Wednesday, 7 May 2008

I have my Human Rights Examination on Friday and I’m beginning to freak out! You may think that Human Rights is dead simple (especially if you read the likes of the Daily Mail), it’s not.

We have to learn, in detail, the various articles of the Convention that are applicable to the Human Rights Act (Articles 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 and 14) as well as the case law (both from Scotland and Strasbourg) and various important provisions from the Human Rights Act (HRA).

So, let’s take an example: Article 6. For Article 6 (which gives the right to a fair trial) we need to know exactly what the article provides for and any situations where states would be allowed under the convention to derogate from this. We also need to know case examples from the Scottish Courts and the European Court in Strasbourg that demonstrate how the article works in practice (including examples of both successful and unsuccessful challenges). And so it is repeated for every other Article there.

We also need a basic understanding of the systems put in place y the Convention, who the convention was drafted by and key dates such as when the UK ratified it, when the UK allowed petition to the Court in Strasbourg and the date when the HRA came into force.

In Scotland we also have the added complexity of the Scotland Act which put Scotland ahead of the rest of the UK in that it brought parts of the Human Rights Act into force early (some 15 months early).

And, in the unlikely event that we’re asked about the historical development of rights and freedoms in Scotland, we need to understand what Scots Law was like in relation to rights and freedoms pre-HRA.

Such a lot to learn!