DEMOCRACY AND HUMAN RIGHTS NOTES

DEMOCRACY AND HUMAN RIGHTS.

The term democracy is derived from the Greek word democratia; which is formed from twp words demos, (people) and kratos(power or rule). This there means rule of the people.

Democracy is a form of government where the political decisions are directly in the hands of the citizens.

Abraham Lincoln, he definite it as a government of the people, for the people and by the people.

Aspects of democracy.

  1. Political aspects. Its where there is sharing the consent of the governed is sought when making political decisions which is expressed directly or indirectly through their elected representatives.
  2. Social aspects. Is stress the value of human dignity, people are free to organize their own lifestyle, hold and express opinions, move about and enjoy the company of others.
  3. Economic aspects. It aims at providing equal opportunities to all citizens and seeks to eliminate exploration of humans by fellow humans.

Types of democracy.

Direct (pure) democracy.

This is where all adult member of the society are free to participate directly in the affairs of state like legislation, policy and appointment or dismissal of public officials.

It is practised through various ways like referendum, plebiscite and initiative recall.

  1. Referendum: this means must be referred to the people.
  2. Plebiscite: it is a device to obtain a direct popular vote on a matter of political importance.
  3. Initiative: the people initiate the legislation and refer it to the legislature for consideration.
  4. Recall: this is a method by which and elected representatives or official can be removed or dismissed. It also features in the constitution of Kenya.

Indirect (representative) democracy.

This is a system where the members of a state choose representatives to run their affairs.

Characteristics of indirect democracy.

Universal suffrage.

Every person of age 18 and above has a right to vote.

Free and fair election.

There should be a transparency in election.

People supremacy.

The supreme controlling power is vested in the people and they exercise it through voting at regular election.

Principles of democracy.

Consent of the people.

The supreme controlling power is the people; leadership in a democratic society should accommodate people’s needs and aspirations.

Equality.

There is need for equality among the people regardless of colour, sex or creed and provides every participant with equal opportunity to participate in the process of airing their views.

Peace.

The location in which democracy is expected to flourish should be free of all forms of intimidation and unrest that would deter people from freely expressing their opinions on various issues.

The rule of law.

Democracy recognises equality of everyone before the law with fair and outcome acceptable to the majority.

Balance of liberty.

The state makes the laws based on the consent of the people who are obliged to obey the law without feeling that their liberty is unduly restricted.

Transparency and accountability.

There is openness and accountability; this gives the citizens the confidence to trust their institutions.

Competition.

In democracy, different ideas compete for the citizens, attention and opinion.

Free press.

A responsible, free, independent and objective press is one of the pillars of democracy.

Regular and free elections.

The elections should be free and fair, this allows citizens to express their will.

Multi-partysm.

There is need to have many political parties in the country due to democracy.

Economical freedom.

There is economic freedom through private ownership of property and a free market economy. Citizens are free to pursue professions of their choice.

Bill of rights.

This is where bills of rights and freedom of the individuals are spelt out which forms part of constitution.

Advantages of democracy.

  • It is widely accepted form of government.
  • It allows fair competition for power between all people.
  • Promotes a sense of accountability and responsibility among leaders.
  • Promotes fundamental rights and freedoms.
  • Enables citizens to peacefully change their governments regularly and this minimises chances of political instability.
  • It promotes co-existence thus encourage international co-operation.
  • Serves as a means of political education since civic education is carried out before elections.

Disadvantages of democracy.

  • It disregards the interest of the minority.
  • It is expensive to implement since both civic education and general elections require funding.
  • The wealthy use their resources to influence the voters at the expense of those with limited resources.
  • Its time consuming since certain procedures must be followed and the views of the majority sought before important decisions are made.
  • It may promote inefficient leadership. As those elected are the most popular but may not possess the best leadership qualities.


HUMAN RIGHTS.

They are powers of free action, which every individual is endowed with by virtue of belonging to the human race.

The United Nations charter on human rights.

This was formed after the Second World War in a conference in San Francisco in 1945.

It emphasised respect for basic human freedoms and set declaration on general principles of human rights and a convention to define specific human rights. On 10th December 1948, it adopted universal declaration of human right which was known as UN Charter on human rights.

All countries which signed the charter undertook to promote human rights which the charter outlines as:

  • Right to self determination.
  • Equality among gender.
  • The right to work.
  • The right to just and favourable working conditions.
  • The right to and adequate standard of living.
  • The right to physical and mental health.
  • The right to life.
  • The right to fair trial.

The importance of UN Charter on human rights.

  • Protection of venerable groups that is the minority like children, women, the disabled from discrimination and exploitation.
  • Provision of health care to the citizen by the government.
  • The charter guarantees the individual’s right to a fiar trial.
  • It promotes human dignity by emphasising the protection of fundamental human rights.
  • There is protection of gender by equal opportunities and treatment for both men and women.
  • It helps to promote the secretarial integrity and sovereignty of nations.

The Kenyan bill of rights.

The bill of rights is an expression of fundamental human rights and freedoms spelt out in a convention or constitution of a state which is contained in chapter four of the constitution of Kenya. It’s divided into five parts.

  • General provisions relating to the bill of right.
  • Rights and fundamental freedoms.
  • Specific application of rights.
  • State of emergency.
  • The Kenya national human rights and equality commission.

Purpose of the bills of rights.

  • To preserve the dignity of individuals and communities.
  • To promote social justice.
  • To realise the potential of all human beings.

General application of bills of rights.

  • This applies to all laws and binds all state organs and all persons.
  • It’s the duty of the state to observe, respect, protect, promote and fulfil the fundamental rights and freedoms.
  • Every person has a right to institute court proceedings if a fundamental right of freedom is denied, violated or threatened.
  • In the enjoyment of the fundamental rights and freedoms, one should not break the law of infringe into others rights.

Application of Kenyan bills of rights to specific groups of people in Kenya.

Children.

  • The Kenyan bill of rights guarantees every child the right:
  • To a name and nationality from birth.
  • To free and compulsory basic education.
  • To basic nutrition, shelter and health care.
  • To be protected from abuse, neglect, harmful cultural practices, inhuman treatment and exploitation.
  • To parental care and protection.
  • Vote to be detained except as a measure of last resort.
  • Persons with disabilities.
  • To be treated with dignity and respect.
  • To access educational institutions and facilities.
  • To reasonable access to all places, public transport and information.
  • To use sign language Braille or other appropriate means of communication.
  • To access materials and devices to overcome constraints arising from the persons disability.

Youth.

  • Access relevant education and training.
  • Have opportunities to associate, be represented and participate in all spheres of life.
  • Access employment.
  • Are protected from harmful cultural practices and exploitation.
  • Minorities and marginalised groups.
  • Participate and are represented in governance and other spheres of life.
  • Are provided with special opportunities in educational and economic fields.
  • Are provided with special opportunities for access to employment.
  • Develop their cultural values, languages and practices.
  • Have reasonable access to water, health services and infrastructure.

Older members of society.

  • To fully participate in the affairs of society.
  • To pursue their personal development.
  • To live in dignity and respect.
  • To be free from abuse.
  • To receive reasonable care and assistance from their family and state.

Rights of arrested persons.

  • To be informed promptly, in language that the person understands of:
  • The person for the arrest.
  • The right to remain silent.
  • The consequences of not remaining silent.
  • To remain silent.
  • To communicate with an advocate and other persons whose assistance is necessary.
  • Not to be compelled to make any confession or admission that could be used in evidence against the person.
  • To be held separately from persons who are serving a sentence.
  • To be brought before a court as soon as reasonably possible but to later than twenty four hours after being arrested unless the twenty four hours fall on a day outside of court hours.
  • To be charged or informed of the reasons for the detention continuing or to be released.
  • To be released on bond or bail on reasonable condition.
  • Not to be remanded in custody for an offence which is punishable by a fine only or by imprisonment for not more than six months?

Rights of persons detained, held in custody or imprisoned.

  • Retention of all fundamental rights and freedoms except those incompatible with being detained held in custody or imprisoned.
  • Entitlement to rights of habeas corpus.
  • To humane treatment as spelt out in a parliamentary legislation.
  • Treatment in keeping with relevant international human rights instruments.

Kenya national human rights and equality commission.

It was constituted by the constitution and has at least three and not more than nine members.

The chairperson and members are identified and recommended through national legislation.

Its function.

  • To promote gender equality and equity generally.
  • To promote the protection and observance of human rights.
  • To promote respect for human rights and develop a culture of human rights in the republic.
  • To monitor, investigate and report on the observance of human rights.
  • To receive and investigate complaints about alleged abuses of human rights.
  • To take steps to secure appropriate redress where human rights have been violated.
  • To investigate or research on matters of human rights and make recommendations to the state.
  • To ensure state compliance with obligations under treaties and conventions relating to human rights.
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