Human Rights Act and Judicial Review

Liberty responds to Cabinet reshuffle

Posted on 17 Sep 2021

Given the announcements this week, it is not hyperbole to say that some of our already imperilled freedoms as well as fundamental underpinnings of our democracy are firmly on the chopping block.

Liberty has responded to the news that Dominic Raab has been appointed the new Justice Secretary.

Charlie Whelton, Policy and Campaigns Officer at Liberty, said:

“Lots has been made of the Prime Minister ‘wielding the axe’ over the Cabinet reshuffle. While the remark was about Ministerial careers, this metaphor could actually apply to our fundamental rights. Given the announcements this week, it is not hyperbole to say that some of our already imperilled freedoms as well as fundamental underpinnings of our democracy are firmly on the chopping block.

“The appointment of Dominic Raab – who has long called to repeal the Human Rights Act – in the role of Justice Secretary where he will preside over the future of the Human Rights Act (HRA) is extremely worrying. At the same time, keeping the Home Secretary in her post means that two of the most powerful politicians in charge of our rights want to strip them back.

“While some will focus on the HRA, the threat is so much broader, so much more subtle, and so much more concerning. As we’ve seen over the past 18 months, the Government did not hesitate in introducing extraordinary powers that restricted our civil liberties during the pandemic.

“And now they want to keep some of these restrictions, most notably restricting our right to protest. The Policing Bill creates dangerous restrictions on our rights, threatens the way of life of Gypsy and Traveller communities, and will lead to harassment and oppressive monitoring of young people, working class people and people of colour – especially Black people –, and will funnel more people into the criminal punishment system.

“Accountability all across the spectrum is under attack and now this reshuffle has happened, this Cabinet will accelerate its work on blunting the tools that ordinary people use to hold Governments to account. Whether you voted for this Government or not, you should be concerned. Because this doesn’t just put the current Ministers beyond our reach, it also prevents all future Governments from being held to account.

“At Liberty we have long been warning of the dangers that this Government’s constitutional reform project holds. We can’t allow these warnings to come true. Our democracy is too precious, our rights too hard won and our fight too strong for us to allow the powerful to become untouchable”

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