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Our rights are under attack

February 27, 2022 9:52 PM
Originally published by Babergh South Suffolk Liberal Democrats

7sap (Photo by Tingey Injury Law Firm on Unsplash)The government plans to ditch the Human Rights Act and replace it with a Bill of Rights.

What could be wrong with what sounds like a fairly innocuous change particularly given a few recent cases of people using human rights legislation to thwart deportations etc

Well the Law Society of England and Wales the body which represents solicitors suggest that there is a lot wrong with the proposals.

Law Society president I. Stephanie Boyce said: "People from all walks of life rely on the Human Rights Act to protect their rights and hold the state to account - to live free from government interference, to access vital services or to ensure the right balance is struck between freedom and security.

"Any reform of this subtle and carefully crafted legal instrument must be led by evidence not driven by political rhetoric.

Examples they draw attention to are:

1. 'Acceptable' human rights abuses?

The proposed law creates a class of acceptable human rights abuses - those deemed not to have caused 'serious disadvantage'. Anyone would have to pass this test of 'serious disadvantage' to be allowed to bring a human rights claim to the courts.

2. Some people are more equal than others

People would have fewer protections for their rights if they have committed some sort of undefined offence in the past would overturn the principle that everyone is equal in the eyes of the law - and would mean the state could violate some people's rights without consequence.

Inevitably this particularly targets foreign offenders. Proposals suggest they should be forbidden from appealing a deportation order except in specific and narrow circumstances, or blocked from protecting their rights, without any consideration for how long they have lived in the UK, the family they have here, or their familial and social connections in the country to which they would be deported.

3. Severing the courts' human rights duty

The Government proposes weakening or removing British courts' duty to ensure human rights are respected in their judgments thereby weakening our system of human rights protections immeasurably

4. Ministerial decisions could become untouchable

The proposed Bill of Rights seems to be trying to elevate ministerial diktat to the same level as laws made by parliament by preventing courts from overturning ministerial decisions which violate rights.

"The government is also looking to shield key parts of the state machinery from being held accountable to the people. says the Law Society

You can read their full assessment at Reason, not rhetoric, must underpin review of human rights rules | The Law Society

This current Conservative government has quite a lot of recent form when it comes to acting illegally whether it be shutting Parliament, giving permission to developers, giving PPE contracts to friends and donators or making appointments to public jobs without following processes to ensure that the best person ( rather than a political sympathiser )gets the job. The fact that they have behaved this way when the law was in place, which means ultimately they could be challenged in court, hardly gives you confidence that their motives for removing these legal protections are pure and principled

You have to fear that the government is relying on the fact the for most people the subject is dry and uninteresting. Most are unlikely to get upset when these rights are removed. It does however seem to continue a trend where the Conservatives are eroding rights by stealth reducing the chances of challenge when they behave illegally

They must not succeed!