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United Kingdom

In the United Kingdom it was decided that it was inadequate protection for the citizen

to rely upon the European Convention alone and therefore in 1998 the Human Rights

Act was enacted in UK domestic law.

The Human Rights Act 1998 is a law, which came into full force in October 2000. It

gives further effect in the UK to the fundamental rights and freedoms in the European

Convention on Human Rights.


The law does three simple things:

- It makes it unlawful for a public authority, like a government department, local

authority or the police,to breach the Convention rights, unless an Act

of Parliament meant it couldn’t have acted differently.

- It means that human rights cases can be dealt with in a UK court or tribunal.

Until the Act, anyone who felt that their rights under the Convention had been

breached had to go to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

- It says that all UK legislation must be given a meaning that fits with the

Convention rights, if that’s possible. If a court says that’s not possible it will be up

to Parliament to decide what to do.

These rights not only impact matters of life and death, they also affect the rights that

people in the UK have in their everyday lives.

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


Your human rights are:

- the right to life

- freedom from torture and degrading treatment

- freedom from slavery and forced labour

- the right to liberty

- the right to a fair trial

- the right not to be punished for something that wasn't a crime when you did it

- the right to respect for private and family life

- freedom of thought, conscience and religion, and freedom to express your beliefs

- freedom of expression

- freedom of assembly and association

- the right to marry and to start a family

- the right not to be discriminated against in respect of these rights and freedoms

- the right to peaceful enjoyment of your property

- the right to an education

- the right to participate in free elections

- 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 in the UK, even if the breach was by someone in authority.

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. People on low

incomes are given help from the State to mount a challenge.

Guides to how Human Rights law operates in theory and in practice in the UK can be found

on the following websites:

  1. Equalities and Human Rights Commission 
  2. Liberty 
  3. British Institute for Human Rights