Grave concerns as ‘regressive’ Bill of Rights published
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Louise Heath
Description: Parliament (iStock_sedmak)
The future of human rights in the UK is under threat with the introduction of the Bill of Rights. The government, having said it was going to reform the Human Rights Act 1998 as a manifesto pledge in 2005, finally revealed the detail of the bill on 22 June 2022, 17 years later.
The bill purports to strengthen the right to free speech, recognises the right to a jury trial, and limits the courts’ powers, especially in relation to European Convention on Human Rights article 8, which the government says has ‘been used to frustrate the deportation of criminals’. It will limit the positive obligations on public authorities, introduce a permission stage to any application and strengthen the primacy of UK law.
Martha Spurrier, director of Liberty, tweeted a long thread outlining the key provisions on 21 June – at No 3: ‘Prevents courts from putting legal obligations on the state “to actively protect someone’s human rights” (yep, that’s a direct quote). Farewell to the only legal tools available to the Hillsborough families, survivors of Worboys attacks, patients at risk of suicide and many more.’
Labour MP Stella Creasy has announced that she will table an amendment to the bill to secure the legal right to an abortion in the UK, as the Abortion Act 1967 does not provide a right to abortion for women but gives exemption from prosecution in specific circumstances. In response to the US Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v Wade, she said: ‘What the US teaches us is that we cannot be complacent about entrenching those rights in law.’1Jessica Elgot, ‘Labour MP in bid to include right to abortion in British bill of rights’, Guardian, 28 June 2022.
On 30 June, Joanna Cherry QC MP wrote to the justice secretary on behalf of the Joint Committee on Human Rights, stating: ‘[W]e believe the government has failed to make the case for repealing and replacing the HRA with a Bill of Rights in the form proposed.'
LAG CEO Sue James said: ‘In essence, the bill is an ideological attack on human rights, that takes away more than it delivers. It is a regressive step that will give politicians a greater say in the way judges interpret human rights law.’
 
1     Jessica Elgot, ‘Labour MP in bid to include right to abortion in British bill of rights’, Guardian, 28 June 2022. »

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