Rights, your rights

Essays by GOSA members.

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Rights, your rights

Postby crimefree » Tue, 2006-04-04 13:57

Having spent many years studying this subject and monitoring the progress of the FCA from the beginning it is quite apparent that nobody least of all the State has produced any research into the known results of following the dictates of marginal radical organisations promoting gun control as a substitute for crime control.

It would be a travesty of justice and human rights if the State deliberately and knowingly endangered the lives of children. Therefore, it is incumbent on the State to prove beyond a shadow of doubt that its intentions will in no way endanger the lives of anyone within a Firearm Free Zone. That proof has not been presented.

Of equal importance State Gun Control as promoted by the Firearms Control Act breeches every human rights agreement South Africa subscribes to.

    The UN Charter Article 51 states: 'Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of an individual or collective self-defence if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations, until the Security Council has taken measures necessary to maintain international peace and security…

International human rights law seeks to protect individual rights and freedoms. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights contains a number of articles which are directly relevant for limiting the use of arms and which are now generally regarded as binding in customary international law. (321)

    The key principles are: ‘Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person’, and ‘No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman, degrading treatment or punishment’. The presence of an armed threat by agents of the state can facilitate other forms of violence, amounting to grave violations of human rights.[

In any so-called "gun free zone" the only armed agents would be the state. Human rights law seeks directly to prevent a situation where the state has a monopoly on arms, restrains the state from inhuman behaviour and upholds the right of individuals to self-defence.

Numerous international human rights treaties create binding legal obligations on states party to them. One of the most important treaties ratified by about two thirds of all states, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, states that ‘No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his life’. Governments must ensure that all agents of the state respect the right to life, and punish those who do not, but also act to ensure that the right is protected against threats by other actors, including private individuals. They must exercise due diligence to prevent acts of violence, including through effective policing. Certain rights can be waived in times of public emergency, but the right not to be arbitrarily deprived of life is ‘non-derogable’: states are bound to respect it fully in all circumstances. (322)

No section of the Firearms Control Act or other law imposes a duty on the state to provide protection to any individual within a "Firearm Free Zone". Thus, citizens within such a zone are deprived of self-protection and are at the mercy of both the State and any other actor who would deprive them of life or subject them to acts of violence.

International humanitarian law seeks to limit and prevent human suffering in times of armed conflict. Even wars have rules. It applies to all parties to conflicts, including in civil wars to armed groups operating outside of state control. International Human Law attempts to place limits on the discretion of parties to choose methods of warfare, and aims to balance military necessity with humanitarian principles.

Clearly and with no room for doubt the UN agreements and Human Rights Law that South Africa subscribes to enshrine an individual right of citizens to self-defence.

The deprivation of citizen's rights and means to self-defence is in direct contravention of human rights law and seeks to displace the balance between military and citizens in favour of the State. An undesirable position specifically mentioned and forbidden in Human Rights Law.

It cannot be argued that citizens have no need of firearms or that firearms are not suitable for self-defence when the State relies on firearms for protection and would not consider itself protected if deprived of firearms.

The Constitution of South Africa provides for the sanctity of life and nobody may be deprived of life. The State is charged with a duty to provide a safe secure environment for the citizens of South Africa. Since there is no duty placed on the State to protect individual lives this duty is thus a right of every South African citizen that is upheld and reinforced by the UN Charter and Human Rights Laws.

It would be a gross abrogation of the truth to think that the drafters of the Constitution thought that passing a law declaring an area as a "Firearm Free Zone", placing a sign and depriving citizens of their right to self-defence was considered or even thought to be of any aid to these rights.

The State must protect citizens by exercising due diligence by removing the root causes of violence and by effective policing. The State simply can't abdicate its duty and offer Firearm Free Zones and Gun Control as a replacement for its failure to control crime and perform its constitutional duty to citizen's safety and security.

"Two memorials remain today at Thermoplylae. Upon the modern one is engraved his response to Xerxes' demand that the Spartans lay down their arms. Leonidas' reply was two words, Molon Labe. 'Come and get them'."
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Joined: Fri, 2006-02-03 09:26
Location: Pietermaritzburg, South Africa

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