Human rights guide
A pocket guide to human rights and why they are important to the everyday lives of people in Swansea is available here.
What are Human Rights?
Human Rights are rules that protect people. They are the basic rights and freedoms that belong to every person in the world, from birth until death. We are all born with Human Rights and although they can sometimes be limited, your rights cannot be taken from you.
In the UK some of our Human Rights are protected by UK law. Although we have other rights guaranteed by international law which are binding on the UK, these are not part of UK law, for example the Convention of the Rights of the Child.
What Rights do I have in the UK?
UK law guarantees Human Rights that are set out in the European Convention of Human Rights*. These are:
Right to life
Nobody can try and end your life. Public Authorities (Government, Local Authorities, Police) should consider your right to life when making decisions that could put you in danger or that affect your life expectancy.
Freedom from torture and inhuman or degrading treatment
Nobody has the right to hurt you, mentally or physically. Public Authorities must protect you if someone is treating you this way.
Freedom from slavery and forced labour
You have the right not to be treated like a slave. You cannot be made to work for free.
Right to liberty and security
You have the right to freedom. You should not be arrested or locked up without good reason. If you are arrested, the police must bring you before a court.
Right to a fair trial
You are innocent until proven guilty. You have the right to defend yourself and get legal help. Only a court can say if you are guilty of a crime.
No punishment without law
You can only be found guilty of a crime if it was against the law when you did it.
Respect for your private and family life, home and correspondence
You have the right to live your life your way, without any interference.
Freedom of thought, belief and religion
You have the right to believe what you like. Others cannot tell you what to believe.
Freedom of expression
You have the right to have your say and hold your own views.
Freedom of assembly and association
You have the right to get together with other people in a peaceful way.
*The European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR) was drafted in 1950 by the European Council. It is an international convention to protect human rights and political freedoms in Europe. The UK is still a participant of the ECHR.
Right to marry and start a family
You have the right to marry and start a family. The law in this country says how and at what age this can happen.
Protection from discrimination in respect of these rights and freedoms
Everyone has equal rights. You should not be treated unfairly because of your Race, religion, sex, age, political views, disability or anything else.
Right to peaceful enjoyment of your property
You have the right to enjoy the things you own. No one can interfere with things you own or the way you use them, without very good reason.
Right to education
You have the right to use schools and colleges.
Right to participate in free elections
Elections must be free and fair. They must be secret ballots, this means it is nobody else's business how you vote.
Abolition of the death penalty
You cannot be sentenced to death for any crime.
What does it mean to me?
People working in public services, for example, Local Authority, Police, NHS, have a legal duty, under UK law, to comply to the 16 rights referred to above (unless UK law means they have no option but to breach your rights).
This duty is really important in everyday situations because it means you can:
- speak up because you have human rights that should be protected and supported
- talk to your services about whether they are meeting their legal duty to respect and protect your human rights
- work with services to find better solutions without the need to go to court or use a lawyer
What are we doing in Swansea?
Swansea is becoming a Human Rights City. This means that public services like the Council, Police, Fire Service and local Health Board have made a commitment to put their residents' human rights and fundamental freedoms at the heart of everything they do. This commitment is guaranteed under UK law. We will look into how we can enhance International Human Rights and Conventions here in Swansea.
We want to create a city where everyone is equal. To empower people to understand their rights and respect the rights of others. To participate in the decisions that affect them. This will create a fairer, vibrant, diverse and safer city for all.
In July 2022, the United Nations Human Rights Council recognised for the first time that having a clean, healthy and sustainable environment is a Human Right. Swansea Council and our Public Service Board partners are taking action on climate change and the nature emergencies and have signed a Charter, committing to work together to become Net Zero and create a greener Swansea by 2050.
Swansea Council has embedded the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. When we create new policies or amend policies, we make sure that we have looked at the impact on children and young people's rights. We are committed to creating a platform for change to achieve a culture where children's rights are considered in all of our work, resulting in better services and lives for children, young people and families in Swansea.
How to get involved
Pledge your support for Swansea to become Wales' first Human Rights City:
A Human Rights City
Make a Climate pledge
You can also pledge by writing to:
Want to know more about your Rights?
The British Institute of Human Rights
BIHR provides information and resources on human rights but does not provide legal advice or casework support.
Website: The British Institute of Human Rights (bihr.org.uk)
Telephone: 020 3039 3646
Future Generations Commissioner for Wales
Offer information to help people to directly use the Well-being of Future Generations Act (Wales) Act 2015 to question how public bodies are carrying out sustainable development
Website: Future Generations Commissioner for Wales (futuregenerations.wales)
Phone: 02921 677 400
Equality and Human Rights Commission in Wales
Website: Equality Act 2010 (Equality and Human Rights Commission)
For specific advice:
Equality and Advisory Support Service
Website: Equality Advisory and Support Service (equalityadvisoryservice.com)
Telephone: 0808 800 0082
Textphone: 0808 800 0084
Swansea Law Clinic
Offers free initial advice about legal problems while giving our students the chance to work alongside practising lawyers to advise real clients.
Website: Swansea Law Clinic (swansea.ac.uk)
Telephone: 01792 295387
Children's Legal Centre