Legal skills and debates in Scotland
Legal skills and debates in Scotland

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1.1  When does a right become a human right?

Human rights are regarded as being rights that are so important and so fundamental that they deserve special protection. They are the basic fundamental rights it is felt all individuals should have and they are deemed to be common to all humanity.

Activity 1 Rights

Timing: (Allow 5 minutes)

Take a few moments to think about any rights you may have come across. Make a list of those rights and then decide which ones you think may be fundamental to maintaining a civilised society.

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What rights you have come across will depend on your personal circumstances, for example, whether you are in school, at work, a carer, receiving some form of benefits, retired, etc. Some of the rights we thought about included:

  • not to be dismissed unfairly from your job
  • not to be prosecuted unless you know what the charge against you is
  • not to be inhumanly treated
  • of children to state-funded education
  • to benefits if you are not able to work
  • to state-funded financial support on reaching the state retirement age.

These rights cover a wide area and which rights you regarded as fundamental will depend on your own viewpoint and experiences. Under human rights legislation, the following from our list would have been regarded as human rights:

  • not to be prosecuted unless you know what the charge against you is
  • not to be inhumanly treated
  • of children to state-funded education.

These are regarded as fundamental and are protected by Articles 3 and 7, and Article 2 Protocol 1 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). Whilst the other rights we mentioned are not regarded as fundamental rights, they are legal rights.

Note: International Treaties such as the ECHR are drafted in a different way from domestic legislation. Treaties are divided up into Articles. Protocols are later additions to the Treaty.

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