The Human Rights Act 1998 applies to everyone in the UK, regardless of their reasons for being here. Since the law was passed in 1998, the rights that the act describes must be respected and upheld by the UK government and any other public authorities without exception.
The Human Rights Act in the UK backs-up the rights that are already outlined in the European Convention of Human Rights. The specific items of the act can be limited in order to make sure that they do not harm other people and their rights. This does not apply to every item of the act though, for example, the right not to suffer torture must be upheld without limit – not even a court of law can allow this right to be waived. Everybody has a social responsibility to be aware of the rights of others and to show respect for them, just as we are also justified in expecting other people to respect our rights too.
What are your Human Rights?
The rights stated in The Human Rights Act 1998 are as follows:
- The right to life
- The right to be free from torture and treatment of a degrading nature
- To be free from slavery and labour that is forced and not of free will
- The right to freedom and liberty
- The right to have a fair trial in the event of criminal accusation
- That if you do something that later becomes deemed a crime, that you will not be punished if it is criminalised after the event
- The right to have your private and family life respected
- The right to free thought, conscience and religion and the right to freely express your personal beliefs
- Freedom of expression
- The right of freedom of assembly and association
- The right to get married and to start a family if you wish
- The right not to be discriminated against in regards to any of these rights or freedoms
- The right to enjoy your property in peace
- The right to be educated
- The right to vote (participate in free elections)
- The right not to be sentenced to death (freedom from the death penalty)
What if these rights are breached?
If you find yourself in the position where somebody has breached any of your human rights, you have the right to seek a lawful and effective solution. This right to seek solution stands even if the breach has been conducted by somebody in a position of authority, such as a member of the police force.
How to seek a resolution
It is always advisable to first attempt a resolution out of court. Alternative ways to resolve a violation of your human rights could be the use of a mediation service, or perhaps an internal complaints body. If, after following other courses of action to uphold your rights, you feel the issue has not been resolved, you can bring your case to court or tribunal. They will consider your case and decide if your human rights have not been respected. Sometimes, a claim for damages or monies awed can be made.
It is very important to seek appropriate legal advice before taking legal action. You can seek this advice from various organisations, for example, The Citizens Advice Bureau or Community Legal Advice, who can point you in the right direction and help you find providers of advice in your local area.
You can obtain a leaflet outlining important advice for bringing a claim under The Human Rights Act to court from Her Majesty’s Court Service (HMCS). Contact them and ask for a copy of ‘The Human Rights Act 1998 – Information for Court Users’.