Human rights

In Support of the Human Rights Act 1998

The following guest blog post was written by Ian Turner, Senior Lecturer in Law here at Lancashire Law School.

As every First Year Law student knows, the UK does not have either a single document or collection of documents labelled ‘Constitution’. A typical feature of a Constitution is a Bill of Rights. But the UK has a Bill of Rights: it is the Human Rights Act 1998 (HRA) which enshrines specific Articles of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) into domestic law. But the HRA and/or the ECHR rights it incorporates have come in for much criticism: the tabloid press, for example, claim that prisoners have been granted access to hardcore pornography and suspects in police custody have been given fried chicken – all in the cause of protecting human rights.[1]Indeed, Conservative members of the British Coalition government, such as the Home Secretary, Theresa May, have called for the “scrapping” of the HRA, highlighting the difficulties in deporting terror suspects, for example.[2]

In March 2011, following much pressure from the Conservatives, the coalition government set up a Commission for a Bill of Rights to investigate possible reform of the HRA and/or the ECHR.[3]The Commission published its report about eighteen months later, A UK Bill of Rights? The Choice Before Us,[4]but the members of the panel failed to agree on possible reform. To this end, the press declared that the Conservatives’ desire for change was ‘dead’, but expected the Party to campaign for reform at the next General Election in 2015.[5]With this in mind it is important to recall the legacy of the HRA. The ECHR rights the HRA incorporates include civil rights such as Article 2, the right to life, Article 3, the freedom from torture and inhuman and degrading treatment and Article 4, the freedom from slavery and servitude; and political rights such as Article 10, the freedom of expression, and Article 11, the freedom of association and assembly. Recent surveys have shown that 93% of British people actually support a Bill of Rights for the UK[6] so why is the Conservative Party wanting to repeal the HRA and the ECHR rights it protects?

Ian Turner

Ian Turner – Senior Lecturer in Law

[1] Amnesty TV, “Theresa May and the Human Rights Act – Video” The Guardian. 2nd November 2011 http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/video/2011/nov/02/amnesty-international-human-rights-video (Accessed 18th October 2011).

[2] D. Bentley, “Home Secretary May ‘Wants Human Rights Act Scrapped’” The Independent. 2nd October 2011. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/home-secretary-may-wants-human-rights-act-scrapped-2364552.html (Accessed 18th October 2012).

[3] Ministry of Justice, “Commission on a UK Bill of Rights Launched” 18th March 2011 http://www.justice.gov.uk/news/press-releases/moj/press-release-180311 (Accessed 18th October 2012).

[4]http://www.justice.gov.uk/downloads/about/cbr/uk-bill-rights-vol-1.pdf and http://www.justice.gov.uk/downloads/about/cbr/uk-bill-rights-vol-2.pdf (Accessed 3rd June 2013).

[5] A. Grice, “Tories’ Bid for UK Bill of Rights declared ‘Dead’ After Review Ends in Stalemate” The Independent 19th December 2012 http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/tories-bid-for-uk-bill-of-rights-declared-dead-after-review-ends-in-stalemate-8424526.html (Accessed 3rd June 2013).

[6] ComRes, ‘Poll Digest – Social – Liberty Human Rights Poll October 2011’ http://www.comres.co.uk/poll/541/liberty-human-rights-poll-october-2011.htm (Accessed 3rd July 2014).

 

One thought on “In Support of the Human Rights Act 1998

  1. Pingback: ‘Gotcha!’ The Conservatives’ Plans to Reform Britain’s Human Rights Laws | Lancashire Law School

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