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Various Categories of Human Rights

Types of Human Rights

Human rights belong to every person on the planet. They are inherent to people and cannot be lost, though some may be temporarily suspended in particular circumstances.

People can disagree about what should be included on a list of human rights and about universal moral rights, but almost everyone agrees that not all actions are acceptable.

Freedom of Religion

The freedom of religion is one of the most important human rights and is guaranteed by international law. It protects people from being forced to believe or practise a particular religion and also from being coerced into leaving their own faith.

It is considered to be a fundamental right for all people and is not subject to derogation (an exception allowed in human rights law). However, the freedom of religion does not prevent governments from taking action to protect life or property in cases of emergency or in the interests of national security.

Human rights belong to each individual and are indivisible – meaning that denying a person one right can affect all of their other rights. This is because human rights are interdependent and connected, as outlined by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This means that civil and political rights cannot be taken away without affecting other rights such as the right to live with dignity.

Freedom to Love

On the surface, it might seem that love has little to do with human rights. After all, we have a right to freedom of speech, religion and assembly. We also have a right to private property, fair trial and education.

However, the core international human rights treaties – the UDHR and its related Geneva Conventions – make reference to family life and love as part of a person’s fundamental human dignity. For example, the preamble to the Convention on the Rights of the Child states that children should grow up ‘in an atmosphere of love and understanding’.

It is important to remember that while human rights are universal and indivisible, they cannot be taken for granted. Some human rights are contested by proponents of cultural relativism, such as female genital mutilation and the death penalty. Nevertheless, these should not interfere with the broader human rights of all people. For this reason, it is vital to work together to protect all of our rights and freedoms.

Freedom to Assemble

The right to freedom of assembly, which includes the right to protest peacefully, is one of our most fundamental human rights. It’s guaranteed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international treaties. Governments can restrict your rights to free assembly and association when action is ‘proportionate to protect national security, public safety, health, ethics or the rights and freedoms of others’.

Effective protection of the right to freedom of assembly strengthens democracies and enables non-violent debate on important issues, such as government policies and actions. It also enables people to hold those with power to account.

As humans, we all share the same basic human rights – they are inalienable, indivisible and interdependent. These rights belong to every person, and are only valid when they’re respected by everyone else. They’re a standard of respect for humanity, and governments have an obligation to uphold them. This means that all citizens have the right to call governments to account when they don’t live up to this standard.

Freedom from Corruption

In the foundational rights theory of John Locke, as in cross-cultural intellectual traditions such as Chinese Confucianism and Islamic Jurisprudence, freedom from official corruption is regarded as a fundamental obligation owed by governments to their citizens. It trumps other policy considerations and its violation is a grave affront to justice.

However, this right is often contested with relativistic arguments – as are others, such as the right to be free of female genital mutilation (defended by some in the name of culture but broadly condemned) and the death penalty.

Many states have made formal commitments to respect human rights by ratifying the major international treaties and conventions – thereby agreeing to be bound by the general principles they set out. Yet, in practice, there are significant obstacles to achieving human rights standards. They range from an impoverished understanding of what rights mean to the deliberate misrepresentation of commitments in order to achieve political goals or gain advantage.

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The Right to Equality and Freedom: Human Rights in the UK

Human Rights in the UK

Everyone is entitled to equality before the law, freedom of expression, access to basic services like education and health and an adequate standard of living. These rights are set out in the international human rights treaties that the UK has ratified.

The HRA requires British courts to interpret laws in a way that is compatible with the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). It also gives people access to effective remedy when their rights are violated.

International treaties

International treaties impose binding obligations on countries to respect and protect certain rights. Those rights include the right to freedom from discrimination, including on the grounds of race, religion, and sexuality. They also include the right to family life and privacy.

The UK was a founding member of the Council of Europe, which created the European Convention on Human Rights and the European Court of Human Rights. This organisation was formed in the aftermath of World War II to help set and enforce high standards of human rights for people across Europe.

Those rights are protected in the UK by the Human Rights Act, which incorporates them into domestic British law. It allows you to challenge actions by public authorities in British courts if they infringe your rights. Judges can issue a declaration that a law infringes your Convention rights if it is found to be unjust or unfair. In such cases, the law may need to be amended or repealed.

Human rights law

Human rights laws define a minimum standard of decent treatment to which everyone is entitled. They include: not being discriminated against because of gender, race, religion or sexuality; freedom of speech and expression; the right to life, liberty and property; not being subjected to torture or inhumane and degrading treatment; and the right to a fair trial.

The UK’s Human Rights Act requires public authorities to interpret legislation so that it complies with the rights set out in the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). If a law does not comply, a court can issue a declaration of incompatibility. This does not invalidate the legislation but encourages Parliament to amend it.

In a limited number of cases, courts will block deportation on human rights grounds. This is done after careful consideration of the potential harm to the person concerned and the impact on society if they are allowed to remain. This is a balanced approach that ensures people’s rights are protected.

The Human Rights Act (HRA)

The HRA incorporates the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) into UK law. It gives people the right to bring legal action for breaches of ECHR rights before domestic courts without first having to go to Strasbourg.

The Act also requires all courts to interpret legislation so that it is compatible with the ECHR. Where this is not possible, a declaration of incompatibility can be issued. This is an important safeguard to ensure that the UK complies with the human rights obligations it has under international treaties.

However, critics of the HRA argue that it shifts law-making powers away from Parliament and towards the courts. They say it encourages judges to interfere with the policy priorities of elected politicians, creating a ‘democracy deficit’. If a public authority wants to restrict a ‘qualified’ right, it must show that doing so is necessary in the interests of the wider community or to protect the rights of others.

Deportation on human rights grounds

When a person is facing deportation from the UK, they can use a series of exceptions to argue that their removal would be unduly harsh or disproportionate. These exceptions must be weighed carefully by tribunal judges, who have to ensure that they are not being used as a shield against the public interest in deportation.

Human rights experts have raised concerns that the Home Office’s failure to fully consider these issues undermines lawyers and tribunal judges’ willingness or capacity to do so, particularly in light of cuts to legal aid. As a result, these exceptions may be misused and can lead to injustice.

It is important to remember that the deportation of foreign criminals is a matter for the police and the courts, not politicians. Politicians can be held to account for their decisions by human rights laws, which are intended to protect people’s rights and liberties. However, the UK’s record on human rights is mixed. For example, the government continues to fund countries engaged in egregious human rights violations, such as Bahrain; and has voted against a UN resolution on racism, xenophobia, and discrimination.

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