By: Poelano Malema
Sunday, 21 March, marks ‘Human Rights Day’ in South Africa.
The day is historically linked with 21 March 1960, when 69 people died and 180 were wounded when police fired on a peaceful crowd that had gathered in protest against the Pass Laws.
The event took place in Sharpville.
Under the apartheid government, many Black people’s basic human rights were denied.
The day marked a time when Black people stood up and fought for their rights.
Let’s look at 15 human rights that you should know about:
The right to equality
This right is the most violated one in South Africa, according to a 2017 report by South African Human Rights Commission. The right states that everyone is equal and must be treated equally. No one has the right to discriminate against you based on your race, gender, sex, marital status, ethnic or social origin, colour, sexual orientation, age, disability, religion, conscience, belief, culture, language or birth among others.
Everyone has inherent dignity and the right to have their dignity respected.
Everyone has a right to life and nobody, not even the state, has the right to take a life. This means that no person can be sentenced to death by the courts.
Freedom and security
This means that no one can be put in prison without good reason; be detained without trial; be tortured in any way or be treated or punished in a cruel, inhuman or degrading way. It means that all humans have a right to be free from all forms of violence from either public or private sources.
Arrested, detained and accused persons
Any arrested person has a right to a lawyer and cannot be forced to speak or to make a confession. Prisoners must be kept in proper living conditions and may have visits from family members.
No one, not even the government, has the right to search your house or property or even have your possessions seized without following the correct legal channels. The government cannot infringe on the privacy of your communication – this includes opening your mails or listening to your phone calls.
Freedom of Expression
South Africans have the freedom to say, write or print what they want, but this right must never violate anyone else’s right or break the law in any way.
Freedom of Association
Everyone has the right to associate with anyone they want to associate with. This means people have a right to associate with a trade union, a political party, or any other club or association, including religious denominations and organisations, fraternities, and sports clubs.
Every citizen has the right to form a political party; to participate in the activities of, or recruit members for a political party and to campaign for a political party or cause.
Every citizen has the right to free, fair and regular elections for any legislative body established in terms of the Constitution and every adult citizen has the right to vote in elections for any political party, and to do so in secret.
Every citizen can stand for public office and, if elected, to hold office.
Everyone has the right to a basic education, including adult basic education; and to further education.
Health care, food, water and social services
Everyone has the right to have access to health care services, including reproductive health care; sufficient food and water; and social security, including, if they are unable to support themselves and their dependents, appropriate social assistance.
Slavery, servitude and forced labour
You have a right to choose who you want to work for and the kind of work you do, and you must be paid for your work. No-one can be forced to work for someone else.
No-one’s South African citizenship can ever be taken away from them.
Everyone has the right to have access to adequate housing. The government cannot take your house away from you or evict you from your home if you own it.
All children have the right to parental care, shelter, and food. Children may not be neglected or abused or forced to work.
Image courtesy of Pexels/ @Magda