Human Rights And The Criminal Justice System

3443 words - 14 pages

In our society today the term ‘Human Rights’ is widely acknowledge and most people believe they know what they are. But do most people really understand its concept? Constantly the media brings up issues relating to it, for example, just recently human rights activists accused the U.S.A. of mistreating their prisoners and even torturing them, this being a breach of their Human Rights. (BBC News 2005) When asked what Human Rights are most people will come up with general rights such as the freedom of speech, the right to live or the right not to be tortured. In 2004 the European Court of Human Rights received over 20.000 applications and but only delivered 718 judgments after declaring the ...view middle of the document...

Theses rights included the freedom to think and feel as one wished, the freedom to public opinion which today is know as freedom of speech and the freedom to pursue ones tastes even if they are deemed ‘immoral’ but only as long as they do not harm others. He felt that without all of these freedoms, one could not be considered to be truly free. (Gray, 1998) In the ‘Rights of Man’ Thomas Paine states that all men are born free and with equal rights. He goes on to say that all men have natural and imprescriptible rights, these being liberty, property, security, and resistance of oppression. (Philip, 1998) Some of his points were later adopted in the United States Declaration of Independence in 1776 by men such as Thomas Jefferson. (The White House, 2005) The declaration states:
‘We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.’(University of Indiana, n.d.)
In the same year following the French Revolution its assembly also adopted ‘The declaration of the Rights of Man’. Much like the American declaration it gave the French people ‘natural and unalienable’ rights. (Yale Law School, n.d.)

After the Second World War the UN Charter was drafted and in consequence (Goodin & Pettit, 1998) the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) was drawn up and put in force in 1948. It has been acknowledge on the global level and today most nations have signed this declaration. This declaration established the basis for contemporary society’s outlook on Human Rights. (Human Rights, 2005)

The UDHR is a document aimed to give every individual on this planet certain rights. In its each of its 30 Articles the rights are explained. These rights range from the right to life in Article three to the right to education. (UN, 2005 b) In 1950 the European Union also established a convention which protects the rights of each individual. It is called the European Convention on Human Rights and was signed in Rome on the 4th of November 1950. Since then there have been five more protocols. This convention is far more detailed then the UDHR and is enforced throughout all countries in the European Union. (Council of Europe, 2003) Any cases regarding Human Rights can be brought before the European Court of Human Rights whose ruling is binding. Many countries in the EU have the Human Rights incorporated in to their law. In Germany for example they form part of the Constitution. (Die Bundesregierung 2005) In 1998 parliament passed a bill establishing the Human Rights Act 1998. The rights are given in Schedule 1, Part 1. The rest of the act is concerning the implication of Human Rights. This act mentions two different rights. The first are ‘qualified rights’ or rights which public authorities may infringe upon if it is necessary to do so in order to prevent crime, to protect national security, to protect public...

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