There are certain human rights that are inherent to every person irrespective of their sex, ethnicity, and religious affiliation. However, there are limitations to these rights if they directly affect other people negatively.
According to United Nations, human rights are rights that all human beings ought to enjoy regardless of race, sex, nationality, ethnicity, language, religion, or any other status and are inherent. Examples of fundamental human rights include the right to life and liberty, freedom from slavery and torture, freedom of opinion and expression, the right to work and education, and many more.
There are limitations to human rights and these are there in order to strike a balance between the right of an individual and the collective rights of the society. To avoid disorderliness in society, human rights must not be absolute.
It is within the confine of the law that a person must enjoy fundamental freedoms, however, when it comes to the health, peace, general order, and morals of the society, state authorities may subject this right to such reasonable conditions.
Limitations of Human Rights
Right to Movement or Association
This is the right to move and associate with people around. However, a person suffering from an infectious disease may be restricted by being isolated from other persons or being quarantined. The reason for this limitation is the bigger picture the state authorities are looking which is the overall good of the society. A person who is denied of this right should not see it as wickedness on the part of the government; rather see it as a means to curtail the spread of the disease. Globally, during the recent pandemic, most countries were locked down and enforce their people to sit at home in order to curtail the widespread of the virus.
Right to Life
This means that nobody, not even the Government, can terminate your life. It also means the Government has the responsibility to safeguard your life by making laws to protect you. However, a citizen’s right to life may be denied if he is condemned to death by the law court as a result of murder, armed robbery, and other forms of crime whose penalty is death.
Right to Freedom of Movement
This is the right to move freely within a country for those who are citizens. It is also the right to leave any country and the right to enter a country of which you are a citizen. However, there are limitations to this right. For instance, when the government declares a curfew during an emergency or chaos, the right of freedom of movement may be restricted. Also, the court can restrict the movement of a citizen if he/she has a case pending in court.
Right to a Fair Hearing
This is fundamental to the rule of law and democracy. Everyone is entitled to a fair and public hearing by a legally constituted competent and impartial judicial body i.e. he/she has a right to be heard and to respond to allegations made against him/her. However, this cannot be exercised beyond the highest court which is the Supreme Court in Nigeria.
Right of Freedom of Speech
This is a freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers. However, freedom of speech is not absolute, and that protection of free speech does not extend to situations in which one’s speech impinges upon the legal interests and rights of other citizens and of society. This means printing any false, scandalous, or malicious writing against other citizens is not allowed. Also, any speech that endangers the unification, sovereignty, and territorial integrity of a country is restricted.
Right to Private Property
This means that everyone has the right to own property alone as well as in association with others. However, this right may be restricted by the right of the state to compulsorily acquire private property for public use.
In conclusion, the limitations to human rights are needed to avoid any right to be absolute. Because the overall good of the society must be above individual rights.