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Wednesday, 29 March, 2000, 04:57 GMT 05:57 UK
Human Rights Act: What it means
Strasbourg court of human rights
Claims used to go to the European Court at Strasbourg
The Human Rights Act will come into full force in October.

It meets the government's manifesto commitment to incorporate the European Convention on Human Rights into UK law.

Rights enshrined in the Act include the right to liberty and security, the right to a fair trial, the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion and the right to freedom of expression. It also prohibits discrimination.

Previously, a British citizen who felt that their rights under the Convention had been breached by a public body would have to face the lengthy and expensive task of pursuing their claim through the European Court of Human Rights at Strasbourg.

When the Act comes into force, the matter will be able to go directly to court in Britain.

If the court finds that a public authority has violated a person's rights, it can award a "just and appropriate" remedy which could include damages.

The terms of what makes up a "public authority" have not been defined in the Act, but will include government departments, local authorities, police, prison, immigration officers, public prosecutors and courts.

The European Convention of Human Rights was prepared by the Council of Europe in 1950 and ratified by the United Kingdom in 1951.

The UK has been bound in international law by its terms and court judgements ever since, and in 1966 agreed that individual citizens should have a right of access to the Strasbourg Court.

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29 Mar 00 | UK Politics
Rights Act warning issued
09 Nov 98 | UK Politics
Human Rights Bill becomes law
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