Human rights are the basic rights everyone has, simply because they are human. In South Africa, this list of human rights is contained in the Bill of Rights, Chapter 2 of the South African Constitution, the highest law in the country. This Human Rights Day, which is celebrated annually on 21 March, make sure that you know and understand your human rights. This will help you defend yourself if your rights are violated.
What is a Human Rights Violation?
If you think any of your rights, as defined in the Bill of Rights, have been violated you can report the matter. For instance, if someone treats you differently because of your race, gender, age or ethnic group, your right to equality is being abused or violated.
The Bill Of Rights
To build a culture of human rights, it is important for every citizen to know their rights and understand their responsibilities. The Constitution protects and promotes human rights for all people in South Africa. The following is a summary of the Bill of Rights.
|Equality||You cannot be discriminated against. But affirmative action and fair discrimination are allowed.|
|Human Dignity||Your dignity must be respected and protected.|
|Life||You have the right to life.|
|Freedom and Security of the Person||You cannot be detained without trial, tortured or punished cruelly. Domestic violence is not allowed.|
|Slavery, Servitude and Forced Labor||Slavery, servitude and forced labour are not allowed.|
|Privacy||You cannot be searched or have your home or possessions searched without the proper procedures being followed by the police.|
|Freedom of Religion, Belief and Opinion||You can believe and think whatever you want and can follow the religion of your choice.|
|Freedom of Expression||All people (including the press) can say whatever they want.|
|Assembly, Demonstration, Picket and Petition||You can hold a demonstration, picket and present a petition. But you must do this peacefully.|
|Freedom of Association||You can associate with whomever you want to.|
|Political Rights||You can support the political party of your choice. If you are a citizen and at least 18 years old, you can vote.|
|Citizenship||Your citizenship cannot be taken away from you.|
|Freedom of Movement and Residence||You can go and live anywhere in South Africa.|
|Freedom of Trade, Occupation and Profession||You can do whatever work you choose.|
|Labour Relations||You may join trade unions and go on strike.|
|Environment||You have the right to a healthy environment.|
|Property||Your property can only be taken away from you if the proper rules are followed.|
|Housing||The government must make sure people get access to proper housing.|
|Healthcare, Food, Water and Social Security||The government must make sure you have access to food and water, healthcare and social security.|
|Children||Children under the age of 18 have special rights.|
|Education||You have the right to basic education, including adult basic education, in your own language (if this is possible).|
|Language and Culture||You can use the language you want to and follow the culture that you choose.|
|Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities||Communities can enjoy their own culture, practice their own religion and use their own language.
|Access to Information||You have the right to any information the government has.|
|Just Administrative Action||Actions by the government must be fair.|
|Access to Courts||You can have a legal problem decided by a court or a similar structure.|
|Arrested, Detained and Accused Persons||These rights protect people arrested, imprisoned or accused of a crime.|
The Constitution states that the fundamental rights of all South Africans will be protected and respected.