What Human Rights Do For Us

Some of the key human rights cases and developments in colourful bitesized cards. Press the coloured buttons to change the category.

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Rights at Work
2013
UK

Modern day slavery will be illegal

Related European Convention Articles

The Government plans to bring together slavery offences into one law and to create a new "Anti-slavery Commissioner" and to allow judges to put those who enslave in prison for life.

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TOP 50
50 Cases
2001
Europe

Local authorities can be liable for child abuse if they failed to act

Related European Convention Articles

Four children were seriously ill-treated by their parents. The authorities were aware of this and failed to take action. The children's rights to freedom from inhuman and degrading treatment had been breached and they were entitled to compensation.

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    Speech & Protest
    2003
    Europe

    Campaigners are not necessarily entitled to meet on private property

    Related European Convention Articles

    Campaigners were barred from distributing leaflets in a private shopping centre. This did not breach their right to freedom of expression. The campaigners did not have an automatic right to enter private property, nor were their ability to express speech destroyed.

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      Children
      1995
      Europe

      Parents can access info related to their child’s case

      Related European Convention Articles

      Parents of a child taken into care were not allowed to see documents referred to at a hearing to determine care provisions and access to their son. This breached their rights to a fair hearing and respect for family life.

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        Seeking Refuge
        2010
        Europe

        If you face racial discrimination at home, you can seek refuge elsewhere

        Related European Convention Articles

        The court ruled in favour of a Bhutanese national’s claim for asylum on the grounds that his removal to Bhutan would expose him to a risk of ill-treatment due to his Nepali minority ethnicity. The court maintained that acts motivated by racial discrimination will constitute an aggravating factor.

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          TOP 50
          Disability
          2002
          Europe

          The UK can ban assisted suicide

          Related European Convention Articles

          A woman who suffered from motor neurone disease complained that the ban on assisted suicide breached her human rights. The court said it didn't breach her right to private life because the ban was not disproportionate.

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          Privacy
          2011
          UK

          The right to privacy can be protected through “super injuctions”

          Related European Convention Articles

          A celebrity was threatened with the publication of intimate photographs. The judge unusually allowed the use of a special injunction, binding everyone and forever, to ensure the protection of the privacy of the victim once the trial was over.

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          Disability
          2001
          Europe

          A wheelchair is not an acceptable sleeping arrangement in custody

          Related European Convention Articles

          A woman had been detained by police for contempt of court. She had to sleep in her wheelchair as there weren't enough beds. The Court found that this, the dangerously cold conditions, and not being able to go to the toilet without male assistance, was degrading treatment.

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            Family
            2014
            UK

            Doctors must involve families in ‘Do Not Resuscitate’ notices for patients

            Related European Convention Articles

            A 'Do Not Resuscitate' Notice was put in the Mrs Tracey's medical notes without consulting her or her family. The doctors' failure to consult breached her right to personal autonomy and to respect for private and family life.

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            TOP 50
            50 Cases
            1772
            UK

            Slavery is odious

            Related European Convention Articles

            A slave escaped then was imprisoned by his "master" on a ship bound for Jamaica, where he would be sold. Lord Mansfield ordered his release and said there was no support for slavery in English law: "The state of slavery...is so odious, that nothing can be suffered to support it". A key moment for the abolition movement.

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            Speech & Protest
            1996
            Europe

            Gratuitously offensive imagery is not protected by free speech

            Related European Convention Articles

            A film which involved erotic scenes between Jesus Christ and a nun was banned for breaking the law on blasphemy. This was a lawful restriction. The right to freedom of expression did not apply to gratuitously offensive material concerning religious figures.

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              Health
              2009
              Europe

              Prison medical officers can’t interfere in private correspondence

              Related European Convention Articles

              The applicant served his prison sentence after suffering a brain haemorrhage and was required to attend hospital for every six months. He complained that the prison medical officer read his medical correspondence. The Court agreed this was an unjust interference with his right to correspondence.

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              Children
              2014
              Europe

              The state must protect children against sexual abuse in school

              Related European Convention Articles

              Irish primary school pupils were sexually abused by their teachers. The Irish authorities would have known about similar abuses before the 1970s. They didn't do enough to systematically protect the children.

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                Seeking Refuge
                2006
                UK

                FGM is recognised as torture

                Related European Convention Articles

                A woman from Sierra Leone was part of a social group at risk of female genital mutilation. If she returned, should was at risk of excruciating pain and death. As a result of this case, women at risk of FGM are far more likely to receive asylum.

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                Victims of Crime
                2013
                UK

                Families of soldiers killed in combat can sue the government

                Related European Convention Articles

                Families of soldiers killed in combat in Iraq are suing the government because they believe their sons were not given adequate training or equipment. They have been allowed to pursue their claim.

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                Equality
                2000
                Europe

                Consensual gay activity is legal

                Related European Convention Articles

                A man was prosecuted for gross indecency for taking part in gay group sex. The European Court of Human Rights said this was a violation of his right to privacy. The law was changed in 2003 by the Sexual Offences Act.

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                Family
                2009
                UK

                There’s a right to information about your own adoption

                Related European Convention Articles

                An adult was seeking information about his adoption in the 1950s. Both his birth parents had died. The adoption society refused to give him the information. He challenged the refusal and won his case.

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                Disability
                2015
                UK

                A disabled person can’t be evicted if it’s discriminatory

                Related European Convention Articles

                A disabled man facing eviction said he was being discriminated against by his landlord. The Supreme Court said that judges have to consider discrimination eviction cases carefully and in detail.

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                  Victims of Crime
                  2002
                  Europe

                  Prisoners are protected from attack by other dangerous prisoners

                  Related European Convention Articles

                  A mentally ill prisoner was murdered by another mentally ill prisoner. The prison conducted a private inquiry which was inadequate. The parents won their claim.

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                  Rights at Work
                  2014
                  UK

                  Unfair treatment can’t continue once you’ve left your job

                  Related European Convention Articles

                  A person was given a bad reference by his past employer. He said that it was because he had complained of age discrimination. He won his case - even though he had left his job he should not have been treated unfairly

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                  Equality
                  1995
                  Europe

                  Rape is accepted as essentially debasing

                  Related European Convention Articles

                  A man appealed against his conviction of raping his wife, arguing that rape in marriage wasn't a crime at the time. The European Court rejected this, and said attitudes to rape were travelling in a clear direction that was defined and foreseeable.

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                  Seeking Refuge
                  1997
                  Europe

                  AIDS sufferers can’t be deported when home country treatment is inadequate

                  Related European Convention Articles

                  D argued that his expulsion to St Kitts would in effect result in the termination of the medical treatment he was receiving, which would hasten his death since no similar medical treatment was available in St Kitts.

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                  Disability
                  2010
                  UK

                  The law now protects disabled people in many areas

                  Related European Convention Articles

                  The Equality Act outlaws discrimination on grounds of disability, age, sex, race, religion and other characteristics, at work and when receiving services. It brought together all existing anti-discrimination law.

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                  Family
                  2006
                  Europe

                  Both parents must consent to the use of sperm in IVF treatment

                  Related European Convention Articles

                  A woman and her husband separated after they had agreed to fertilise her eggs. The embryos were frozen and stored. She wanted to proceed with the pregnancy, he did not. She lost her case.

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                    Credits for What Human Rights Do For Us

                    Concept by: Adam Wagner

                    Research by: Adam Wagner, Anna Dannreuther, Benson Egwuonwu, Charlotte Thomas, Corralina Lopez-Curzi, Jake Richards, Karina Weller, Katie Jukes, Michael Goldin, Natasha Holcroft-Emmess, Sam Grant, Sarah Dalzell,

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