As a citizen of our country, we know our rights and freedoms, but as a citizen of the EU are we aware of our rights?

Europa United contributor, Divine Gonsalves, introduces you to the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, which is a single document containing all the rights and freedoms of a citizen protected by the EU and it is legally binding. It contains six headings, but just an early warning, it is elaborate. This is part one of a three part series that will run consecutively over the next few days.

Persons mentioned here are referred to as the citizens of the EU unless otherwise indicated. So let’s get started.

DIGNITY

ARTICLE 1 – HUMAN DIGNITY

This goes without saying. Every person has dignity and they should be respected and protected.

ARTICLE 2- RIGHT TO LIFE
This Article states that no one shall be condemned to the death penalty or be executed.

ARTICLE 3- RIGHT TO THE INTEGRITY OF THE PERSON
We have the right to respect our physical and mental integrity. But, in the world of medicine, we do need to follow certain things such as:

  1. The person undergoing medical procedures is doing it with their own free will and have given consent; this procedure should comply with the law.
  2. Eugenic practices are prohibited; meaning that, genetic selection is not allowed for obvious reasons.
  3. No one shall make the human body or any of its parts as a source of financial gain.
  4. Reproductive cloning of humans is prohibited.

ARTICLE 4- PROHIBITION OF TORTURE AND INHUMAN OR DEGRADING TREATMENT OR PUNISHMENT
This is exactly as what the Article states. Nobody should be ill-treated, degraded, tortured, or punished. This means that capital punishment is not tolerated within the EU, regardless of the crime. The first EU nation to abolish capital punishment was Portugal.

Europe as a whole has abolished capital punishment, that means no death penalty; for the exception of Belarus that has carried out executions in 2016.

ARTICLE 5- PROHIBITION OF SLAVERY AND FORCED LABOUR
No person should be owned and/or sold by another this is also human trafficking and it prohibited under this Article.
As humans, we have our own free will and thus should not be forced into anything we are not interested in, this includes labour.

charter

The charter and how it applies

FREEDOMS

ARTICLE 6-RIGHT TO LIBERTY AND SECURITY
No one should be denied their right to liberty and security, something that has been long fought for.

ARTICLE 7- RESPECT FOR PRIVATE AND FAMILY LIFE
We require our privacy and this should be respected, this also includes anything to do with our family life.

ARTICLE 8- PROTECTION OF PERSONAL DATA
Like we require our privacy, in the virtual world we too require it, and hence we have the right to protection of our personal data. We also have the right to access the data that is collected from us. But of course, compliance with this is subject to control by an independent authority.

ARTICLE 9- RIGHT TO MARRY AND RIGHT TO FOUND A FAMILY
The right to marry and start a family is guaranteed in accordance with the national laws that govern these rights.

ARTICLE 10- FREEDOM OF THOUGHT, CONSCIENCE AND RELIGION
Thoughts and conscience are something that can never be taken away from us, and we have the freedom to think as we like, this includes practising and changing religion alone or with others.

ARTICLE 11- FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION AND INFORMATION
Besides our thoughts, our freedom of expression is important as well. We have the right to have our own opinions and to impart or receive information without objection by the public. We all despise the media to a certain extent, yes I’m saying this whilst I’m typing away on a media platform, but this is my freedom. Also, the freedom and pluralism of the media should be respected.

ARTICLE 12- FREEDOM OF ASSEMBLY AND ASSOCIATION
We have the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and to freedom of association at all levels be it political too!

ARTICLE 13- FREEDOM OF ARTS AND SCIENCES
Research in these fields can be done with no restrictions, and since these are part of academics it must be respected; this brings us to the next Article, the Right to Education.

ARTICLE 14- RIGHT TO EDUCATION
Regardless of age and gender, we have the right to education and even continue training. This right includes receiving free compulsory education. This also includes the freedom to found an educational establishment but with respect for democratic principles, the right of parents to teach their children and in accordance with the governing national law.

ARTICLE 15- FREEDOM TO CHOOSE AN OCCUPATION AND RIGHT TO ENGAGE IN WORK
As mentioned earlier, we have the freedom of thoughts and our thoughts are decisions sometimes, so we have the freedom to choose in any occupation we like and engage in work we like. This includes seeking and providing jobs not only in their own countries but as well as other member states of the EU.
This right is extended to non-EU members too.

ARTICLE 16- FREEDOM TO CONDUCT A BUSINESS
One may conduct a business but must be in accordance with the Union’s and nation’s law and the practices must be recognised.

ARTICLE 17- RIGHT TO PROPERTY
We have the right to use or sell our property and as for intellectual property, this shall be protected.

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ARTICLE 18- RIGHT TO ASYLUM
Under the Geneva Convention of 1951, the Protocol of 1967, and the Treaties of the EU which mention the status of refugees, the right to asylum will be guaranteed.

ARTICLE 19- PROTECTION IN THE EVENT OF REMOVAL, EXPULSION OR EXTRADITION
Collective expulsion is prohibited and no one shall be removed, expelled, or extradited to a State where there would be a risk of capital punishment, torture, and degrading treatment.

Part two will focus on equality, solidarity and citizens rights.

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