Many people are familiar with the phrase “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” but what this idea is really targeting is the concept that humans should have certain rights that are consistently protected. Your individual rights give you the freedom to act in society and make decisions on your own. However, it is possible for these rights to be violated, restricted or go unrespected; in these situations, you may have recourse depending on the context of what has happened.
Where Did The Standards For Human Rights Come From?
In order to understand how to proceed if your own individual rights have been violated, you must first understand where these rights came from. Many international human rights treaties have been signed over the years that, across multiple entries and documents, delineate many of the rights that you enjoy.
However, the United Nations General Assembly met in Paris in 1948 to set forth the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Within this document is a clear explanation of the rights that should be afforded to all people, regardless of race, skin color, sex, language, religion, political opinion or place of birth.
The Basic Rights Protected By The Universal Declaration Of Human Rights
This important document contains clarification about the many rights that individuals can expect. The very first point notes that all humans are born equal and free. Everyone has a right to life, liberty and safety, and slavery or servitude is prohibited in all forms. Torture or cruel punishment is also forbidden, as is arbitrary arrest or detention by the law.
Everyone has the right to be represented fairly in the eyes of the law, without discrimination and with access to a fair public hearing by an independent court. People are also free from arbitrary interference with their property, home and family, so that outside sources cannot simply take or use private items.
The declaration then moves on to rights regarding one’s lifestyle, such as the right to marry, have a family and own property. In addition, people have the right to think freely and practice their own religion as they see fit.
They may also peacefully assemble and express their thoughts freely, participating in the government, taking jobs and choosing the education of their children. Notably, the declaration also states that all individuals have a right to an adequate standard of living, including food, clothing, shelter and access to medical care.
Are My Individual Rights Always Absolute?
These rights granted by the Universal Declaration are vital for living in a society, and many countries (including the United States) also set forth their own additional guidelines for human rights. This is where the concept of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” comes from. However, even though these rights are critical, they are not always absolute.
While some rights, such as the freedom from cruelty and torture, are indeed absolute, other rights may be restricted if their exercise causes harm to the public. For example, an individual inciting violence may have his right to free expression limited. Similarly, if a person is sentenced to serve jail time, they may not claim infringement of their right to liberty.
What To Do If Someone Violates Your Individual Rights
If you believe that someone has unjustly limited or violated your rights, you have multiple options for recourse. You may elect to resolve the issue through informal negotiations directly with the offending party, seeking to reach a settlement or agreement. However, if this fails, you may file a claim with the government (if applicable) or file a private lawsuit.
This lawsuit would go through civil court, not criminal court, unless other criminal elements are present and a separate criminal case is filed. Civil rights cases can be challenging to navigate in a legal context, which is why it is wise to work with an attorney who has experience specifically in this field of law if someone has violated your individual rights.
Trust The Civil Rights Attorneys To Assist With Your Case
Whether you would like more information about your rights and what it means when someone does not respect them, or you are searching for an attorney to defend your rights before a court, be sure to select a legal representative who has experience with cases like yours.
At The Brown Firm, we would be happy to help you understand the rights set forth both internationally and within the United States so that you can seek the justice that you deserve. Reach out to schedule a consultation to discuss your options and how to proceed after a human rights violation.