Everyone needs dignity, freedom and justice
Last Saturday was observed as Human Rights Day globally, on the theme, “Dignity, Freedom, and Justice for All”, which incidentally resonates with the national motto – “Freedom and Justice”.
Human Rights Day is observed every year on December 10 — the day the United Nations General Assembly adopted, in 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).
The UDHR is a milestone document which proclaims the inalienable rights that everyone is entitled to as a human being - regardless of race, colour, religion, sex, language, political or other opinion, national or social origin; property, birth or other status.
In the decades since the adoption of the UDHR in 1948, human rights have become more recognised and more guaranteed across the globe.
They have since served as the foundation for an expanding system of human rights protection which focuses also on vulnerable groups such as persons with disabilities, indigenous peoples and migrants today.
However, the promise of the UDHR, of dignity and equality in rights, has been under a sustained assault in recent years.
As the world faces new and ongoing challenges – pandemics, conflicts, exploding inequalities, a morally bankrupt global financial system, racism, climate change – the values, and rights enshrined in the UDHR provide guideposts for our collective actions that do not leave anyone behind.
Human rights are the basic rights and freedoms that belong to every person in the world, from birth until death.
They apply, regardless of where one hails from, what one believes in or how one chooses to live his or her life.
These rights can never be taken away, although they can sometimes be restricted – for example, if a person breaks the law, or in the interest of national security or public good.
These basic rights are based on shared values such as dignity, fairness, equality, respect and independence, and are defined and protected by law.
Human rights include the right to life and liberty, freedom from slavery and torture, freedom of opinion and expression, the right to work and to education, and many more and are very important for the preservation of life, humanity and humanness.
These are the checks that ensure we continue to live as human beings, as we all have animalistic tendencies that we need to deliberately subdue at all times to maintain the distinction between us and animals in the wild.
The United Nations lists 30 basic rights that every human being is entitled to.
These are that All human beings are free and equal, that there should be No discrimination, everyone has a Right to life, there should be No slavery, No torture and inhuman treatment, Same right to use law, Equal before the law, Right to be treated fair by court, No unfair detainment and the Right to trial.
Others are: Innocent until proven guilty, the Right to privacy, Freedom to movement and residence, all have a Right to asylum, the Right to nationality, Rights to marry and have a family, the Right to own things, Freedom of thought and religion, Freedom of opinion and expression and the Right to assemble.
The rest are Right to democracy, the Right to social security, the Right to work, the Right to rest and holiday, the Right of social service, the Right to education, the Right of cultural and art, Freedom around the world, Subject to law and the fact that Human rights can’t be taken away.
All these 30 basic human rights are governed in Ghana by the 1992 Constitution which speaks fully to the issue in Chapter 005 under Fundamental Human Rights and Freedoms and every citizen needs to acquaint him or herself with this provision, to ensure that our human rights are never trampled upon.
Much as the issue of human rights has often been abused, even when common sense is needed in some instances just because people want to have their way, we must guard the sanctity of humanity by making sure our basic rights as humans are not abused by others.
We owe it to ourselves to ensure everyone is treated with dignity and freedom that does not impinge on others’ freedoms and champion justice for all.
We should always bear in mind that one’s freedom ends where another’s begins.