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.
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.
Most rights have limits toensure that they do not unfairlydamage 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.
Your human rights are:
- the right to life
- freedom from torture and degrading treatment
- freedom fromslavery 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, even if the breach was by someone in authority, such as, for example, a police officer.
Exercising your human rights...see if the problem can be resolved without going to court
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 bringa 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 also a number of Law Centres around the UK, which can offer you advice and help on a range of issues.
HMCS (Her Majesty's Courts Service) provides a leaflet, 'The Human Rights Act 1998 Information for Court Users', 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.
Free and foreign language information about the Human Rights Act
A free guide to the Human Rights Acthas been producedby the Ministry of Justice. There's alsoa booklet explaining the Human Rights Act in everyday terms to people with learning disabilities. Copies can be downloaded from theministry's website, or hard copies can be ordered free of charge by calling 020 3334 3734. The guide to the act is available in English and Welsh, and versions in large print, Braille oron audio cassette are available on request.
Guides to the act in Arabic, Cantonese, English, French, Gujarati, Polish, Punjabi, Somali, Tamil, Urduand Welsh are available via the links below.
- Download Human Rights Act PDF (PDF, 56K)
- Download A Guide to the Human Rights Act: a booklet for people with learning disabilities (PDF, 351K)
- Download Human Rights Act Arabic (PDF, 290K)
- Download Human Rights Act Cantonese PDF (PDF, 364K)
- Download Human Rights Act French PDF (PDF, 125K)
- Download Human Rights Act Gujarati PDF (PDF, 324K)
- Download Human Rights Act Polish PDF (PDF, 269K)
- Download Human Rights Act Punjabi PDF (PDF, 335K)
- Download Human Rights Act Somali PDF (PDF, 120K)
- Download Human Rights Act Tamil PDF (PDF, 136K)
- Download Human Rights Act Urdu PDF (PDF, 623K)
- Download Human Rights Act Welsh PDF (PDF, 183K)
- Help with PDF files
More useful links
- Incapacity and the law (Crime, justice and the law section)
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