Human rights Applications in the UK

European Convention of Human Rights

The Convention is a treaty of the Council of Europe, which was established after the end of the Second World War with the aim of protecting Europe against totalitarianism and a repeat of wartime atrocities.

On 4 November 1950 the members of the Council of Europe signed the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). The UK was one of the first members of the Council of Europe to ratify the Convention when it passed through Parliament in 1951. The Convention came into force in 3 September 1953 and three subsequent institutions were entrusted with safeguarding its workings:

  • The European Commission of Human Rights (1954)
  • The European Court of Human Rights (1959)
  • The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe

The court that deals with the individual grievances against the state is based in Strasbourg, France and is it is known as the European Court of Human Rights.

Who can rely upon the European Convention of Human Rights?

The Convention is intended to protect human rights in countries which are democratic by seeking to secure a fair balance between the general interest of society and the protection of the individual’ fundamental rights. The rights contained within the Convention can be relied upon

  • by any person;
  • non-Governmental organisation;
  • group of individuals;
  • by companies;
  • other bodies;

NB: However a governmental organisation, such as local authorities cannot rely upon the convention because the Convention is about protecting fundamental rights and freedoms against the power of the State.

How to bring a claim against the UK government for acting in breach of the Convention?

Prior to 2nd October 2000, ie before the Human Rights Act 1998 came into force, an individual who wished to bring a claim against the UK government for acting in breach of the Convention could only do so before the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, having demonstrated that they had exhausted all remedies in the United Kingdom courts. This process (the right of individual petition) is inevitably lengthy and expensive. Parliament decided that this was not acceptable and that the importance of maintaining human rights in this country meant that rights guaranteed by the Convention should be enforceable in domestic courts.

Thus the Human Rights Act 1998, which came into force on 2 October 2000, was introduced and allows cases concerning the rights in the Convention to be brought in the United Kingdom courts.

Please click the following link to understand the life span of an application to the European Court of Human Rights.

P.S: After 2nd October 2000 a claim against the Secretary of State can be submitted in the UK to the Home Office.

What are the rights conferred by the Convention?

  • Article 1   : obligation to respect human rights
  • Article 2   : the right to life and the prohibition of arbitrary deprivation of life 
  • Article 3   : the prohibition of torture, inhuman and / or degrading treatment / punishment
  • Article 4   : prohibition of slavery
  • Article 5   : the right to liberty and security of the person
  • Article 6   : the right to a fair trial
  • Article 7   : no punishment without law
  • Article 8   : the right to respect for private and family life, home and correspondence
  • Article 9   : right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion
  • Article 10 : right to freedom of expression
  • Article 11 : right to freedom of assembly and association
  • Article 12 : right to marry
  • Article 13 : right to an effective remedy
  • Article 14 : prohibition of discrimination

Section 6 of the Human Rights Act makes it unlawful for a public authority (such as a Government department) to act (or fail to act) in a way which is incompatible with a Convention right, unless as the result of a provision of primary legislation, it could not have acted differently.

How and who can we help?

  • If you have over stayed your visa
  • If you entered into the UK illegally
  • If you have a family life in the UK
  • If you have a private life in the UK
  • If you feel that your life is endangered if you are removed back to  your country of origin
  • If you will suffer from If you suffer from serious medical conditions
  • If you have suicidal tendency
  • If you are subject to immigration control and you are the primary carer of a disabled relative or family member in the UK

NB:  The above is only an example of circumstances of a person who may have a claim under the ECHR. If you have claimed asylum then some of the rights mentioned above would be considered in your asylum claim. Each individual case has to be considered on its individual facts and circumstances.