12. 'Absolute' and 'qualified' rights, and competing rights.

An absolute right is one that admits of no exceptions and cannot be derogated from, even in a time of emergency: in other words, it is inviolable1. The guarantee to freedom from torture or inhuman and degrading treatment2 provides an example: it is not accepted that a government could assert that it is justified in committing torture on the grounds that it can increase the general welfare thereby3. Certain rights are termed 'near-absolute' in the sense that they accept only one narrow exception: the right to life4 provides an example5. A qualified right is one that admits of exceptions