There are various kinds of human rights that the laws protect. The term right refers to the social, lawful, or moral principles of autonomy, it also refer to what is entitled to somebody. Rights are the fundamentals of what people are allowed to do or should be done for in accordance with legal system. Rights are divided into natural rights and the legal rights. Natural rights on one hand refers to rights that cannot be transferred or removed from an individual; they are not placed on a person by a legal system. A legal right, also known as the civil rights, on the other hand refers to the rights that are accorded to an individual by a legal system.
One of the philosophers that is well known for his championing of the natural rights is John Locke. He states that the natural rights of humankind should be protected always and in all levels of government. In many occasions and events throughout history have seen people’s rights to life, property, and liberty being undermined. These rights have been undermined so much especially during periods of suppression, insurrections, and war of secession.
Locke stresses that governments are morally obligated to serve its people and ensure that the people’s rights to life, property, and liberty are protected at all times. He maintains that governments should be kept on check by various bodies to ensure that it does not abuse its power by infringing on these natural rights. The author states that government should have representatives of the people and that the rule of law should be upheld at all times. Domination and absolutism should be denounced as these may cause the people to revolt. He asserts that rebellions due to violation of people’s natural rights is legitimate. Rights to liberty, property, and life were Locke’s main concern.
Right to Life
As stated earlier, it is the obligation of any government to protect human life. This therefore means that the government is required to ensure that the law protects human life; no one should be denied this right unless in the cases of execution following a court ruling that an individual is guilty and is sentenced to death in accordance with the laws of the land. The law however has exception where a public officer is forced to use exertion in order to stop someone from doing illegal act, making an authorized arrest, stopping an escape of a detainee or in stopping a riot.
The right to property states that;
“Every natural or legal person is entitled to the peaceful enjoyment of his possessions. No one shall be deprived of his possessions except in the public interest and subject to the conditions provided for by law and by the general principles of international law”
The right however does not stop the government to possess an individual’s property if it is in the public interest, to pay taxes or any other penalties recognized by the law.
Right to Liberty
Governments have the responsibility of ensuring that a person is not deprived of their right to liberty. This applies mainly in a case whereby a person is imprisoned or forcefully detained. The government should ensure that the laws of the land provide that no arrests should be done without informing the person the reasons why he is being arrested and on what charge. Once arrested, one is supposed to be arraigned in court before a judge as soon as possible and the trial should also be carried out within a reasonable period. This means that trials should not take much of the accused person’s time.
The above-discussed rights fall under natural rights and are much elaborated by John Locke in his book “Second Treatise of Government”. However, as much as it is important for governments to ensure that human freedoms are observed, it is also the obligation of the same government to ensure that these freedoms do not infringe on freedoms of others.
Legal rights (civil rights) are supposed to ensure that humans co-exists peacefully among themselves. Immanuel Kant was mainly concerned with this kind of rights in his book “Political Writings” Legal rights refers to the powers that are bestowed upon the legal authorities .civil rights aims at ensuring that the integrity of the people is protected, protects against discriminations and includes freedom of thought, speech, expression among others.
Freedom of Speech
This refers to the human right to put across his opinion to the public without the fear of being censured or being punished. Freedom of speech is very vital for the development, dignity, and satisfaction of every individual. They are able to learn more about their surroundings by exchanging information with other people and hence improve their life status. Citizens of a nation feel more appreciated when the state allows them to speak their minds freely.
Freedom of Assembly
Freedom of assembly, sometimes referred to as the freedom of association means that the individuals have right to meet together and express or promote their ideas or beliefs. These meetings however must be peaceful and must obey the law; it also requires that the people must be considerate and respectful to the rights of others.
The Right to Equality and Non-Discrimination in the Administration of Justice
Equality aims at ensuring that all people are born and exist free and also equal. It maintains that people have the same right and are equal before the law. People should be treated equally without being discriminated by the laws, programs, or even laid down policies. Public officers are expected not to apply programs in a discriminatory manner. The right ensures that no person is denied his or her rights based on colour, gender, religion, political affiliation, and language among other factors.
Freedom of the Press
Kant maintains that a government should not hinder the processes and the agencies that are involved in the printing and distribution of opinions or information. Agencies are free to gather, print and distribute opinions, ideas and information without the interference from the government .the freedom however does not protect against cases of defamation, which is a crime on its own.
The Right to Vote
Every citizen of a nation has a right to vote. It only through voting that the citizens are able to choose their leaders. This would go a long way in ensuring that their right are protected, that issues that affect them are discussed, and solutions established.
One can say that in a way, Locke believes so much on the right to rebellion when rights are violated. Kant in contrast asserts that people should be loyal to authority and distance themselves from rebellions. The two philosophers however agree on one thing, the government exist because of the people and therefore have an obligation towards the people