Human Rights in the Headlines - 13 May 2016

Posted by Katie Bamber on 13 May 2016

As the Daily Mail reported this week, the time has come. In Wednesday's Queen's Speech, the Government will finally announce its intention to plough on with their "British Bill of Rights".

After multiple false starts, it seems the final strait is in sight. The fight to Save Our Human Rights Act is well and truly on. 

Just weeks after the families of those who died at Hillsborough got to the truth after a 27-year battle, and as we await the verdict in the fresh inquest into the death of Private Cheryl James at Deepcut barracks more than 20 years ago, the Government has the gall to launch its attack on the one piece of legislation that finally made both possible.

No common sense

And, as if the timing wasn't already bad enough, Monday of this week brought the latest in a long line of devastating attacks on the proposals.

A highly critical report by the House of Lords’ European Union Justice Committee urged ministers to rethink plans to scrap the Human Rights Act  emphasising, among other things, how Government’s proposals command no support in the devolved nations and would breach the Good Friday Agreement. You can read Policy Assistant Sam Hawke’s take on the Lords’ report here.

But it's the Committee’s first finding which is perhaps most telling. After hearing evidence from British Bill of Rights champion Michael Gove, they were left “unsure why a British Bill of Rights was really necessary”. The Justice Secretary simply couldn’t make a compelling case for scrapping the HRA – in fact outlining proposals which “did not appear to depart significantly from the Human Rights Act”. Whoops.

If the person hand-picked by the Prime Minister to spearhead repeal can’t come up with a decent argument for doing so, what hope is there for this flagship policy?

Needless to say, Liberty along with our members, clients and many others will be doing everything we can in coming weeks and months to make sure the Human Rights Act goes nowhere. Keep an eye on our Save Our HRA page to see how you can help.

No mean feat

There has been some good news. Last week the Government made a U-turn on its decision to oppose an amendment to the Immigration Bill, brought forward by Lord Dubs, which would bring unaccompanied children from European refugee camps to the UK.

Ministers have failed to commit to accepting any specific number of these children, or to set out a timeline for putting the plans into action – but this is still a welcome step in the right direction. And it marks a real victory for the huge numbers of charities and supporters – not to mention Liberty members who contacted their MPs – who piled pressure on the Government to show an ounce of compassion.

Members’ Conference

Every year, Liberty members from across the UK come together at our AGM for an inspirational day of debate and decision-making. Our Members’ Conference and AGM on 18 June is fast approaching and we want to see you there.

This year's event provides the first opportunity for members to meet Martha Spurrier, our incoming Director. We’ll be discussing military justice, the refugee crisis, the Snoopers’ Charter - and of course how we can save the Human Rights Act. Liberty members also have the right to vote on some of our most important campaigning issues, and the decisions made by members at the AGM make a real difference to how we campaign.

The AGM and Members’ Conference is open and free to all Liberty members. If you're not a member but want to come to the AGM, please join Liberty as a member today.

We hope to see you there!