Protection of rights in the UK

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  • Rights and responsibilities in the UK
    • Development of rights in UK
      • HRA 1998: brought ECHR into UK law. It strengthened the protection of a whole range of rights and liberties. It made civil liberties a firm part of UK law.
      • Freedom of Information Act 2000: gave citizens the right to view information held by public bodies in two categories.
        • 1) Information held about themselves.
        • 2) Information which may be of public interest.
        • Only exception is information which might threaten national security if published.
      • Equality Act 2010: replaced several existing pieces of legislation establishing UK rights. It outlaws discrimination on basis of gender, ethnicity, religion, disablement and sexual orientation.
    • Strengths of protection of rights
      • There is strong common law tradition.
      • UK is subject to the ECHR.
      • Judiciary has a reputation for being independent and upholding rule of law even against expressed wishes of government and Parliament. Civil rights are basically guaranteed.
    • Weaknesses of protection of rights
      • Common law can be vague and disputed.
      • Parliament remains sovereign and can ignore the ECHR or repeal the HRA altogether.
      • Increasing pressure on government, as a result of international terrorism, to curtail rights in interests of national security.
        • The right to privacy, rights of association and expression as well as freedom from imprisonment without trial are all threatened.
    • Responsibility
      • Undisputed
        • To obey the law.
        • To pay taxes.
        • To undertake jury duty if needed.
      • Disputed
        • To serve in armed forces when under attack.
        • To vote in elections and referenda.
        • To respect rights of all citizens
        • To respect dominant values of  society.
    • How do individual rights conflict with collective rights?
      • Freedom of expression - right of religious groups not to have their beliefs satirised or questioned.
      • Right to privacy - right of the community to be protected from terrorism by security services who may listen in to private communications.
      • Right to press freedom - right of public figures to keep private lives private.
      • Right to demonstrate in public places (right to association and free movement) and thus cause disruption - right of the community to own freedom of movement.
      • Right to strike in pursuit of pay and employment rights - right of the community to expect good service from public servants who are paid from taxation.


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