The State Department web site below is a permanent electronic archive of information released prior to January 20, 2001.  Please see for material released since President George W. Bush took office on that date.  This site is not updated so external links may no longer function.  Contact us with any questions about finding information.

NOTE: External links to other Internet sites should not be construed as an endorsement of the views contained therein.

Department Seal


DATE:  JANUARY 31, 1994


The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (UK) 
is a constitutional monarchy with a democratic, parliamentary 
government elected in periodic, multiparty elections.  Although 
there is no written constitution, human and civil rights are 
recognized by statute and strongly held traditions.  Human 
rights are "residual," i.e., assumed unless limited by statute.

Throughout the UK, public order is maintained by civilian 
police forces responsive to and controlled by elected 
officials.  Because of terrorist violence, the Royal Ulster 
Constabulary (RUC) in Northern Ireland is supported by army 

The United Kingdom has a highly developed industrial economy.  
Persons may own property and pursue private economic 
interests.  The Government provides comprehensive social 
welfare services.

Terrorist bombings and killings carried out by the illegal 
Provisional Irish Republican Army (Provisional IRA) and other 
"Republican" (Catholic) and "Loyalist" (Protestant) terrorist 
groups in Northern Ireland and Great Britain continue to be the 
greatest threat to public order and security in the UK.  By the 
end of 1993, over 3,000 people had died in 24 years of "the 
troubles" in Northern Ireland, which has a population of 1.5 
million.  Since the troubles began, more than 100 persons have 
been killed in Provisional IRA attacks in Great Britain, 
including 3 in 1993.  Emergency measures enacted because of the 
terrorist problem in the past 20 years suspend certain due 
process guarantees and restrict freedom of movement, 
expression, and association.  There were no new reported 
instances of extrajudicial killings by security forces in 
Northern Ireland.  However, allegations of the use of excessive 
force continued.  Eleven members of the security forces were 
killed in Northern Ireland.  Aspects of the criminal justice 
system remained under scrutiny as investigations exposed 
shortcomings, and a Royal Commission recommended extensive 
changes in the treatment of confession evidence and handling of 

Primarily because of fear of terrorist violence, Protestant and 
Catholic communities in Northern Ireland are increasingly 

*A separate report on Hong Kong, a dependent territory of the 
United Kingdom, follows this report on the United Kingdom.

segregated.  Most firms continue to recruit predominantly from 
one community or the other, and workers are reluctant to 
commute across sectarian borders.  In December the British and 
Irish Governments issued a joint declaration which seeks to 
accomodate the aspirations of all communities in Northern 
Ireland and to encourage an end to violence.


Section 1  Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including 
           Freedom from:

     a.  Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing

There were no political killings by the Government and no 
charges of other extrajudicial killings by government forces.  
However, during 1993 there were four inquests into the deaths 
of people killed by the security forces under disputed 
circumstances in previous years.  In Northern Ireland, 84 
persons were killed in incidents related to terrorism, 
including 47 by Loyalists and 35 by Republican terrorists (one 
Loyalist and one Republican accidentally killed themselves).  
Eleven victims were members of British security forces, all 
killed by Provisional IRA.  Although no deaths resulted from 
shootings by security forces in Northern Ireland, charges 
continued that soldiers resorted to lethal force precipitately 
and carried out a "shoot to kill" policy.

The Committee on the Administration of Justice (CAJ), an 
independent Northern Ireland civil liberties organization, 
claims that there have been approximately 340 killings by the 
security forces under disputed circumstances since "the 
troubles" began in 1968, with criminal prosecutions in only 30 
cases, and 4 convictions by the end of 1993.

The authorities investigated several deaths in which critics of 
the security forces alleged a "shoot to kill" policy was in 
effect.  A January inquest into the 1986 killing of Seamus 
McElwaine, an acknowledged Provisional IRA volunteer and 
escaped prisoner, ruled that soldiers had opened fire without 
giving him the opportunity to surrender and that McElwaine had 
actually been killed 5 minutes after being wounded in the 
initial gunfire.  The Director of Public Prosecutions reviewed 
the case to determine whether prosecution was warranted.  An 
inquest into the August 1988 killings of three IRA members was 
inconclusive.  None of the security forces members involved in 
the shooting was required to be present at the inquest; their 
written statements were read out as evidence.  They admitted 
they gave no warnings before firing, and the jury found 
inconclusive the evidence on who had fired first.  An inquest 
into another case, a February 1988 death in which a soldier 
claimed his fingers were wet and had slipped on the trigger of 
his gun, determined that the soldiers involved were guilty of 
contravening orders in relation to the handling of weapons.

In the case of the deaths of four Provisional IRA terrorists 
after an attack on a police station in Coalisland in 1992, the 
court ruled in 1993 that the involved security forces were 
innocent of murder but enjoined five of the six accused to take 
more caution.  Relatives of the three Provisional IRA 
terrorists who were killed in Gibraltar by UK security forces 
in 1988 have claimed that the terrorists were lured into an 
ambush.  They were unarmed at the time the attack occurred, 
although British officials have claimed that they intended to 
bomb a military band concert.  A police investigation and 
inquest in Gibraltar found in favor of the Government, but the 
relatives sued the Government for compensation.  The Government 
claimed exemption for actions of its forces overseas, but the 
European Commission on Human Rights ruled that the European 
Court should consider the case.  Two Royal Marines who were 
charged with the murder of Fergal Caraher in 1992 were 
acquitted in December when the judge, citing conflicting and in 
some cases apparently perjured testimony, accepted the Marines' 
contention that they believed another member of their patrol 
was in danger.  In the September 1990 killing of Karen Reilly, 
a Belfast Crown Court found one soldier guilty of murder and 
another guilty of evading the investigation.  They were 
sentenced to life in prison and 7 years respectively.  The 
McBride case and another case involving the death of a 
19-year-old student were still pending at year's end.  
Following an investigation, the DPP decided not to prosecute in 
the case involving the death of Pearse Jordan (see 1992 report).

In 1993 the European Commission found that the use of lethal 
force to prevent the running of a roadblock by a person 
reasonably suspected of being a terrorist is not a violation of 
international human rights law.

The RUC investigates all killings committed in Northern Ireland 
by the RUC, as well as by the Army.  The Independent 
Commisssion for Police Complaints (ICPC), established by the 
Government, supervises investigations by police but has little 
independent investigative capability.  The RUC Chief Constable 
may accept or reject its recommendations for disciplinary 
action, as may the DPP in the case of criminal prosecutions.  
In 1992, 66 police officers were disciplined as a result of 
ICPC investigations, and criminal charges were brought against 
8 police officers. The ICPC has no responsibility for 
complaints leveled against the Army (see Section 1.c. for 
additional discussion of the ICPC).  In early 1993, the 
Northern Ireland Secretary named a senior British lawyer as 
Independent Assessor of Military Complaints to deal with 
procedures for complaints against the Army; he has no 
independent investigative powers.  His first report was due in 
early 1994.

Although the European Convention on Human Rights established a 
standard for use of lethal force only when "absolutely 
necessary" in specific circumstances, British law requires only 
that the use of lethal force be "reasonable in the 
circumstances."  Soldiers involved in shooting incidents have 
argued that they were in "imminent danger" before opening 
fire.  The courts have generally accepted this defense, and 
very few on-duty soldiers have been convicted.

Security forces members are subject to the same legal 
guidelines on the use of lethal force as are other citizens.  
In practice, this means that if a court determines in a death 
case that a policeman or soldier intended to cause serious 
bodily harm but was not justified in doing so, the only 
applicable charge is one of murder.  Manslaughter is applicable 
in death cases only where there is no intent to cause serious 
bodily harm.  This means a charge of manslaughter is possible 
when a negligent discharge of a weapon is suspected, and there 
have been a few convictions on this basis.  Since sentencing 
rules require a life sentence for murder, the courts have been 
unwilling to impose such heavy penalties in borderline cases.

Human rights organizations have called for the establishment of 
an independent public inquiry to investigate allegations of 
police threats to and intimidation of defense lawyers in 
Northern Ireland, including an investigation of the 1986 
killing of Patrick Finucane, counsel to many Provisional IRA 
suspects.  In February the U.S.-based Lawyers Committee for 
Human Rights released the report of its investigation into 
Finucane's death, in which they concluded that there was 
"credible evidence suggesting collusion between elements within 
the security forces and Loyalist paramilitaries" in Finucane's 
killing.  Three people were charged and convicted of possession 
of the weapons used to kill Finucane, but police have not found 
sufficient evidence to charge them with murder.  The case 
remains open.  The Government maintained that harassment of 
defense lawyers was unacceptable and invited those with 
evidence of such actions to provide it to the ICPC.  

Security forces in Northern Ireland continued the use of 
plastic bullet rounds (PBR's) for riot control, though in 
recent years their use declined sharply, consonant with the 
decline in the number of street riots.  PBR rounds were shot at 
Protestant groups in the riots leading up to the annual July 12 
celebration, resulting in some minor injuries and a serious one.

For the second year in a row, Loyalists killed more people than 
did the Provisional IRA.  Loyalist terrorists continued to 
perpetrate random sectarian killings of Catholics in Northern 
Ireland, culminating in the indiscriminate slaughter of seven 
Catholics in Greysteel in late October.  The Provisional IRA 
conducted bomb attacks that led to numerous deaths.  A 
Provisional IRA bomb in Belfast in October killed nine 
civilians as well as one of the bombers.  A huge Provisional 
IRA bomb in London in April caused massive damage and one 
death, and two smaller bombs in a shopping district in 
Warrington, England, killed two small boys and injured more 
than 50 others.

In August police arrested Joy Gardner, a Jamaican illegal alien 
subject to a deportation order.  According to official reports, 
she collapsed and died of renal failure after 4 days on life 
support in a hospital.  Her family alleges she died of 
asphyxiation after being gagged by the police.  The 
Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police ordered an immediate 
investigation and suspended the officers involved.  In January 
1994, the Home Office issued guidelines banning the use of gags.

     b.  Disappearance

There were no disappearances attributed to government forces.  
Instances of persons abducted or held hostage by terrorists in 
Northern Ireland continued.

     c.  Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading 
         Treatment or Punishment

British laws forbid torture and other cruel, inhuman, or 
degrading treatment of prisoners and provide penalties for 
violations of those laws.  Confessions obtained by such methods 
are not admissible as evidence in court.  However, Helsinki 
Watch asserted that "evidentiary rules in nonjury courts permit 
the admission into evidence of unreliable confessions, some of 
which may have been secured by abusive treatment in 
detention."  Allegations of torture and ill-treatment of 
persons detained by the police in holding facilities in 
Northern Ireland continued.  A new code of practices, which 
went into effect January 1, 1994, is designed to implement 
greater standardization of police interrogation procedures and 
strengthen oversight requirements.

The "Beechmount Five" and the "Ballymurphy Seven" were two 
groups of teenagers arrested and interrogated in connection 
with two separate attacks on the RUC.  They alleged that they 
were coerced into making confessions, in the absence of their 
lawyers, after being subjected to mental and physical abuse.  
Inadequate methods for monitoring police interrogations make it 
virtually impossible to prove or disprove these claims.  The 
Beechmount Five were convicted primarily on the basis of 
confession evidence.  The trial of the Ballymurphy Seven began 
but has not been concluded.  In March an eighth teenager from 
Ballymurphy was tried, convicted, and sentenced to 14 years.  
The principal evidence against him was the statement  which he 
claimed he was coerced into signing.

The Independent Commission for Police Complaints in Northern 
Ireland has limited powers.  It reviews all complaints against 
the police and automatically supervises police investigations 
in cases involving death or serious injury, as well as any 
other cases of its choosing.  It may insist that disciplinary 
charges be preferred against police officers and may comment on 
the quality of police investigations, but it has no control 
over the outcome of disciplinary cases.  The ICPC has been 
unable to substantiate any claim of ill-treatment in police 
custody submitted.  In most cases, complainants refused to 
cooperate with the police or the ICPC.  Some claimed they could 
not get a fair trial.  The Government notes that complainants 
often prefer to sue in civil court, where they may be awarded 
substantial damages as a result of court rulings or 
out-of-court settlements, and where a lower evidentiary 
standard is applied.

The U.N. Committee Against Torture as well as many human rights 
groups have raised concerns about ill-treatment of detainees in 
Northern Ireland and recommended that interrogations in police 
custody be videotaped.  The Government refused to accept their 
recommendation on the grounds that the tapes could compromise 
ongoing operations and jeopardize the safety of detainees who 
cooperate with the police.  Instead, the Government announced 
in December 1992 the appointment of a senior barrister as 
Independent Commissioner for Holding Centers in Northern 
Ireland.  He has the authority to make irregular and 
unannounced visits to any of the three holding centers, observe 
interrogations on television monitors, and interview 
detainees.  His first report is due to be submitted in early 

Security forces in Northern Ireland, both the Army and the RUC, 
frequently harass citizens verbally, particularly young people 
in areas where community support for terrorists is considered 
strong.  Security forces have also been accused of more serious 
incidents of physical mistreatment.  The CAJ reported that 
harassment included threats to kill, kidnap, or maliciously 
prosecute.  Most complaints come from Republican neighborhoods, 
but after police crackdowns on Loyalist terrorism, there were 
also reports of abusive house searches and street harassment in 
some Protestant areas.  Officials state that soldiers and 
policemen found guilty of harassment are punished severely but 
have provided no statistics.

Northern Ireland terrorist groups, both Loyalist and 
Republican, frequently carry out "punishment shootings" of 
persons allegedly engaged in "antisocial activities."  These 
assaults, which typically involve shooting through one or both 
knees at short range, have been widely condemned.

Prison facilities in the UK vary depending upon location.  
Remand facilities, which tend to be located in old Victorian 
structures, are often overcrowded and lack proper exercise 
areas and modern sanitation.  Permanent facilities are 
generally good, although a government-appointed investigator 
found problems of overcrowding, substandard conditions, and lax 
discipline at some prisons in Great Britain.  In Northern 
Ireland, prison facilities have improved notably in recent 
years, but conditions at the three holding centers are 
substandard.  Uniformed police can observe all interrogations 
on television monitors although the content of the interviews 
cannot be heard, and, as noted above, they do not allow tapes 
to be made.

Some teenagers continued to be detained in adult holding 
centers in Northern Ireland despite a government policy to 
separate them from adult prisoners.  Helsinki Watch reported 
allegations by young detainees that they had been subjected to 
physical and mental abuse and pressured to become informers 
during detention.

Children under the age of 18 convicted for murder may be held 
for an indeterminate length of time.  for example, the two 
10-year-old children who murdered toddler Jamie Bulger received 
indeterminate sentences.  Such sentences are periodically 
reviewed.  If it is found that a person has been rehabilitated, 
the individual may be released.  Throughout the UK there are 
some 400 children under the age of 18 serving indeterminate 

     d.  Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile

In instances when reasonable cause to suspect criminal guilt 
exists, police may make arrests without warrants.  Those 
arrested without warrants must be released on bail within 36 
hours unless brought before a magistrate's court.  The court 
may authorize an additional 60 hours of detention before 
charges must be brought.  Generally, persons charged with what 
British law defines as "nonserious" offenses may be released on 
bail.  In cases such as crimes of violence, however, 
magistrates have remanded persons for periods of up to 3 years 
before trial.

Reacting to the violence in Northern Ireland, the Government 
adopted the Northern Ireland (Emergency Provisions) Act of 1991 
(EPA), which is applicable only to Northern Ireland, and the 
Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act of 1989 
(PTA), most of which is applicable to the entire United 
Kingdom.  Both Acts replaced earlier versions enacted in 1973 
and 1974 respectively, and both must be renewed annually by 

Under the EPA, police and military personnel, in dealing with 
cases of suspected terrorism, may enter and search without a 
warrant, and members of the armed forces on duty may arrest 
without a warrant any person suspected of having committed or 
being about to commit any offense.  Such persons may be held 
for up to 4 hours, after which they must be transferred to 
police custody or released.  The 1991 EPA introduced new 
offenses--of directing a terrorist organization and possessing 
items intended for terrorist purposes--and gave authorities new 
powers to examine financial and other documents found in 
terrorist-related searches.  The PTA allows the police to 
arrest without a warrant, anywhere in the UK, persons whom they 
reasonably suspect to be involved in terrorism.  The 
authorities may detain such persons, even those under 18, for 
up to 48 hours without legal representation or judicial 
review.  Suspects may be interrogated during this time, and 
confessions obtained may be used in subsequent court 
proceedings.  Although people detained in England and Wales 
under the PTA have the right to have lawyers present during 
interrogation, in Northern Ireland lawyers are never allowed to 
be present during interrogation of PTA detainees.  Judicial 
review may be delayed up to a further 5 days on the authority 
of the Home Secretary or, in Northern Ireland, the Secretary of 
State for Northern Ireland.  In 1988 the European Court of 
Human Rights held that this practice violated the European 
Human Rights Convention.  As a consequence, the UK derogated 
from that portion of the Convention.  In 1993 the European 
Court held that British derogation from this portion of the 
Convention was allowable.  The Court reasoned that detention of 
suspected terrorist beyond 4 days was reasonable under the 

The Government does not practice exile (see, however, 
Section 2.d.).  In Northern Ireland, the Provisional IRA and to 
a lesser extent Loyalist paramilitaries forced a substantial 
number of Catholics and Protestants to leave the province by 
threatening them with death or injury if they remain.  The 
paramilitaries claim that these persons have cooperated with 
security forces or engaged in "antisocial behavior", but the 
latter reportedly includes personal feuds with paramilitary 
members.  Families Against Intimidation and Terror, an 
organization that assists persons under threat, dealt with 35 
cases in 1993, including 7 entire families.

     e.  Denial of Fair Public Trial

Fair trial is provided for by law and observed in practice, but 
there have been some serious exceptions.  In the late 1980's, 
after 10 years of intense public pressure on several cases, the 
Home Secretary directed the courts to reconsider them.  The 
cases were reviewed at the appellate level and the appellate 
courts reached a number of troubling conclusions:  lower courts 
often relied too heavily on uncorroborated confessions and 
assumed the integrity of the police was irreproachable; 
appellate court judges tended to accept lower court rulings 
without closely examining procedural flaws and new evidence and 
occasionally displayed open hostility to the defense; and 
courts accepted tainted forensic evidence and exculpatory 
evidence was withheld from the defense.  As a result of these 
apparent miscarriages of justice, the Government in 1991 
established a Royal Commission to review all aspects of the 
criminal justice system in England and Wales (see below).

An indigent defendant has the right to counsel of his 
choosing.  All criminal proceedings must be conducted in 
public, with the exception of juvenile court cases and cases 
involving public decency or security.  In a trial under the 
Official Secrets Act, the court may be closed at the judge's 
discretion, but the sentence must be passed in public.

The UK has several levels of courts.  The vast majority of 
criminal cases are heard by magistrate's courts, which are 
managed by locally based committees.  Their decisions may be 
appealed to the Crown Court, which also hears criminal cases 
requiring a jury trial, or to the High Court.  From the Crown 
Court, convictions may be appealed to the Court of Appeal, 
which in turn may refer cases involving points of law to the 
House of Lords.  The Appellate Committee of the House of Lords 
(which consists of senior judges and is functionally distinct 
from the legislative arm of the House) is the final court of 
appeal in the UK.  Once all these appeals have been exhausted, 
defendants in England and Wales may appeal to the Home 
Secretary to refer a case back to the courts if fresh evidence 
has emerged which casts doubt on the conviction.  (Appeals may 
be made to the Northern Ireland Office and the Scotland Office 
in those jurisdictions.)

Since 1989, following referrals from the Home Secretary, courts 
in England have overturned the convictions of 18 persons 
previously imprisoned in connection with Provisional IRA 
terrorist attacks in the 1970's.  A precedent has been 
established that all evidence held by the prosecution, whether 
or not intended for use in court, may be released to the 
defense at the judge's discretion.

Perceived miscarriages of justice prompted the Government in 
March 1991 to appoint a Royal Commission to review all aspects 
of the criminal justice system in England and Wales.  The 
Commission spent 2 years collecting submissions from numerous 
professional bodies, nongovernmental organizations, and 
individuals, and commissioning surveys of lawyers, defendants, 
and the general public on how the administration of justice is 
perceived.  The Commission's report was released in 1993 and 
includes 352 recommendations.  The following recommendations 
have generated the most discussion:  credible confession 
evidence should be allowed, if the judge gives a strong warning 
to the jury; in so-called either way cases--triable in either a 
magistrate's court or the Crown Court; where the case is tried 
is dependent upon the severity of the case--a defendant should 
not have the right to insist on trial by jury; the defense 
should disclose its theory of the case after the prosecution 
has disclosed its case; an independent criminal cases review 
authority that would send cases to the Court of Appeal (instead 
of the Home Office) should be established; and continuous video 
recording of all custody offices, passages, and stairways 
should be introduced as soon as possible.  The proposal that 
the defense should reveal its case theory and the denial of a 
defendant's right to opt for a jury in an either way case 
stirred the most controversy.  Some proposals from the report 
were included in the crime bill introduced into Parliament in 
December (see below).

Although the Commission did not study Northern Ireland, the 
Government indicated it would consider whether changes 
implemented as a result of the Commission's findings might also 
be applied in Northern Ireland.

In October the Home Secretary announced a series of proposals 
designed to crack down on rising crime rates throughout the UK, 
some of which have caused concern among human rights monitors.  
These include allowing judges, at their discretion, to instruct 
juries that they could draw an inference of guilt from a 
defendant's refusal to answer questions during interrogation or 
trial; ending the presumption in favor of bail for serious or 
repeated offense; and creating new categories of terrorism 
offenses.  The proposals were included in a criminal justice 
bill introduced into Parliament in December.  Opposition 
parties and human and civil rights groups particularly 
criticized the erosion of the right to remain silent.

In 1973 the Government suspended the right to trial by jury for 
certain terrorist-related offenses in Northern Ireland because 
of intimidation of the judiciary, jurors, and lawyers.  In such 
cases, a "Diplock Court," in which a single judge presides over 
a trial without jury, is used.  The judge in a Diplock Court 
must justify his or her decision to convict in a document that 
becomes part of the court record, and appeal courts may 
overturn Diplock Court convictions on substantive as well as 
legal grounds.  These courts have been widely criticized.  The 
Government claims that the conviction rate for defendants 
pleading not guilty in Diplock Courts is virtually identical to 
the rate in regular courts, but one human rights group has 
contested this claim, citing other statistics that indicate a 
50 percent higher conviction rate in Diplock Courts in 1991.  
The group also notes that most Diplock convictions are based on 
uncorroborated confessions.

A court in Northern Ireland may draw whatever inference it 
deems proper, including an inference of guilt, if a subject 
remains silent during interrogation by police or at trial, 
though he cannot be convicted solely on the basis of such an 
inference.  The change was intended to deal with a Provisional 
IRA tactic of advising members not to say anything under 
interrogation, then to present a surprise alibi at trial, but 
it substantially erodes the presumption of innocence and the 
right not to be compelled to testify against oneself or confess 
guilt.  Furthermore, it is part of the general criminal law of 
Northern Ireland and applies to all criminal suspects, not only 
terrorist suspects.

     f.  Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or 

The right to privacy is generally respected in both law and 
custom, though see below on Northern Ireland.  Warrants are 
normally required for a police search of private premises.  
However, under the EPA, on-duty members of the armed forces or 
policemen may enter any premises or other place if they 
consider it necessary to preserve peace or maintain order.  The 
Act requires a standard of "reasonable grounds of suspicion" 
before a dwelling may be entered without a warrant.

In Catholic communities in Northern Ireland, where distrust of 
the Government has deep historical roots, many believe that the 
conduct of some members of the security forces in carrying out 
security checks constitutes unwarranted harassment and 
intimidation.  The Government conducts intensive training of 
security personnel in proper procedures but acknowleges that 
official guidelines are still sometimes violated.

Section 2  Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:

     a.  Freedom of Speech and Press

Strongly held common law tradition, an independent press, and a 
democratic political system combine to secure freedom of speech 
and press.  Viewpoints critical of the Government are well 
represented.  British print media are dominated by a handful of 
national daily newspapers, all privately owned and highly 
independent (though often generally aligned with one of the 
major political parties).  About half the electronic media are 
run by the British Broadcasting Service (BBC), which is funded 
by the Government but enjoys complete editorial independence.  
The remainder are run by corporations under renewable 
government license.

The Government continued to prohibit radio and television in 
the UK from broadcasting the voices of members of proscribed 
terrorist organizations such as the Provisional IRA, and of 
representatives of Sinn Fein (the legal political arm of the 
Provisional IRA), as well as the voices of those who "solicit, 
support, or invite support for such organizations."  Critics 
charge that the vagueness of this last category intimidates 
broadcasters into applying the ban even in ambiguous cases.  
However, there are no restrictions on reporting such persons' 
words, and broadcasters may and do use actors with similar 
accents to read the words in synchronization with the lips of 
the actual speaker.  Exceptions to the ban are made for 
coverage of election campaigns and parliamentary proceedings. 

Human rights and civil liberties organizations continued to 
criticize the Official Secrets Act of 1990, which prohibits 
disclosure of a broad range of foreign policy and national 
security information.  They claim that, in the absence of 
freedom of information legislation, actions of the Government 
are effectively shielded from the public, even in instances 
where government agencies have acted improperly or illegally.  
Alleged offenses under the Act may be tried in secret, and the 
Government need not disclose its justification for holding a 
secret trial.  In practice, however, the Act is seldom invoked 
and has not prevented the disclosure of numerous internal 
government documents and instances of alleged wrongdoing.  
Attempts by the Government in the 1980's to prosecute officials 
who leaked documents generally failed.

The Government demonstrated its commitment to freedom of speech 
by providing police protection to author Salman Rushdie, the 
subject of an incitement to murder by former Iranian leader 
Khomeini, and by affording Rushdie a series of meetings with 
senior British officials.  The Government has stated that the 
refusal of Iranian authorities to repudiate the incitement to 
murder, or to lift the bounty offered for his death by an 
Iranian organization, prevents the restoration of full 
relations between the two countries. 

     b.  Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association

The Public Order Act of 1986 gives police broad powers to 
restrict or ban public demonstrations, marches, and assemblies 
when they deem that violence or vandalism is likely to result.  
The Act is seldom invoked, but has been used in recent years to 
prevent "New Age Travelers" from gathering on private property 
or at ancient monuments such as Stonehenge.  The PTA and EPA 
include sections prohibiting membership in, or support of, 
organizations involved in terrorism.  These organizations are 
specifically listed in the statutes.  The lists do not include 
political parties.

     c.  Freedom of Religion

Government policy and general practice ensure freedom of 
religion.  Britain has two established churches legally 
recognized as official churches of the State: in England the 
(Anglican) Church of England, and in Scotland the 
(Presbyterian) Church of Scotland.  In Northern Ireland, the 
Constitution Act of 1973 prohibits discrimination by public 
authorities on the basis of religious belief or political 
opinion (see Section 5 concerning the Fair Employment Act).  
Ministers of the Church of England and the Church of Scotland 
are ineligible to sit in the House of Commons.  However, the 
most senior ministers of the established religions hold seats 
in the House of Lords.

The Government provides funds for many schools maintained by 
various religious denominations, including Anglicans, 
Catholics, Methodists, and Jews.  In May 1992, the High Court 
ruled that a local council's decision to deny funding to a 
Muslim-run school was "manifestly unfair" and that the 
Education Secretary should reconsider.  In August the decision 
not to fund the school was reconfirmed.  In Northern Ireland, 
the Government provides full funding for nonsectarian (but 
overwhelmingly Protestant) state schools.  For denominational 
(mostly Catholic) schools, the Government provides 100 percent 
of operating costs and 85 percent of capital costs.  In 
December 1992 the Government announced that denominational 
schools could qualify for full state funding if no single 
(sectarian) group comprised a majority of the school's board of 

     d.  Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign 
         Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation

Citizens of the UK enjoy freedom of movement within the country 
and in foreign travel, emigration, and repatriation, with very 
limited exceptions as noted below.  The Home Secretary may 
exclude from Great Britain anyone connected with terrorism in 
Northern Ireland, unless that person was born in Great Britain 
or has been resident there for 3 years.  Similar authority is 
granted to the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland to 
exclude persons not native to or resident in that province.  In 
ordering exclusion, the Secretary of State need only be 
"satisfied" that a person is or has been involved in the 
commission, preparation, or instigation of acts of terrorism.  
Currently 92 persons are subject to exclusion orders, including 
2 new orders issued in 1993 by the Home Office.  In April John 
Matthews was arrested in London and detained for 10 weeks in 
connection with a Provisional IRA bombing.  When the case came 
to court in July, the prosecution dropped charges, but Matthews 
was immediately served with an exclusion order and flown back 
to Northern Ireland.  Several Members of Parliament, human 
rights groups, and most of the British media objected to the 
exclusion order.  In October the exclusion order on Sinn Fein 
president Gerry Adams was reinstated after 10 years during 
which he had been elected to Parliament but had not traveled to 
Britain.  Exclusion orders are contentious because the 
Secretary of State need not reveal the grounds for exclusion, 
the evidence is not tested in any court, and there is no formal 
right of appeal to the courts.

Immigration rules require that all requests for asylum be 
considered by the Home Office in accordance with the 1951 
Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees.  The Government 
makes generous provision for political refugees, but faced with 
an exponential rise in asylum applications in recent years, it 
introduced legislation to speed processing of unsubstantiated 
requests.  Human rights groups claim the legislation would 
undermine Britain's commitment to provide haven for legitimate 
refugees.  In 1992 approximately 24,000 people (excluding 
dependents) applied for asylum.  This was about 20,000 fewer 
than in 1991.  The Government believes the decrease is largely 
due to a more rigorous applicant recording system.  
Approximately 5 percent of the applicants received asylum; most 
of the remainder were granted exceptional leave to stay in the 
UK.  In July former Home Secretary Baker was found in contempt 
of court for failing to stay the deportation of a Zairian 
teacher, whom the court had granted a right to remain in the UK.

Section 3  Respect for Political Rights:  The Right of Citizens 
           to Change Their Government

The Government is formed on the basis of a majority of seats in 
the House of Commons, which are contested in elections held at 
intervals not longer than 5 years.  Participation in the 
political process is open to all persons and parties.  All 
citizens 18 years of age and older may vote.  Northern Ireland 
has city and district councils, as in the rest of the UK, but 
with somewhat fewer powers.  England and Wales also have county 
councils, while Northern Ireland does not.  (Scotland's 
structure is different still.)  From 1922 to 1972, Northern 
Ireland had a devolved provincial Parliament at Stormont, which 
was suspended because its domination by the unionist majority 
was seen as contributing to the troubles.  Several attempts 
have been made since then to restore devolved government.  
Another major effort continued in 1993.

Women and minorities face no legal constraints on their ability 
to participate in the political process through voting or 
holding office.  The Head of State is a Woman, the Head of 
Government was a woman from 1979 to 1990, two women are members 
of the present Cabinet, and the deputy leader of the main 
opposition party is a woman.  The Labor Party has initiated a 
policy of reserving a substantial number of candidacies for 
women, with the goal of equalizing the number of its male and 
female Members of Parliament (M.P.'s).  Several members of 
minority ethnic groups serve in parliament.  However, voter 
turnout among some ethnic minorities is far below that of the 
majority community, and some women M.P.'s complain that 
late-night sittings and lack of child care facilities pose 
unfair obstacles to female politicians.

Most British dependent territories--Hong Kong is an 
exception--have small populations, under 60,000, and all are 
ruled by appointed governors or administrators assisted by 
executive councils (usually appointed) and legislative 
assemblies or councils (partly elected).

Section 4  Governmental Attitude Regarding International and 
           Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations 
           of Human Rights

A large number of local nongovernmental human rights 
organizations operate freely with no government interference or 
restriction.  In 1973 a Standing Advisory Commission on Human 
Rights was established by the Government to monitor human 
rights in Northern Ireland, although the Government has 
declined to adopt many of its recommendations.

A number of international nongovernmental human rights 
organizations, including Amnesty International, are based in 
the UK.  The Government cooperates fully with international 
inquiries into alleged violations of human rights and usually 
takes steps to rectify its own laws and policies when they are 
found inconsistent with human rights agreements to which it is 
a party.

Section 5  Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, 
           Disability, Language, or Social Status

The law in Great Britain bars discrimination on the basis of 
race, color, nationality, or national or ethnic origin and 
outlaws incitement to racial hatred (see below).


Equal opportunity for both sexes is protected by law.  An Equal 
Opportunities Commission (EOC) supports persons who bring 
discrimination cases before industrial tribunals and courts, 
and it produces guidelines on good practice for employers.  
Employed women throughout the UK earned approximately 
25 percent less than their male counterparts in comparable 

In 1992 the number of complaints filed with the EOC, including 
those involving sexual harassment, reportedly increased almost 
65 percent.  Complaints from males made up about 40 percent of 
the total.  The Inspectorate of Constabulary, in an official 
report, said there were "serious" problems of sexual harassment 
and denial of equal opportunities in the country's police 
forces.  On December 8, Sarah Locker was awarded an out of 
court settlement of 32,000 pounds (approximately $50,000), an 
apology from the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, and a 
promotion.  Scotland Yard decided to set up a women's support 
network and begin training for all ranks in equal opportunity 
and race awareness.

Although there were continuing reports of career progress by 
women in most sectors of the economy, the adequacy of British 
law and administration in dealing with sex discrimination was 
subjected to a series of legal challenges.  In August 1992, the 
European Court of Justice ruled that the UK's statutory limit 
on financial awards in discrimination cases, the equivalent of 
$16,500, was illegal.  Shortly after that ruling, the Trade 
Unions Congress (TUC), Britain's central labor organization, 
filed a complaint with the European Commission charging that 
the Government, by abolishing the statutory wage councils 
(which set minimum wages in certain low-paid and largely female 
industries), was violating its obligations under EC law to 
provide the affected women workers with equal opportunity.  
(Other aspects of the abolition of the wage councils were the 
subject of a separate complaint to the International Labor 
Organization (ILO); see Section 6.b.)  The EOC endorsed the TUC 
action and announced it would be filing its own complaint with 
the EC, alleging that the UK legislation, in its entirety, 
"fails to provide effective access to justice."

The same statute which abolished the wage councils also 
established EC-mandated maternity leave of 14 weeks, and 
protections against dismissal on maternity-related grounds.

Women have equal property rights and equal rights in the 
divorce courts, and in 1993 a divorced wife's claim to a share 
of her husband's pension was upheld in court.  Although there 
are no reliable statistics, experts on women's studies suspect 
that violence against women is the predominant form of violence 
in the UK.  However, in an effort to educate and encourage 
women who have been the victims of abuse, the Women's Aid 
Federation, a private voluntary organization, organized an 
advertising campaign outlining the problems of abuse and 
stressing that women need not suffer them.  The advertisement 
gives phone numbers where women may seek help.  It has been 
disseminated widely.  Offenders in domestic violence cases are 
prosecuted and are subject to imprisonment.  Victims of battery 
and rape are given assistance, including accommodation and 
counseling, and the courts have held that nonconsensual marital 
sex can constitute a criminal offense.

Women in Northern Ireland's Maghaberry Prison maintained that 
the conditions under which they were imprisoned were abusive 
and discriminatory, and a group brought an action for sex 
discrimination against the Northern Ireland Office.  They 
complained that, compared to the male prisoners at Maghaberry, 
women had shorter visiting hours, poorer facilities for visits, 
and, as opposed to male prisoners, no provisions for care of 
visiting children.  The women further claimed they had less 
access to educational and exercise facilities than men.


In 1989 Parliament passed the Children's Act, which covers 
England and Wales and highlights growing acceptance of 
children's rights in domestic law.  The basic premise of the 
Act is twofold:  first, the best interests of the child must be 
taken into account when decisions are made regarding the 
child;  and second, children should be consulted about their 
wishes and desires.  Various governmental agencies (e.g., 
health, education, social services) also play a role in 
childrens' law.  The overlapping legislation paints a complex 
legislative picture.  However, it is clear that children have 
the right to apply for court orders, to give or withhold 
consent for medical treatment (where they have sufficient 
cognitive ability to make an informed decision), to make 
complaints to the relevant local authority, to have their 
ethnic, linguistic, and religious background considered, to 
have reasonable contact with their family (usually applied in a 
circumstance where there has been abuse), and to be consulted 
regarding their desires.  Scotland and Northern Ireland employ 
principles and law similar to that found in the children's 
act.  Children receive generous benefits packages.  Children's 
advocates have commented that the laws reflect a growing 
acceptance of children's rights in domestic law.  However they 
are concerned about cuts in social services to children, 
inconsistent application of the Children's Act of 1989, and 
lack of adequate monitoring of the law (e.g., statistics are 
not adequately kept).

     National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities

Approximately three million persons in the UK, representing 
5 1/2 percent of the population, belong to ethnic minorities.  
About half of them are Asians of Indian, Pakistani, and 
Bangladeshi descent.  While British law bars discrimination on 
the basis of race, color, nationality, or national or ethnic 
origin and outlaws incitement to racial hatred, racial 
discrimination is not specifically outlawed in Northern 
Ireland.  The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland agreed to 
investigate the scope for possible legislation on racial 
discrimination and determine what additional action should be 
taken by government departments to further enhance equal 
treatment of ethnic groups.  A government-appointed, 
independent Commission for Racial Equality (CRE) supports 
persons taking court action under the Race Relations Act of 
1976, provides guidelines on good practice, and may initiate 
court action.  After formally investigating complaints, the CRE 
may issue notices requiring that discrimination cease.  Such 
notices are followed up over a 5-year period to ensure 

Although law prohibits discrimination based on race, persons of 
African and South Asian origin face substantial 
discrimination.  In 1992 a government study concluded that 
racial discrimination existed at all stages of the criminal 
justice system.  Several studies showed that ethnic minorities 
were less likely to obtain jobs and mortgages and more likely 
to live in overcrowded housing than were whites.  Members of 
Asian and African minorities were also victims of racial 
insults and occasional "skinhead" violence.  The Home Office 
reported over 7,700 racial incidents in England and Wales in 
1992.  CRE commented that the great majority involved insults 
or verbal abuse.  About a dozen persons have been killed in 
racial attacks since June 1992.  In April a black youth was 
stabbed to death by whites at a south London bus stop.  In 
September a Bangladeshi youth was badly beaten by a group of 
whites in London's East End, sparking a weekend of violent 
clashes between Asians and whites.  In October a black man was 
beaten, stabbed, and run over with a car by three white persons 
in east London.  The Government is strongly opposed to 
discrimination and violence and prosecutes cases in which 
evidence is available.

     Religious Minorities

Although discrimination in employment on the grounds of 
religious belief or political opinion has been unlawful since 
1976, it continued to occur in Northern Ireland, including at 
times by local governments.  Within the Northern Ireland civil 
service, the proportion of Catholics under age 36 reflects 
overall demographic patterns, but they continue to be 
underrepresented in the upper age groups and grades.  A Fair 
Employment Tribunal adjudicates individual cases of alleged 
discrimination.  In 1992 the Fair Employment Commission noted 
that Catholics were not as well represented in the senior 
management levels of the public work force.  In mid-November 
the civil service announced its intention to increase Catholic 
representation in the senior management levels.  Government 
efforts to increase recruitment of Catholics into the police 
force and related security fields have been hampered by 
Provisonal IRA assassinations and death threats, as well as 
public suspicion of the security forces.  For a variety of 
historical and social reasons, the Protestant community 
controls much of the local economy, and anti-Catholic 
discrimination persists in the private sector.  Despite 
government efforts and a recent drop in unemployment in 
Northern Ireland, the Catholic male unemployment rate remained 
2 1/2 times that of Protestant men, partly due to Catholic 
inability or unwillingness to engage in security-related work.

The Fair Employment (Northern Ireland) Act of 1989 was intended 
to end employment discrimination and aimed at outlawing even 
unintentional or "indirect" discrimination.  All public sector 
employers and private firms with more than 25 workers must 
register with the Fair Employment Commission, monitor the 
religious composition of their work force, supply annual 
monitoring reports to the Commission, and review their overall 
employment practices at least once every 3 years.  These 
obligations were extended to small firms (employing between 11 
and 25 workers) beginning in 1992.  While the Fair Employment 
Act has been criticized for not establishing sufficiently 
rigorous targets and timetables, it has generally been praised 
by leaders of the Catholic community as a positive step.  
Employers who fail to comply face criminal penalties and loss 
of government contracts, and victims of employment 
discrimination may be awarded damages.  In 1992, six companies 
were subject to criminal sanctions and fines for failure to 
comply with the Act.

     People with Disabilities

According to surveys, 6.5 million inhabitants of the UK have 
disabilities.  Official discrimination against disabled persons 
is not sanctioned.  However, studies indicate that social 
discrimination exists.  Although the UK does not have one 
overarching law which addresses the rights of disabled people,  
a number of pieces of legislation guarantee social services.  
Benefits packages for disabled people are administered by 
various governmental departments.  The benefits are designed to 
provide education, mobility, home care, and access to 
buildings.  Access to buildings is generally poor.

Interest groups point out that the age of most buildings in 
London makes it difficult for a physically disabled person to 
obtain access even if there are ramps.  Many buildings do not 
have elevators.  Since 1985, government regulations have 
required that all new buildings meet the access requirements of 
all individuals with impaired mobility.  In June 1992, the 
government made similar regulations for sensory impaired 

Government regulations mandate that by the year 2000 all taxis 
be wheelchair accessible.  In 1944 the Government passed the 
Disabled Person's Employment Act, which instituted a quota 
system requiring businesses with more than 20 employees to hire 
disabled persons as 3 percent of their workforce.  There have 
been 10 prosecutions under this Act.  Government estimates are 
that 75 percent of companies fail to comply with the Act.  
Statistics with regard to unemployment of the disabled are not 

Section 6  Worker Rights

     a.  The Right of Association

Workers have the right to form and join representative 
organizations, associate freely, choose representatives, 
publish journals, openly promote members' interests and views, 
and elect representative assemblies to determine union policies 
and procedures.  Unions participate freely in international 

Unions are free of government control but, like employers' 
associations, must register their accounts with a 
government-appointed "certification officer."  Senior union 
officers must be elected by secret ballot.  The law mandates 
secret ballots before a strike call, prohibits unions from 
disciplining members who reject a legal strike call, and allows 
individual trade union members to lodge complaints against 
their union with a government-appointed "Commissioner for the 
Rights of Trade Union Members."

No specific statutory "right to strike" exists in the UK.  
Voluntary cessation of work may be considered a breach of 
contract.  A system of legal immunities, which protected unions 
from prosecution when engaged in lawful industrial action, was 
narrowed by a series of acts of Parliament introduced in the 
1980's.  These acts excluded secondary strikes and actions 
judged to have political motives.  Unions encouraging such 
strikes are subject to fines by the courts and may have their 
assets seized.  The legislation also restricts the ability of 
unions to act against subsidiaries of prime employers with whom 
they are in dispute when the subsidiaries are not party to the 
dispute and are the employers of record.  This has led to union 
complaints that they have no protection against the transfer of 
work within the corporate structure (making unions the victims 
of a form of employer secondary action).  The 1990 Employment 
Act made unions liable for all industrial actions, including 
unofficial strikes, unless the unions concerned write to 
strikers repudiating their action.  Unofficial strikers may be 
legally dismissed.  In instances where the right to strike is 
prohibited (e.g., for police officers), there are alternative 
means to resolve differences.

The Trade Union Reform and Employment Rights Act of 1993 
abolished the Wage Councils (see also Section 5 above) and 
placed new procedural requirements on union strikes, dues 
collection, and membership rules.  It also permits private 
citizens to seek damages, with government aid, when denied 
goods or services through illegal strike action.

Except in the case of the armed forces, the police, or the 
security services, it is illegal to deny a person employment on 
the ground he or she is not a union member.  An amendment to 
the 1993 Act also reverses a court ruling that banned employers 
from offering financial inducements to workers in exchange for 
giving up trade union representation.

The compatibility with Great Britain's international 
undertakings of parts of the recent legislation affecting 
unions has been subject to challenges by the TUC in various 
European and international bodies (see below and also 
Section 5).

     b.  The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively

Although there is no legal obligation for employers to bargain 
with workers' representatives, and despite the fact that 
labor-management contracts are not enforceable in the courts, 
collective bargaining is longstanding and widespread, covering 
about 40 percent of the work force.

Recent British legislation affecting trade union rights and 
protection have been the subject of challenge by the TUC in 
various international forums (see below and also Section 5).

Workers who believe themselves victims of antiunion 
discrimination may seek redress through industrial tribunals.  
Remedies available include payment of indemnities and 

The adequacies of these protections and the impact of recent 
legislation on trade unions and their members have been the 
subject of repeated complaints by the TUC to the International 
Labor Organization (ILO), the European Community (EC) and the 
Council of Europe (COE).

In May 1993, the Governing Body of the ILO endorsed the 
findings of the Committee on Freedom of Association on 
complaint filed by the TUC.  At issue was the compatibility of 
British law and practice with ILO Convention 98 on the Right to 
Organize and Bargain Collectively, as it concerned the 
circulating of blacklists of trade unionists seeking 
employment.  The ILO held that the British Government is 
obliged, inter alia, to protect trade unionists from such 

In September 1993, the Committee of Ministers of the COE 
accepted its Committee of Experts' finding that UK labor law 
was in violation of the European Social Charter.  The issue, 
based on a TUC complaint, was that the British legislation 
which permits an employer to dismiss all employees who take 
part in strikes and then, after 3 months' time, selectively 
rehire them, was incompatible with the Charter's protection of 
collective action.  The Committee recommended that the 
Government take this decision into account and notify it of 
what measures it will adopt.

As of August 1993, the Committee of Experts of the ILO had 
before it several other outstanding complaints from the TUC 
concerning various aspects of British labor law and practice.  
These were:

-- the ban on unions at the Government's communications center 
GCHQ, an alleged violation of Convention 87 on Freedom of 
Association.  The Government is to report in 1994 on efforts to 
negotiate a settlement.

-- various provisions of the Trade Union Act of 1988 which 
prevent unions from disciplining members who refuse to join 
lawful strikes and bar unions from reimbursing their officials 
or members.  All are alleged violations of Convention 87.

-- the removal of unions' protection from civil liability for 
strike action, and the inadequacy of legal protection against 
the dismissal of strikers.  Both are alleged violations of 
Convention 87.

-- the denial to school teachers in England and Wales of the 
right to have their pay determined through collective 
bargaining.  An alleged violation of both Convention 87 and 98 
(right to organize).

-- various provisions of the Trade Union Reform and Employment 
Rights Act of 1993, including the abolition of the wage 
councils (Convention 100 on equal pay), abolition of the 
Mediation Services' mandate to promote collective bargaining, 
new procedural limits on strikes and the collection of dues, 
and the removal of protection from disciplinary action short of 
dismissal designed to deter trade union membership.  All are 
alleged to be violations of Conventions 87 and 98.

Export processing zones do not exist.

     c.  Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor

Forced or compulsory labor is prohibited and is not practiced.

     d.  Minimum Age for Employment of Children

School attendance until the age of 16 is compulsory.  Children 
under the age of 16 are not permitted to work in an industrial 
enterprise except as part of an educational course.  

     e.  Acceptable Conditions of Work

There is no legislated minimum wage.  The Trade Union Reform 
and Employment Rights Act of 1993 abolished the wage council 
system, which prior to August 30, 1993 had established minimum 
hourly wages and overtime rates for adult workers in 26 
low-wage industries.  The UK does not have a law limiting daily 
or weekly working hours.

The Health and Safety at Work Act of 1974 requires that the 
health and safety of employees not be placed at risk.  A Health 
and Safety Commission enforces regulations on these matters and 
may initiate criminal proceedings.  The system of occupational 
health and safety is efficiently managed and operates with the 
full involvement of workers' representatives.

[end of document]


Department Seal

Return to 1993 Human Rights Practices report home page.
Return to DOSFAN home page.
This is an official U.S. Government source for information on the WWW. Inclusion of non-U.S. Government links does not imply endorsement of contents.