The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) is customary internal law ushered in by the United Nations Charter which all member states of the United Nations (UN) including Jamaica have adopted, pledging to respect, protect, promote and fulfil the human rights of all. They way a government treats its own citizens is a matter of legitimate international concern and not simply a domestic issue.
A Simplified Version of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
1. Everyone is free and we should all be treated in the same way.
2. Everyone is equal despite differences in skin colour, sex, religion, language for example.
3. Everyone has the right to life and to live in freedom and safety.
4. No one has the right to treat you as a slave nor should you make anyone your slave.
5. No one has the right to hurt you or to torture you.
6. Everyone has the right to be treated equally by the law.
7. The law is the same for everyone, it should be applied in the same way to all.
8. Everyone has the right to ask for legal help when their rights are not respected.
9. No one has the right to imprison you unjustly or expel you from your own country.
10. Everyone has the right to a fair and public trial.
11. Everyone should be considered innocent until guilt is proved.
12. Every one has the right to ask for help if someone tries to harm you, but no-one can enter your home, open your letters or bother you or your family without a good reason.
13. Everyone has the right to travel as they wish.
14. Everyone has the right to go to another country and ask for protection if they are being persecuted or are in danger of being persecuted.
15. Everyone has the right to belong to a country. No one has the right to prevent you from belonging to another country if you wish to.
16. Everyone has the right to marry and have a family.
17. Everyone has the right to own property and possessions.
18. Everyone has the right to practise and observe all aspects of their own religion and change their religion if they want to.
19. Everyone has the right to say what they think and to give and receive information.
20. Everyone has the right to take part in meetings and to join associations in a peaceful way.
21. Everyone has the right to help choose and take part in the government of their country.
22. Everyone has the right to social security and to opportunities to develop their skills.
23. Everyone has the right to work for a fair wage in a safe environment and to join a trade union.
24. Everyone has the right to rest and leisure.
25. Everyone has the right to an adequate standard of living and medical help if they are ill.
26. Everyone has the right to go to school.
27. Everyone has the right to share in their community’s cultural life.
28. Everyone must respect the ‘social order’ that is necessary for all these rights to be available.
29. Everyone must respect the rights of others, the community and public property.
30. No one has the right to take away any of the rights in this declaration.
See the United Nations documents for more details on the Universal Declaration on Human Rights (UDHR).
Human Rights Instruments which Jamaica have Ratified
The UDHR has been elaborated in subsequent international human rights instruments. Ratification of international human rights treaties establishes a legal framework of obligation and accountability that complements and reinforce national and regional instruments which all help to measure progress in development. Below is a list of international, regional and national instruments ratified for the protection and promotion of human rights in Jamaica.