In the Human Rights Act, the full name for this right is “The right to be free from inhuman and degrading treatment“. If you want to use this right you should always say “The right to be free from inhuman and degrading treatment”.

What is  inhuman or degrading treatment?

This is treatment which:

  • Makes you very frightened or worried
  • Cause you a lot of pain
  • Makes you feel worthless or hopeless

Because everybody is different, what is inhuman and degrading treatment for one person might not be inhuman and degrading for another person. It all depends on each person and how treatment affects them. Things that will be taken into consideration are:

  • Your age
  • Your sex
  • Your gender
  • Your mental and physical health

This right protects against very serious harm. Less severe abuse which has a less serious impact is protected by the right to respect for private life.


How might this right be relevant to my life?

Some examples include:

  • When any public authority treats you in a way that causes you severe mental or physical harm.
  • If the police are not conducting a proper inquiry into behaviour that puts you at risk of severe harm.
  • You are street homeless, destitute and there are exceptional personal factors (for example, you are pregnant).
  • Previously, courts have found that acts of domestic violence meet the level of inhuman and degrading treatment.

Can my right be restricted by a public official?

No. This right is absolute. This means it can never be lawfully taken away.


What duties do public officials have about my right to be free from inhuman and degrading treatment?

  • Respect
    A duty not to torture or treat someone in an inhuman and degrading way.
  • Protect
    A duty to take reasonable steps to protect people known to be at risk of inhuman and degrading treatment – including to protect people from harm from private citizens.
  • Fulfill
    A duty to investigate where torture, inhuman or degrading treatment has occurred. This means investigating when things have gone wrong, and try to stop it from happening again.