolished for any media service that was not under direct State or Party control. With the introduction of the new constitution however, this once fundamental right of all Erusian citizens has been abolished, and Article 37  of the constitution dictates that "although respecting Article XXXVI, the State reserves the right to censor and control all public media outlets to prevent dissemination of counter-revolutionary propaganda" and even goes so far as to note that "Freedom of the Press is not a guaranteed right under constitutional law". As such, the Communist Party is able to legally maintain a tight control on the flow of information and has all ready banned a number of foreign media outlets for their "counter-revolutionary propaganda", the most notable among these being the New European news service Das Reich (the ban was formally repealed following the signing of the Treaty of Universal Non-Aggression). Furthermore, all citizens are banned from reading the St.Charlian Observer until its content has been checked and approve by the authorities - it is likely that editions of that newspaper will be partially censored by them whenever a sensitive item appears.
The Democratic People's Republic is officially an Atheist State and grants no official recognition to any religion, although all religious institutions must register themselves with the State and report regularly on their activities. Compared to many macronational Socialist Republics, the Central People's Government's attitude to religion is relatively lax - although there are tighter controls than in other secular States, citizens have absolute freedom to practice whatever religion they choose in a way that is not harmful to them. Although the vast majority of the nation is thought to be Atheists there are a number of religious individuals holding public office, the most notable being Robert Lethler, the Neo-Pagan Supreme People's Commissioner of Erusia.
Freedom of religion is established in Article 34 of the National Consitution, with freedom of participating in religious institutions being established in the following article. All religious institutions are required to register themselves so that the State may easily enforce it's regualtory measures upon them and, more importantly, to make it easier for the government to combat possible future religious extremism and monitor so-called cults. All members of the clergy - of any faith - are required to register themselves with the State before they may perform any religious function. The government provides absolutely no special funding or recognition to any religious institution - clergy can be granted special tax exemptions if they have no other source of income but, to retain this status, will be subjected to routine and invasive financial checks by the government. Additionally, the Erusian National Communist Party has made it clear they have the full right to assign permanent officials to religious institutions to regulate their work, as is the case with any other organisation. It is a Crime against the People to serve in national government and also serve as an active minister/priest in any religion. All forms of religious schooling - including seminaries (considered to be specialised universities by the government) - are explicitly outlawed in Erusia, with all children and students being required to attend secular, State-run schools.
Roman Catholicism and Anglicanism
When the Communist Party outlined it's Five Year Development Plan at the National Congress 3rd Chaired Plenary Session, it included a point that stated the Party was dedicated to "remove the influences of the Roman Catholic Church, the Church of England and other large macronational religious institutions from society". In June 2009, at it's first review of the plan, the Communist Party established that it woul "subject [these Churches] to tighter regulation in an effort to equalise their position in society to other religious insitituions". Specifically, it established that in an independent Erusian State all Roman Catholic and Anglican churches would be required to have at least one Party official stationed with them indefinitely who would have free access to all documents and functions of that church. It also stated that clergy from both these religions would be required to attend, at least once every three years, "political education seminars" to "demonstrate to them the need for Socialism and the importance of the People above the State, the State above the nation and the nation above the Church". The government has also stated that it does not establish any privelleged communication between clergy and their flock, and as such does not recognise the Seal of the Confessional, requiring clergy by law to share anything they have heard in confession in the authorities so demand it.
Although it cannot enforce such sentences, capital punishment is legal in the Democratic People's Republic and is established in Article 15 of the National Constitution. The death penalty exists for a number of crimes - some controversial. The ruling Communist Party has asserted that it would "[...] one day seek to abolish this punishment" and that "the Party believes capital punishment is a tragic but essential part of the transitional phase of Socialism". The Constitution establishes strict controls on the death penalty and notes that all sentences must be subjected to international review before being carried out - when the People's National Civil and Criminal Code is completed, it is expected that the full range of controls will be made public. Despite Party assurances it wishes to minimise the number of crimes punishable by death, in June 2009 the National People's Assembly of Erusia voted to made more crimes punishable by death. The current crimes that can warrant capital punishment are:
- Murder, in which the victim's death was "unclean", "painful", "torturous" or otherwise "absolutely inhumane"
- Multiple murder
- Extreme tax evasion/fraud
- Illegal drug trafficking
- Production and/or sale of illegal drugs (but not possession)
- Incitement to counter-revolution, participating in a counter-revolutionary movement
- Treason during a time of war, revolutionary or otherwise (does not include military desertion)
Under standing laws, any death sentence handed down by the Supreme People's Court is to be immediately commuted, due to Erusia's inability to legally practice capital punishment at the moment. Erusian law nonetheless establishes that any one who is condemned to death has the right to choose the manner in which they will die from the following legal methods:
- Death by hanging
- Death by firing squad
- Death by by lethal injection or drug overdose
Erusian law dictates that execution must be as Humane as possible within the established legal parameters, for both the condemned and the executioner. Any execution must be swift and clean and, within appropriate limits, to the specifications of the condemned. If the individual to be executed refuses or is unable to choose a mode of execution in time, the default method is execution by firing squad. No execution may be seen by the general public - in the case of crimes where there were specific victims, those victims may be permitted to observe the execution out of sight from the condemned, whilst family and friends (excluding those under the age of 15) are permitted to observe the execution in their sight. Once the execution has been registered, the body must be immediately released to the family intact.
Political re-education has become the most common, and arguably most controversial, punishment in the Erusian legal system. Originating in the first Socialist Republic of Licentia, the political re-education system is a form of punishment in which the individuals convicted of a crime are made to attend "correctional institutions aimed towards reforming political thought away from counter-revolutionary tendancies" - although theoretically this is also an incarceration sentence, in practice individuals are obliged to attend so many hours worth of re-educational sessions or risk loosing their citizenship. The Party has not disclosed any information about the re-education system but it is believed by many to be an indoctrination system, in which criminals are forced to accept the supreme authority of the Communist Party and publicly renounce their past political tendancies.
As a Communist State, the Democratic People's Republic has actively worked to promote social equality throughout the nation. all citizens and long-term residents are constitutionally garaunteed the right to free healthcare, State-funded and high quality educational services, social welfare benefits (in the event of disability, sickness, involuntary unemployment etc.), accommodation suitable for living and a basic pay rate that is sufficient for an individual to live off proportionate to the number of people in their household. In particular, the Communist Party says that it wishes to help everyone "to reach their maximum potential in both their professional and their personal lives", and hopes that most workers in an independent Erusia would achieve self-actualisation through active involvement in their Trade Unions and local government, even if their career is not especially glamarous. Notably, Erusia has imposed a strict ban on all titles of Nobility - it is a crime "against the Socialist constitutional order" to hold a title of nobility and be a citizen of the DPRE, even if this title is self-styled. Simply refering to oneself as "Lord", "Dame", "Prince" etc. is punishable by political re-education. Similarly, it is a crime to publicly call oneself upper or middle class, although the law is very lenient in this respect.
Financial and property rights
The Democratic People's Republic has formally illegalised private housing in all it's forms, replacing it with compulsory State ownership of all accommodation. It is provided for by law that all land and natural resources belong to the State and that, if a citizen wishes to establish a commercial enterprise, they may only be afforded State-owned land if their business transactions are strictly regulated, if they take care of the land and if their enterprise is beneifical to the community. Within the DPRE, all citizens are garaunteed fair and equal pay by national law. Although the national legislature has not yet passed a true Equal Wage Act, Erusia has established bands of pay that reflect one's contributions to society, how one earned employment and the ability of the individual proportionate to their means. In this respect, it is entirely possible for a dedicated manual labourer with no education but who is skilled and dilligent in his work to earn higher pay than a well educated scientist who contributes little to society.
The National Constitution garauntees the State the power to nationalise any business, seize any land and to seize financial and material assets from anyone - provided those assets are immediately put to use in a way that benefits the People. In this respect, it is possible for the government to equalise and redistribute wealth by seizing unfair surpluses from individual estates and dispersing them throughout the local community. It is illegal for the State to use seized assets, material or otherwise, for any purpose other than improving equality and the lives of the People.
With some 90% of the United Kingdom's population being white, the Democratic People's Republic is also a predominantly white state. Michelle Yui (who was, through a clerical error, mistakenly recorded as being mixed race on the USMR Census) is the only non-white politician in Erusia, being Han Chinese. Despite this, the Party and State are open to individuals of every race and ethnicity, and Michelle Yui has demonstrated that the Communist Party ignores race by successfuly being elected to the 3rd Central Committee.
Although most micronational states have laws to protect the rights of women with the aim of promoting gender equality, Erusia advocates progressive Rennie-Gaffneyist social policies to promote gender equality. According to Rennie-Gaffneyism, masculinity and feminity are oppressive social concepts that must be replaced by newer, more progressive ideals if true gender equality is to be achieved. As such, the Communist Party is both anti-masculist and also anti-feminist, instead pursuing a path of reform that is about equalising the role of both genders without championing the cause of either men or women. Erusia stands out in the micronational community for it's high number of women in senior office - both the Premier and the 2nd Vice-Premier of the National People's Assembly are women, whilst two women are standing members of the 3rd Central Committee of the ENCP. At least one woman is known to be serving as a senior officer in the People's Revolutionary Guard and there is much evidence to suggest the Republican Guard has a sigificant number of female members. It is almost universally agreed that Robert Lethler's successor will be Kai Roosevelt and indeed some would say that she is the most powerful woman in the MicroWiki Community.
Even in contrast to other Socialist Republics, the Democratic People's Republic is seen to have a strong track record on promoting equal rights for L(esbian)G(ay)B(isexual)T(ransexual) individuals. Equality regardless of sexuality and sex is garaunteed by the National Constitution. In order to promote both secularism and sexual equality, the National People's Assembly outlawed the institution of religious marriage and replaced it with a single secular Civil Union ceremony for both hetero- and homosexual couples. No religious institution may deny a couple the right to have their own religious ceremony before or after their Civil Union and clergy members who refuse to officiate, unless another willing member of the clergy involved can be found, can be prosecuted for failing to perform a wedding ceremony for homosexual couples. Same-sex couples are also allowed to adopt children and are subject to the exact same reviews as any heterosexual couple would be. For transexual individuals, the law permits them to legally change their gender provided they have undergone at least one procedure that redefines their sex characteristics. If they are in an existing Civil Union and their partner has consented to the change, the Union remains withstanding and is not broken.
Most notably, the Democratic People's Republic is one of only a handful of micronations to have an openly homosexual Head of State. In the modern macronational world, there have been no elected openly homosexual Heads of State. The Communist State is seen to pride itself on Lethler's unique position, asserting that his hardline domestic and foreign policies have "smahsed stereotypes about homosexual men" and "effectively demonstrated that sexual orientation plays no role in determing the personality or capabilities of an individual".
Notes and References