Dominic Raab Threatens to Overhaul Human Rights Act
Categories: Latest News
Monday December 20 2021
The UK Government has published the Independent Human Rights Act (HRA) Review report, after they announced to overhaul the HRA last December 2020. The official review, commissioned by the Conservative government, concluded that the “Human Rights Act works well and has benefited many”, and presented an overwhelming support for retaining the Act. Despite this, Secretary of State for Justice Dominic Raab MP, has called for a new ‘Bill of Rights’ in the House of Commons – which presents numerous issues of the politicisation of human rights and the judiciary
Raab has consistently criticised the existing frameworks of the HRA; he controversially claimed that he would end the ‘nonsense’ of the HRA at the Conservative Party conference in October 2021. Raab’s claim presents numerous threats to the rights that the HRA afford minority communities and sets a dangerous tone for the politicisation of the British judiciary.
The HRA embeds the UK’s human rights commitments under the European Human Rights Convention (EHRC) into UK law and is considered as a “vital tool that not only guarantees our human rights but holds those in power to account.” It ensures that no public body acts in a way that is incompatible with the EHRC. Before the incorporation of the Act in UK law meant that individuals needed to take their grievances to Strasbourg. However, the Act has allowed for the settlement of human rights breaches with little expense and time. The access that the Act enables BAME communities, who are more likely to suffer from violations of their human rights in the form of racism and Islamophobia is unparalleled. Concerningly, the same kind of protections cannot be assured robustly and independently under the new Bill of Rights.
Raab’s rhetoric disregards the consideration of the independence that the HRA affords to the British judicial system. The judiciary’s effectiveness is reliant upon being free from political influence. Likewise, the preservation of human rights also needs to be free from any political interference. Raab’s claims of overhauling the Act has set a dangerous precedence and normalises political influence in the judiciary and the human rights of people. Amnesty International’s critique of Raab’s claim in that “politicians should not be removing the rights of ordinary people with the stroke of a pen” summarises the implications of overhauling the HRA. Ultimately, Raab’s rhetoric will lead to the erosion of judicial institutions which so many have relied upon for decades.
In support of their arguments to overhaul the HRA and instate the ‘Bill of Rights’, Raab and the Conservative Party cites that the HRA is a means used by criminals to avoid deportation. Raab draws on cases where criminals supposedly abuse human rights laws by claiming the right to family – Article 8 of HRA – to avoid deportation. However, using extreme and cynical cases to justify this proposed ‘Bill of Rights’ has been criticised as being a way to merely undermine the HRA. Furthermore, in cases where immigrants are involved, it opens doors for immigrants, on the whole, to be marred and can lead to an increase in far-right attacks on immigration policies. Raab’s attempt to forgo the ‘Bill of Rights’ highlights the lack of consideration of the wider implications of his insinuations.
It is essential that Raab and the Conservative Party consider the dangerous implications of a new ‘Bill of Rights’, which would curtail the rights of women and BAME communities in the UK. Therefore, MEND urges the UK government to scrap the new ‘Bill of Rights’ to avoid weakening the HRA and human rights in Britain.