Fundamental Human Rights Definition.
Fundamental Human Rights refers to the natural or inalienable rights and privileges to be enjoyed by the citizens of a country.
Such rights include freedom of speech, freedom of movement, freedom from slavery, freedom of religion and education.
In 1948, the United Nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to protect human rights abuse and violation worldwide.
Types of Fundamental Human Rights.
Fundamental Human Rights consists of natural, socio-economic and political rights.
Refer to the right to life, freedom of thought, conscience, speech and religion. Others include freedom from slavery, deprivation of personal liberty and freedom from torture.
These include right to own property, right to just and favourable conditions of service, that is, equal pay for work. Others are right to social security and freedom from discrimination in employment on the basis of colour, sex and race, rights to education and marriage etc.
These include right to participate in politics and other governmental affairs. The rights include freedom of movement, association, and the right to vote and be voted for.
Reasons for The Entrenchment of Fundamental Human Rights in the Constitution.
1. To enable citizens to challenge the violation of their rights through due process of law.
2. To comply with the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, Abuse and Violation.
3. To uphold the principle of the rule of law and prevent dictatorship by limiting the powers of the rulers. (They are expected to carry out their responsibilities in accordance with the provisions of the Constitutions).
Mechanisms of Safeguarding Fundamental Rights of Citizens.
1. The judiciary should be free and independent to give fair hearing and ruling in all cases involving human rights violation.
2. The international community should exert pressure, and where necessary, sanctions on countries that abuse the fundamental rights of their citizens.
3. The level of illiteracy and ignorance has to be reduced to enable the people to challenge human rights violation and abuse.
4. Press freedom should be upheld and encouraged so that the mass media could report and criticize all cases of Human Rights violation in society. A free press would also be able to truly reflect public opinion.
5. There should be constitutional provision on human rights, to enable citizens to enforce their rights through due process of the law.
6. There should be checks and balances in government to prevent one arm from becoming too powerful and authoritarian.
Having thrown light on fundamental Human Rights, it is good for you the reader to understand also that there are certain limitations to fundamental Human Rights and these are treated below.
The limitations to fundamental Human Rights are:
1. In the event of war or political crisis, the government may declare a state of emergency, thereby curtailing the citizens’ freedom of movement, association and expression.
2. The rights of a citizen could be legally curtailed by the government when the citizen violates the law of the land. For instance, a person may be sentenced to prison if he has been found guilty of an offence by a court of law and this would limit his fundamental right of movement and association.
3. Able-bodied citizens are sometimes conscripted into the armed forces in time of war in order to safeguard the territorial integrity of the country.
4. Ban on movement and association, as sometimes obtained in some countries, limits the free movement of the citizens in the society.
5. Forceful acquisition of property such as land for State use limits the right of ownership of citizens.
6. Laws of sedition, libel and slander limit the citizens’ fundamental rights of free expression.
7. An individual’s rights are limited by the rights of the society as a whole and those of other individuals.