Guide to the Human Rights Act for people with learning disabilities
Title of guidance:
Author: Ministry of Justice
Year published: 2008
Length: 20 pages
Format: PDF (342Kb)
Other formats: CD or Braille available on request - phone: 0207 210 1437
Producer/ Publisher: Ministry of Justice
Type of organisation: Public Authority
Cross-sector | External Service Guidance | Human Rights Act | European Convention on Human Rights | GB wide| Case studies
Audience: Front-line service personnel
Topics: Human rights | proportionality | balancing competing rights | involvement and participation | positive obligations
This booklet is a first step for people with learning disabilities to understand the Human Rights Act and what it means in everyday situations. It explains the Act in the context of what it means to live in a democracy. Each right is explained, with a short practical example of how it might affect daily life. The guide also gives examples of how the Act should not be used. The guide is written in active language and short, clear sentences, with illustrations to aid understanding of key ideas. There is information about - and links to - organisations that can help if people think their rights have been breached. This guide to the Human Rights Act, then, will be useful both to people with learning disabilities and their advocates, as well as those delivering public services who may wish to inform service users about their rights.
- As well as the need to ensure that public services recognise and respond to the rights of people with learning disabilities, it is important to support people to understand and exercise those rights.
- Some rights, like the right to life, can never be taken away. Other rights, like the right to free speech, might have to be balanced because of the rights of others.
As well as the need to ensure that public services recognise and respond to the rights of people with learning disabilities, it is important to support people to understand and exercise those rights. This guide to the Human Rights Act, then, will be useful both to people with learning disabilities and their advocates, as well as those delivering public services who may wish to inform service users about their rights.
The guide takes the reader briefly through the background to the Act and to the European Convention on Human Rights. It sets out the context of how governments and courts work, and what it means to be living in a democracy.
It explains that some rights can be limited or restricted in certain circumstances.
It explains how the Act operates and what responsibilities it places on public organisations, as well as ways in which individuals can bring the act to bear on those organisations if they break the law.
The meaning of each right is spelt out clearly; however, the examples are given are so brief that some readers may need to look at other materials to be made aware of the full range of circumstances and settings in which the right might come into play.
Respect for private and family life
- You should be safe at home and have time to yourself.
- Staff shouldn't read your letters or listen to phone calls unless the law says they can and they need to for a good reason, for example, to stop a crime.
Right to freedom and security
- Nobody should lock you in or stop you going out except when the law says they can.
- It's not fair for care staff to lock you in your room, even if they're angry with how you have behaved.
Members of a self-advocacy group, Our Way, reviewed the booklet as part of an exercise to review materials on human rights produced for people with a learning disability. They thought the information was clearly signposted and easy to find, with the pictures making things easy to understand, and scored it as 10 out of 10.
Related equality messages (if applicable)
The guide does not directly address issues of equality.
Other important information
The examples are given are brief; some readers may need to look at other materials to be made aware of the full range of circumstances and settings in which the right might come into play.
Date of review
- Review of human rights materials for use by people with learning disabilities
This is a government-commissioned review of relevant materials, published in 2009. It describes each document, provides links where available, and provides brief descriptions and reviews of them by members of the self-advocacy group Our Way. It includes generic guides to the HRA, and guides dealing with specific issues e.g. relationships, homophobia, domestic abuse and hate crime.
- Department of Health website with links to human rights training materials and guidance re learning disabilities. //www.dh.gov.uk/en/Publicationsandstatistics/Publications/
- Equality and Human Rights Commission (undated), Ours to Own: Your human rights - a booklet about human rights and what they mean for you
- British Institute of Learning Disabilities (undated), Factsheet - Human Rights Act
- Action for Advocacy, Human rights toolkit for advocates
- Equality and Human Rights Commission, The United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities - What does it mean for you?
We hope that you found the resource helpful and easy to use. Please let us know about other guidance or references that you think we should include. Send us your feedback.
Last Updated: 08 Apr 2014