n South African Journal of Criminal Justice - Protecting dignity under common law and the Constitution : the significance of in South African criminal law

Volume 27, Issue 3
  • ISSN : 1011-8527
  • E-ISSN: 1996-2118



Implicitly or explicitly, the core of the protection of fundamental human rights can be found in the value of individual dignity - in the sense of the self-worth, uniqueness, identity, autonomy, privacy and freedom of all human beings. This concept of dignity lies at the heart of equal respect for human worth (equality) that underpins all human rights ideologies.A significant facet of the South African Constitution of 1996 is that the Bill of Rights (Chapter 2) explicitly, not just impliedly, respects and protects such human dignity. Furthermore, it is important to bear in mind that the South African concept of dignity, in its constitutional, civil and criminal setting, is not completely comparable with that in the German Basic Law. Under South African law, dignity is of fundamental worth, but it is not inviolable - it can be limited and, as will be seen, for convincing reasons.

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