What is the Human Rights Act?


Quick Answer

The Human Rights Act is an Act of the British Parliament that received royal assent on Nov. 9, 1998. The Act was intended to meet the suggestions for human rights legislation handed down by the European Convention on Human Rights. When the HRA went into effect in October 2000, it required all public bodies to abide by the rights specified by the Convention.

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Full Answer

The Act provides basic protections and rights in Articles 2 through 18. Article 2 protects all citizens' right to life, including the right to be protected if their lives are at risk. Article 3 provides protection from torture and other mistreatment, including protection from extradition or deportation if the other country employs these methods. Article 4 prohibits slavery and forced labor.

Article 5 protects all citizens' rights to freedom and security and guarantees due process. Along the same lines, Article 6 guarantees the right to a fair trial in a court of law, and Article 7 prohibits citizens from being charged with crimes that were not criminal offenses when they committed them.

Articles 8 through 11 are essentially the equivalent of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Article 8 protects citizens' right to privacy, Article 9 provides for freedom of religion, Article 10 guarantees freedom of expression and Article 11 provides for freedom of assembly.

Other notable Articles include Article 14, which protects against discrimination; Protocol 1 Article 2, which guarantees the right to education; and Protocol 1 Article 3, which guarantees free elections.

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