After last week’s baraza, several Buzzers have asked that we focus on the Bill of Rights and the changes that it comes with.
Unlike in the current Constitution, where the Bill of Rights only provides for political and civil liberties, the proposed law extends to economic and social rights, essential for a decent standard of living.
It will be the government’s obligation to provide basic needs like food, water, housing and health if the proposed constitution is passed and adopted.
The document says that every person has the right to healthcare services. Furthermore, no person may be refused emergency medical treatment.
The State is also required to institute a programme to implement the right of every child to free and compulsory pre-primary, primary and secondary education and in so doing, shall pay particular attention to children with special needs.
On food, the document says every person has a right to be free from hunger and to adequate food of acceptable quality.
It adds that every person has the right to clean and safe water in adequate quantities.
It also states that every person has the right to accessible and adequate housing and to reasonable standards of sanitation through a housing development fund.
In an attempt to protect citizens, the document gives them the right to go to court.
Citizens have the right to institute proceedings for enforcement of rights.
No fee will be charged for commencement of proceedings to redress rights or fundamental freedoms that have been denied.
Abortion is outlawed and termination of pregnancy can only be allowed under emergencies, where a trained and qualified health professional deems it necessary.
The document says every adult has the right to marry a person of the opposite sex, based on the free consent of the parties. It is shocking when some people allege that the proposed katiba allows gay marriages! Consumers have a right to goods and services of reasonable quality; information necessary for them to gain full benefit from goods and services; protection of their health, safety, and economic interests and compensation for loss or injury arising from defects in goods or services.
An arrested person has the right to be brought before a court as soon as reasonably possible, but not later than 24 hours after being arrested.
A person shall not be remanded in custody for an offence if it is punishable by a fine only or by imprisonment for not more than six months.
Every accused person has the right to a fair trial, which includes the right to have an advocate assigned to the accused person by the State.
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PS: This article first appeared in the Buzz Magazine inside the Sunday Nation on June 13, 2010. Check out the next article coming Sunday and remember to send your questions and suggestions to the address above.