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Download PDF by Claude E., Jr. Welch: Human Rights and Development in Africa

By Claude E., Jr. Welch

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That the right to development has become highly politicized requires little elaboration.

Polygyny was accepted in many, if not most, groups in Africa; European powers, encouraged by missionaries, tried to eliminate this practice, although with indifferent success. Rights existed in the context of the extended family; they were not inherent in individuals, but latent in ascriptive groups. The social context was thus of paramount importance, emphasizing collective or communal Page 16 rights. "The concept of human rights in Africa," according to Chris Mojekwu, "was fundamentally based on ascribed status.

They are designed to preclude arbitrary government intrusion into private affairs. Phraseology tends to be negative, placing limits on official actions. " In other words, an individual is endowed from birth with specific civil and political rights. Even in times of public emergency, many of these cannot be weakened or derogated from, for example, the right to life, freedom from torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, freedom from slavery or servitude, freedom from imprisonment merely on grounds of inability to fulfil a contractual obligation, freedom from retroactive criminal legislation, the right to recognition ''as a person before the law," and freedom of thought, conscience, and religion.

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