Human rights which are present in the society are those rights which developed in
the society across history often through conflicts and revolutions and every
member of the society has equal right over them. These rights are guaranteed to
everyone from the moment they are born as a human being and it helps them to
grow mentally as well as physically to survive in the society. Various
international laws and conventions are preset which allows every individual to
have access to this basic right. The most fundamental concept of human rights
is to protect the human existence so irrespective of class, occupation or
status everyone is entitled to these basic rights. So what happens to the
law-breakers? Do they cease to be a human being when they commit a crime? No.
Hence their basic human right cannot be denied from them in prison or when they
come back to the society after the prison.
Universal Declaration of Human Rights was devised in 1948 to ensure Human
rights across the world. Infact Article 10 of ICCPR expressly mention that even
“prisoners should be treated with respect for the inherent dignity of human
also states that such humane treatment towards them aims to help them to
succeed towards starting a new life after their prison term, because the main
aim of imprisonment is reformation and social rehabilitation. Apart from that
UN has also laid down various guidelines in the Standard Minimum Rules for the
Treatment of Prisoners2
(SMR) so that when the prisoner returns to the society he can reform himself
into a law-abiding citizen and lead a dignified life.
we observe these collateral consequences faced by the ex offender we can see
that social hatred and disentitlement from various activities cause grave violation
to their basic Human Right. As we all are aware that the Indian Constitution
itself in Article 213
states that everyone has right to personal liberty, and hence no one shall face
any kind of inhumane, degrading and
cruel treatment from anyone. This is one the basic fundamental right which is
not only for the Indian citizen but to every foreign individual as well in the
territory of our country. Apart from
that various provisions of our constitution protects various aspects of Human
Rights as well which are often overlooked for these ex offenders.
an offender is convicted, various details of that offender is collected by the
state like, his fingerprints, photograph, DNA and other personal information. In
this age of technology these criminal records can be made easily available to
everyone making the convict vulnerable even after his release. As per the
Constitution, right to privacy is a fundamental right which is guaranteed to
every citizen under Article 21. But such distribution and access to these
criminal records can be subjected as a violation from the privacy point of
times basic civil rights of an individual such as right to vote, right to
public employment, housing facilities, disentitlement from military post are
denied as a result of conviction. These consequences in denial of human rights
too. For example, shelter is regarded as one of the basic need of human being
and hence recognized as a human right to everyone. But often it is observed
that housing facilities of ex convicts are denied as a result of which not only
the ex-offender but his entire family becomes homeless. Again a very much debated
issue in India is Right to vote. Denial of Right to vote as a result of
conviction can be argued to be a violation of not only Article 326 of Indian
Constitution but also Article 25 of ICCPR.
only this but they are also disentitled from public services and military posts
as a result of conviction, which hampers their livelihood and access to basic
income. Such practices can be regarded as violation of Article 16 (1) of the
Indian Constitutions and Article 21(1) of UDHR which grants right to equal access
to public employment. Ex-offenders are also denied of employment opportunities
in various other fields due to lack of training, technical understanding,
educational qualifications. Also when criminal records are accessed by
employers ex offenders are disqualified from their jobs and discriminated for
being a criminal in his past and often not treated equally in the society. Such
discrimination are violates their rights under Article 14 and 15 of Indian
constitution and Article 7 of UDHR.
person should not be denied his basic human rights just because he has committed
some unlawful act and cannot be treated differently even after his conviction.
A proper balance in the criminal justice system can only be maintained if the
wrong doers are punished in such a way that they can be reformed and be made a
productive part of the society.