The Human Rights Act is a UK law passed in1998. It gives you a chance to shield your rights in UK courts and urges publicassociations containing the Government, police and the council to treateverybody similarly, with decency, fairness and regard. The Human Rights Actsecures every one of us – from the youthful and old, rich and poor. Manyindividuals utilise it to uphold their rights and accomplish equityconsistently.
Most countries have a written constitutionfor instance America have the bill of rights. A bill of rights, sometimes called a declaration of rights or a charter of rights, is fundamentally a list of the most imperative rights to the people of that country. The purpose of it is to protect those rights against infringement from the public officialssuch as government or police and private residents. One example of the bill ofrights is ” Amendment 1 -Freedom of Religion, Speech, and the Press” Thismeans that Congress cannot make a law which disrespects an establishment of religion or prohibits the free exercise of it, nor canthey condense the freedom of speech or of the press, or the right of the people to peacefully make a petitionto the government for a reimbursement of injustice. The bill of rights is entrenched; entrenchedrights can be defined as rights which are safeguarded by the Constitution. Thismeans it is protected and stops the government from abusing power. Theserights have a special rank and are exempt from change.
The United Kingdom’s legal system doesn’t have any entrenchedrights or values; this means that If we have a 51% majority in parliament wecan get rid of The Human Rights Act because it is not entrenched. Contrary to this, the European Convention onHuman Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ECHR) 1950 was generated by the Councilof Europe. The Council of Europe was set up after the Second World War toprotect human rights and to encourage democracy through Europe.
They additionallydone this to stop another devastation like the second world war and to neverallow the genocide or holocaust to occur again. The rights contained in theECHR are put into articles. There are many articles, however the 5 key rightswhich are contained are: Article 2: ”Rightto life”; the Right to life is that everyone’s right to life is protected by law. Meaning, no one is to be deprived of his/her life intentionally.
By law It also means the governmentshould take suitablemeasures to protectlife by making laws to protect you, this is most important. Alternatively,another key right is Article 3:”Prohibition of torture” this means it protects you from torture both mental or physical it also guards you from deportation orextradition. Correspondingly,another key right is Article 4: ”Prohibition ofslavery and forced labour”; Article 4 protects your right to not to be held in slavery or subordination,or made to do forced labour. Slavery is when someone essentially possesses you like a piece of property and forced labour meansyou are involuntary doing work that you have not agreed to because you areunder the risk of abuse. Likewise, Article 6 protects your right to a fair trial” this means that You have the rightto a fair and public trial or hearing if: you are indictedwith a criminal offence and must go to court, or a public authority is decidinga verdict that has an impact on your civil rights. Finally, ”Article 8 protects your rightto respect for your private and family life” Thisarticle safeguards your right for the government to respect your private life,your family life, your home and your communication such as letters, telephonecalls and emails. You have the right to live your life confidentially withoutgovernment intrusion. The European Court of Human Rights isa legal body ensuring the rights are protected in the European Convention onHuman Rights for everyone under the jurisdiction.
There has been a Court since1 November 1998 which is in Strasbourg (France). The ECHR has had an impact onthe courts in the UK and has affected the UK Human Right Laws. For instance,the ECHR wanted the ban lifted on prisoner voting, they wanted the UK topotentially do something about it. The ECHR did not like the simple ban of anyone in prison not being able to vote, they canaccept that some people are unable to vote if they have committed seriouscrimeshowever the view that all prisoners being unable to vote was deemed as a”violation of the right to free elections” (Guardian, October 2017) due tothis it has been noted that short-term prisoners may finally be permitted tovote in elections. Equally, another case where the UK lawshave been affected is the case of Abu Qatada (2012) who was granted asylum inthe UK after being tortured in his native country Jordan.
What occurred wasthat he was given life imprisonment in his home country, so the UK ideallywanted to deport him, but the problems were that the evidence used to incite himwere brought about through torture and that there was a high serious risk thathe would be tortured once returning to his native. They could not deport himbecause it would be a clear violation of the European Convention of HumanRights: Article 3. It is known that approximately 90% of the cases in the UKcomply with the ruling of the European court of human rights. TheHuman Rights Act and the obligations of the judges have been impacted in the UK.For example, a prisoner was denied the right to contact his solicitor in 1969,what occurred was a prisoner was stopped from writing a letter to his solicitor. He wantedto make a libel claim against a prison guard.
He won his case. Not beingallowed to contact a solicitor was a violation of the right to a fair trial.Therefore, the law was changed in 1977, and prisoners are now allowed to writeto their solicitors. Another case where the law was reformed was in 1989 where MrGoodwin who was a journalist was convicted of hatred of court for refusing toreveal a whistle-blowing source for a story.
It was unjust to punish ajournalist for doing their job to defend marketable interests. After thisjudgment, the law was changed to better protect liable research for journalism.This specific case violated Article 10: The Freedom of Expression. Also, in thecase of A V UK where a stepfather beat his stepson with a cane, which resultedin the stepson having some bruising. The court said it was inhumane anddegrading to do so, thus changing the law and making it a law that you cannotbeat up your child. This occurred in 1996, this happened due to the fact thatit violates Article 3: Prohibition of torture. The courts were given much more power thanbefore to hold the government and public bodies to account due to the HumanRight Act 1998. Judges can now make rights enforceable in the UK courts ratherthan previously travelling to Strasbourg.
The task is a new one for judges asthey will now be requested to give effect to the bill of rights. Judges canalso now make a declaration of incompatibility. A declaration ofincompatibility is a declaration released by judges in the United Kingdom inwhich they consider the terms of a law, or act of a public authority, which areconflicting with a UK obligation under the Human Rights Act 1998, can now be changed andincorporated to the EuropeanConvention of Human Rights and then made into a UK law. This is Parliamentis sovereign therefore courts can’t strike out law, there must be a vote, Dueto this factor people were also given a sense of power, it is relevant thatpeople can now argue articles of the Human rights act in UK courts which theycouldn’t do before. The actual impactthat the Human Right Acts has had on UK laws is the incorporation of both ECHRand HRA. For instance, the case of DudgeonV United Kingdom (1981). What occurred was the fact that male homosexualacts were deemed as criminal in Northern Ireland, in which it would bepunishable by imprisonment, even under circumstances where both parties were inprivate or gave consent.
In 1981 a man called Jeff Dudgeon who was a gay man inNorthern Ireland was questioned for his sexual activities. The European Courtof Human Rights deemed this as a violation of his private life, this is becausea person’s sexual activities are the upmost intimate part of someone’s life.This led to a change of the law as it was no longer inappropriate to treathomosexual activities as a criminal law. The European Court of Human Rightsprotected this man’s rights and made it so that Northern Ireland had to permitconsensual male homosexual acts. More so, in the case of R(RH) V MHRT, North and East London Region 2001 it is about aman who is schizophrenic and is in a mental hospital, where he is placed inconfinement.
The law argues that he can only be discharged if he can prove heis ‘of sound mind’ but it is almost impossible for H to do so when he has beenplaced in confinement in such a condition. The judges argued that it is notfair for a man to prove his health to come out to be allowed back intocivilisation. They argued that it should be ”those in charge who shoulddistinguish that the patient may cause a threat to themselves or those aroundthem”. This case paved way for people with mental health patients, by nowgiving them ”the right not to be locked up with the burden on them to laterprove their sanity”. In conclusion, theECHR has impacted many people and protected their rights. I believe it is apositive factor to the UK Law system, and promotes justice for the people.