Yesterday (Wednesday), the government published what it calls the Bill of Rights Bill. With it, the government intends to repeal the Human Rights Act and place new restrictions on courts and the public's access to them.
In 2021, an independent review of the Human Rights Act (HRA) appointed by the government found that "overall, HRA has been a success." Despite this, the government consulted again about proposals for reforming the UK's human rights regime.
In its response to the consultation in March 2022 (available for download below), the Law Centres Network wrote:
"Our greatest concern is that the proposals would reduce access to justice, especially for disadvantaged people, thereby weakening effective human rights protections and remedies for them. In turn, this would further shield public bodies from accountability, weakening the rule of law, public trust and ultimately social cohesion."
Despite nearly 13,000 consultation responses, most of them critical and opposing the proposals, the government is pressing on with its plans largely unchanged.
Nimrod Ben-Cnaan, head of policy and profile at the Law Centres Network, said:
“Human rights support the dignity of all people,regardless of their circumstances. The government claims it is replacing the Human Rights Act, but its new Bill takes away rights - another move by the government to put itself above public scrutiny and the law.
“This Bill will allow the government to breach people’s rights with impunity. It will make it harder for people to challenge it and to get meaningful redress. Even if a court finds in their favour, they would have to show ‘good behaviour’ to fully benefit from this. When this would suit it, the government will also not recognise some people’s human rights.
“The hardest hit by this Rights Removal Bill would be people who are marginalised and disadvantaged, already at a greater risk of state abuse. It will make it easier for government to pursue its Hostile Environment. Publishing it on Windrush Day is telling.
“Equality before the law means that people’s rights should not be subject to anyone else’s approval, and should not depend on how much they can spend on lawyers. Law Centres stand by this truth and call on MPs and peers to oppose the new Bill.”
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