Duhaime's Law Dictionary

Human Right Definition:

An individual's statutory right to equal treatment and free from discrimination prohibited by statute and which, generally, provides a civil remedy to provide compensation or to punish such discrimination when it is reported.

Related Terms: Multiculturalism, Civil Rights, Civil Liberties, Human Dignity, Right, Discrimination, Hate Crime, Bigotry

Human rights, civil rights or fundamental rights and freedoms given equally and without distinction to each and every human being, is a matter that varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.

Some jurisdictions, like Canada's provinces, prohibit virtually all forms of traditional discrimination. For example, consider the preamble of the Alberta statute:

"All persons are equal in dignity, rights and responsibilities without regard to race, religious beliefs, colour, gender, physical disability, mental disability, age, ancestry, place of origin, marital status, source of income or family status."

Basic human rights have evolved slowly and in such forms of the early cases on trespass, the English Bill of Rights and, most importantly, the advent of international conventions and domestic laws, such as human rights code.

Some nations, for reasons which, arguably, relate to the maturity of their legal system, overtly discriminate; notably jurisdictions which have traditional Sharia law or Muslim law in regards to the rights of women. Other nations intentionally discriminate in order to favour a particular group - affirmative action or as a matter of stated public policy; such as, in Canada, strict age limitations on the issuing of driver licenses.

Human rights statutes are uniquely construed by the courts as stated by Canadian judge McIntyre at ¶8 of Craton:

"Human rights legislation is public and fundamental law of general application. If there is a conflict between this fundamental law and other specific legislation, unless an exception is created, the human rights legislation must govern.

"Human rights legislation is of a special nature and declares public policy regarding matters of general concern. Is is not constitutional in nature in the sense that it may not be altered, amended, or repealed by the Legislature. It is, however, of such nature that it may not be altered, amended, or repealed, nor may exceptions be created to its provisions, save by clear legislative pronouncement. "

Alexander Hamilton (USA, 1757-1804) wrote in The Farmer Refuted (1780):

"The sacred rights of mankind ... are written, as with a sunbeam, in the whole volume of human nature, by the hand of Divinity itself, and can never be erased or obscured by mortal power."


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