One brief look behind the hysterical headlines and you can easily see the benefits human rights bring to everyday people.
Often unfairly maligned by the media, human rights can offer fundamental protection to vulnerable people.
The perfect example would be my 98-year-old client Mary who supported herself financially in the care home of her choice. This was until the capital she used to fund her care dropped below a certain threshold whereby she could then get assistance from social services, which she sought. However social services suggested that Mary move to a cheaper care home. Given Mary’s deteriorating health and diagnosis of dementia we knew this would be the wrong move.
We referred social services to Department of Health guidance about moving frail and vulnerable people and urged them to consider Mary’s dignity and right to respect for privacy and family life under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights. With minimum fuss, fanfare and cost we succeeded with social services agreeing Mary should stay in the care home of her choice.
This is one of a number of day to day examples of how Human Rights play a part in the lives of ordinary people. Another look behind the headlines and political posturing reveals many more cases in which human rights have had a profound impact upon real people.
One such example is the case of Essex County Council v CP in which a frail and vulnerable man in his nineties was unlawfully deprived of his liberty in a care home. You cannot help but feel appalled looking at this case, in which human rights should have been so fundamental, because CP was all but ignored by social services for over a year! Before the case came before the Court of Protection and appropriate steps were taken to return him to his home.
Another case in which it was argued that human rights had been breached is that of Korobtsova. In this case a wife successfully argued that the Secretary of State had failed to consider her rights under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights when deciding that she could to return to her country of origin on the basis that her husband could move with her. This was despite the fact her husband had lived in the UK for 52 years and they were happily married and settled together in the UK.
Another good example of practical human rights issues being raised, this time in relation to immigration law.
And no, it wasn’t about the cat.
Richard Copson is a Senior Human Rights Solicitor at Slater and Gordon Lawyers UK.
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