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Human rights worldwide - Statistics and Facts

Human rights are fundamental rights to which a person is entitled as a human being, regardless of ethnicity, age, language, religion, or any other status. Human rights are universal and egalitarian. The most important document in the history of human rights is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in Paris in 1948. It is essential for people within a country that human rights are part of the national constitutional and legal system, as national laws have a more direct impact than international or regional laws. Nevertheless, nations have signed different agreements on an international level to guarantee and protect human rights. In order to be internationally recognized, National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) must adhere to the standards of the Paris Principles, initiated by the UN General Assembly in 1993. Worldwide, the largest number of recognized institutions are located in Europe and Africa.

Right to freedom from slavery

Human Rights violations are a global issue. The areas of concern are numerous and vary from country to country, although some of the most serious violations relate to slavery and the death sentence. Modern slavery has a high prevalence in poorer countries, for instance in Eastern Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. Indeed, North Korea, Eritrea, and Burundi had the highest incidence of people living in modern slavery worldwide in 2018. However, wealthy societies are involved in this phenomenon as well, such as in the forced sexual work industry or in the labor conditions of migrant workers. The right to dignity and freedom from slavery, torture and other ill-treatment is protected by the fifth article of the African Charter, the fourth article of the Human Rights Act, as well as of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Right to a fair trial

Among the decisions issued by the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights and the European Court of Human Rights, the most common concern is the violation of the right to have a fair trial. The right to a fair trial is protected, among others, by the seventh article of the African Charter and by the sixth article of the Human Rights Act. The right to a fair trial is difficult to define internationally, as the procedures change significantly from country to country. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 10, establishes that Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him.

Right to life

The right to life is a fundamental human right, which opposes to death sentence. As mentioned previously, national laws prevail and the death penalty is still implemented in dozens of countries, even to people under 18 years old. Between 1990 and 2020, 152 death sentences of people below the age of 18 at the time the crime was committed were documented worldwide. In 2020, there were death sentences in 54 countries. China, Yemen, and Egypt handed down the most death sentences in 2020, although the actual figures for these countries is thought to be higher than the number recorded.


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