Fundamental rights / Human Rights Act, ECHR and Government accountability

Plans to “reform” the Human Rights Act are an unashamed power grab

Posted on 14 Dec 2021

Liberty has condemned plans to reform the Human Rights Act – announced by the Government today – as “a blatant, unashamed power grab.”

The human rights organisation has been campaigning against an array of measures put forward by the Government with the aim of making it untouchable. This latest move threatens to fatally weaken our rights protections and put Government beyond accountability, Liberty says.

Liberty’s Director, Martha Spurrier, said: “This plan to reform the Human Rights Act is a blatant, unashamed power grab from a Government that wants to put themselves above the law. They are quite literally rewriting the rules in their favour so they become untouchable.

“The Human Rights Act protects all of us. We lose it at our peril. It is an essential law that allows us to challenge public authorities when they get it wrong and has helped secure justice on everything from the right to life to the right to free speech. Through using the Human Rights Act, Liberty has supported LGBT military veterans get their medals back after they were stripped away from them because of their sexuality. We’ve helped unmarried women rightfully receive their widow’s pension after the death of their partners where the existing law stopped them. The Human Rights Act has changed many lives for the better. It must be protected from political interference intent on making state power unaccountable.

“This reform is a threat to how and when we can challenge those in power – including stripping some people’s rights away and requiring everyone to get permission from a judge before they can take the state to court. Whatever you think of this Government, they must respect the rule of law. This change will mean future Governments, of all political leanings, will be beyond the reach of public accountability.

“Today’s announcement is being cast as strengthening our rights when in fact if this plan goes through, they will be fatally weakened. This Government is systematically shutting down all avenues of accountability through a succession of rushed and oppressive Bills. We must ensure the government changes course as a matter of urgency, before we very quickly find ourselves wondering where our fundamental human rights have gone.”

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