Human rights

Human rights are protected in the UK under the Human Rights Act 1998 (HRA 1998), which implements the provisions of the European Convention on Human Rights (the Convention).

HRA 1998 applies to everyone in the UK, regardless of their reasons for being here. Since the law was implemented, the rights that the Act describes must be respected and upheld by the UK government and any other public authorities without exception.

Some of the specific items of HRA 1998 can be limited to make sure they do not harm other people and their rights, although provisions such as the right not to suffer torture must be upheld in all circumstances – not even a court of law can allow this right to be waived.

All UK citizens have 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.

What are your human rights?

The rights under the Convention are listed in Schedule 1 of HRA 1998. They are the right to:

  • life (Article 2);
  • be free from torture and treatment of a degrading nature (Article 3);
  • be free from slavery and labour that is forced and not of free will (Article 4);
  • liberty and security (Article 5);
  • have a fair trial if faced with a criminal accusation (Article 6);
  • not be held guilty of any criminal offence on account of any act or omission which did not constitute a criminal offence under national or international law at the time when it was committed (Article 7);
  • have your private and family life respected (Article 8);
  • free thought, conscience and religion and the right to freely express your personal beliefs (Article 9);
  • freedom of expression (Article 10);
  • freedom of assembly and association (Article 11);
  • get married and to start a family if you wish (Article 12);
  • the right not to be discriminated against in regards to any of these rights or freedoms (Article 17).

Part II of the First Protocol Convention rights, which are also included in Schedule 1 of HRA 1998 are the right to:

  • enjoy your property in peace (Article 1);
  • be educated (Article 2);
  • to vote (participate in free elections) (Article 3).

Article 1 of the Thirteenth Protocol, which is also included in Schedule 1 of HRA 1998 includes the right not to be sentenced to death (freedom from the death penalty).

What if these rights are breached?

If somebody has breached any of your human rights, you have the right to seek a lawful and effective solution. This right 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 owed can be made.

You can seek legal advice on human rights law from various organisations, such as Citizens Advice Bureau or Community Legal Advice. If they can’t help directly, they can point you in the right direction and help you find providers of advice in your local area.