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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Disability
2009
UK

There’s protection for vulnerable adults mistreated in hospitals

Related European Convention Articles

A patient with cerebral palsy was forbidden from eating and was fed through a tube in his stomach, against his wishes. A campaign group used human rights to persuade a hospital panel to agree to his wishes.

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Children
2006
UK

Abducted children’s views on staying in the UK matter

Related European Convention Articles

A Romanian mother brought her child to the UK. His father objected. The removal was not unlawful and the child wanted to stay in the UK. The child's views were taken into account and he was permitted to stay.

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    Health
    2013
    UK

    Victims of neglectful hospital treatment got justice (and compensation)

    Related European Convention Articles

    Elderly and vulnerable patients were badly mistreated in an NHS hospital. A public inquiry found there was a failure of the NHS system at every level.

    TOP 50
    50 Cases
    2010
    UK

    Gay and lesbian people can’t be returned to persecution

    Related European Convention Articles

    Under the United Nations Refugee Convention, social groups that have a well-founded fear of persecution are refugees. In this case, the Supreme Court said gays and lesbians could not be expected to live closeted lives in places they are persecuted.

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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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      Children
      2010-12
      UK

      Systemic failings in child protection must be addressed

      Related European Convention Articles

      After the 'Baby P Scandal', in which one-year-old Peter Connolly was killed by his abusive parents, the Government commissioned an independent review of child protection and social work. Human rights law requires effective investigations into deaths and inhumane treatment.

      TOP 50
      50 Cases
      2012
      Europe

      Everyone has protection from torture and unfair trial, including terrorists

      Related European Convention Articles

      Abu Qatada was at risk of being prosecuted using evidence obtained by torture, contrary to his to a fair trial. He was eventually deported after Jordan amended its constitution to stop the use of torture evidence.

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      Children
      2001
      UK

      Families who foster children should be paid the same as other carers

      Related European Convention Articles

      A family who were fostering children within the family successfully challenged the council policy to pay them less than non-family foster carers.

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      Family
      2003
      UK

      Deceased fathers can be named on birth certificate

      Related European Convention Articles

      A widow won the right to put the name of her deceased husband on the birth certificates of her children. The law was changed to allow all women to do the same.

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        TOP 50
        50 Cases
        1976
        Europe

        Offensive ideas need to be protected too

        Related European Convention Articles

        Mr Handyside was prosecuted for publishing "The Little Red Book", which encouraged children to rebel against social norms. The European Court supported the prosecution as protecting public morals but famously emphasised that free speech also applied to offensive ideas.

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          Disability
          2009
          UK

          The human rights of disabled people are protected by a 2009 Convention

          Related European Convention Articles

          The purpose of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is to promote, protect and ensure the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by all persons with disabilities, and to promote respect for their inherent dignity.

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            Rights at Work
            2008
            Europe

            If your work is risky to your health, you get access to information

            Related European Convention Articles

            A member of the British Army took part in mustard and nerve gas tests. Later in life he developed health problems. The Army was slow to give him his medical records. This was a breach of his right to privacy.

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            Disability
            1975
            UK

            Sterilisation is considered the deprivation of a basic human right

            Related European Convention Articles

            This case was about the wardship of an 11 year old girl with mental health problems. The court said sterilisation was the deprivation of a basic human right and it would, if for non-therapeutic reasons without consent, be a violation of that right.

            Justice
            1990
            Europe

            Long-term prisoners must have their sentences regularly reviewed

            Related European Convention Articles

            Two prisoners with life sentences claimed that they should have the right to have their claim periodically reviewed. They won - after a certain period, the right to liberty ensures that a sentence must be periodically reviewed.

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              TOP 50
              50 Cases
              2008
              Europe

              Government spying powers are too wide

              Related European Convention Articles

              The European Court said the government's powers to spy were too wide and opaque. Liberty and other civil liberties organisations accused the Ministry of Defence of spying on their phonecalls and emails. This is one of a series of cases challenged the UK to greater openness about surveillance.

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              Seeking Refuge
              2014
              UK

              Asylum seekers are protected from homelesness and destitution

              Related European Convention Articles

              EM was an Eritrean man who experienced persecution in his home country for being a Christian, and moved to Italy, only to find himself homeless and destitute. He sought asylum in the UK, and resisted deportation. The court found if it could be established similar conditions would be present if he were deported to Italy, this would be contrary to his right not to be subjected to inhuman or degrading treatment.

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              Health
              2010
              Europe

              Women at risk of health problems must have access to information about abortion

              Related European Convention Articles

              A woman was in remission from cancer. She became pregnant and believed this could provoke a relapse. She couldn't find out from authorities or the courts whether she could have a legal abortion. She won her case. It was too unclear whether she could have a legal abortion or not.

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                TOP 50
                50 Cases
                1998
                Europe

                You can’t beat up your child

                Related European Convention Articles

                A stepfather beat his stepson with a cane, causing him bruising. His defence was that "reasonable chastisement" was necessary to control the boy. The court said this was inhumane and degrading treatment.

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                  Equality
                  2014
                  UK

                  Transgender people can stay married after changing gender

                  Related European Convention Articles

                  Gay couples can convert their civil partnerships to marriages. Transgender people do not now have to get divorced following surgery.

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                  Victims of Crime
                  2000
                  Europe

                  If someone dies in custody, the authorities must provide a satisfactory explanation

                  Related European Convention Articles

                  A taxi driver was arrested by police and questioned in relation to suspected terrorist activities. He was subsequently taken to hospital and died. His family sued the Turkish authorities and won.

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                    TOP 50
                    50 Cases
                    UK
                    2001

                    You can’t be detained without medical proof of why

                    Related European Convention Articles

                    If you’re detained by the state because you are mentally ill, the reason for your detention must be regularly reviewed. It wasn't for detained mental health patients to demonstrate why they should be released - the treating clinicians should have to justify continuing detention. The law was later changed.

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                      TOP 50
                      50 Cases
                      2013
                      Europe

                      Employers must respect religious beliefs

                      Related European Convention Articles

                      Mrs Eweida, a British Airways employee, was prevented from wearing a visible Christian cross with her uniform. She won her case - her right to religious freedom had been violated. BA changed its policy.

                      TOP 50
                      50 Cases
                      1999
                      UK

                      Journalists must be able to interview prisoners

                      Related European Convention Articles

                      A blanket ban on journalists publishing interviews with prisoners was a violation of fundamental rights. Journalists must be able to expose miscarriages of justice.

                      Related links

                      Children
                      2008
                      UK

                      Children can be protected against intrusive media attention

                      Related European Convention Articles

                      A photograph of the author JK Rowling's son was taken and published without permission or consent. It was decided that the child was entitled to privacy and the law should protect children against intrusive media attention.

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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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                      What Human Rights Do For Us
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