My right to the dignity of human person (Introduction)

  • Introduction

Article 1 of the universal declaration of human rights provides that “all human beings are born equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood”. This right prohibits any form of degrading treatment or inhuman treatment of another irrespective of tribe, sex, colour, religion or nationality. Some people derive pleasure in torturing another but learn today that it is unlawful. Some will even scream publicly that “meeeeehn! That guy don fuck up! I go chop him face. I go chuck him eyes”. These attackers are also fellows who detest being hurt or anyone hurting their relatives.

Section 34 of the 1999 Constitution provides:


Every individual is entitled to respect for the dignity of his person, and accordingly –

(a) no person shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment;

(b) no person shall be held in slavery or servitude; and

© no person shall be required to perform forced or compulsory labour


Since the word ‘accordingly’ is used in the section, it implies that sub sections (a), (b), and (c) above are examples of acts that violate right to the dignity of the human person and are not closed. The effect of the word is that acts that constitute degrading treatment or inhuman treatment transcend those listed acts.   

As court once stated;[1] “Any punishment or treatment in incompatible with the evolving standards of decency that mark the progress of a maturing society…. Is repulsive” and qualify as inhuman treatment. What might not be regarded as inhuman treatment years ago may now be the new sensitivities as a result of civilization. Our ‘friends’ who sell thongs like clothes along the road with the habit of always touching sensitive part of women who are passing around in the name of calling their attention to goods, beware as you might be unknowingly committing indecent assault which is a criminal offence.

[1] Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace in Zimbabwe v Attorney General S.C 73/93 14 Hum. Rights L.J 323 (1993)