Mar 2012

Do you know your human rights?

Advice and events

South Africa observes Human Rights Day on 21 March. The month of March has been designated as Human Rights Month in honour and commemoration of those heroes and heroines who laid a foundation during the liberation struggle for a rights-based, democratic and a just society.
What are human rights?

Human rights are the foundation of our democracy. Our Constitution and all our laws are based on human rights. These rights are listed in the Bill of Rights, Chapter 2 of the Constitution, the country’s highest law.

South Africa’s Constitution was approved by the Constitutional Court on 4 December 1996 and took effect on 4 February 1997. It is widely considered one of the most progressive in the world and enjoys high acclaim internationally.

The Constitution was adopted to heal the divisions of the past and to establish a society based on democratic values, social justice and fundamental human rights.

Equal treatment

The Constitution recognises the dignity and rights of every human being. This means no matter who you are, you are entitled to just and equal treatment in South Africa.

The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) is the national institution dedicated to promoting respect for, observance of, and the protection of human rights for everyone without fear or favour. It also promotes a culture of human rights among all South Africans.

Your rights

According to our Constitution, every South African has the right to

  • life
  • equality
  • dignity
  • freedom and security of the person
  • privacy
  • freedom of religion, beliefs and opinion
  • freedom of expression and association
  • citizenship
  • freedom of movement and residence
  • freedom of trade, occupation, profession and labour relations
  • the right to property, housing, health care, food, water and social security
  • education
  • language and culture
  • access to information and access to courts.

If anyone ignores or abuses any of these rights, it is called a violation your human rights.

How can the SAHRC help you?

The SAHRC has been established to inform and advise you about your rights, and to help protect those rights.

For more information, visit the SAHRC website at or call SAHRC Head Office on: 011 877 3600
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