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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 An entrenched bill of rights cannot be modified or repealed by a country's legislature through normal procedure, instead requiring a supermajority or referendum; often it is part of a country's constitution and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 A not entrenched bill of rights is a normal statute law and as such can be modified or repealed by the legislature at will.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. ^ http://www.wesleymission.org.au/archives/suter/080718.asp
  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. ^ http://www.hrw.org/news/2013/06/30/human-rights-watch-open-australia
  6. ^ "Australia Freedom of the Press 2013". Freedom House. 

External links[edit]

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Wed, 30 Jul 2014 17:22:30 -0700

NEW YORK -- The state Education Department has produced a last-minute, preliminary "parents' bill of rights" on the use and security of student data – hours before a legally imposed deadline to do so. Ken Wagner, deputy education commissioner, sent an ...


Washington Post (blog)
Fri, 08 Aug 2014 07:03:45 -0700

Mike Ross, a former U.S. congressman and current Democratic candidate for Arkansas governor, announced a “senior bill of rights” Thursday, promising a set of policies for senior citizens if he's elected. The proposal lists seven priority areas ranging ...
Fri, 15 Aug 2014 22:07:46 -0700

It seems pretty apparent that the police involved in Ferguson were either lacking common sense or were purposely trying to escalate the tensions there. To show up like a military brigade with tanks and automatic rifles pointing directly at the ...
San Francisco Chronicle
Thu, 14 Aug 2014 05:56:15 -0700

Phil Scordelis suggests that the San Francisco Board of Supervisors enact a Diners' Bill of Rights. In his version of this legislation, if the eatery doesn't seat you within 30 minutes of the reservation time, the drinks you consume while waiting are ...


Sun, 17 Aug 2014 23:11:15 -0700

Did you know that as a taxpayer you have rights? Just as the Constitution protects the rights of its citizens, taxpayers also have rights that must be protected by the IRS. Most taxpayers believe that they do not have any rights when it comes to ...
State Journal
Tue, 12 Aug 2014 03:07:30 -0700

And for those who still care about trying to keep the U.S. Constitution intact, we can see that these domestic spying and surveillance programs are clear and complete violations of the 4th Amendment to the Bill of Rights. “Illegal searches and seizures ...
Mon, 11 Aug 2014 06:07:44 -0700

The Italian government is working on a 'bill of rights' for the internet, which could serve as the foundation for a model defining web users' rights and obligations, potentially not just in Italy but throughout the continent. An ad hoc committee ...
Tue, 19 Aug 2014 09:42:53 -0700

The World Wide Web is officially a quarter of a century old, and it's safe to say that the world we know today would be dramatically different without Tim Berners-Lee's invention. In its short lifespan of 25 years, we've seen the dot-com boom, and thus ...

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