Human Rights Act, ECHR and Government accountability

Liberty issues Public Safety Warning about Government power grab

Posted on 10 May 2022

Liberty, the human rights membership organisation, today launched a public safety campaign about the dangers to everyone’s rights if Dominic Raab succeeds in scrapping the Human Rights Act.

To raise awareness of the imminent power grab, Liberty sent a mobile advertising van around Westminster before heading to Esher & Walton, the constituency of Dominic Raab, Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor.

The move to scrap the Human Rights Act is part of this Government’s much broader plan to increase its own power, remove itself from public accountability and to fundamentally change the relationship between the individual and State. This will make it harder for everyone to access their rights.

Throughout its 17-mile route the van flashed warnings about how the Government was about to embark on a ‘looting of rights’. Liberty has long warned that this Government is in the process of a power grab and weakening mechanisms to hold it accountable. The van’s warning also urged the public to ‘Speak Up For Your Rights’ now before it’s too late.

Raab’s proposed Bill of Rights – to be unveiled in the Queen’s Speech on Tuesday (10 May) – is set to dismantle the system which currently protects us all and is used by thousands of people every year to enforce their rights – from soldiers, to disabled people, to journalists. Raab’s plan risks eroding our right to live dignified lives, while also reducing protections against the State spying on us, protest rights, and protections for vulnerable people. His proposals also threaten:

  • Accountability, justice and fairness in law-making – this Government wants to remove safeguards that make it harder for them to make regulations that are fundamentally unfair or that breach human rights law.
  • Access to justice – Liberty maintains that everyone should be able to uphold their rights, regardless of who they are, what they have done, or where they are born. The Government want to make rights contingent on how deserving they think you are.
  • The duty on public bodies to protect our rights – Public bodies have a duty to safeguard our dignity, which means they must do things to protect our rights. The Government’s proposals could make it harder to challenge police when they fail to investigate violence against women and girls, and could block bereaved families and victims from seeking truth and justice.
  • Integrity of domestic courts – The Human Rights Act allowed people in Britain to enforce their rights in UK courts. The Government’s plans would lead to more people having to go to Strasbourg – and endure longer legal fights and costs – to seek justice.

Liberty’s Director, Martha Spurrier, said of the campaign:

“Scrapping the Human Rights Act poses a real, imminent threat to rights in the UK. It’s a blatant, unashamed power grab from a Government that wants to put those in power above the law. They are quite literally rewriting the rules in their favour so they become untouchable.

“The Human Rights Act has empowered people in the UK to enforce their rights in practice. It has enabled people to challenge unlawful policies, be treated with dignity by public authorities and secure justice for their loved ones. It has changed the way that we are treated in schools, hospitals and care homes, improving everyday life for people across the country.

“The Government’s plan is to weaken and undermine this, taking power away from the public to take for themselves. We all know this Government cannot be trusted to keep its word or play by the rules. We’re urging everyone to not let them get away with this looting of our rights. Speak up and make your voice heard.”

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