The right toProtection for the Privacy of the Home and other Property
This fundamental right is essential to the happy existence of every citizen in a country. It provides the independence and human dignity which every person is entitled to. This right means we are allowed to decide who we want to let into our homes and how we wish to interact with them without fear of interference by the police or anyone else.
In the privacy of our home we have the right to enjoy our family life, our home as we see fit, our correspondence such as letters, telephone calls, emails, etc and any other possessions which cannot be interfered with. In our homes we are free from the judgment of the government and others, we are free to think without discrimination and we are in control over who knows what about us.
Our right to privacy in our home has become even more important today especially in a time when there is even greater access to our information than ever before. Companies and governments have greater access through our use of the internet and our smartphones to our data and conversations. They can know who we talk to and about what. They can know what we search for on the internet and the things we like the best and as a result we could be targeted by companies and governments based on all what they now know about us. This very important right protects us from interference and attacks.
Are there limitations on this right?
There are situations when the government or other public authority can interfere with your right to peacefully enjoy your home, family life and your communications. This will only be allowed where the authority can show that it is lawful, necessary and proportionate that they do so in order:
- To protect national security
- To protect public safety
- To protect the economy
- To protect health or morals
- Prevent disorder or crime
- Protect the rights and freedoms of others
It would be lawful for the authorities, with the proper permission to monitor the telephone calls and emails of someone in their home if they were suspected of planning a terrorist attack in Vanuatu or if someone was using their home to traffic girls and women in the illegal sex trade which would be against the morals of the country and to protect the rights and freedoms of those women.
The right to Protection from unjust deprivation of property
This right means that no public authority or government can take your property or place limitations on your use of your property without good reason.
Property means not just land and house but can include objects or things you own, money, shares in a company, pensions, etc.
Are there limitations on this right?
There are situations where public authorities can take things you own or limit the way you use them. The authority can only do this though if they can show that it is lawful and necessary for the public good. If your property is taken away you have the right to be compensated for it according to its value. If a government or other public authority wants to take your property to use they must be able to show that the interest of the public outweighs your right to keep that property.
If a public authority wishes to exercise their right to take your property to build a road for example, they must first show that they have the right permission in place that allows them to build this road. After that they must show that they have a process in place to check that they have properly weighed the public interest to build this road and the individual’s right to their land. One of the main considerations in any process to show that a fair balance has been struck between the right to take the property and the person’s right to keep the property is whether there is the availability of compensation which adequately reflects the value of the property being taken.
Next week our final article on protection of and equal treatment before the law will conclude our series on Know Your Rights.
DISCLAIMER – This is a legal column to provide basic information on the law and court procedure. It is not to be used as a substitute for legal advice but to be used only as a starting point in understanding what you might need and what you might need to do.
FOR BISLAMA VERSIONS OF OUR ARTICLES, VISIT OUR WEBSITE WWW.PAWTHELAW.INFO.