Privacy And Civil Rights.
In Family Court we all too often find that children have no voice and no rights. In such cases, we refer to them as “prisoners of the court”.
Our experience has indicated that judges, lawyers and other court officials usually do have an understanding of the nuances of psychoanalytic/psychodynamic issues. However vested interests take centre court.
Cases hinge on the legal model of logic – logic that can argue both sides of a dispute as a legalistic maneuver which decides right and wrong/ guilty and innocent.
In the UK, human rights are protected by the Human Rights Act 1998. The Act gives effect to the human rights set out in the European Convention on Human Rights.
Article 8 – the right to respect for your family and private life, your home and your correspondence is one the rights protected by the Human Rights Act.
What are your rights under article 8?
Article 8 protects your right to respect for private and family life, your home and correspondence.
What’s meant by private life?
Private life has a broad meaning. It means you have the right to live your life with privacy and without interference by the state. It covers things like:
- your sexuality
- your body
- personal identity and how you look and dress
- forming and maintaining relationships with other people
- how you personal information is held and protected.Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998
Your right to respect for private and family life
What’s meant by family life?
Family life includes the right to have and maintain family relationships. It covers your right not to be separated from your family and to maintain contact if your family is split up.
To decide if a relationship is covered by family life what matters is the closeness of the relationship rather than the legal status.
Relationships covered by family life include relationships between:
- parents and their children, including illegitimate and adopted children
- husband and wife as well as unmarried couples
Same sex couples are protected under article 8 but their protection falls under their private life rather than family life.
What’s meant by home?
Your right to respect for your home doesn’t mean you have the right to housing but it protects the home you already have. It means public authorities mustn’t prevent you from entering or living in your home. You also have the right to enjoy your home peacefully without intrusion by a public authority.
A public authority may need to take positive steps so you can peacefully enjoy your home – for example, by reducing air craft noise or protect your home from serious pollution.
What’s meant by correspondence?
Correspondence includes things like:
Examples of article 8 breaches
Examples of where there could be a breach of article 8 include:
- searches and surveillance of your home
- separation of family members including deportation or removal of immigrants
- care or adoption orders for children and interference with your parental rights
- compulsory medical treatment or testing
- if you’re treated badly in a care home – if it’s severe enough this could also be a breach of article 3
- your right to privacy at home and at work – for example, phone tapping, the monitoring of emails and internet use, CCTV
- if your personal information is disclosed to other people without your consent
- the imposition of unreasonable dress codes at work
- the quality and nature of the accommodation provided by local authorities and some housing associations
- protection from noise and pollution nuisance.
When can a public authority interfere with your human rights?
In the UK, human rights are protected by the Human Rights Act 1998. The Human Rights Act gives effect to the human rights set out in the European Convention on Human Rights.
Public authorities must respect your human rights. But there are some situations where the Human Rights Act says it’s lawful for a public authority to interfere with your rights.
Read this page to find out more about when your human rights can be restricted.
Why can public authorities sometimes interfere with your human rights?
Human rights belong to everyone. This means sometimes your rights may conflict with someone else’s rights or with the interest of the wider community.
So your rights may have to be restricted to protect other people’s rights or the rights of the community. For example, your right to free speech may have to be restricted to protect someone else’s right to privacy.
When can public authorities interfere with your human rights?
Some rights are limited. This means they can only be restricted inspecific situations set out in the Human Rights Act.
For example, article 5 says it’s not a breach of your right to personal freedom if you’re detained following a criminal conviction or under mental health legislation and the correct procedure was followed.
A public authority can only interfere with a qualified right if it’s allowed under the law. It must also show that it has a specific reason set out in the Human Rights Act for interfering with your rights. The Act calls these reasons a legitimate aim.
Examples of legitimate aims include:
- the protection of other people’s rights
- national security
- public safety
- the prevention of crime
- the protection of health.
The interference must be no more than what’s absolutely necessary to achieve one of the aims in the Act. The Human Rights Act says the interference must be necessary in a democratic society.
A public authority can sometimes interfere with your rights if it’s in the interest of the wider community or to protect other people’s rights. These rights are qualified.
The following rights are qualified:
- article 8 – your right to respect for private and family life
- article 9 – freedom to manifest your religion or belief
- article 10 – freedom of expression
- article 11 – freedom of assembly.
Qualified rights may need to be balanced against other people’s rights or the rights of the wider community to achieve a fair outcome. It’s the courts who decide how to balance these different interests.