Human rights in Africa: 10 rights that matter to you | Africa | DW | 10.12.2018
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Human rights in Africa: 10 rights that matter to you

As the Universal Declaration of Human Rights turns 70, DW asked people in the Gambia, Cameroon and Malawi which human rights matter most to them.

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Antonio Guterres on the 70th Anniversary UN Declaration of Human Rights

70 years ago, on December 10, 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights came into being. The United Nations affirmed their belief in fundamental human rights and the member states pledged that they would respect these. DW asked people in the Gambia, Cameroon and Malawi which human rights matter most to them and how they affect them. Here are the ones they chose: 


Article 1.

All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.

Cameroon resident: "Every human being has a right to equality. It's not really respected because some people are treated as more important than others."

Article 2.

Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration. 

Gambian resident: "Every human being has rights guaranteed by international laws. These rights aren't privileges, but something that each individual has a right to."

Article 3

Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.

Malawi resident: "The right to life is the most important to me. All the others just follow this one. We all exist, we're here in the world, because we are alive. And for us to keep this life thriving, we have to protect it." 

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Article 13.

Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state.  Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.

Cameroon resident: "I believe in freedom of movement and freedom of speech. But nowadays when you talk any how you are in trouble. And then the right to movement. There are some times (curfews) that have been set by the government, not allowing you move at certain times – I hope that things can be resolved."

Article 18.

Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.

Malawi resident: "There is one thing that always comes to my mind, which is the right to worship. As a believer, I believe that one has to respect the god that they worship."

Read more:'Born free and equal in dignity': Human rights at 70

Article 19.

Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

Cameroon resident: "Here in my country freedom of speech is disadvantageous because you're not free to express yourself, the way you want and if you talk contrary to the government, you're locked up."

Malawi resident: "As a girl, I face a lot of challenges. If I'm being harassed and I don't speak out, I won't be able to reach out to others who may be facing the same challenge."

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Article 21.

Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives. The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government.

Gambian resident: "Here in the Gambia, when we talk about civil and political rights, some people don't know their rights. Civil education should be a priority to the government so the people know when it comes to elections why they are voting. How important is your vote? How is it going to affect national development?"

Article 23.

Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favorable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.

Gambian resident: "If you look at the Arab Spring, which started in Tunis, most of the people were not employed. That's the reason one person set himself ablaze and the youths in the country came out to show solidarity."

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Article 25.

Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care.

Cameroon resident: "Everybody has the right to good health. But what I'm observing is that if you have the money you can have good treatment. You should also treat the poor – all of us have the right to good health."

Article 26.

Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages.

Cameroon teacher: "The most touching human right to me is the right to education. Education is the best thing you can give to a child, the thing that will define the child when he or she grows up. If I have to stress something, then access to good education is most important. If you have education that will not be useful, it will not amount to something important to our society."

Chimwemwe Padatha in Malawi, Mimi Mefo in Cameroon and Omar Wally in the Gambia contributed to this article.

Click here for the full Universal Declaration of Human Rights

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