Human Rights

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Human rights refer to the natural or basic rights and freedoms to which all people are entitled to. Traditionally, the rights and freedoms of citizens were protected by an Act of Parliament or by the judges in developing the common law. Prior to World War II, the convention for the protection of human right and freedom was drafted in 1950s by the Council of Europe. It was drafted because of disgust with fascism and an anxiety to protect basic freedom. On 1953, it has developed to become an international treaty, which all 47 countries of the continent of Europe are bound by the European Convention of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms 1950, also known as ECHR. United Kingdom (UK) was one of the first countries to sign the Convention in November 1950. Although it entered into force in the UK on 3rd Sept 1953, UK chose not to incorporate its terms into domestic law. Therefore UK was only bound to ECHR on the matter of international law and not within the domestic legal system. During 1960s, there are few parties concerned had campaigned for the enactment for Human Rights Act in UK. These parties are the commentators and public interest groups. However, due to several criticisms and the reluctant of UK government to pass such legislation, the HRA did not enact until 1998. Though the convention did not incorporate into domestic law, UK did recognize the authority of European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) to hear and adjudicate complaints from UK citizens. In 1997, the newly elected Labour Government promised to introduce a human right bill to Parliament. As a result, The Human Right Act 1998 received Royal Assent on 9 November 1998 and came into full effect in the UK on 2nd Oct 2000. For the past 20 years or so, UK governments have lost more than 40 cases at ECtHR and have violated 11 of the 15 rights set out in Human Rights Act 1998. This records show that there are several areas in UK which are incomplete as some of them does not provide adequate human rights. This was laid down in several cases which concerned with the significance of Article 6, 8 and 10. Article 6(1) concerns the rights to fair trial. This is to ensure that everyone has a fair trial under civil and criminal trial. There are few notable cases under this article, whereby the court held that there was a breach of Article 6 and passing a new law to amend it. This was shown In Golder v United Kingdom (1975) and Tuna Begum v Tower Hamlets (2003). However, in some cases, ultimately, it is the judges that determine whether this country’s laws are compliant with the ECHR as seen in R v Horncastle and Others (2009). This was, once, claimed by AV Dicey’s in the rule of law that our constitutional rights are given by the courts as a result of cases brought before them. Therefore, it is the court that decides which rights are we entitled to, the European Convention of Human Rights merely enhance the law. Article 8 provides that everyone has the right to respect his private and family life, his home and correspondence. Article 8 may be subject to limitation which is necessary for democratic society. This is an entirely new law in UK as previously the UK government did not provide any protection of privacy to the citizens as shown in Malone v UK (1984). Since the incorporation of Rights in domestic law, the Article 8 has provided a better protection of their privacy under ECHR. This can be seen in the case of Ghaidan v Mendoza (2004) and B v UK (2004) where it concerned with homosexual. To add more, in 2002, the European Court of Human Rights found that UK had breached Art.8 and Art.14 by unjustly dismissed several soldiers because of their sexuality as shown in the case of Lustig- Prean v UK (2000). Therefore, it can be argued that Article 8, now given statutory recognition by Human Rights Act 1998, has increased protection for privacy and family life. Article 10 covers the right to hold opinions and to receive and express information and ideas. Although Article 10...
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