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Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen 1789.
Decreed by the National Assembly, 20, 21, 23, Z4 8 26 August 1789, approved by the King.
The representatives of the French People, constituted in a National Assembly, considering that ignorance, forgetfulness and disrespect for the rights of man are the sole cause of public misfortune and the corruption of governments, have decided to set out, in a solemn declaration, the natural, sacred and inalienable rights of man; such that this declaration, constantly present in the minds of the members of the body politic, will remind them continually of their rights and powers; such that the acts of the legislative and executive powers, being subject at any instant to comparison with the aim of any political institution, will be better respected; such that the demands of citizens, henceforth based on simple and indisputable principles, shall always contribute to the maintainance of the constitution and to the happiness of all. Consequently, the national assembly recognizes and declares, in the presence and under the auspices of the Supreme Being, the following rights of man and citizen.
Men are born and remain free and equal in their rights; social distinctions can only be based on the common interest.
The aim of any political association is to preserve the natural and inalienable rights of man the right to liberty, property, security and resistance to oppression.
The principle of all sovereignty resides essentially in the nation; no body, no individual may exert authority which does not expressly emanate from the nation.
Liberty consists of being able to do everything which does not harm others. The exercise of the natural rights of each individual has no limits other than those which guarantee the exercise of these same rights to the other members of society; these limits can only be determined by the law.
The law may only prohibit actions which are harmful to society. Anything which is not prohibited by the law may not be prevented and nobody may be obliged to do what is not imposed by the law.
The law is the expression of the general will; all citizens have the right to contribute personally, or through their representatives, to the making of laws. The law must be the same for all, whether it protects or punishes. Since all citizens are equal in the eyes of the law, all are equally eligible for all dignities, positions and public employment, according to their capacities and without distinctions other than their virtues and talents.
No man may be charged, arrested or detained except in those cases defined by the law, and in the manner prescribed by it. Those who solicit, convey, carry out or cause to be carried out arbitrary orders must be punished; but any citizen who is summoned or held by virtue of the law must obey instantly; he will be guilty if he resists.
The law may establish only strictly and evidently necessary punishments. Nobody may be punished except by virtue of a law established and promulgated prior to the crime and which has been legally applied.
Since any man is presumed innocent until he be found guilty, if his arrest is deemed to be indispensable, any rigour which is not necessary in order to detain him will be severely punished by the law.
Nobody shall be troubled because of his opinions, even religious, provided the expression of them does not disturb public order as this is defined by the law.
The free communication of thoughts and opinions is one of the must precious rights of man; any citizen may therefore speak, write and print freely, but is responsible for any abuse of this liberty in the cases provided for by the law.
To guarantee the rights of man and the citizen, a public force of order is necessary; this force is set up for the benefit. of all and not for the particular use of those in charge of it.
To maintain the public force of order, and to cover administrative expenses, a common contribution is necessary; this shall be equally divided amongst the citizens, according to their means.
Citizens have the right to verify for themselves, or through their representatives, the necessity of the public contribution; to freely give their consent to it and follow its use; to determine its amount, the revenue on which it is based, the means of collection and the duration of the tax.
All public officers are accountable to society for their administration.
Any society in which rights are not guaranteed, or in which the separation of powers is not defined, has no constitution.
Since property is an inviolable and sacred right, nobody may be deprived of it, except when public necessity, legally established, clearly requires it, and on condition a just compensation be paid in advance.