Legal Human Rights – Versus – Legal Rights

Mr. Kawsu Jadama, Esq

By: Kawsu Jadama, Esq

The question is, in the face of the law, which one of the rights deserve more recognition than the other? Put it differently, which of the rights will be more appealing to the increasing emerging human rights trend than the other, as they are all competing for the same rights space.

Human rights originate in the sphere of ethics, not law. Though, they are ‘ethical pronouncement’ in political connotations. Therefore, it is only by looking at human rights as moral prepositions that we can understand the meaning their creators gave them. Whereas, ‘legal rights’ also originate from moral prepositions that give them acceptance and legitimacy. But, if we look at it closely, most ‘legal rights’ and not just ‘human rights’ originate from moral prepositions before being incorporated into legislation. Once they become legislation or legislated, they are seen as ‘legal rights’ with their moral basis continuing to legitimize them.

What distinguishes ‘Legal Human Rights’ from other ‘Legal Rights’ is that their moral basis is not only seen as legitimizing: it also does not step out of the foreground, and remains their principal aspect. Incorporating or not incorporating them in legal norms is basically seen as respectively giving or dis-respectively not giving them their deserved legitimate place. Therefore, human rights are discussed more as ‘legitimate rights’ than as legal rights.

Coming back to the 20-million-dalasi lawsuit that allegedly involves 5 Senior Secondary Schools: in this alleged crime, the schools are said to be exercising their “Legal Rights”, and on the flip side of the conundrum, the kids/girls are said to be exercising their “Legal Human Rights”. What should be taken into account, is that the notion of “human rights” is not discussed as a fix canon of well-defined rights, but rather as a concept open to innovation.

Notwithstanding, I do not intend to be dragged into the polemic debate of the alleged 5 Schools’ constitutional violation, but rather to look at the issue from your perspective. Of course, the 1997 Constitution clearly prescribes and delineates these inalienable rights: by virtue of Ss. 17 – 33 and 36(5), respectively under Chapter IV – Fundamental Rights and Freedoms – the grundnorm specifically states under S. 33 that, “… laws shall not be discriminatory either of itself or in its effect”. The organic document further establishes its supremacy pursuant to S. 4 by stating that, “This Constitution is the supreme law of The Gambia and any other law found to be inconsistent with any provision of this Constitution SHALL, to the extent of the inconsistency, be void”.

My opinion informs me that Public Policy (PP) would have been one of the most effective tools to control, mitigate, neutralize, relegate any religion bigotry, or intolerance, be Islam or Christianity. The greater the awareness campaign through effective (PP) on prejudice, intolerance, or religion bigotry, the better and wider its cascading effects. Indeed, I have the sanguine assurance that men and nations can be legislated into goodness. And, I think that makes for a very fine last word.

In an unjust society silence is a crime!!!

Kawsu Jadama, Esq.


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