Major: International Economic Relations
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Civil Rights Overseas
Civil rights (or civil liberties) are the personal rights of the individual citizen, in most countries upheld by law. It covers all aspects of life, from registration of residency, rule of law and regulations concerning identification cards to personal privacy, freedom of expression and religion.
The degree of civil liberties and freedom you have as a visitor abroad depends on what you are planning to do.
The USA is governed by the rule of law; this means that the law is supreme. It must be obeyed by all, from the ordinary citizen to the president. The Constitution of America guarantees administrative due process to everybody in the country, including foreign nationalities. So, every person is competent to the orderly, specific procedures that establish the administration, enactment and enforcement of the laws. It is forbidden to punish any individual, until all procedures are followed.
The constitution provides everybody with equal protection under the law. In other words, the law applies the same to all people, no matter what is their position, wealth or status. Still, there are some laws that are employed only to certain segments of the population due to obvious reasons. These are such laws as the law regarding voting, citizenship or immigration law. In all other cases, foreign nationals are subject to the same laws as American citizens.
Foreigners have the same civil rights as Americans. The most important, foreigners have the freedom of speech – the right to express their view freely, so long as it is done in an orderly and peaceful manner.
As foreigners have the same rights and as a result the same limitations on freedom of action as American citizens do.
Foreigners are guaranteed the protection against improper investigations or conviction of any violation of law. Nobody may be forced to confess in committing a crime. It is allowed to remain silence. Everybody has a right to have a lawyer defend in the court and if the person can not afford to pay for the lawyer the court will appoint one for him. The defendant must not prove his innocent, whereas the prosecution has to prove his guilt.
Foreigners have the right to be released from jail upon the position of a bond.
Non-criminal public actions, like the paying of bills or the drawing up of contracts are governed by civil laws. There are oral and written contracts. For example, many students enter into a contract for a lease of an apartment. In case any party breaks the conditions of a contract, the injured party has a right to bring charges in court to make to recover damage.
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