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IB English Exam A2
Question #2 : Violations of the Declaration of Human Rights during the Salem Witch Trials
During the Salem witch trials, many violations of today´s Universal Declaration of Human Rights occurred. Inclusively, some are still being done today. Upon having a victim under an acusation, many articles were not respected. This is shown in the manner in which past time juries treated the accused. In my opinion, the articles that during those times were violated were article four, five, article six, and seventeen.
Article four presents the idea of preventing a cruel or unaccepted treatment towards the victim. It reads the following, "no one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment". During the witch trials in Salem, those who were declared guilty, depending on the charges he/she was accused of, the victim might suffer a punishment of being hanged, and one person suffered being crushed under rocks. If the declaration had been functioning during those past moments, it would have occured, most likely, that the victims of the illegal charge of witchcraft, might have been given a life-time jail sentence and not the death-penalty by being hanged or crushed.
Another article that had been clearly violated during the Salem witch trials was article five, which states that "everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law". Many thought of the women accused of practicing witchcraft to be diabolic and inhuman ; in fact, they were thought of human figures of the devil. This would clearly interfere with the judge´s veredict and it would be almost impossible for the victimis to save themselves from being condemned to death. If these victims of whom most were in their late fifties, had been seen as people who are just like us, they would have been saved from such destiny.
Article Six is also a great, and maybe the clearest, example to prove the point of violated human rights. This article says "all are equal before the law and entitled without any discrimination to equal protection before the law. All are entitled to protection against any discrimination in violation this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination". In the witch trials of Salem, it was perfectly clear that the twenty people that lost their lives were not considered nor treated equally in comparison to the accusers. This occured most obviously because there were no laws that would protect those who had been accused. We can see how unprofessional the system was when the judge told Goody Cloyse to read a passage in the Bible without any mistakes to prove her innocence, and, once she had done so, she was still declared guilty and was sentenced. This article expresses that all people are entitled to protection, but none of the victims of this complot were actually defended nor protected by issues of law and more got saved of the horrible fate others had suffered.
Finally, the last article that in my consideration was violated during the Salem Witch Trials is that one referred to as Article 15. This Article says "everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression ; this right inclues the freedom to hold opinions without interference". If the victims that were accused of witchcraft had really been witches, they should have been respected as should in their freedom of religion, opinion, and expression. Nowadays, witchcraft is accepted as another religions within many that exist in our modern day societies. Clearly, neither the judges nor the accusers nor the jury accepted this freedom and condemned it with the maximum penalty, death.
Perhaps there are many more rights in the Declaration of Human Rights that were also violated during these trials, but the onces that to me are most clear, are the ones dictated and explained. These trials had shown no respect to those victims of these horrible accusations and once condemned, these people had no way of escaping death. Nowadays, some violations are still being perpetrated, but at least our society has laws to prevent these violations and our system has become more fair with the years.
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Salem witch trials, Magic, Witchcraft, Witch-hunt, Salem, Massachusetts, Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Bridget Bishop, Witch trials in the early modern period
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