Holiday over, it’s time for MPs to stand up for our rights

Posted by James Skinner on 04 September 2018

Parliament may have stopped for summer, but we didn’t. Here’s what we’ll be working on now MPs are back.

As Brexit rumbles on, you’d be forgiven for thinking everything else in Government has ground to a halt.

But in coming months, Parliament will consider a number of proposed laws with big implications for our human rights.

Counter-terrorism

The Government’s latest ill-thought-out counter-terror proposals will have wide-ranging impacts on our rights and freedoms.

The Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill aims to increase powers for officials to detain, interrogate and search people without suspicion at UK borders, and expand the controversial and ineffective Prevent programme.

It will also introduce new offences banning photographs of clothing or flags linked to a proscribed group and criminalising “reckless” expressions of support for a proscribed organisation.

There will also be a “three strikes” policy for viewing content the Government deems likely to be useful to a terrorist – even where there is no intent to harm.

Locking people up for simply exploring ideas is censorship. It risks criminalising innocent people, chilling free speech and curbing journalistic and academic inquiry.

Liberty has been working on amendments to the Bill to remove these unnecessary and dangerous proposals.

Tell your MP to stand up for our rights, stand up to terror and vote down these misguided plans.

Domestic violence

Earlier this year, the Government ran a consultation on what should be addressed in a forthcoming Domestic Violence and Abuse Bill.

In our response, we called for stronger protections and increased support for survivors of domestic abuse – particularly migrants who face additional barriers to safety.

We’re also calling for undocumented victims of crime to be able to report abuse without fear, for adequate funding for support services and for increased access to legal aid for survivors of domestic abuse.

In coming months, we’ll be briefing ministers and contributing to the Joint Committee on Human Rights inquiry into domestic abuse.

Mental capacity

The Government is proposing to amend the Mental Capacity Act – specifically protections for people deprived of their liberty who lack the capacity to make decisions about their care and treatment.

Together with other mental health and human rights organisations, we’re calling for improved transparency of decisions made on people’s behalf and increased safeguards to make sure detained people are treated fairly and their human rights are respected.

We’re also calling for more support to help people deprived of liberty advocate for themselves, or have someone do so on their behalf.

Joint Committee on Human Rights (JCHR) inquiry into immigration detention

The UK is the only country in Europe to lock people up without release dates. Liberty has long called for a 28-day time limit on immigration detention – and the consensus for change is diverse and growing.  

The JCHR is investigating how decisions to detain people are made, what alternatives are available, and what access people in detention have to legal advice, medical care and mental health support.

We’re working to make sure the inquiry also considers the need for a time limit on detention.

You can join more than 55,000 others in demanding an end to indefinite detention by signing our petition and sending a postcard to your MP.

Or perhaps you want to do even more to raise awareness by downloading our campaign pack.

Gender Recognition Act consultation

The Government’s long-awaited consultation on transgender legal recognition runs until 19 October.

Currently, before a trans person can have their gender legally changed in the UK, they have to be diagnosed with a mental illness (gender dysphoria). And if they are married, they will also need written permission from their spouse.

Non-binary people – those who don’t solely identify as male or female – have no way of gaining legal recognition at all.

We – along with Amnesty International and the British Institute of Human Rights – believe the Government’s proposed changes are long overdue and will help bring UK law in line with best practice from around the world.

Join us by responding to the consultation today.

Brexit

And of course there’s also the small matter of Brexit. Here’s an update on where we’ve got to on protecting human rights as we leave the EU.

It’s going to be a busy end to the year – but, with your help, Liberty is more than up for the challenge.

James Skinner, Liberty

James Skinner

Liberty
Advocacy Intern