Human rights are rights and freedoms that belong to all individuals regardless of their nationality and citizenship. In the UK, human rights are protected by the Human Rights Act 1998.

The Human Rights Act 1998 came into force in the United Kingdom in October 2000.

The Act sets out the fundamental rights and freedoms that individuals in the UK have access to, including:

  • Right to life
  • Freedom from torture and inhuman or degrading treatment
  • Right to liberty and security
  • Freedom from slavery and forced labour
  • Right to a fair trial
  • No punishment without law
  • Respect for your private and family life, home and correspondence
  • Freedom of thought, belief and religion
  • Freedom of expression
  • Freedom of assembly and association
  • Right to marry and start a family
  • Protection from discrimination in respect of these rights and freedoms
  • Right to peaceful enjoyment of your property
  • Right to education
  • Right to participate in free elections

It means that individuals can defend their rights in the UK courts and that public organisations (including the Government, the Police, local councils,  courts, hospitals, publicly funded schools, and others) must treat everyone equally, with fairness, dignity and respect.

A downloadable guide to Human Rights is available from

Futher information is available at the following links:

A Guide to Human Rights Act for people with learning disabilities is available at this this link.

Civil Liberties

Civil Liberties are distinct from human rights in that they are basic rights and freedoms granted to citizens of a country through national common or statute law and include:

  • free speech
  • free assembly
  • the right to marry
  • the right to vote
  • the right of privacy
  • the right to a fair trial
  • the right to be free from unreasonable searches of your home or person without a warrant

Civil Liberties, Civil Rights and Human Rights co-exist and are very much a part of one another.

In the UK, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties are underpinned by the Human Rights Act 1998 including the rights that protect UK citizens under the European Convention on Human Rights.

A comprehensive guide to Human Rights in the UK can be found at citizensadvice.

Rights of Young People

Comprehensive information on the rights of young people can be found at the My Advice Gateway page Children's and Young People's Rights.

Help and Advice

The following organisations offer help and advice on human rights issues:

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