Government proposal on the planned reform the Human Rights Act into a Bill of Rights

ARE YOU CONCERNED ABOUT YOUR HUMAN RIGHTS?

If you’re not, you ought to be. The Government have published a proposal on how they want to reform the Human Rights Act into a Bill of Rights.


WHATS THE PROBLEM WITH THAT?

Well as you can see in the infographic above there are a number of key concerns. Each one is a problem on their own but combined it makes for pretty chilling reading.


OK, SO WHAT CAN I DO ABOUT IT?

The Government are running a consultation at the moment to garner responses to their document.


UK Government Questionnaire


The Government would welcome responses to the following questions set out in this consultation paper. You can respond to the following questions online or by email to HRAReform@justice.gov.uk


Save Our Rights UK has created a guide on responding to the consultation which you can find here - saveourrights.uk/human-rights-act-consultation



It takes less than 5 minutes to complete and then please share this post to raise awareness.

DON’T LEAVE IT TOO LATE TO TAKE A STAND FOR HUMAN RIGHTS


 

(See below for the full text of the Save Our Rights UK guide to submitting your reply)


Email your response to the Human Rights Act Reform Consultation

Step 1


Open an email to: HRAreform@justice.gov.uk and fill in the subject line.


Step 2

Copy the email below and add it to the draft that you have started.


PLEASE take 2-3 minutes to write an opening paragraph about why you, as an individual, are writing today.

This helps individualise them and not get bulk deleted.

To whom it may concern,

I am writing today about the Human Rights Act Reform proposal because….

I want to start by stating that I believe that this reform proposal is entirely unacceptable and I do not support it in any way. I stand for Human Rights and will continue to do so even if the Government tries to take them away through this reform.


The Government should be doing more to uphold our Human Rights and instead I find these proposals weaken and dilute them, which is why I cannot and will not support these proposals.


However, in the nature of the Consultation, I will detail the seven most pressing concerns that I see contained within the Governments document, this however, ought not to be taken as an endorsement of any other part of the document, of which I am entirely opposed.

Individual Rights

My first concerns about the Human Rights Act Reform are about how it will impact the individual. I have four main issues that I want to address which are that:

  • The proposal of a permission stage will be prohibitive.

  • The scope of positive obligations will be diminished.

  • Society could be given more rights than the individual.

  • An individual’s right to rights could be judged by the court

The proposal of a permission stage will be prohibitive.

In the reform proposal it proposes that there ought to be a permission stage when an individual wants to bring a Human Rights case before the court. This would ‘require claimants to demonstrate that they have suffered a significant disadvantage before a human rights claim can be heard in court.’ This will have a huge impact upon the number of claimants who are able to bring their case before the courts.


My belief is that our human rights need more protection, not less and bringing in this extra procedural stage with such a high, and undefined, threshold, at the initial stage, before it is even heard in court, means that many human rights abuse cases will go unheard. I do not believe that this can be considered acceptable.


I note the Government has used the same language as European Court of Human Rights protocol 14 but that is a European Court, facing a tremendous backlog. My belief is that as the domestic courts are not facing a backlog and each case referred to the courts will have been committed here in the UK it ought to be of the highest priority to the UK courts. I also fail to see that it is in any way comparable to the German Federal Constitutional Court which the Government makes reference to.


I want more protection for individuals, not less, therefore while I stand against the whole notion of this reform I would be particularly concerned about the introduction of a permission stage and believe it would lessen the amount our human rights were upheld.

The scope of positive obligations would be diminished.

There are many people in this nation who are in state run institutions from hospitals, to care homes, to prisons, to refuges. It has long been established that the state cannot absolve itself of its Human Rights obligations by doing nothing.


If the state does nothing and an individual’s rights are infringed upon and/or abused then the State is responsible, I believe this is rightly so. It is the Government’s obligation to uphold every citizen’s Human Rights.


Yet this proposed reform seeks to pass the buck and put the emphasis on personal responsibility. Now while I support the notion that we are all responsible for our own conduct, that does not mean the State can ignore Human Rights atrocities happening on it’s own soil, in it’s own institutions.


This impact will be felt predominantly by our most vulnerable in society; those with care needs, children in care homes, and so on. I will stand for them and their rights, they need proactive support. When this is coupled with the previous point which would prevent many of these cases even reaching court it would open up a huge risk of human rights abuses of our most vulnerable.


This, therefore, is another reason that I cannot support these proposals due to the reduction in accountability and increase in risk that it would cause.

Society could be given more rights than the individual.

We see the Government make mention of ‘wider public interest’ and ‘broader needs of society’ and say that each individual’s needs ought to be balanced against them. Now while of course we all have a duty to conduct ourselves that doesn’t injure or harm another these definitions are very wide and open to any number of interpretations.


With such wide terms anything that the Government decides could be defined as such would therefore be permissible in legislation. This is a very alarming prospect. For example it could be argued that it is in the broader needs of society for there to be no alcohol as pub brawls and alcoholism are not desirable.


Not only are these proposals concerning, upon their own merits, the tone of the Government’s commentary on the matter communicates a distinct disdain for what it calls a ‘rights culture’. Which I can only imagine is, by its definition, when an everyday citizen stands up and demands their Human Rights are respected and officials are held accountable.


I am wholly in favour of an individual being able to do so and I believe it is necessary, as we have lived in a nation that does not uphold Human Rights fully, for far too long. I do not believe an individuals needs ought to be interfered with for such low and vague criteria and I would not welcome this becoming normalised in our society.


An individual’s rights ought to be cherished and upheld at all times by doing that it will be of the most benefit to the ‘wider public interest’.

A persons right to rights could be judged by the court.

Now further to the point above, the Government’s disdain continues to be evident when it discusses the rights of people whose behaviour it has taken a dislike to.


It states ‘a Bill of Rights could require the courts to give greater consideration to the behaviour of claimants’. Again I believe in an individual’s Human Rights and I would not be willing for that to be deemed unnecessary due to past transgressions.


There are no definitions of what ‘behaviour’ would render an individual not worthy of their Human Rights, again this leaves it wide open for interpretation. Would a missed council tax payment from 15 years prior count? Or discussing a dislike of the Government on Social Media? This is yet again another very alarming prospect.


Even when an individual has committed a crime that requires a prison sentence, which is clearly an interference with their Human Rights as it is, that does not mean that all their other rights can or ought to then be disregarded.


I am concerned that the Government is essentially stating that you have to earn the right to your rights. This is never something I can support therefore this is another part of this reform proposal that I vehemently disagree with.

Procedural Matters

Further to the matters that I have outlined above that affect the individual I also have concerns that there are many parts of the reform that will affect the checks and balances at a Parliamentary and judicial level that we rely upon to uphold our human rights. The three main issues that concern me are:

  • Judicial amendments will not be allowed unless in line with the will of Parliament.

  • Removal of the ability to quash Statutory Instruments.

  • Where legislation was once underpinned by the Human Rights Act there is no consideration of the holes left.

Judicial amendments will not be allowed unless in line with the will of Parliament.

We are a nation that prides itself on a common law history and we rely heavily upon case law to govern the nation. This has allowed judges to interpret the law and apply it to real world cases and to make judgements without the influence of party politics.


This has been an essential part of the checks and balances that we rely on in this country to protect us from ill-thought out legislation and undue influence from outside sources.


However under these proposals the Government will be able to be more prescriptive to the courts giving it explicit guidance that it must follow rather than allowing the judge to make interpretations and judgements, essentially preventing a judge from doing it’s job.

The courts and judges will have to abide by the will of Parliament. Therefore Parliament will rule all, including the judges and the courts. There will no longer be any separation of power.


I am against the Government giving itself such powers and I believe it could have devastating effects, if not now, but in the future as this would apply to all future Governments.

Removal of the ability to quash Statutory Instruments.

I believe that Statutory Instruments should not be used to make any significant legislation due to the fact they do not have full consideration of the Houses in the same way that Primary Legislation does. Furthermore they can be enacted and become law before the House is given any time to debate the matter, if any is even given.


This means Secretaries of State hold an enormous amount of power as we saw with Matt Hancock and the Health Regulations 2020.


Under the proposals it would prevent courts from being able to overturn any Statutory Instruments that do not uphold people’s Human Rights. This is highly concerning as it means legislation could be passed, quickly and knowingly not in line with Human Rights and there would be no mechanisms to overturn it.


Since 2014 only 14 Statutory Instruments have been overturned but where Statutory Instruments do not have full consideration of the House, and often do not have impact assessments conducted prior to enactment, it is absolutely essential that there is some method to challenge this legislation.

Where legislation was once underpinned by the Human Rights Act it may leave gaping holes.

Currently all legislation passed is underpinned by the Human Rights Act 1998. This means where explicit instructions are not contained within the legislation to protect Human Rights these are implied by the underpinning of the HRA.


The most recent example of this is the Covert Human Intelligence Sources Act. Many members of both Houses fought to have amendments added to the Bill that would have expressly prohibited the use of torture and committing crimes such as rape and murder. However the Government insisted that it was unnecessary to add them to the Bill as the HRA prohibits them and would underpin the Act.


However if the Government does away with the Human Rights Act and instead replaces it with a Bill of Rights which states that an individuals rights can be overridden for ‘broader needs of society’ or if the investigated persons behaviour is considered lesser than, does that mean a covert human intelligence source can use torture to garner information from them?


The Government gives no consideration or assurances on how it plans to deal with this matter and this means that much legislation could be left with gaping holes in it leading to even more Human Rights abuses with no recourse available to the individual.

These sorts of oversights are highly concerning and do not encourage trust in the Government or it’s plans of reform.

My belief is that each of the above points is, on an individual basis, abhorrent but all together they combine to make a chilling proposition which I do not believe anyone could be in favour of.


I note that none of the devolved nations have been involved in the construction of this proposed reform and are in fact opposed to it. Wales has issued a statement in which they also reference a letter to the Lord Chancellor Dominic Raab MP, from the Deputy First Minister of Scotland, John Swinney MSP setting out the Scottish Government’s objections too.


Furthermore in the Welsh statement they reference their own 165 page research paper on the implementation of Human Rights in Wales. The conclusion of that extensive study was that while the Human Rights Act itself is strong and appropriate it needs to be applied more thoroughly so that people’s lived experience reflects it. The conclusion was not to water it down and to take away more individual rights but in actual fact enhance it more.


There was also a lot of evidence gathered by the Independent Human Rights Review in advance of the preparation of the Governments reform proposals and the Government has seemingly ignored the majority of it. The evidence affirmed the positive benefits of the Human Rights Act and highlighted, not only the concerns for the people of this nation, but also the potential negative impact around the world if the UK is seen to be regressing in the area of fundamental human rights.


These are our fundamental human rights and these are something I believe in. I reiterate my stance that I stand against the notion of a reform from the Human Rights Act to a Bill of Rights in its entirety and believe what the Government should be focusing on is how to uphold our rights more, not less.


I believe this reform proposal does nothing to serve the individual or society; it merely increases Government control and will, over time, lose us our fundamental human rights.

This reform must not go ahead.

NB I have had help from Save Our Rights UK in forming the part of my response to the consultation due to the complex nature of the legalities. However I have had full ability to edit the content so I want all contained within this email to be considered my own personal view and treated as such.

Furthermore where edits have been made they cannot be

considered the views of Save Our Rights UK.

Yours sincerely,

Step 3

Hit send. YOU DID IT – you stood up for Human Rights.


Step 4

Once sent please consider sharing on all social media as so many people aren’t even aware that this consultation exists.


4 views0 comments