Human Rights Act: Cases for and against

03/10/14

It has been blamed by its critics for allowing prisoners to vote, stopping Britain from deporting terror suspects and hindering UK soldiers in Afghanistan.

Now the Conservative party has announced plans to scrap the Human Rights Act if it wins the next general election.

Prime Minister David Cameron wants to replace the legislation - which allows European rulings to overrule UK courts - with a British Bill of Rights.

Here's a reminder of some of the reasons the Tories and other critics want to scrap the act.

Abu Qatada

Abu Qatada

When the UK wanted to deport the radical Islamist cleric Abu Qatada to Jordan to face trial on terrorism charges, the European Court of Human Rights blocked the move.

Judges feared that evidence obtained by torture would be used against him.

Ministers in the UK fought a long and expensive legal battle until the cleric finally agreed to drop his case.

He was eventually flown to Jordan in July 2013 and has now been cleared of terror charges.

Votes for prisoners

Man looking out of prison

It was nine years ago that the European Court of Human Rights first told the UK it had to change the law to allow some inmates to vote.

But most MPs in the UK don't agree, and parliament still wont let any prisoners put an x on a ballot paper.

A political compromise means the saga will go on for yet another year.

Europe says it will take no action until at least September 2015.

Army claims

British troops in Afghanistan

The Ministry of Defence has had more than 1,000 damages claims made against it for breaching human rights during conflicts overseas.

Some challenges are from former enemies on the battlefield.

Others have been brought by the families of soldiers who have died on active service or during training.

All this takes time and cost money. Some say it undermines the ability of the forces to do their job and keep us safe.

But supporters of the Human Rights Act say it's essential for our human rights to be protected by the European court.

Tim Hancock, from Amnesty UK, says under the Tories' plan, "human rights would be reserved for only those people the government decides should get them."

Here are some ways people from around the UK say the Human Rights Act has helped them.

Steven - held against his will

Steven Neary

Steven Neary has autism. He was 21 when his father, Mark, put him in temporary care for a few days.

But the authorities were concerned over Steven's behaviour there and moved him to a special unit, where he was kept against his family's wishes, for a year.

Mark took the case to court and a judge decided the west London council had violated Steven's human rights to liberty, and respect for private and family life.

Mark told Newsbeat "Steven wouldn't have come home if it hadn't been for the Human Rights Act".

ZH - autistic teenager manhandled by police

close up of police officer's hand holding cuffs

In 2013 a teenager known in court as ZH was awarded damages of £28,250 after it was found that police breached his right to be free from inhuman and degrading treatment, and his right to liberty.

When he was 16, he was taken on a school trip to a swimming pool in West London.

As he stood by the side of the pool, he became fascinated by the water and wouldn't move.

The pool staff were concerned, and called the police. But when they arrived, he jumped into the pool. Several police officers got into the pool, lifted him out, pinned him down, put him in handcuffs and leg restraints, and placed him in the back of the police van, alone.

Jenny - spied on by the council

Jenny Paton

Jenny and Tim Paton and their three children lived in the same house in Poole for more than 10 years.

But, their local council received an anonymous tip-off that they were lying about living in a particular school catchment area.

The local authority set up covert surveillance and for three weeks officials sat outside their home, making notes and taking photographs.

The family felt violated and took the case to the Investigatory Powers Tribunal and the council was found to have breached their human rights.

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