Meaning and aspects of human rights
Human rights are basic things that all human beings are entitled to and which nobody should interfere with. Such right includes life, ownership of property, education, marriage, health care and housing. Others are equality before the law, security, freedom of association, privacy and freedom of worship.
In most countries, human rights are based on universal declaration of human rights. They are also included in the constitutions of the countries as the bill of rights. The bill of rights shows the rights and freedoms that citizens have in their country. Freedom is the right to do or say what ones wants without being stopped by anyone.
The United Nations Universal Declaration of human rights
Aspects of human rights are defined in the United Nations Universal Declaration of human rights. This declaration was adapted and proclaimed by the general assembly of the United Nations on 10th December 1948. It has thirty points known as article. These points can be summarized into three categories as follows
1. Civil and political rights
These are rights to life, liberty, recognition, fair and public hearing by an independent tribunal, freedom of movement, freedom of thought, and freedom of assembly and freedom of expression.
2.Economic, social and cultural rights
These are rights to social security, work, equal pay, education, rest, leisure, and cultural life.
3.Environment and development rights
These are rights that people have to live in an environment that is cleaned and free from pollution. People also have a right to wealth and natural resources, self-determination and peace.
Right to equality
The constitution of Tanzania presents the right to equality in two parts as follows
(a) Equality of all human beings – The constitution state that all human beings are born free and are equal. It also state that every person has right to recognition and respect.
(b) Equality before the law – In this part, the constitution provide the people with the right to be treated fairly before the law and to be protected without any kind of discrimination.
Right to life
The constitution presents this right in four parts as explained below:
(a) Right to live – The constitution states that every person has the right to live and have his or her life respected by the society according to the law.
(b) Right to personal freedom – According to the constitution, everyone has the right to live as the free person, without being restricted by anyone else.
(c) Right to privacy and personal security – According to the constitution, every person has right to be respected and protected and communicate without public attention.
(d) Right to freedom of movement – Every citizen of Tanzania has a right to move in Tanzania and live in any part of Tanzania. A Tanzanian citizen also has the right to leave and enter the country.
Freedom of expression
Freedom of expression is presented in four parts as follows:
(a) Freedom of expression – Every citizen has right to form opinions and to air those opinions. He or she is free to communicate without interference.
(b) Right to freedom of religion – Every person has the right to belief of faith, freedom of thought and choice in matters of religion.
(c) Freedom of association – Every citizen is free to assemble, associate and co-operate with other people. A Tanzanian citizen has the right to express views an join lawful associations or organizations.
(d) Freedom to participate in public affairs – The constitution guarantees every citizen the right to take part of leadership matters, that is the right to elect or to be elected into public office.
A Tanzanian citizen has the right to participate fully in making decision on matters affecting him or her, his or her well-being or the nation.
Right to work
The right to work is presented in three parts. These are:
(a) Right to work – The citizen has the right to work, to equal opportunity to work and to hold any office.
(b) Right to own property – The constitution gives all citizens the right to own property and to have that property protected.
(c) Right to just remuneration – Every citizen who works has a right to a just salary according to his or her work.
All the rights and freedoms that are guaranteed in the constitution have their limitation. Every citizen who enjoys these rights and freedoms must obey the law of the country. In exercising his or her rights, a citizen should also take into consideration the right of the others.
Importance of human rights
Most democratic societies have constitutions that contain the Bill of rights. The bill of rights consists of a list of rights and freedoms that are guaranteed in the constitution. These rights can be divided into three categories.
1. Civil and political rights
These rights give the citizens liberty and equality. They allow the citizens to participate in the political life of their communities and societies.
(a) The right to life – This right states that everyone has a right to live. It also disallows the death penalty for people below 18 years, pregnant women and insane people.
(b) The right to equal protection by law – This right seeks to ensure law and law enforcing authorities treat all people equally.
(c) Freedom of expression – This right helps to ensure that people are free to exchange their ideas and opinions.
(d) Freedom of religion and conscience – This right ensures that no-one is punished or penalized in any way because he or she chooses one religion over another or opts for no religion at all.
(e) Freedom of association – This is the right that ensures people are free to belong to organizations of their choice. It gives individuals the right to meet and interact with others whom they have common interests.
2. Social and economic rights
These give people the opportunity to participate in social, economic and cultural life of their community or society. They are also concerned with the provision of basic needs such as food, health care and education. Social and economic rights are divided into the following categories.
(a) Social rights – They include the freedom from discrimination on grounds of race, gender or religion; the right to marry and have a family; and the right to privacy, education, recreation and health care.
(b) Economic rights – They include the right to work, housing, reasonable standard of living and pension.
3. Environmental and developmental rights
Rights under this category seek to do the following:
(a) Guarantee people the right to live in a free and safe environment that is the clean free from pollution and protected from destruction.
(b) Give groups of people the right to have their culture recognized, or to advance themselves politically and economically.
Human rights and basic needs
Basic needs are things which are essential for survival. They include food shelter and clothing. Human rights are related to provision of basic needs. Social and cultural rights give people to participate in social, economic and cultural activities that help them to meet their basic needs. These activities
Include agriculture, business, manufacturing, employment and education. Human rights also enable people to work together as the member of society in order to improve their living conditions.
Promotion and protection of human right inTanzania
Promotion of human rights
Promotion of human rights is done to encourage people to respect and value human rights. This is done in the following ways.
1. The government promotes the human rights by recognizing and including them in the constitution.
2. The government accepts and respects international obligations on human rights. Tanzania is a signatory to various international agreements on human rights.
3. The government has set up the commission of human rights and good governance. This commission is given power to promote and protect human rights.
4. The constitution of Tanzania allows the multiparty system of government in which people are free to join any political party of their choice. This promotes democracy and therefore freedom of expression.
5. The courts have final say on legal matters.
6. The government has allowed Non-governmental organization (NGOs) to operate the country. These help to promote human rights. The following are some of those organizations:
(a) Tanzania Gender Networking Programme (TGNP)
(b) Tanzania Women Lawyers Association (TAWLA)
(c) Tanzania Women Media Association (TAMWA)
(d) Tanzania Human Rights and Democratic Development Centre (TAHUDE)
These and many other organizations work as pressure groups to promote human rights in the country.
Protection of human rights
Protection of human right means ensuring that human rights are not abused. Human rights should be protected and be respected for the following reason:
1. They help to regulate and control power and action of government.
2. They are the foundation of justice, peace and freedom.
3. They promote democracy. This means the citizens’ wishes are respected by the government.
4. They encourage people’s participation in economic, social, political and cultural activities.
5. They bring about social equality and discourage any form of discrimination.
The following are the ways in which human rights are protected in Tanzania:
1. The constitution includes a bill of right to protect human rights.
2. The government educates the public about their civil right which are guaranteed in the constitution. It also practices the rule of law by setting up a system of checks and balance (such as law courts and the police force) to ensure that human rights are respected.
3. Non-government organizations educate the public and put pressure on government to change oppressive laws.
4. The press informs the public about violation of human rights.
Limitations of individual human rights
Human rights have limitations. There is no absolute freedom as all freedoms are within certain boundaries. In democratic society, such limitations should be reasonable, non-discriminatory and justifiable.
The main reason for setting boundaries within which human rights are exercised is to protect the interest of other persons. Everyone is free to join his or her rights but in so doing one should not interfere with the rights of others. For example, freedom of speech does not mean a person should insult others.
Other examples of limitations while exercising one’s right include:
(a) Freedom of expression – If a person uses abusive language, he or she can be arrested. An individual’s right to freedom of speech does not mean one is allowed to incite or insult other people.
(b) Freedom of assembly – This can be limited if an assembly is likely to harm other people.
(c) Freedom of association – People who have bad intentions such as criminals cannot be allowed to associate with public as their action are likely to harm others.
(d) Right to personal freedom – Just because one has the right to personal freedom does not mean he or she can do things that offend others such as walking naked.
Abuse of human rights
Abuse of human rights is the unlawful prevention of person’s enjoyment of his or her rights as outlined in the constitution.
Parents can abuse rights of their children by:
1. Denying them education.
2. Not providing basic needs such as food and clothing for their children.
3. Forcing their children to marry against their wishes’ especially at a tender age.
4. Giving their children severe punishment.
The society can abuse individuals’ rights through:
1. Beating up and killing suspected criminals without giving them a fair trial in court of law.
2. Abandoning children in the streets.
3. Stigmatizing less fortunate members of the society such as disabled and people having HIV and AIDS.
The government can abuse human rights through:
1. Making oppressive laws that limit the individuals’ rights.
2. Discriminating against some citizens due to their color, gender, religion or ethnic origin.
3. Not including Bill of right in the constitution.
4. Not maintaining the rule of law.
Effects of human rights abuse
The following are some of the effects of abusing human rights in the society.
1. Conflicts among family members and in the community. This leads to unrest and instability in the society.
2. Conflicts between citizens and their government. This makes difficult for the government to enforce law and order.
3. Citizens are unable to perform their duties and their responsibilities in peace.
4. Increase crime and poverty in the society.
5. Oppression of the less fortunate members in the society, for example’ workers may be underpaid or the poor may be denied justice in the courts of law.
6. Citizens are unable to obtain their basic needs when the right to work is denied or abused.
Differences between limitation and abuse of human rights
The difference between limitation of human rights and the abuse of human rights are listed in the table below.
1. Are done when there is need.
2. Aim to protect the rights of others.
3. Protects the rights of the disadvantaged group such as children, woman and disabled persons.
4. Aim at making people free from fear of discrimination.
5. Ensure peace and orders are maintained in the society.
6. Intend to allow state organs to conduct lawful acts.
7. Aim in ensuring court judgments are fair and just.
8. Aim prohibiting the disclosure of confidential information.
1. Is done necessarily
2. Used for selfish reasons, e.g. to keep unpopular rules in power.
3. Does not protect the right of disadvantaged groups.
4. Aims at making the citizens fearful of their rules.
5. Aims at preventing some people from enjoying their rights.
6. Intends to make people ignorant of their rights.
7. Aims at discriminating some people in the court of law.
8. Aims at withholding information in order to make people live in fear.
Ways to combat abuse of humanrights
1. The government has to maintain the rule of law. Where the rule of law is not being maintained, e.g. in countries at war, a lot of human rights abuses are experienced such as inability to get basic needs.
2. The government should educate its citizens about their basic rights so that they can claim them when they are denied.
3. The society has to respect all people, including the sick and the disadvantaged.
4. The courts of law should enforce the law in a just manner and punish those who abuse the rights of others, such as thieves and murderers.
5. There should be a system of controlling the activities of the government, e.g. the existence of parliament to prevent the misuse of power.
6. The government has to transparent in its operations. Citizens should be kept informed about issues affecting them.
7. All people should be treated fairly and equally before the law. No one should be discriminated against because of color, religion, gender or status in the society.
Human rights are basic things that human beings are entitled to and which nobody should interfere with. Such rights include life, ownership of property, education, marriage, health care and housing. These rights are based on United Nations Universal Declaration of human rights. In our country, these rights are included in the constitution.
These rights give the citizens liberty and equality. They allow the citizens to participate in the political life of their community or societies.
Basic needs are things which are essential for survival. They include food, shelter and clothing. Human rights are related to the provision of the basic needs.
Protection of human rights means ensuring that human rights are not abused.
The following are ways in which human rights are protected in Tanzania
1. The Tanzania constitution include bill of rights.
2. The government educates the public about their rights.
3. Non-government organizations educate the public about their rights
4. The press informs the government and the public about the violation of human rights.
Human rights have limitations. There is no absolute freedom. The main reason for setting boundaries within which human rights are exercised is to protect the interests of the other persons.
Abuse of human right is the prevention of a person from enjoying his or her rights as outlined in the constitution.
Effects of human right abuse include conflicts in the society, oppression of the less fortunate members of the society and increased crime and poverty.