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THE DECLARATION OF ESSENTIAL LIBERTIES OF MANKIND
The Declaration of Freedom below is a translation of the original Declaration in the Dutch language. It is a translation in the spirit of the original version and not a literal one, considering the subtle differences between the languages and legal traditions.
The Declaration was drawn up in order to respond to how governments are coping with the corona pandemic and how in this context restrictive policies are presently being imposed. But it is important also to acknowledge this not an isolated event. The Declaration must be seen in the wider context of the constructional system today slowly being eroded from the inside. The corona-pandemic only makes it but too visible to everyone how democracy and rule of law are on a slippery slope downwards. The pandemic appears to provide a pretext to enforce policies far beyond the objective of exterminating an infectious disease. Above all it exposes how governments are increasingly disregarding fundamental human and civil rights, also in many other fields of public life. Click here to learn more.
THE DECLARATION | NOVEMBER 2021
Essential liberties – human and civil rights to ensure our lives in dignity – are seriously endangered and disproportionally restricted by our governments today. We do not deny that restricting constitutional rights can serve a legitimate cause – particularly in situations where our survival is at stake. But in situations where such existentialistic threats aren’t present and when less drastic measures at considerably lower social costs and damage can be made to achieve the same objectives, such restrictions are legally and morally reprehensive.
Humanity is facing unprecedented challenges. Constitutional law and tradition, universal human rights charters and international treaties included, are at the foundation of the legal system of every civilized nation in the world. However, we are confronted today with government actions that want to fight off the corona pandemic and for that purpose severly limit constitutional rights. It’s imperative not to lose our moral compass and sense of humanity, and with it our understanding of constitutional values. Therefore, we make an urgent appeal to everyone – policy makers, law enforcement, judiciary, professionals and citizens:
Keep your moral compass, despite of the severity of the policies presently being imposed and your liberties being restricted or suspended. Don’t let it divide our society.
In a democracy under the rule of law people respect each other’s believes and opinions. The Constitution protects minorities with different views and believes without being excluded from public life. Especially the people’s right to demonstrate and protest against government actions is what makes any modern nation a truly free democracy. It is also the last line of defence when people want to express their disagreement or call for change. It is the government’s responsibility to honour that tradition and allow demonstrations to take place in a safely manner.
Violently suppressing protests is not only a contempt of constitutional rights but morally reprehensive as well. Morally reprehensive is also any attempt to marginalise or impede oppositional voices in and outside parliament and to label, stigmatise and ridicule people only because they think differently. By doing so - actively or by condoning - governments are encouraging a social climate of mutual distrust and misunderstanding. In order to prevent social divisions and tensions to grow any further, we strongly advocate a continuation of public debate on the basis of inclusion and mutual respect.
If we fail in doing so, history may well repeat itself. Mutual misunderstanding and social division may well increase beyond the point where they become difficult to bridge. As freedom of movement and social encounter are severely being restricted today, so also is the exchange of different and new views. Therefore it is even more imperative to continue the debate on the basis of respect and dignity, and a good understanding of what the Constitution represents in a society that wants to call itself democratic and under the rule of law. When that is no longer possible we must start to ask ourselves, both from a moral and historical perspective, where we stand on the evolutionary ladder.
We reject and condemn any form of exclusion or separation when people object against state sanctioned interferences with or invasions of their private lives, privacy and physical integrity. Inviolability of the individual is a most sacred and unalienable right. From this perspective we must also protect our children till they have reached an age where they have become autonomous and are able to make their own decisions on the basis of their free will and full understanding.
Let us remember that liberty is an unalienable right of every citizen since the beginning of modern constitutional law and tradition, as also laid down in universal human rights charters and international treaties. We are all born equal and as free men, without being held accountable for how we want to exercise our liberties in our pursuit for happiness.
This brings us to the following five essential principles, not only for evaluating present-day constitutional law and how it is and should be protected, but also to encourage public debate and bridge the differences that are dividing society today:
THE FIVE PRINCIPLES
- Inviolability of the individual is the most sacred and unalienable right of every person. It can only be restricted when serious crimes or offences are committed.
- Restricting constitutional rights should – if necessary – always be temporarily and of a short-term nature, intended to find a most humane solution.
- A Constitutional Court must be established for the purpose of enabling people to challenge the State when unconstitutional actions are made – both from a legal and moral perspective.
- Legal actions from the State may be legally correct but still can be morally flawed or corrupt, also from a historical perspective. This principle should always be taken into consideration.
- Restricting or suspending constitutional and human rights without a legitimate cause and when less drastic measures are feasible is a crime against humanity.
Let’s bear these principles in mind to guard and revive our moral compass and sense of humanity.
We – lawyers and legal professionals – unite in a shared cause and solemnly swear to do everything in our power to defend our constitutional liberties and rights in a morally responsible, dignified and peaceful manner. We also recognize as lawyers that we have a special and sacred responsibility to guard constitutional law and tradition, and to challenge any threat against it.
Stichting De Vrijheidsjurist, Dutch Chamber of Commerce KvK 83991697
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