The purpose of the Human Rights Act 1998 is to protect human rights and to maintain and promote the ideals and values of a democratic society.
The Act came into force in the United Kingdom in October 2000. It is composed of a series of sections to ensure that people are treated according to the European Convention of Human rights. All public bodies have to comply with the Convention rights.
The Human Rights Act has influenced legislation as public bodies must ensure that they act in ways that are compatible with Convention rights.
Going to court
If an individual feels that their human rights have been infringed, they are now able to take their case to domestic courts in the UK. Formerly, individuals had to take their case to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. You may be aware of cases that have been taken to court.
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The main features of the Human Rights Act 1998
The Human Rights Act:
- incorporates the European convention on human rights into British law in relation to public bodies;
- entitles people who feel that public bodies have not upheld their rights may take their case to a domestic court in the UK and to the European Court of Human Rights.
The range of rights include:
- the right to life shall be protected;
- no one shall be subject to degrading treatment;
- everyone has the right to liberty and security of person;
- freedom of thought, conscience and religion;
- freedom of expression;
- freedom of assembly and association;
- the right to have respect for private and family life, and correspondence;
- the right to marry and found a family;
- the right to be free from discrimination;
- the right to a free trial.
The Human Rights Act 1998 has influenced current practice in relation to human rights and ensures that public authorities work within the law and uphold these rights.
The Human Rights Act 1998 is based on the Convention of Human Rights which was first signed by Britain in 1950 and came into force in 1953. After World War 2 and the persecution of the Jews it was seen as a fundamental way of protecting the rights of people throughout Europe. Since 1966 people have been able to take cases before the European Court of Human Rights if they have thought their rights have been violated by Public authorities. Since October 2000, individuals have been able to take human rights cases to domestic courts.
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