London: (Agencies: 23/11/2008) A campaign to raise awareness of the Human Rights Act is being called for today in the United Kingdom, 10 years after the legislation was passed.
In the report Changing Lives, the British Institute of Human Rights (BIHR) highlighted 16 examples of how the act had made "concrete, positive changes" to British people’s lives over the past decade.
However, it said more could be done to promote the Human Rights Act (HRA) and challenge "myths and misperceptions" about it.
Recommendations included a "major public awareness campaign" to illustrate the benefits of the legislation for everyone.
It also recommended that public authorities "proactively and strategically integrate human rights throughout public services, policy and practice".
And the report called for a cross-party commitment to "maintain existing vital protections" guaranteed in the HRA and to strengthen a "culture of respect" for human rights for all people.
The HRA was given Royal Assent on November 9, 1998, and brought most of the rights contained in the European Convention of Human Rights into UK domestic law.
The BIHR report said in particular Article 8 (the right to respect for private and family life) and Article 3 (the right not to be tortured or treated in an inhuman or degrading way) had been used to challenge unacceptable treatment of individuals.
Case studies included a man with learning disabilities who was provided with a single room to be used as a bedroom, bathroom, toilet and living space. He used the act to ensure he was placed in more suitable accommodation that "respected his dignity".
In another case, the BIHR said older people in a nursing home were put in chairs that prevented them from walking – a "routine" practice that was stopped through educating staff about the act.
Acting director of the BIHR, Ceri Goddard, said: "The Human Rights Act is 10 years old and should be celebrated for the positive changes it is making to people’s everyday lives – in our hospitals, care homes and schools.
"Sadly, myths and misperceptions abound about this law, fuelling calls to scrap it, but the BIHR’s experience is that when people know the facts and understand how to use the law and its principles, the Human Rights Act is a vital tool protecting vulnerable people and promoting good practice in public services."
The BIHR report was also published to mark 60 years of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was proclaimed by the United Nations on December 10, 1948.