An International Bill of Rights?

April 19, 2003
Singapore Democrats

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The University of California has initiated a project to discuss a bill of rights for the international community. Below is a sample of the articles carried in the draft version. For more information about the project and a full list of the articles please visit http://www.ibor.org/index.htm

PREAMBLE

We the people of the international community, the sole source of power for those who govern, based upon our respect for each other, for all nations, for our natural environment and for future generations, agree to live according to the following rights. Our representatives shall maintain judicial systems that will enforce these rights in the courts of every country.

FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS

Article 1 (Universality)
All citizens of every country enjoy the rights set forth in this International Bill of Rights. Every man, woman and child is a person before the law, and these rights apply whether they are in their homeland or any foreign land.

Article 2 (Free Speech)
(1) Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to see, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of borders. No one may be coerced into expressing his or her views and convictions or into renouncing them. The only exception is that the urging of violence against individuals or groups based upon race, religion or sex is impermissible.

(2) Written documents and other forms of information may be distributed within the distance of an outstretched arm from one person to another. This right to hand out information shall apply to any public place as well as private property where the public has been openly invited such as a shopping center or marketplace.

(3) The freedom of the mass media shall be guaranteed. The dissemination of information, including broadcasts, may not be pre-empted without a court order finding that the information presents a serious threat to national security and an immediate serious danger to the lives of citizens, or that the information urges violence against individuals or groups based upon race, religion or sex .

Article 3 (Freedom of Association)
Everyone shall have the right to freedom of association, including the right, in small groups or large ones, to gather peacefully, without weapons, and to hold meetings, rallies, demonstrations, marches and pickets. This right shall apply to government property open to the public, even if the property is only temporarily open for a public event, and to private property where the public has been openly invited such as a shopping center or marketplace.

Article 4 (Petition)
Everyone shall have the right to submit petitions in writing to government authorities or private business entities. Government bodies or officials must respond in writing to such petitions within a reasonable period of time.

Article 5 (Freedom of Religion)
Everyone has the right of freedom of religion and to choose his or her own religious beliefs. No person may be prosecuted or discriminated against simply for holding a certain belief. The government shall not use public taxes to fund any religious activities or organizations, but religious organizations shall not be taxed. No governmental organization shall establish a particular religion.

Article 6 (Equality)
Everyone is equal before the law. Men and women have equal rights and share the right to human dignity. Women enjoy an equal right to the same wage for the same work as men. Everyone is entitled to equal protection under law, and nobody shall be prejudiced or favored because of his or her birth, race, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, pregnancy, age, color, disability, wealth, language, national origin, faith, religion or political opinion. To promote the achievement of equality, legislative and other measures designed to protect or advance persons, or categories of persons, disadvantaged by past unfair discrimination may be taken.

Article 7 (Representation)
(1) All power to govern emanates from the people through their choice of representatives and not from military position, caste, hereditary or any other non-elective title or position. Every citizen may seek elective office and non-incumbent candidates must be given a fair opportunity to compete with those who are presently in office. No elected representative shall serve more than twelve consecutive years in the same position. Only individuals, not corporations or other entities, shall be allowed to contribute money or other assets to candidates or ballot measures, but individuals may combine to contribute as a group. The total annual contribution by any individual, whether it is to one candidate or divided among several candidates and ballot measures, shall not exceed 30% of the median income for the country in which the election is taking place.

(2) Candidates for national or state legislative or executive positions shall be given adequate free time on television and other media to promote a well informed electorate and reduce the need for candidates to raise large amounts of money to communicate with voters. A minimum of 20 hours of free national broadcast time and 10 hours of state broadcast time, during times of large viewing audiences, shall be reserved for the 60 day period prior to the election. The allocation of such time shall be defined by law, but shall include any candidate able to show support of 5% or greater.

Article 8 (Voting)
(1) Everyone, regardless of sex, race, religion or any other classification, is entitled to a representative form of government. All people eighteen years or older shall have the right to vote in a secret ballot for their representatives. Each vote shall be given equal weight and each voter shall be able to vote directly for any representative who represents them. Voting districts shall be established so that representatives in the same body of government represent approximately the equivalent number of people. No tax may be placed upon the right to vote, nor shall any test or property be required to be eligible to vote. Voting shall be made easily accessible to all, including the ability to vote from home by mail or the Internet when possible. Elections for national office shall take place over a minimum of two days. Workers have the right to leave work to vote in state-wide or national elections without a reduction in pay.

(2) Registration to vote shall be automatic through the use of driver’s license information or another method of equally broad or broader identification. No citizen who has legally resided in one place within a country for 30 days shall be denied the right to vote at that location. Everyone has the responsibility to participate in the governance of his or her society and, at a minimum, to cast a ballot during elections for state-wide and national office. Repeated failure to cast a ballot may result in the loss of privileges. The ballot submitted may be blank or partially completed.

Article 14 (Labor)
Everyone has the right to choose his or her occupation or profession and place of work. Everyone also has the right to form and join a union and to participate in the activities and programs of a trade union, including the right to strike and collective bargaining. The right to strike may be limited only in a national emergency and then, only temporarily. Everyone is entitled to a living minimum wage and to financial assistance in the case of old age or the inability to work, as defined by law. Everyone receiving financial assistance also has the responsibility to work to the best of his or her physical and mental abilities.

Article 15 (Fair Procedures)
Everyone is entitled to fair procedures to safeguard his or her rights. No one may be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law. Administrative and judicial actions must be lawful and procedurally fair. Everyone whose rights have been adversely affected by administrative or judicial action has the right to be given written reasons, including the applicable law relied upon by the decision maker. All judicial appellate rulings shall be published in writing and placed on the Internet so that they are freely available to all.

Article 16 (Independent Judiciary)
(1) In addition to the people themselves, judges are the guardians of these rights. Judges must be independent and impartial at all times. No person shall give nor shall any judge receive any money, gift or service other than the judge’s official salary. No party to a case, nor any person acting on their behalf, may speak to a judge about a case without the presence of, or at least knowledge of, the other party. Politicians, their agents, or other third parties also may not contact a judge regarding a pending matter. Any judge found to have improperly received money, gifts or services shall lose his or her judicial position, return to the public treasury that which was wrongly accepted and serve time in jail, as defined by law. Judicial independence requires financial independence and no judge shall earn less than four times the national median income.

(2) Recognizing that the rule of law in each country benefits the citizens and companies of all countries, each country, based on ability to pay, shall contribute at least .01% but not more than .03% of its gross national product into an international fund for the use and support of judicial facilities and salaries internationally, including the Court described in articles 32-40.

Article 17 (Search and Seizure)
Every one is protected from unreasonable searches and seizures of their person, home and belongings. Searches and seizures must be authorized by a court based upon written documents submitted before the search or seizure is approved.

Article 18 (Arrest)
(1) No person shall be arrested or imprisoned without a judicial warrant stating the reasons. Such warrant must be served upon him or her at the moment of arrest or imprisonment unless the person is arrested during or shortly after the commission of a crime and there is evidence linking them to the crime. Everyone shall be informed at the time of the arrest or detention of the right to consult a lawyer without delay and to use adequate facilities to prepare a defense.

(2) Everyone shall have the right to be publicly charged in a courtroom open to the public, including the news media, and to have the validity of the arrest or detention determined within 72 hours. He or she shall be released if the arrest or detention is not lawful. If the defendant insists, trial shall commence not more than 6 months from the date of arrest. Provided that a defendant can show that there is no genuine risk that he or she will not appear at trial, the defendant shall be released pending trial unless it can be shown that they are a danger to others.

Article 19 (Fair Trial)
(1) Everyone who is charged with any criminal offense has the right to a fair public hearing by an independent and impartial court and counsel to represent them. Everyone charged has the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty according to law and everyone shall have the right to a trial by jury of not less than six of his or her fellow citizens when the penalty for the offense could be imprisonment for more than 3 months. A jury decision to convict shall be unanimous.

(2) Everyone accused of a crime has the right not to be compelled to be a witness or to confess guilt as well as the right to be present at the trial, to be heard, and to present a defense including the right to examine the witnesses for the prosecution and to obtain the attendance and examination of witnesses for the defense under the same conditions as the prosecution.

(3) Everyone accused of a crime shall have the right to have the free assistance of an interpreter if he or she cannot understand or speak the language used in court. No one shall be convicted of any offense for any act or omission which did not constitute an offense under the law at the time it occurred. If convicted of an offense, everyone has the right to appeal to a higher court. No one who has been finally acquitted, convicted of, or pardoned for an offense shall be tried or punished for it again; nor may punishment be more severe than punishment in force at the time the crime was committed.

Article 26 (Privacy)
Everyone shall have the right to privacy in his or her home, hotel room, or yard, or automobile. This right includes all communications between people, in public or private, that they intend to keep confidential. Eavesdropping is forbidden without a court order as part of a criminal investigation.

Article 27 (Information)
Everyone has a right to access, obtain, and correct information collected about them by the government, or by any private individual or company for a commercial purpose, unless such information is part of a criminal investigation or prosecution.

Article 28 (Intellectual Property)
Everyone has the right to engage in cultural, artistic and scientific fields and to benefit therefrom. Authors have exclusive international rights to use, publish or reproduce their works. Applications for patents shall be simple, easily understood, translated into all languages spoken by one million or more people and posted on the Internet. The cost of applying for and establishing a patent or copyright shall be minimal, with related administrative costs born by all countries based upon gross national product. Patents and copyrights are protected and recognized by all people and all nations. Any person or company whose work is misused is entitled to damages.

Article 29 (Habeas Corpus)
Everyone in custody has the right to a public hearing before a court if he or she makes a claim of being held in violation of this International Bill of Rights, even if he or she has been convicted pursuant to court processes. All possibilities for appeal within the country in which the person is held must be exhausted before this right can be exercised

Article 30 (Responsibility for Violation of Rights)
Any private individual or company, or public official, agent or employee of the government, who violates the rights of another is responsible to pay damages, including attorneys fees and costs, to the person whose rights have been violated. All government bodies are liable under civil law for actions or omissions made by government officials, agents or employees in the exercise of their functions which result in violations of the rights set forth herein.

Article 31 (Trial for Violation of Rights)
Any person that claims a violation of this International Bill of Rights by government officials, agents, or employees or any private individual or company, shall have a right to trial by a jury of at least six of his or her fellow citizens. The jury shall decide liability and damages and need not be unanimous.

THE JUDICIARY
Article 32 (Composition of the Court)
The European Court of Human Rights shall be expanded to become the International Court of Human Rights. The Court shall be comprised of 35 judges which shall consider claims brought under this International Bill of Rights. The nomination of judges shall be made by any country that is a member of the United Nations, and judges shall be appointed by an absolute majority vote of the General Assembly and the Security Council for the United Nations. Consideration shall be given to broad geographical distribution with representation from each continent and no more than one judge from a particular country.

Article 33 (Location of the Court)
The International Court of Human Rights shall be located in Strasbourg, France. The Court shall have an annual calendar with all cases decided by written opinion within the same annual session in which they are considered. Cases are heard by chambers of seven judges, randomly selected, with a right of review of a chamber’s decision by the full Court if 18 judges agree. Hearings of the panels shall take place in regional courts with all cases heard on the continent from which the case arose. Hearings of the full Court shall take place at Strasbourg unless two-thirds of the judges of the Court decide that a full hearing is appropriate elsewhere.

Article 34 (Terms of Service for Justices)
The judges’ terms for the International Court of Human Rights shall be 12 years, with eleven or twelve judgeships to be filled every four years. No judge may serve more than one term. Once 35 judges have initially been appointed, a random drawing will be made to determine who will initially serve four, eight, or twelve years for his or her first term. Judges with only four year initial terms may serve two terms.

Article 35 (Application in all Countries)
The rights included in this International Bill of Rights may be raised before the courts of all countries. The courts in each country with jurisdiction to consider claims brought under the Constitution of that country shall also consider claims brought under the International Bill of Rights.

Article 36 (Claims First Brought in Country of Origin)
Cases shall be brought through the established domestic court system for the country where the claim arose. Any person shall have standing to bring any claim on behalf of themselves or others, if they allege that there has been a violation of this International Bill of Rights. No claim of a violation may be brought before the International Court of Justice until the claim has first been brought in the domestic courts of the country in which the claim originates. Appeal must be made to the highest domestic appellate court that exists before review will be made by the International Court of Human Rights. Exceptions may be made upon a strong and convincing showing that redress from the domestic court is impracticable.

Article 37 (Supremacy of Rights and Responsibilities)
This International Bill of Rights establishes a minimum standard to which all people are entitled. These rights are superior to any law that conflicts with them. The Courts of all countries shall uphold the International Bill of Rights and shall declare as illegal any law, other legal act, or procedure that violates the rights stated herein. Any country may enact a law or interpret its own Constitution to provide for rights greater than those guaranteed by this document.

Article 38 (Decision Making)
The International Court of Human Rights shall set its own procedures for the consideration of cases. There is no automatic right of appeal before the Court. The Court shall select the cases it hears through meetings in closed session wherein 18 of the 35 judges agree the case should be heard. Once a case has been selected, oral argument shall be the norm and a written decision by the majority shall be published in an official reporter. Dissenting opinions shall also be published and each judge may write separately or join in an opinion by a group. All judges shall be assisted by at least four law clerks selected by the judge, three of whom shall be from countries other than the judge’s home country.

Article 39 (Enforcement of Decisions)
Decisions of the International Court of Human Rights are enforceable through the domestic courts from which the case arose. Failure to comply with the decisions of the Court may result in expulsion from the United Nations and other measures as provided for in the United Nations Charter