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Stand up for your human rights

On 21 March, South Africa celebrates one of the most important days on our calendar – Human Rights Day. This landmark day stands as a commemoration to the 69 peaceful protesters brutally gunned down by apartheid police during the Sharpville Massacre of 1960. It marks an affirmation by ordinary people, rising in unison to proclaim the rights which they were being denied. It reminds us that no South African should ever again have to suffer so terribly in the pursuit of their human rights.

Our human rights, as outlined in the Bill of Rights of our lauded Constitution, are what entitle us all to a life of freedom, dignity and good health.

As we celebrate Human Right’s Day, and Human Right’s Month, we as government would like all South Africans to be aware of the various platforms and laws which are in place to protect human rights.

In terms of the Bill of Rights everyone has a right to life, equality and human dignity:

  • All persons have a right to citizenship and security. Persons and groups are entitled to freedom of assembly, association, belief and opinion, and expression. They have the right to demonstrate, picket and petition; everyone has the right to be free from forced labour, servitude and slavery.
  •  People have a right to language and culture and communities; and not least, freedom of religion and belief.
  •  Anyone has the right to purchase property anywhere, and to a basic education.
  •  In the workplace everyone has a right to engage in trade unions and labour movements.
  • All have a right to freedom of movement and residence and of trade, occupation and profession.
  • All persons have a right to privacy and to exercise political rights; all have a right to access to information and just administration action. They have rights when arrested, detained and accused, and must have access to courts.
  • The Bill of Rights also specifies the rights of persons belonging to cultural, religious or linguistic communities and the rights of children. In addition, there are specific laws to safeguard women and protect children.
  • Protected rights include a healthy environment; housing, health care, food, water and social security.

These rights are strongly protected by the South African Human Rights Commission, which is specifically tasked with monitoring any violations of human rights and seeking redress.

If your rights have been violated, other organisations such as the Independent Complaints Directorate, the Public Protector, the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration, and the Commission on Gender Equality can all be called on to fight for you.

Be safe in the knowledge that your precious human rights are protected, and that no one should have the power to trample over them.  

Be safe in the knowledge that your precious human rights are protected, and that no one should have the power to trample over them.

21 March 2018
Human Rights Day.