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What are the human rights?

Your Human Rights

The Human Rights Act 1998 enshrines the basic and fundamental rights and freedoms that we are all afforded by virtue of our humanity. These fundamental freedoms are universal and apply equally to everyone.

In 1948, in the aftermath of WWII, the Universal Declaration on Human Rights served as the foundation for the codification of human rights internationally. Two years later , the European Convention on Human Rights was developed.

The Human Rights Act guarantees the fundamental rights and freedom in the European Convention on Human Rights are directly enforceable in the UK.

This means that YOU can defend your rights in UK courts and public organisations such as; the Government, police and local authorities, are compelled to uphold these rights.

Article 2. The Right to Life: The State must protect our lives – and properly investigate if someone dies in unexpected or suspicious circumstances. + to read more

The right to life is our most basic right. This means that nobody, including the Government, can try to end your life. It also means that the Government must take appropriate measures to safeguard life by making laws to protect you and, in some circumstances, by taking steps to protect you if your life is at risk.

The right to life also means there must be proper, effective investigations into all deaths caused by the State or where is appears the State has failed to protect life.


Article 2 requires such investigation to:


  • Be independent
  • Be effective
  • Be prompt
  • Be open to public scrutiny
  • Involve the next of kin


The usual way this happens is by an inquest or public enquiry. The purpose is to bring to light any wrongdoing, neglect or systemic failing, to make sure those responsible are held accountable and that failings are not repeated, and lessons are learned.

Article 3. Freedom from Torture & Inhuman or Degrading Treatment: Nobody should ever be tortured or treated in an inhuman or degrading way and the State must investigate credible allegations of such treatment.

The prohibition on torture and inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment is one of the most fundamental rights protected by the Human Rights Act.

This right is absolute, no matter the circumstances – it is never justifiable to torture someone.

Inhuman treatment or punishment is that which causes intense physical or mental suffering. It includes:


  • Serious physical assault
  • Psychological interrogation
  • Cruel or barbaric detention conditions or restraints
  • Serious physical or psychological abuse in a health or care setting, and
  • Threatening to torture someone, if the threat is real and immediate


Degrading treatment is that which is extremely undignifies and humiliating. Whether treatment can be defined as degrading depends on a number of factors; the duration of the treatment, its physical or mental effects and the sex, age, vulnerability and health of the victim. This concept is based on the principle on the innate value of all human beings.

Like the right to life under Article 2, Article 3 is an absolute right and requires official, effective investigations into credible allegation of serious ill-treatment by public officials.

Article 3 also requires the State adopt preventative measures against inhuman or degrading treatment. This means laws must be in place to protect people from torture or other ill treatment. It also means that public officials must act to protect people from harm inflicted by others.

Article 4. Freedom from Slavery: Nobody should ever be treated like a slave or forced to work against their will – authorities must always fully investigate suspected slavery.

Article 4 of the Human Rights Act protects us from being held in servitude or slavery. A person is subjected to forced labour if they do not voluntarily consent to perform work, but do so because they are threatened, either physically or psychologically.

Forced or compulsory labour does not include lawful work required of prisoners or the military, work required during an emergency or other work or service that is part of our normal civil obligation (such as jury service)

Your right to be protected against slavery and servitude is absolute and can never be restricted.

Article 4 requires the state to properly investigate any allegations of slavery, servitude, forced or compulsory labour and must ensure that laws are in place to protect people.

Article 5. Right to Liberty & Security: We all have the right to personal liberty and security. You must not be detained or imprisoned unless there is a law which allows it and the correct procedure is followed.

Article 5 of the Human Rights Act protects us from having our freedom arbitrarily taken away.


Article 5 is a limited right (rather than absolute) which means that it can be limited in very specific circumstances. There are certain situation in which public authorities are able to detail you as long as they act within the law. For example, if:


  • You have been found guilty of a crime and sent to prison
  • You have not done something that a court has ordered you to do
  • There is a reasonable suspicion that you have committed a crime, someone is trying to stop you committing a crime or they are trying to stop you from running away from a crime.
  • You have a mental health condition which makes it necessary to detain you
  • You are capable of spreading infectious disease
  • You are attempting to enter the country illegally, and
  • You are going to be deported or extradited


Article 5 also includes a number of procedural safeguards for anyone who is arrested or detained. It says that:


  • People must be told why they are being detained
  • They must be brought before a judge promptly
  • The lawfulness of the detention can be challenged

And victims of the unlawful detention are entitled to compensation

Article 6. Right to a Fair Trial: We are presumed innocent until proven guilty. If we are accused of a crime, we have the right to hear any evidence against us before a judge in a public court of law.

Article 6 of the Human Rights Act applies to both civil and criminal cases is fundamental to the rule of law and democracy and protects our right to a fair trial.

This means that court cases must be public, heard in a reasonable amount of time and judges must be independent and impartial.

It also means that defendants must have a real opportunity to present their case and must be presumed innocent until proven guilty.

People must have real and effective access to a court, which may also require access to legal aid.

Article 6 also means that a defendant must be able to effectively participate in a criminal trial, except in strictly limited circumstances. They are entitled to be physically present to give evidence and to be legally represented.

Article 6 requires there to be a fair balance between the opportunities given to both parties and a court or tribunal must give reasons for its judgement.

Most hearings and judgements must be made public unless:


  • It is in the best interests of a child
  • It can be shown to be necessary and proportionate in the interest of morals, public order or national security.
  • For the protection of the private life of those involved
  • When the court believes publicity would prejudice the interests of justice

This page is under construction. Please check back soon for more information about your human rights.