Simplified Version of the Declaration of Rights

What is the declaration of rights?

The Constitution is the supreme law of the country that sets out how the country must be governed. The Declaration of Rights is set out in Chapter 4 of the Constitution. It sets out the rights and freedoms which the people of Zimbabwe are entitled to.

Human rights are entitlements that we have simply because we are human beings. The rights listed in the Declaration of Rights are constitutional rights and are legally protected. Laws that take away any of these rights shall not be made unless the Declaration of Rights allows for such. Any existing laws that take away any of the rights may be declared invalid. If these constitutional rights are violated, one can sue for damages or take the matter to the Constitutional Court to get justice.

The Declaration of Rights in our new Constitution has both civil and political rights as well as economic, social and cultural rights. It also provides for environmental rights. Civil and political rights are rights that a person has as a citizen. Such rights protect a person from uncalled-for abuse by government, other people or organisations. They also ensure one’s ability to participate in civil and political life in their country without discrimination or repression. Examples of rights in this group are the right to life, to liberty, not to be tortured, freedom of expression, assembly and association and the right to engage in political activity. Rights in this group are called first generation rights because they were the first human rights to be recognized.

Economic, social and cultural rights relate to basic necessities of life such as right to work, shelter, food, health, education and own language. These rights are called second generation rights because they were recognised after the need for civil and political rights had been clearly established. Solidarity and group rights are also referred to as third generation rights include right to development, peace and a clean environment.

Rights, duties and responsibilities go together. Each person has the responsibility of respecting the rights of others and the duty to obey the Constitution and other laws in Zimbabwe. As such, some rights in the Declaration of Rights are limited in ways that make sure that the public interest is served and that they do not violate the rights of other people.

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