Liberty response to independent Human Rights Act review

Posted on 04 Mar 2021

  • HRA used to uphold the rights of thousands
  • Liberty warns changes would further weaken access to justice
  • Democracy at stake if those in power are above the law

Liberty has warned that proposed changes to the Human Rights Act (HRA) would erode people’s ability to access justice and hold those in power to account.

The human rights organisation made the warning today (4 March) after it submitted its response to the Government’s Independent Human Rights Act Review (IHRAR).

Liberty is concerned that proposals being examined by IHRAR to change how people can use the Act would have the effect of making the rights the Act protects meaningless.

The response warns that, against a backdrop of cuts to legal aid and plans to change judicial review, this would set back access to justice in the UK even further.

It also warns that it would damage the UK’s democracy by limiting the way people are able to challenge decisions which are made, and so putting those in power above the law.

Liberty’s IHRAR response argues that:

  • The Human Rights Act is an essential tool for creating a fair and just society, and has been used to uphold the rights of thousands of people when those in power get things wrong. For example, it has been used by a number of families to secure investigations after poor treatment and neglect led to the deaths of their loved ones.
  • As well as winning justice for individuals, it has forced successive Governments to change policies which undermine people’s rights. For example, giving people with mental health problems greater rights over their detention and treatment.
  • The proposals under consideration could make it impossible for courts to correct a human rights violation even when they find the Government has broken the law. This would make it impossible for people to use the Human Rights Act to enforce their rights in practice.

Ayaz Manji, Liberty policy and campaigns officer, said:

“We all want to live in an equal, just and fair society, where governments and public bodies act in our best interests. The Human Rights Act helps to ensure that by allowing ordinary people to challenge governments and public authorities when they get it wrong. Many people’s lives have been made better because of the HRA.

“The HRA has enabled disabled people to challenge the removal of their benefit payments. It has also been used by families to win investigations into the deaths of their loved ones after poor treatment and neglect, and it helped LGBT veterans get their medals back after they were kicked out of the armed forces.

“No one should be above the law – but those currently in power are trying erode our ability to access justice and to stand up to power.”

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