Bill of rights

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"Bill of Rights" redirects here. For the English law, see Bill of Rights 1689. For the United States constitutional amendments, see United States Bill of Rights.

A bill of rights, sometimes called a declaration of rights, is a list of the most important rights to the citizens of a country. The purpose of these bills is to protect those rights against infringement. The term "bill of rights" originates from England, where it refers to the Bill of Rights enacted by Parliament in 1689, following the Glorious Revolution, asserting the supremacy of Parliament over the monarch, and listing a number of fundamental rights and liberties.

Bills of rights may be entrenched or unentrenched. An entrenched bill of rights cannot be modified or repealed by a country's legislature through normal procedure, instead requiring a supermajority or referendum; often it is part of a country's constitution and therefore subject to special procedures applicable to constitutional amendments. A not entrenched bill of rights is a normal statute law and as such can be modified or repealed by the legislature at will. In practice, not every jurisdiction enforces the protection of the rights articulated in its bill of rights. Although, the Republic of South Africa is the only country in the world which has included the bill of rights in its constitution.

Exceptions in Western democracies[edit]

Australia is the only Western democratic country with neither a constitutional nor federal legislative bill of rights [1][2] to protect its citizens, although there is ongoing debate in many of Australia's states. Former Australian Prime Minister John Howard has argued against a bill of rights for Australia as transferring power from elected politicians (populist politics) to unelected (Constitutional) judges and bureaucrats.[3][4] Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) are the only states and territories to have a human rights bill. Australia decided to list Human Rights Watch’s Australian affiliate, Human Rights Watch Australia, as a Deductible Gift Recipient (DGR) on June 28, 2013.[5] Australia is on the Surveillance list on reporters without borders.

Press freedom in Australia is upheld by convention rather than by constitutional guarantees, except in the state of Victoria, where it is protected under the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities. In 2006, Australia consolidated varying state-level defamation regulations under the Uniform Defamation Laws Reform Act, which allows only individuals, nonprofits, and corporations with fewer than 10 employees to sue over defamation. Although rarely invoked, criminal defamation laws are still on the books in Australia. Civil cases, which are more common, can result in heavy fines. In May 2012, the News Corporation media group was ordered to pay A$325,000 (US$339,000) for an article in the Sunday Telegraph that labeled a former police detective as “corrupt.”[6]

List of bills of rights[edit]


Specifically targeted documents[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^ Anderson, Deb (21 September 2010). "Does Australia need a bill of rights?". The Age (Melbourne). 
  3. ^ "Howard opposes Bill of Rights". PerthNow (The Sunday Times). 2009-08-27. Retrieved 2009-09-14. 
  4. ^ Howard, John (2009-08-27). "2009 Menzies Lecture by John Howard (full text)". The Australian (News Limited). Retrieved 2009-09-14. 
  5. ^
  6. ^ "Australia Freedom of the Press 2013". Freedom House. 

External links[edit]