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Transforming Society

Securing Rights

Restoring Dignity

15 basic human rights you should know

20 March 2018

As South Africans celebrate Human Rights Day on March 21, we look at 15 rights every citizen must know.
The Bill of Rights protects the rights of every South African, and it’s important that all South Africans know their most basic rights afforded to them. Below are some of the most crucial rights you should know.

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.

Human dignity
Everyone has inherent dignity and the right to have their dignity respected.

Life
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.

Personal privacy
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.

Political Rights
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.

Education
Everyone has the right ­to a basic education, including adult basic education; and to further education.
Healthcare, 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.

Citizenship
No-one’s South African citizenship can ever be taken away from them.

Housing
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.

Children
All children have the right to parental care, shelter, and food. Children may not be neglected or abused or forced to work.

Source: East Coast Radio

The South African Human Rights Commission.

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About us

The Human Rights Commission is the national institution established to support constitutional democracy. It is committed to promote respect for, observance of and protection of human rights for everyone without fear or favour.

Braampark Forum 3, 33 Hoofd Street, Braamfontein

011 877 3600 (Switchboard)

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