Teaching Citizenship in the 5-14 Curriculum using
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Citizenship Issues
in Harry Potter



Human Rights

Legal Issues


Links and References

Legal Issues

Legal issues in Citizenship can include Criminal and Civil law, Courts, the impact on the victim, and miscarriage of justice.

Sirius Black, the Dementors and Azkaban prison

Sirius was hunted down because people were scared of him and assumed he was dangerous. Do you think Sirius was treated fairly? What would have been fairer? Find out about witch hunts and how people were accused of being witches at National Geographic (You could also watch Monty Python and the Holy Grail)

Dementors are just unthinking creatures but they are also executioners. There is no trial for victims of dementors.

Dumbledore: A word of caution: dementors are vicious creatures. They will not distinguish between the one they hunt and the one who gets in their way. Therefore I must warn each and every one of you to give them no reason to harm you. It's not in the nature of a dementor to be forgiving. But you know happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, when one only remembers to turn on the light.

Amnesty International works around the world to campaign for internationally recognised human rights. They try and stop prisoners being treated unfairly or tortured. You can find out more about Amnesty's Human Rights Education resources and Amnesty UK's Education resources

Investigate the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Two statements from the Declaration are here:

Article 5: "No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment."

Article 10: "Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him."

Plan a campaign to persuade the Ministry of Magic to close Azkaban prison and stop using Dementors. What do you think would be a fairer justice system for the magic world?


Buckbeak and the executioner and Minister

Buckbeak was thought to be dangerous because he attacked Draco Malfoy. However, Malfoy provoked Buckbeak. Do you think Buckbeak got a fair trial? Were the decisions biased?

In the film we never see Buckbeak's trail. Using the quote below or text from the book, act out the trial of Buckbeak.

Hagrid: Well, first the committee took turns in talking about 'why we were there'. Then I stood up and said my bit, how Buckbeak was a good hippogriff, always cleaned his feathers. And then Lucius Malfoy got up...

This situation is similar to putting down dangerous dogs and creatures. Do you think its right to kill animals because they have been dangerous?



A 'vigilante' is a person "who takes or advocates the taking of law enforcement into one's own hands." In the film, both Harry and Sirius want to take the law into their own hands and kill someone.

Hermione: Harry... what's happened?
Harry: He was their friend, and he betrayed them. HE WAS THEIR FRIEND!... I hope he finds me! Because when he does, I'm gonna be ready! When he does, I'M GOING TO KILL HIM!

Sirius Black: Enough talk, let's kill him!
Professor Lupin: Wait!

At the start of the film, Harry loses control and blows up his Aunt Marge.

Harry: I didn't mean to blow her up, I just... lost control.
Ron: Brilliant!
Hermione: Honestly Ron, it's not funny! Harry was lucky not to be expelled.
Harry: I think I was lucky not to have been arrested actually.
Ron: I still think it's brilliant.

Have you ever lost your temper and done something you regretted? Investigate ways of staying calm when you're upset, such as meditation or breathing techniques.


Follow-up activities

How are laws made? Find out who makes laws. Are laws fair to everyone in society?

School rules are made by teachers. Are they fair to pupils? Imagine there is a school rule that if you drop litter you have to do 1000 lines. Is this fair to the pupil? Is it fair to the teacher, to the other pupils, and to the cleaners?

Visit court or a court museum.

Do pupils in your school have an opportunity to make or change school rules? Stand for election to the pupil council.

Page created by K. Farrell, J.A. Kemp, Y. Mitchell, and J. Norman, June 2005