The ECHR applies to us all because the UK has signed up to it. Here are the key rights we have:
ARTICLE 2 (RIGHT TO LIFE)
This is one of the most basic rights in the Convention. In general, the court finds that any killing is a violation unless “absolutely necessary”.
ARTICLE 3 (PROHIBITION OF TORTURE)
This article also includes a ban on any “inhuman or degrading treatment”, whether it is physical or mental.
ARTICLE 4 (PROHIBITION OF SLAVERY AND FORCED LABOUR)
This prevents people from being forced to work, paid or otherwise. It is important to note, though, that this specifically excludes military service, prison labour, normal civic duties (such as jury duty) or work required in case of emergency or calamity for the community.
ARTICLE 5 (RIGHT TO LIBERTY AND SECURITY)
This article gives protection against imprisonment or detention, apart from certain legal exceptions such as prison after conviction, deportation or extradition, rehab or quarantines amongst others. It also states that you must be told in a language you understand why you have been arrested and if you have been charged.
ARTICLE 6 (RIGHT TO A FAIR TRIAL)
This is one of the most high profile and controversial rights in the UK. It is clearly important, though, that everyone, whether they end up being guilty or not, has a fair trial. As such, everyone is entitled to an impartial and fair trial and to be presumed innocent until proven guilty. Amongst other rights, everyone also has a right to legal assistance, enough time to prepare a defence, and to examine the witnesses.
ARTICLE 8 (RIGHT TO RESPECT FOR PRIVATE AND FAMILY LIFE)
Notably this has prevented states from banning homosexuality or preventing discharge from the army because of sexuality, to rule on sweeping stop and search powers for police, or to prevent governments storing information about people.
ARTICLE 9 (FREEDOM OF THOUGHT, CONSCIENCE AND RELIGION)
Cases brought under this article have covered requirements to take a religious oath or the right to wear religious symbols to work – but not always. This right has also been used to protect conscientious objectors.
ARTICLE 10 (FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION)
Freedom of expression is central to our lives and although exceptions can be made – for the licencing of broadcasting, hate speech or public security – this article is a key safeguard.
It has been used to protect journalistic sources, but the Court also declared that the article could not be used to protect a BNP member convicted of aggravated hostility towards a religious group.
ARTICLE 14 (PROHIBITION OF DISCRIMINATION)
The prohibition of discrimination is one of the more commonly used articles in the Convention. Under this article, the ECHR has had a strong role, even in the UK, in defending gay rights as well as acting on other areas of discrimination such as religion and race. It can only be used to rule on discrimination relating to ECHR rights.