31 March 2012

Enforcement of rights

A modern constitution of the European federation cannot only determine rights that citizens have claim to but also must determine obligatory character of the rights. One question is to draw up some rights, another question is what place should the rights take in the society. This is what deals this post with.

It is primarily necessary to make sure that human rights become paradoxically not a pretext to oppressing them because many of the discussed rights do not allow anything but put some limitation on human acting. Already the Universal Declaration take it into account in its article 29 whose paragraph 2 is without a change taken over by me as a first provision of my proposal. The letter (a) therefore says that enforcement of the rights given in the constitution can be restricted only for the purpose of preserving the rights of others.

My suggestion of the next letter (b) is in some measure an extension of the previous provision and is taken over again from the Universal Declaration, from its article 30. The mentioned article says that no established right gives anybody a pretext to an action whose purpose should be restriction of another right or freedom enumerated in the constitution.

Some constitutions of the European states admit restriction of basic rights in urgent cases of public jeopardy. I also took it over in the text of the European constitution, in the proposal of the letter (c), but with a number of limitations. The limitations are: the basic rights and freedoms can be restricted only in case of urgent and inevitable need (I explicitly mention hostile invasion and weighty natural disaster as main reasons), they can be restricted only temporarily and in the place of necessity, the limitations must be in the public interest, adequate to the necessity and founded with the law. The previous paragraph (b) ensures that this provision will not be abused for other purposes.

The poet of antique Greece Alcaeus pronounced a thought that man are true walls of a town. And really, we know many examples of towns in the history which had very good walls but yet they fell because their inhabitants had no will to defend them. Also the democratic order will not automatically flourish forever only thanks to rights written in the paper of the constitution if the citizens will not defend the rights. However defence of rights and freedoms of citizens meets sometimes (or often?) not with recognition of politicians or other (latent) ruling strata (as we can see in present Europe, especially as far as the social rights are concerned), therefore the right of the citizens to defend their rights and freedoms guaranteed by the constitution must be also guaranteed by the constitution, for the very reason that the citizens shall be aware of this their right. The article 20, paragraph 4 of the constitution of Germany was a pattern for me and I formulated following it a provision saying that the citizens of the European Union have the right of resistance against everybody who should try to remove or to empty (that is to say to leave only formally) the rights and freedoms written in the constitution of the European Union.

The provisions of the following two paragraphs/letters are solely my thoughts and speak about obligatory character of the rights and freedoms established by the European federal constitution. The first letter (e) enumerates parts of the society of the European Union whose duty is to follow the constitutional rights and freedoms, those are namely all natural persons and legal entities as well as all bodies of the public authority. The paragraph contains also a demand that all shall make an effort towards fulfilling all the rights and freedoms.

The following letter (f) then determines territorial extent of force of the rights and freedoms included in the European federal constitution. The letter says that the rights guaranteed by the federal constitution are in force in all member states of the Union, without any exception which assuming rampant practice of all thinkable exceptions in the present intergovernmental European Union is necessary to emphasize. It determines then force of the rights also for all other territories of the Union because it is impossible to know now whether the (eventual) European federation will have some federal territories without status of a state and for all territories that will temporarily be subordinate to the authority of the European federation. The last regulation is a reaction to doing of the United States of America in their (formally) rented military basis in Cuba where they refuse to grant to the persons there detained the rights that they would (probably) have to grant if they detained them in their own territory. Then the same letter demands observing the rights and freedoms determined by the European federal constitution in all associated states (I wrote about them in this article) as well as in the territories that are under their authority. For if some European states want to be associated to the European federation, they will thus have an opportunity to show that common European values that will without a doubt be heard from them in that situation are not a mere cloak for only economic interests.

The proposal of the last provision of this article, the letter (g), is inspired by a provision of the Swiss constitution and another similar provision of the constitution of Portugal. According to this provision, both the European Union and the states associated to it shall strive that the rights determined by the constitution of the European federation are recognized all over the world. For if citizens of the European federation and its associated states want to take them seriously, they cannot forget about them just behind their frontiers.