Convention on Human Rights is an International Treaty, which was drafted in
1950. 47 states including UK have signed up to this treaty; The Council of
Europe originally created the treaty. With about 10 founding members at the
beginning of its existence, including the UK with Winston Churchill being the
leading figure who actively spoke out for the reason for a need in the
existence of the ECHR, the Council of Europe initially was founded after the Second
World War to protect the rule of law and to promote democracy across Europe.
Most importantly their existence was to protect the rights of all humans, through
reaffirming their profound belief in fundamental freedoms, most Governments
sign up to the ECHR to make a legal commitment to all citizens of their country
that their rights and freedoms must and will be protected, in order to increase
their political legitimacy.
Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms is a list of 14 articles
and 16 protocols that protect the people and the government in any country,
which have signed up to it. Out of all the articles within the ECHR there are
about five key articles, all of them sharing importance, but these five I saw as
the most important, ‘Article 10 being the freedom of expression’ which protects
the right to freedom to hold opinions expressing what they wish regardless of
the frontiers. ‘Article 2 being the right to life’; individuals are not to be
deprived of their life intentionally, this article safeguards your right to live.
‘Article 3 being the prohibition of torture’ this article protects you from
being tortured, where no one shall be subjected to inhuman treatment or
punishment. ‘Article 4 being the prohibition of slavery and forced labour’, no
one shall be held in slavery or servitude, this article protects you if your
are under the risk being held against your own will under abuse. Lastly ‘Article
6 the right to a fair trial’, where everyone is entitled to a fair public
hearing, protecting your right to have a fair trial with a lawyer present in a
fair amount of time provided.
The UK has been
developing the citizens human rights since the Magna Carta was enforced in
1215, much further after this was when the Bill of Rights was developed, then
the ECHR and then most recently the HRA 1998.
Before the ECHR,
anyone that lived in the UK that had a legal case that they wished to present
in court had to travel all the way to European courts to
argue their case, it has now become much easier because it means their Human
Rights are protected within the UK courts without having to travel to
Strasbourg. However the Human Rights Act was originally a law passed in 1998,
this law was passed to re-instate Parliamentary Sovereignty, because when this
law was passed, it means that judges will bound to apply an act of Parliament
even if that act provides for the application of a judicial authority from a
foreign court. The judges could no longer ignore or dispense any law enacted by
parliament, to do so they would have to enforce the Bill of Rights.
In the UK we have
a un-codified constitution, meaning the UK’s laws are not written on a single
document, meaning the our laws and much more flexible, it is very easy to
remove and pass on laws through parliament because of this, meaning it is not
entrenched. The government in the UK is somewhat accused of abusing its powers
at the cost of an individuals rights, but this was over seen after the passing
of the HRA 1998. This means that if we wanted to get rid of the Human Rights
Act then we only need one more seat in majority. However in America they have a
codified constitution meaning that it is entrenched, so their constitution is
written in one single document. This means that the US constitution is very
inflexible, meaning the government cannot exploit its citizens as the
constitution protects all rights of the people from being violated and itself.
America has something called the Bill of Rights within their constitution that
serves to protect citizens from excess governmental power, it accomplishes this
through ensuring there is a separation of powers, one example would be the
Sixth Amendment where through all criminal prosecutions, they have the right to
a fair, speedy and public trial and to also have a assistance of counsel for
his defense. This means that the Congress cannot make a law, which overlaps or
attempts to over rule this persons right to free trial.