Abuse Cases and Human Rights Claims - What You Need to Know

Posted on: 1 min read
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Liam Goggin

Partner, Head of Abuse Claims & Public Law

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The rights of both adults and children have been firmly enshrined in UK law for many years.

In 1950, the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) became a ratified international treaty and clearly set out the rights of both adults and children. This was then incorporated into UK law through the Human Rights Act 1998, which gave adults and children the right to complain to a UK Court if their rights had been infringed.

The rights include, but are not limited to:

  • Right to life
  • Right to be safe from torture and cruel treatment
  • Freedom from slavery
  • Right to a fair Trial
  • Right to respect for private and family life
  • Right to an education.

The UK has also signed the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), although this hasn’t been entrenched in domestic law, and is only used as an interpretive aid for the Courts.

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What the Human Rights Act Means for Public Bodies

The significance of the Human Rights Act 1998 is that it imposed upon public authorities, such as the Courts, prisons and Local Authority children’s services departments, a positive duty to protect the children in their care.

Under the Human Rights Act, children must now be protected when under the care of a public authority. This means that their basic needs must be met and that they’re protected from abuse and neglect. It’s a child’s right to be placed in a stable environment and to be placed in a permanent home, if this is possible.

They must ensure that their decisions don’t breach the rights of a child. What has been seen more recently is child abuse whilst in the care of a Local Authority, such as horrific cases of child sexual exploitation and grooming.

In 2005, the “blanket immunity” that Local Authorities enjoyed was removed. This allowed abuse claims to be brought against them for their negligence whilst carrying out their statutory duty of protecting children.

So when there’s a case of suspected child abuse, the interests of the child must be paramount. Moreover, public authorities now must ensure they’re carrying out their statutory duty, with their child’s interests being their main consideration.

Abuse cases now can be brought in the UK against public authorities when one’s rights have been breached. If a person feels that their rights have or may be breached in the future due to the interference from a public authority, they can issue Court proceedings.

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