chapter  19
24 Pages

CIVIL LIBERTIES AND HUMAN RIGHTS

19.1 Introduction

People use the word ‘rights’ in different senses, and so we need to clarify what they mean.

‘Rights’ may refer to legally enforceable entitlements or freedoms. Thus, when lawyers talk about the ‘right to vote’, they may be referring to legal rights contained in the Representation of the People Act 1985 and perhaps also to the international treaty obligations which place a duty on governments to organise elections. For instance, the countries which have ratified the First Protocol to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) ‘undertake to hold free elections at reasonable intervals by secret ballot, under conditions which will ensure the free expression of the people in the choice of the legislature’ (Art 3).