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Citizenship Questions on Human Rights and Laws

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´╗┐Citizenship (A/A*) ________________ Human Rights Why is the Human Rights Act important? Many of the rights that are listed in the Human Rights Act were guaranteed in the United Kingdom before the Act was passed in 1998. They had been accepted in this country for many years. The Human Rights Act brought all of these rights together into one document for the first time. This meant that people could see much more easily what their rights actually were. The Human Rights Act also made the European Convention of Human Rights part of the law of the United Kingdom. This meant that people could take organisations, and even the government, to the European Court of Human Rights if they believed that their rights had been disregarded. Until then, it had been very expensive to pursue a legal; case about human rights in the law courts. Now, judges in the law courts can decide whether human rights have been ignored. ...read more.


Because it is a pressure groups with no allegiance to any governmental or official organisation, Amnesty International can work in much more direct ways. Therefore, it uses the press, television and any available means to publicise abuses and to try to shame governments into changing their policies. Examiner's Hint: Amnesty International is staffed mostly by volunteers. Why Laws are needed Why do societies have laws? Laws are the rules of society. The population of the United Kingdom is made up of many people from different cultures. They have different beliefs and traditions which may conflict. Laws set out common standards of behaviour so that all people know how to behave. Laws, therefore, help to strengthen society and bring people closer together. Laws do not just tell us what we cannot do. Laws also tell us what we are entitled to do. They also tell us our rights. For example, there are laws that control the behaviour of the police. They cannot arrest somebody without a good reason. They cannot search someone's house without a warrant. ...read more.


In civil law, there are winners and losers. How are verdicts reached in a Crown Court? Cases in Crown Courts are contests between the Prosecution and the Defence. Two barristers, one for the crown and one for the defendant, put forward arguments to try to persuade the jury that the accused is either guilty or not guilty. Some people criticise this system because it concentrates on the skill of the barrister rather than the strength of the evidence. It is the judge's role to control the case. He or she must make sure that the barristers do not mislead the jury or act improperly because it is the jury which must take the final decision. Whereas the judge and the barristers are trained lawyers, the members of the jury are not. They are ordinary members of the public. This is an important principle of criminal law. People should be judged by their peers, which means by their equals. Therefore, the decision is reached by ordinary people and not by legal experts. Examiner's Hint: You must understand the roles of the different people in a court. ...read more.

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