Human Rights Act

Human rights are the basic rights and freedoms that belong to every person in the world, from birth until death. They apply regardless of where you are from, what you believe or how you choose to live your life. They can never be taken away, although they can sometimes be restricted (i.e. if a person breaks the law).

These basic rights are based on values like dignity, fairness, equality, respect and independence. In Britain our human rights are protected by the Human Rights Act 1998. This law protects and supports one’s right to a private and family life, the right to express one’s opinions and the right not to be mistreated or wrongly punished by the state.

The Law

  • The Human Rights Act 1998 is a law that came into force in the UK in October 2000.
  • It protects a number of important human rights such as the right not to be treated as a slave, the right to freedom of expression and the right to an education.

It is an important law because:

  • Where possible, existing laws have to be interpreted and applied in a way that fits with the human rights contained in the Human Rights Act.
  • All new Acts of Parliament must state that they comply with the Human rights Act or explain why they do not.

How does the Human Rights Act work?

  • All public authorities in the UK must respect the rights contained in the Human Rights Act in everything that they do.
  • Sometimes public authorities also have a duty to take positive steps in order to ensure that human rights are respected, protected and fulfilled.

Claiming human rights

  • The Human Rights Act applies to everyone in the UK
  • People who think that their human rights have been denied can take a case to court using the Human Rights Act. For example, Shabina Begum took her school to court because she believed that her rights to express her religious belief had been denied by the school.
  • You don’t always have to go to court to claim your rights though; you can raise human rights issues directly with the public authority involved.

Examples of public authorities

  • Central Government departments
  • Local government (local council;)
  • Schools
  • NHS Hospital
  • Courts
  • The Police
  • Prisons

Please see a brief video about your human rights by clicking on the following link: