Human Rights

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What rights and responsibilities do you and your clients have if your human rights are being infringed?

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The primary rights and responsibilities that anyone has when human rights are being infringed are, first, to speak up about what is happening and to stand up and say that it is wrong, and second, to work to stop it. Let's look at these in more detail.

Human rights are the rights and freedoms that every human being has by virtue of being human and that cannot be violated. According to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, these include life, liberty and security of person; freedom from slavery, torture, and degradation; the recognition of personhood; protection under the law; access to justice; freedom from arbitrary interference with ... privacy, family, home or correspondence; freedom of movement within the borders of each state; ownership of property; freedom of thought, conscience and religion; freedom to practice religion; freedom of opinion and expression; the right to assemble and associate peacefully; the right to work and choose employment under just conditions; the right to education; and the right to a fair standard of living.

When these rights are violated, people must identify and announce the violations. This is both a right and a responsibility. Further, everyone has the responsibility to educate others about their rights. Everyone must also seek redress for the infringement of rights and work to open up ways in which to do this.

Those in positions of authority, including people like lawyers and social workers who represent or work with clients, must be always on the lookout for violations of rights. They must counsel people about their rights and about infringements, and they must help people attain proper legal representation and assistance as needed. They must also strive to help people leave unsafe situations in which there is little hope that violations will be corrected.

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