National Human Rights System

The oversight mechanisms at national level are at the forefront of ensuring human rights are respected, protected and fulfilled. A number of procedures have been put in place at national level to monitor compliance and to provide redress where violations have occurred. This includes:

National Courts and Tribunals

The role of national courts and tribunals is particularly important, as they can review decisions and provide redress where an individual’s rights have been violated. Although individuals can take their complaints to international and regional human rights bodies, they must always exhaust the legal remedies available to them in the UK first. The European Court of Human Rights does not serve as a court of appeal.

Since the Human Rights Act entered into force in the UK, individuals can claim human rights before a national court. The court must take human rights into consideration when it examines primary or subordinate legislation, decisions and actions of public authorities. The Human Rights Act also requires all UK courts and tribunals to take account of the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights.

Other UN and Council of Europe treaties have not been incorporated in UK national law to the same extent as the European Convention of Human Rights has through the Human Rights Act. This means that those rights cannot be claimed in a national court. However, those rights are still legally binding and the NI Executive and NICS must still act in compliance with them, as set out in the Northern Ireland Act.