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Human Rights Act 1998, Essay Example

Pages: 6

Words: 1760

Essay

Human rights are the most fundamental rights that are imperative to the existence of human beings regardless of nationality, skin color, citizenship, political affiliation, sexuality and educational background. Its importance transcends to maintaining a civilized and fair society. For this reason, the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) was signed and established in 1951. The main purpose of the ECHR is to ensure that people are protected from any infringements of their human rights witnessed during World War II. However, the establishment of the convention is just for the protection from severe and excessive violations of rights. Meaning to say, the Convention would hear and attempt to resolve cases involving violations that would result to the removal of the dignity of life and independence of the people (Adams, 2014). Clearly, when the European Convention on Human Rights was developed and drafted the goal is to provide protection and defense for human rights, promote the rule of law, foster democracy, and to make sure that the atrocities, tragedy and cruelties that were committed during the war would never happen again in the days to come. The world has seen enough of human right violations and the utter disrespect for the sanctity of human life and the importance of a free and democratic society (Equality and Human Rights, 2015).

In reality, though, it does not really matter whether people agree or not with how the Convention was developed or drafted. The only thing that matters is that the Convention guarantees the exercise of various freedoms and political rights of every single person without the interloping of the State.

Basically, the Convention provides protection violation to the right to life of all the citizens by torturing them, treating them inhumanely and in a very degrading matter. It also covers protection against forced labor, deprivation of liberty in the absence of proper compensation and due process, removal of access to a fair trial or justice or imposition of laws that will cause a retroactive criminal legal responsibility for any actions considered innocent at the time of commission (Adams, 2014). To elucidate further, it is undeniable that everyone has the right to life. It is protected by the Convention. Although, there are instances or circumstances where taking someone’s life is acceptable constitutionally such as upon acting in self-defence. The absolute protection of the ECHR to the prohibition of torture extends when it has been incorporated to the HRA. It upholds the right of every person to be treated with dignity and humanely. No one deserves to be punished in an inhumane manner (Adams, 2014). Respect for life and dignity is important. It also strengthened the right of every individual to privacy, expression, to marry and start a family, freedom of religion, assembly, speech and association. No one can infringe this right without proper, appropriate and strong justification.

The guarantee and protection of these rights are not limited to certain group of people or certain race. The Convention honors these rights irrespective of someone’s race or sexual preference among the many various grounds.  Hence, every individual has the right to assert the Convention rights due to the fact that the State is oblige to honor these rights by imposing affirmative obligations to the judiciary and the government in general. Therefore, it is in the hands of the courts, the judicial and the legislative departments of the State to ensure compliance (Adams, 2014).

In retrospect, the burden to prove that there is an unlawful interference of rights and freedoms lies in the person claiming protection. Once a complaint is filed, the Convention will conduct a full hearing and make a determination of the case at hand with the goal of providing constitutional relief and remedies.

It cannot be denied that incorporation of the Human Rights Act and European Convention on Human Rights into the British law is a great move for a constitutional conciliation that was drafted in 1998 and took effect in the year 2000. By virtue of the incorporation, the British courts have been given the power to hear and determine matters concerning the rights of the people. Individuals who have Convention claims will no longer have to wait for their claims and cases to be heard by the European Convention on Human Rights courts in Stratsbourg, France which can be a lengthy process. In this regard, the incorporation has heightened the role of the courts in the safeguard of the human rights of all people. In the same manner, there has also been a huge reduction of the freedom of movement by the political participants in the system.

Apparently, the Human Rights Act with all its provisions are made compatible with the ECHR and its articles. All the rights that are included and granted in the European Convention of Human Rights were included in the Human Rights Act Schedule 1 (Rozenberg, 2015). As a matter of fact, all the 16 basic rights included in the Human Rights Act were all taken from the European Convention on Human Rights (Greenberg & Dratel, 2005).

However, the interpretation of the act and the articles does not constitute a simple statutory elucidation. Rather, it includes judicial precedence and future legislature and thus, rendering the Act impossible to be impliedly rescinded and to be misinterpreted.

There is a need for the UK laws to act in compatibility and accordance with the rights set forth by the Convention. In this way there is a guarantee that only legalistic approach will be purely applied towards the implementation of human right and promote a culture for respect towards it.  But the truth of the matter is that such culture did not materialize despite the presence of public authorities upholding and respecting human rights. This scenario has been reached upon reaching a greater understanding as to what the Convention is all about and the positive obligation it must maintain. There is also strong evidence that efforts are being made to ensure that the practices and policies of the Convention are being realized.

In addition, the incorporation has enabled the UK courts of law to make interpretations that are different to that of the interpretations made by the Strasbourg courts. With this, an issue of whether or not the judgments made by the UK law radically depart from the jurisprudence arises (Davis, 2007). Hence, a decision can easily be overturned although the intention is to make sure that the rights of every citizen is protected in the UK courts.  Nevertheless, the Commission of Human Rights agreed that there has been a substantial improvement when it comes to the enjoyment and protection of human rights all over Britain.

It provided a balanced and fair way of protecting human rights and promoting justice. Moreover, since the constitutional model of the British law is putting its strength in the parliamentary dominion, the parliament can easily alter the law resulting in the absence of legal dissimilarity between various laws and the constitution (Goldhaber, 2009). The Human Right Act adheres to the said sovereignty. Therefore, it cannot void nor alter any laws that will break the Convention rights. But it has to be remembered that rights are not always absolute. Convention rights are grouped into 3 types namely, absolute, limited and qualified. The absolute rights are the Convention rights that are never to be taken away from someone such as protection from torture. Limited rights, on the other hand, are rights that can be interfered by the State in clear and determinate circumstances such as the right to liberty. The qualified rights are the rights provide a balance between an individual and the society such as freedom of expression and association and assembly.

With this, it cannot be denied that although the Human Rights Act allows access to the speedy trial of their case, it still has to yield with the jurisprudence set forth by the European Convention on Human Rights whose authority can be considered to be over bearing at times. Yet, it cannot be denied that these mechanisms only hope for one thing and that is the protection, promotion and enjoyment of the basic human rights (Adams, 2014). It is noteworthy to say that there are only few incompatibilities between the HRA and the European Convention on Human Rights.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the extent to which rights granted under the European Convention on Human Rights have been incorporated into the UK law can be translated into opening the gateway for the speedy determination of cases filed in relation to violations of human rights. The rights that were set forth under the European Convention on Human Rights are all included in the Human Rights Act of 1998. Both these mechanisms are geared towards maintaining a democratic and fair society. The ECHR supports the HRA and the latter adheres to the former’s jurisprudence and previous ruling to ensure maximum protection of human rights. The main benefit, though, from the incorporation is the power granted to the UK courts to hear and try human rights cases (Dickson. 2010).

Human rights are important. The society does not want to see history repeating itself. Gone are the days where people are put into slavery and forced labor. Nobody wants to see people being treated inhumanely (Starmer, 2015). However, the sad reality is that violations of human rights do exist not just in the UK but in all parts of the world. The incorporation of ECHR with the HRA gives hope for humanity (Adams, 2014). There is still a way to win the war against violators of human rights, promote dignity and establish a fair and civilized society. The UK courts have been granted the right to try and determine cases involving human rights to afford people constitutional remedies and relief.

Bibliography

Adams, A. (2014). Law for Business Students. Pearson Education Limited.

Davis, H. (2007). Human Rights Law: Directions. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Dickson, B. (2010). The European Convention on Human Rights and the Conflict in Northern Ireland. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Goldhaber, M. (2009). A people’s history of the European Court of Human Rights. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.

Greenberg, K. & Dratel, J. (2005). The torture papers: the road to abu ghraib. Cambridge” Cambridge University Press.

Rozenberg, J. Human rights legislation in the UK: a cut-out-and-keep guide. http://www.theguardian.com/law/2014/sep/01/human-rights-legislation-uk-council-european-convention. [1 September 2014].

Starmer, K. The arguments against the Human Rights Act are coming. They will be false. http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/may/13/arguments-human-rights-act-michael-gove-repeal-myth-busting. [13 May 2015].

The Human Rights Act, 2015. Avilable from: http://www.equalityhumanrights.com/your-rights/human-rights/what-are-human-rights/human-rights-act. [15 September 2015]

Appendix

The Convention Rights

  1. Right to Life
  2. Prohibition of Torture
  3. Prohibition of Slavery and Forced Labour
  4. Right to Liberty and Security
  5. Right to a Fair Trial
  6. No Punishment without Law
  7. Right to Respect for Private and Family Life
  8. Freedom of Thought, Conscience and Religion
  9. Freedom of Expression
  10. Freedom of Assembly and Association
  11. Right to Marry
  12. Prohibition of Discrimination
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