Human Rights

Anyone who is in the UK for any reason has fundamental human rights which government and public authorities are legally obliged to respect. These became law as part of the Human Rights Act 1998.

You can download the Human Rights Act from here

Human Rights Act

The Human Rights Act 1998 gives further legal effect in the UK to the fundamental rights and freedoms contained in the European Convention on Human Rights. These rights not only impact matters of life and death, they also affect the rights you have in your everyday life: what you can say and do, your beliefs, your right to a fair trial and other similar basic entitlements.

The act lets you defend your rights in UK courts and compels public organisations to treat everyone equally, with fairness, dignity and respect.

Most rights have limits to ensure that they do not unfairly damage other people’s rights. However, certain rights – such as the right not to be tortured – can never be limited by a court or anybody else.

You have the responsibility to respect other people’s rights, and they must respect yours.

What are your Human Rights?

Your human rights are:

  • the right to life – protects your life, by law.
  • freedom from torture and degrading treatment – you should never be tortured or treated in an inhuman or degrading way, no matter what the situation.
  • freedom from slavery and forced labour – you should never be treated like a slave or subjected to forced labour.
  • the right to liberty and freedom – you have the right to be free and the State can only imprison you with very good reason.
  • the right to a fair trial and not to be punished for something that wasn’t a crime when you did it – you are innocent until proven guilty.
  • respect for private and family life and the right to marry and to start a family – protects against unnecessary surveillance or intrusion into your life.
  • freedom of thought, conscience and religion, and freedom to express your beliefs – you can believe what you like and practise your religion or beliefs.
  • freedom of expression, assembly and association – you have a right to speak freely and join with others peacefully, to express your views.
  • the right not to be discriminated against in respect of these rights and freedoms – everyone’s rights are equal.
  • the right to peaceful enjoyment of your property – protects against state interference with your possessions.
  • the right to an education – means no child can be denied an education.
  • the right to participate in free elections – elections must be free and fair.
  • the right not to be subjected to the death penalty

If any of these rights and freedoms are breached, you have a right to an effective solution in law, even if the breach was by someone in authority i.e. a police officer.

Exercising your Human Rights

If you are in a situation in which you believe that your human rights are being violated, it’s advisable to see if the problem can be resolved without going to court by using mediation or an internal complaints body.

Where you believe your rights have not been respected and you cannot resolve the problem outside court, you are entitled to bring a case before the appropriate court or tribunal in the UK. The court or tribunal will then consider your case.

Seeking Legal Advice

Before you decide to take any legal action is important that you seek legal advice.

The Citizens Advice Bureau may be able to help you and Community Legal Advice can put you in touch with advice providers in your area. There are a number of Law Centres around the UK, which can offer you advice and help on a range of issues.

HMCS  provides a leaflet, which provides information on how to issue a claim for monies owed or damages under the Human Rights Act. It also sets out some important things to consider before making such an application.

Useful Links

Community Legal Advice
Law Centres Federation
Human Rights Act – Information for Court Users
Human Rights Website
Amnesty International UK

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