New bill of rights faces opposition in both houses of parliament
Former judges, lawyers and campaigners have warned that controversial human rights legislation, set to be reintroduced in weeks, risks undermining the UK’s reputation as a legal centre.
The Bill of Rights, unveiled in June by Justice Secretary Dominic Raab, would replace the Human Rights Act 1998, which allows individuals to claim their rights directly in UK courts rather than bringing cases to the European Court of Human Rights man in Strasbourg.
It gives UK courts ultimate authority and would allow judges to deviate from decisions made by the Strasbourg court, although the UK would remain within the framework of the European Convention on Human Rights – a treaty protecting human rights standards.
The bill is likely to draw support from right-wing Conservative MPs who say human rights laws are being flouted by criminals and illegal migrants and say the new legislation will allow Britain Brittany to more easily control its borders.
But it is likely to face opposition in the House of Lords as it goes beyond what was promised in the Conservative Party’s 2019 manifesto, which was to ‘update’ the Human Rights Act. the man.
Raab said the bill will make it “clear” that the UK Supreme Court is not subordinate to the European Court of Human Rights. “This will end the mission drift of continually expanding human rights laws and restore proper democratic oversight by parliament,” he said in a statement.
He said it “will put an end to elastic interpretations that undermine public confidence in human rights, such as dangerous criminals claiming the right to family life in an attempt to avoid deportation and terrorists who claim the right to socialize so that they can propagate hateful ideologies in prisons”.
Suella Braverman, the Home Secretary, signaled her support for the bill. During her leadership campaign, she said she would pull Britain out of the Convention and leave the court in Strasbourg.
But Sir Bob Neill, chairman of the House Justice Committee, said: ‘A number of us have concerns. I think it will be much more difficult for citizens to enforce treaty rights and more people will have to come to Strasbourg.
In August, former justice secretary Sir Robert Buckland said the bill contained “useful” sections, but warned that its scope was “extremely broad”.
Baroness Helena Kennedy KC, a leading barrister and Labor member of the House of Lords, said the bill increased executive power at the expense of citizens. “It is important to realize that this is Dominic Raab’s pet project and unworthy of the Government’s time when we have so many pressing issues within the justice system, such as a backlog of…. . . criminal cases,” she said.
Sir Peter Gross, a retired Court of Appeal judge who last year led an independent review of the Human Rights Act 1998, told a recent conference that he had “real concerns” and said that a “substantial gap” could develop “between rights capable of enforcement in the UK courts and rights enforceable in the court of Strasbourg”.
“It would be unwise to undermine the value of the UK’s legal exports and the UK’s leadership role in law through changes to the HRA (Human Rights Act), unless they have strong grounds. ” Gross said.
The Bill of Rights was unveiled in June just days after the UK had to comply with an interim injunction, a so-called Rule 39 measure, issued by judges in Strasbourg, which blocked the first flight of asylum seekers to Rwanda, effectively undermining the government’s flagship migration policy.
It was due to pass its second reading in Parliament in September until it was scrapped by the short-lived administration of Liz Truss after Raab was fired as Justice Secretary.
Raab, a longtime ally of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, has been reappointed justice secretary and the largely unchanged bill is expected to be brought back to parliament in the coming weeks.
Raab will be grilled by the House Justice Committee on November 22 over the bill. The government hopes the bill will address some perceived challenges to human rights law and could be part of the solution to the migration crisis.
Lawyers say one of the main weaknesses of the bill is that as long as the UK remains a member of the European Convention, it will be subject to the jurisdiction of the court in Strasbourg and individuals in the UK will have the right to file a complaint there.
They say domestic law cannot release the UK government from its international treaty obligations.
Lord John Dyson, a former Supreme Court justice, said this month that the bill ‘could lead to years of uncertainty for little or no gain’ and put the UK at risk of “violate international legal obligations under the Convention and therefore threatens it”. international reputation as a country that respects the rule of law and human rights”.
Alison Pickup, director of charity Asylum Aid, said the Bill of Rights would mean that UK courts could in future override Article 39 interim measures issued by Strasbourg: “It means individuals would have to go straight to Strasbourg to seek an injunction and there may not be the time for them to do so if they face imminent dismissal, she says.
Liberty, a human rights group, said that the bill would limit the duties imposed on public authorities that oblige police forces and prisons to carry out investigations into deaths in custody.
Gray Collier, Advocacy Director at Liberty, said: “Raab’s so-called Bill of Rights is a cruel and inconsistent mess that was rightly shelved just two months ago and should not see the light of day. day now.”
Lubna Shuja, president of the Law Society of England and Wales, said: “The bill would also damage the UK’s reputation as an international leader in defending citizens’ rights.”
The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg and the Convention are separate from the European Union and are not affected by Brexit.
Additional reporting by Jasmine Cameron-Chileshe