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Civil liberties are guarantees and freedoms that liberal governments commit not to abridge, either by legislation or judicial interpretation, without due process. Though the scope of the term differs between countries, civil liberties may include the freedom of conscience, freedom of press, freedom of religion, freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, the right to security and liberty, freedom of speech, the right to privacy, the right to equal treatment under the law and due process, the right to a fair trial, and the right to life. Other civil liberties include the right to own property, the right to defend oneself, and the right to bodily integrity. Within the distinctions between civil liberties and other types of liberty, distinctions exist between positive liberty/positive rights and negative liberty/negative rights.
Many contemporary states have a constitution, a bill of rights, or similar constitutional documents that enumerate and seek to guarantee civil liberties. Other states have enacted similar laws through a variety of legal means, including signing and ratifying or otherwise giving effect to key conventions such as the European Convention on Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The existence of some claimed civil liberties is a matter of dispute, as are the extent of most civil rights. Controversial examples include property rights, reproductive rights, and civil marriage. The degree that democracies have involved themselves in needs to take into fact the influence of terrorism.Whether the existence of victimless crimes infringes upon civil liberties is a matter of dispute. Another matter of debate is the suspension or alteration of certain civil liberties in times of war or state of emergency, including whether and to what extent this should occur.
The formal concept of civil liberties is often dated back to Magna Carta, an English legal charter agreed in 1215 which in turn was based on pre-existing documents, namely the Charter of Liberties.
The Constitution of People's Republic of China (which applies only to mainland China, not to Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan), especially its Fundamental Rights and Duties of Citizens, claims to protect many civil liberties. Taiwan, which is separated from China, has its own Constitution.
The Fundamental Rights—embodied in Part III of the constitution—guarantee liberties such that all Indians can lead their lives in peace as citizens of India. The six fundamental rights are right to equality, right to freedom, right against exploitation, right to freedom of religion, cultural and educational rights and right to constitutional remedies.
These include individual rights common to most liberal democracies, incorporated in the fundamental law of the land and are enforceable in a court of law. Violations of these rights result in punishments as prescribed in the Indian Penal Code, subject to discretion of the judiciary. These rights are neither absolute nor immune from constitutional amendments. They have been aimed at overturning the inequalities of pre-independence social practices. Specifically, they resulted in abolishment of un-touchability and prohibit discrimination on the grounds of religion, race, caste, sex, or place of birth. They forbid human trafficking and unfree labour. They protect cultural and educational rights of ethnic and religious minorities by allowing them to preserve their languages and administer their own educational institutions.
All people, irrespective of race, religion, caste or sex, have the right to approach the High Courts or the Supreme Court for the enforcement of their fundamental rights. It is not necessary that the aggrieved party has to be the one to do so. In public interest, anyone can initiate litigation in the court on their behalf. This is known as "Public interest litigation".High Court and Supreme Court judges can also act on their own on the basis of media reports.
The Fundamental Rights emphasize equality by guaranteeing to all citizens the access and use of public institutions and protections, irrespective of their background. The rights to life and personal liberty apply for persons of any nationality, while others, such as the freedom of speech and expression are applicable only to the citizens of India (including non-resident Indian citizens).The right to equality in matters of public employment cannot be conferred to overseas citizens of India.
Fundamental Rights primarily protect individuals from any arbitrary State actions, but some rights are enforceable against private individuals too.For instance, the constitution abolishes untouchability and prohibits begar . These provisions act as a check both on State action and actions of private individuals. Fundamental Rights are not absolute and are subject to reasonable restrictions as necessary for the protection of national interest. In the Kesavananda Bharati vs. state of Kerala case, the Supreme Court ruled that all provisions of the constitution, including Fundamental Rights can be amended. However, the Parliament cannot alter the basic structure of the constitution like secularism, democracy, federalism, separation of powers. Often called the "Basic structure doctrine", this decision is widely regarded as an important part of Indian history. In the 1978 Maneka Gandhi v. Union of India case, the Supreme Court extended the doctrine's importance as superior to any parliamentary legislation. According to the verdict, no act of parliament can be considered a law if it violated the basic structure of the constitution. This landmark guarantee of Fundamental Rights was regarded as a unique example of judicial independence in preserving the sanctity of Fundamental Rights. The Fundamental Rights can only be altered by a constitutional amendment, hence their inclusion is a check not only on the executive branch, but also on the Parliament and state legislatures. The imposition of a state of emergency may lead to a temporary suspension of the rights conferred by Article 19 (including freedoms of speech, assembly and movement, etc.) to preserve national security and public order. The President can, by order, suspend the constitutional written remedies as well.
Since 1947, Japan, a country with a constitutional monarchy and known for its socially “conservative society where change is gradual,” has a constitution with a seemingly strong bill of rights at its core (Chapter III. Rights and Duties of the People).In many ways, it resembles the U.S. Constitution prior to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and that is because it came into life during the Allied occupation of Japan. This constitution may have felt like a foreign imposition to the governing elites, but not to the ordinary people "who lacked faith in their discredited leaders and supported meaningful change." In the abstract, the constitution strives to secure fundamental individual liberties and rights, which are covered pointedly in articles 10 to 40. Most salient of the human dignity articles is article 25, section 1, which guarantees that all “people shall have the right to maintain the minimum standards of wholesome and cultured living.”
Despite the adoption of this liberal constitution, often referred as the "Postwar Constitution" (戦後憲法, Sengo-Kenpō) or the "Peace Constitution" (平和憲法, Heiwa-Kenpō), the Japanese governing elites have struggled to usher in an inclusive, open and Pluralist society.Even after the end of World War II and the departure of the Allied government of occupation in 1952, Japan has been the target of international criticism for failing to admit to war crimes, institutional religious discrimination and maintaining a weak freedom of the press, the treatment of children, minorities, foreigners, and women, its punitive criminal justice system, and more recently, the systematic bias against LGBT people.
The first Japanese attempt to a bill of rights was in the 19th century Meiji constitution (1890), which took both the Prussian (1850) and British constitutions as basic models.However, it had but a meager influence in the practice of the rule of law as well as in people's daily living. So, the short and deliberately gradual history of struggles for personal rights and protection against government/society's impositions has yet to transform Japan into a champion of universal and individual freedom. According to constitutional scholar, Shigenori Matsui,
People tend to view the bill of rights as a moral imperative and not as a judicial norm. The people also tend to rely upon bureaucrats to remedy social problems, including even human rights violations, rather than the court.
Despite the divergences between Japan's social culture and the Liberal Constitutionalism that it purports to have adopted, the country has moved toward closing the gap between the notion and the practice of the law. The trend is more evident in the long term. Among several examples, the Diet (bicameral legislature) ratified the International Bill of Human Rights in 1979 and then it passed the Law for Equal Opportunity in Employment for Men and Women in 1985, measures that were heralded as major steps toward a democratic and participatory society. In 2015, moreover, it reached an agreement with Korea to compensate for abuses related to the so-called “women of comfort” that took place during the Japanese occupation of the peninsula.However, human rights group, and families of the survivors condemned the agreement as patronizing and insulting.
On its official site, the Japanese government has identified various human rights problems. Among these are child abuses (e.g., bullying, corporal punishment, child sexual abuse, child prostitution, and child pornography), frequent neglect and ill-treatment of elderly persons and individuals with disabilities, Dowa claims (discrimination against the Burakumin), Ainu people (indigenous people in Japan), foreign nationals, HIV/AIDS carriers, Hansen's disease patients, persons released from prison after serving their sentence, crime victims, people whose human rights are violated using the Internet, the homeless, individuals with gender identity disorders, and women. Also, the government lists systematic problems with gender biases and the standard reference to sexual preferences for jobs and other functions in society.
Human rights organizations, national and foreign, expand the list to include human rights violations that relate to government policies, as in the case of daiyo kangoku system (substitute prison) and the methods of interrogating crime suspects.The effort of these agencies and ordinary people seem to pay off. In 2016, the U.S. Department of State released a report stating that Japan's human right record is showing signs of improvement.
Whilst Australia does not have an enshrined Bill of Rights or similar binding legal document, civil liberties are assumed as protected through a series of rules and conventions. Australia had primary involvement in and was a key signatory to the UN Universal Declaration on Human Rights (1948)
The Constitution of Australia (1900) does offer very limited protection of rights:
Certain High Court interpretations of the Constitution have allowed for implied rights such as freedom of speech and the right to vote to be established, however others such as freedom of assembly and freedom of association are yet to be identified.
Within the past decade Australia has experienced increasing contention regarding its treatment of those seeking asylum. Although Australia is a signatory to the UN Refugee Convention (1951), successive governments have demonstrated an increasing tightening of borders; particularly against those who seek passage via small water vessels.
The Abbott Government (2013) like its predecessors (the Gillard and Howard Governments) has encountered particular difficulty curbing asylum seekers via sea, increasingly identified as "illegal immigration". The recent involvement of the Australian Navy in refugee rescue operations has many human rights groups such as Amnesty International concerned over the "militarisation" of treatment of refugees. The current "turn-back" policy is particularly divisive, as it involves placing refugees in government lifeboats and turning them towards Indonesia. Despite opposition however, the Abbott government's response has so far seen a reduction in the number of potential refugees undertaking the hazardous cross to Australia, which is argued by the government as an indicator for its policy success.
The European Convention on Human Rights, to which almost all European countries belong (apart from Belarus), enumerates a number of civil liberties and is of varying constitutional force in different European states.
Following the Velvet Revolution, a constitutional overhaul took place in Czechoslovakia. In 1991, the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Basic Freedoms was adopted, having the same legal standing as the Constitution. The Czech Republic has kept the Charter in its entirety following the dissolution of Czechoslovakia as Act No. 2/1993 Coll. (Constitution being No. 1).
France's 1789 Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen listed many civil liberties and is of constitutional force.
The German constitution, the "Grundgesetz" (lit. "Base Law"), starts with an elaborate listing of civil liberties and states in sec. 1 "The dignity of man is inviolable. To respect and protect it shall be the duty of all public authority." Following the "Austrian System", the people have the right to appeal to the Federal Constitutional Court of Germany ("Bundesverfassungsgericht") if they feel their civil rights are being violated. This procedure has shaped German law considerably over the years.
Civil liberties in the United Kingdom date back to Magna Carta in 1215 and 17th century common law and statute law, such as the 1628 Petition of Right, the Habeas Corpus Act 1679 and the Bill of Rights 1689. Parts of these laws remain in statute today and are supplemented by other legislation and conventions that collectively form the uncodified Constitution of the United Kingdom. In addition, the United Kingdom is a signatory to the European Convention on Human Rights which covers both human rights and civil liberties. The Human Rights Act 1998 incorporates the great majority of Convention rights directly into UK law.
In June 2008 the then Shadow Home Secretary David Davis resigned his parliamentary seat over what he described as the "erosion of civil liberties" by the then Labour government, and was re-elected on a civil liberties platform (although he was not opposed by candidates of other major parties). This was in reference to anti-terrorism laws and in particular the extension to pre-trial detention, that is perceived by many to be an infringement of habeas corpus established in Magna Carta.
The Constitution of the Russian Federation guarantees in theory many of the same rights and civil liberties as the U.S. except to bear arms, i.e.: freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of association and assembly, freedom to choose language, to due process, to a fair trial, privacy, freedom to vote, right for education, etc. However, human rights groups like Amnesty International have warned that Vladimir Putin has seriously curtailed freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and freedom of association amidst growing authoritarianism.
The Constitution of Canada includes the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms which guarantees many of the same rights as the U.S. constitution, with the notable exceptions of protection against establishment of religion. However, the Charter does protect freedom of religion. The Charter also omits any mention of, or protection for, property.
The United States Constitution, especially its Bill of Rights, protects civil liberties. The passage of the Fourteenth Amendment further protected civil liberties by introducing the Privileges or Immunities Clause, Due Process Clause, and Equal Protection Clause. Human rights within the United States are often called civil rights, which are those rights, privileges and immunities held by all people, in distinction to political rights, which are the rights that inhere to those who are entitled to participate in elections, as candidates or voters.Before universal suffrage, this distinction was important, since many people were ineligible to vote but still were considered to have the fundamental freedoms derived from the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. This distinction is less important now that Americans enjoy near universal suffrage, and civil liberties are now taken to include the political rights to vote and participate in elections. Because Indian tribal governments retain sovereignty over tribal members, the U.S. Congress in 1968 enacted a law that essentially applies most of the protections of the Bill of Rights to tribal members, to be enforced mainly by tribal courts.
The Civil Liberties Act of 1988 was signed into effect by President Ronald Reagan on August 10, 1988. The act was passed by Congress to issue a public apology for those of Japanese ancestry who lost their property and liberty due to discriminatory actions by the United States Government during the internment period.
This act also provided many other benefits within various sectors of the government. Within the treasury it established a civil liberties public education fund. It directed the Attorney General to identify and locate each individual affected by this act and to pay them $20,000 from the civil liberties public education fund. It also established a board of directors who is responsible for making disbursements from this fund. Finally, it required that all documents and records that are created or received by the commission be kept by the Archivist of the United States.
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Civil and political rights are a class of rights that protect individuals' freedom from infringement by governments, social organizations, and private individuals. They ensure one's entitlement to participate in the civil and political life of the society and state without discrimination or repression.
The Constitution of Japan is the fundamental law of Japan. It was enacted on 3 May 1947, as a new constitution for a post-war Japan.
The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, in Canada often simply called the Charter, is a bill of rights entrenched in the Constitution of Canada. It forms the first part of the Constitution Act, 1982. The Charter guarantees certain political rights to Canadian citizens and civil rights of everyone in Canada from the policies and actions of all areas and levels of the government. It is designed to unify Canadians around a set of principles that embody those rights. The Charter was signed into law by Queen Elizabeth II of Canada on April 17, 1982, along with the rest of the Act.
The Constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is the fundamental governing document of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, one of the 50 individual state governments that make up the United States of America. As a member of the Massachusetts Constitutional Convention of 1779, John Adams was the document's principal author. Voters approved the document on June 15, 1780. It became effective on October 25, 1780, and remains the oldest functioning written constitution in continuous effect in the world. It was also the first constitution anywhere to be created by a convention called for that purpose rather than by a legislative body. Only the Constitution of San Marino has sections still in force that are older.
Freedom of association encompasses both an individual's right to join or leave groups voluntarily, the right of the group to take collective action to pursue the interests of its members, and the right of an association to accept or decline membership based on certain criteria. Freedom of Association, The Essentials of Human Rights describes the right as coming together with other individuals to collectively express, promote, pursue and/or defend common interests. Freedom of Association is both an individual right and a collective right, guaranteed by all modern and democratic legal systems, including the United States Bill of Rights, article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and international law, including articles 20 and 23 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and article 22 of International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work by the International Labour Organization also ensures these rights.
Civil liberties in the United States are certain unalienable rights retained by citizens of the United States under the Constitution of the United States, as interpreted and clarified by the Supreme Court of the United States and lower federal courts. Civil liberties are simply defined as individual legal and constitutional protections from entities more powerful than an individual, for example, parts of the government, other individuals, or corporations. The explicitly defined liberties make up the Bill of Rights, including freedom of speech, the right to bear arms, and the right to privacy. There are also many liberties of people not defined in the Constitution, as stated in the Ninth Amendment: The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
The Constitution of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico is the controlling government document of Puerto Rico. It is composed of nine articles detailing the structure of the government as well as the function of several of its institutions. The document also contains an extensive and specific bill of rights. Since Puerto Rico is a commonwealth of the United States, two authorities may override the Puerto Rico Constitution: the U.S. Constitution due to the Supremacy Clause, and relevant federal legislation due to the Territorial Clause.
Freedom of peaceful assembly, sometimes used interchangeably with the freedom of association, is the individual right or ability of people to come together and collectively express, promote, pursue, and defend their collective or shared ideas. The right to freedom of association is recognized as a human right, a political right and a civil liberty.
Section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is a constitutional provision that protects an individual's autonomy and personal legal rights from actions of the government in Canada. There are three types of protection within the section: the right to life, liberty and security of the person. Denials of these rights are constitutional only if the denials do not breach what is referred to as fundamental justice.
Section 2 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms ("Charter") is the section of the Constitution of Canada that lists what the Charter calls "fundamental freedoms" theoretically applying to everyone in Canada, regardless of whether they are a Canadian citizen, or an individual or corporation. These freedoms can be held against actions of all levels of government and are enforceable by the courts. The fundamental freedoms are freedom of expression, freedom of religion, freedom of thought, freedom of belief, freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of association.
The Constitution of the People's Republic of Bangladesh is the constitutional document of Bangladesh. It was adopted on 4 November 1972 and effective from 16 December 1972. It provides the framework of the Bangladeshi republic with a parliamentary government, fundamental human rights and freedoms, an independent judiciary, democratic local government and a national bureaucracy. The constitution includes references to socialism, Islam, secular democracy and the Bengali language. It commits Bangladesh to “contribute to international peace and co-operation in keeping with the progressive aspirations of mankind”. The constitution has several controversial elements like Article 70.
The Fundamental Rights, Directive Principles of State Policy and Fundamental Duties are sections of the Constitution of India that prescribe the fundamental obligations of the states to its citizens and the duties and the rights of the citizens to the State. These sections comprise a constitutional bill of rights for government policy-making and the behaviour and conduct of citizens. These sections are considered vital elements of the constitution, which was developed between 1947 and 1949 by the Constituent Assembly of India.
Fundamental rights are a group of rights that have been recognized by a high degree of protection from encroachment. These rights are specifically identified in a Constitution, or have been found under Due Process of law.
Security of the person is a basic entitlement guaranteed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the United Nations in 1948. It is also a human right explicitly mentioned and protected by the European Convention on Human Rights, the Constitution of Canada, the Constitution of South Africa and other laws around the world.
The New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990 is a statute of the Parliament of New Zealand setting out the rights and fundamental freedoms of anyone subject to New Zealand law as a Bill of rights. It is part of New Zealand's uncodified constitution.
Fundamental rights are those rights which are essential for intellectual, moral and spiritual development of individuals. As these rights are fundamental or essential for existence and all-round development of individuals, hence, it's called as 'Fundamental' rights according to Navdeep Choudhary. These are enshrined in Part III of the Constitution of India.
The right to protest is a human right arising out of a number of recognized human rights. While no human rights instrument or national constitution grants the absolute right to protest, such a right to protest may be a manifestation of the right to freedom of assembly, the right to freedom of association, and the right to freedom of speech. Additionally, protest and restrictions on protest have lasted as long as governments have.
Human rights in Canada have come under increasing public attention and legal protection since World War II. Prior to that time, there were few legal protections for human rights. The protections which did exist focused on specific issues, rather than taking a general approach to human rights. There were notable events in Canada's history which would today be considered violations of human rights.
A bill of rights, sometimes called a declaration of rights or a charter of rights, is a list of the most important rights to the citizens of a country. The purpose is to protect those rights against infringement from public officials and private citizens.
Fiji is an island nation in Melanesia in the South Pacific Ocean with a population of approximately 849,000. It is made up of Fijians, Indo-Fijians, Europeans, Chinese, other Pacific islanders, and people of mixed racial descent. Fiji has been in a state of political unrest since their independence from Britain in 1970.