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Equal Treatment

Human Rights

  • “Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty.” United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 2

  • “All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination.” United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 7.

  • “Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family. They are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution. Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses. The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.” United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 16

All people have a right to fair and equal treatment regardless of race, ethnic identity, national origin, religious affiliation or non-affiliation, gender identity or sexual orientation, or (non-violent) political viewpoint. Bigotry and discrimination of all kinds must be rejected and renounced by governments, groups, and individuals.  Systematic discrimination supported by governments or imposed by secular or religious societies on others are reprehensible.

Human rights and constitutional law guarantee equal treatment free from discrimination. They do not guarantee equality of outcome, which is predicated on effort and conduct. Equality of outcomes has never been achieved by any human society. Heavy-handed attempts to impose such outcomes have only created new forms of oppression and inequality.  However, cultural sensitivity and accommodations, linguistic assistance, consideration of individual circumstances, and other measures are necessary for treatment of different groups and individuals to be truly equal and just.

The duty of the government to ensure equal treatment under the law is a fundamental principle of justice and democracy, enshrined in various international human rights instruments and national constitutions. This principle requires that all individuals are treated equally and fairly by the legal system, without discrimination on any grounds. Key aspects of this duty include the following:

  1. Non-Discrimination: Governments must ensure that laws, policies, and practices do not discriminate against individuals on the basis of race, gender, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability, age, or other statuses. Equality before the law means that everyone, regardless of their background or identity, is entitled to the same legal protections and due process.

  2. Equal Protection: Legal frameworks should offer equal protection to all citizens. This includes equal access to justice, fair treatment in judicial proceedings, and protection of their rights and liberties.

  3. Impartiality in Law Enforcement: Law enforcement officials, including police, prosecutors, and judges, must carry out their duties impartially and without bias. They should enforce laws consistently and treat all individuals fairly, regardless of their identity or social status.

  4. Accessibility to Justice: Equal treatment under the law also implies that legal mechanisms and remedies should be accessible to all. This includes providing legal aid to those who cannot afford it and ensuring that the legal system is understandable and accessible to people regardless of their educational or socio-economic background.

  5. Legislative Measures: Governments have a responsibility to enact and enforce laws that explicitly prohibit discrimination and promote equality. This includes reviewing and amending existing laws that may perpetuate inequality or discrimination.

  6. Public Services and Administration: In the delivery of public services and administration of government programs, equal treatment is crucial. Governments must ensure that all citizens have equal access to public services like education, healthcare, and social welfare without discrimination.

  7. Addressing Systemic Inequalities: Beyond individual cases, governments should address systemic inequalities in society. This involves implementing policies and programs that tackle structural barriers and help marginalized or disadvantaged groups.

  8. International Standards: Governments should adhere to international standards and obligations related to non-discrimination and equality, as outlined in treaties like the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

  9. Education and Awareness: Promoting equality under the law also involves educating the public and government officials about non-discrimination and equality principles. This helps in building a culture of respect and equality.

  10. Monitoring and Accountability: Governments should establish mechanisms to monitor compliance with equality principles and hold those who violate them accountable. This includes providing avenues for individuals to report discrimination and seek redress.

The duty of the government for equal treatment under the law is not only about enacting non-discriminatory laws but also about ensuring that these laws are implemented fairly and impartially and are accessible to all. This principle is essential for the protection of human rights, the maintenance of justice, and the preservation of democracy.

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