The Human Rights Act came into effect in October 2000.

It means people can take a case about their human rights to a UK court. Before then, they had to take human rights cases to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

Human rights definition

Human rights are the basic rights and freedoms that belong to every person regardless of their nationality and citizenship, and are fundamentally important in maintaining a fair and civilised society.

Human rights are based on core principles such as dignity, fairness, equality, respect and autonomy. They are relevant to everyday life and protect your freedom to control your own life.

There are 16 basic rights listed in the Human Rights Act, all taken from the European Convention on Human Rights. They concern matters of life and death, such as freedom from torture, but they also cover everyday rights, such as what you can say and do, your beliefs and the right to a fair trial.

How human rights affect you

Public authorities must act in accordance with the Human Rights Act. Public bodies must have an understanding of human rights and apply them whether they are delivering services directly or developing policies and procedures.

Some rights are absolute while others are limited or restricted. Any restrictions must be no greater than are needed to achieve the end objective.

Anyone who believes their rights have been breached by the state can take their case to court, however, this does not apply to disputes between individuals or against private organisations.

Visit the Equality and Human Rights Commission website for practical guidance on human rights.

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