16:53 GMT04 March 2021
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    UK government continues pushing forward their plan to remove the Human Rights Act, but this legislation will not go down without a fight

    The Queen confirmed in her speech Wednesday (18 May), that the government still intends to replace the Human Rights Act with what some think is a weaker British Bill of Rights.

    However, there are fundamental flaws with the introduction of this new act — the very law the current government wants to scrap was the same legalization that Sir Winston Churchill, also a Conservative MP, introduced in 1948 after the Second World War.

    Adopted in 1998, the Human Rights Act incorporated into British law the European convention on human rights, along with the charter of the United Nations. All of this reflected Winston Churchill's aim — after World War II — to hold the governments of 47 European countries to account whilst protecting individuals against government excess, giving them freedom of expression, fair trials and the prohibition of torture.

    The UK was the first country to ratify the convention.

    It seems very surprising to some that the current government would attempt to try and replace the Human Rights Act, causing a lot of friction amongst the masses.

    In the UK, many will have seen the posters in Tube stations of individuals stating how the act has helped them and changed their life.

    But what does the removal of the Human Rights Act actually mean and how will it impact the everyday person?

    Existing Peace

    The Good Friday Agreement brought an end to the 30 years of conflict in Northern Ireland, scrapping the Human Rights Act would mean that this agreement would be in breach. In article 2 of an annex to the Good Friday Agreement it binds the UK internationally to the multi-party deal, stating:

    "Complete incorporation into Northern Ireland law of the European convention on human rights, with direct access to the courts, and remedies for breach of the convention, including power for the courts to overrule assembly legislation on the grounds of inconsistency."

    "[Scrapping the act] would also threaten the crucial peace agreement in Northern Ireland which has the Human Rights Act as its bedrock, and would also send a very dangerous message to dictators all over the world — that they can pick and choose their human rights and who they apply to," Lucy Wake from Amnesty International told Sputnik.

    Helping the Everyday Person

    It's important not to forget how important the Human Rights Act has been in helping the everyday person.

    "Only a few weeks ago, Hillsborough reminded us all how crucial the Human Rights Act is to ordinary people when all other avenues of justice fail. So, with your help, we will continue to tell the government to leave the Human Rights Act alone — it's ours, it's working and it is very much needed," Wake said.

    Without the Human Rights Act, the families of those who died in Hillsborough would never have received justice. The QC who represented them used article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which means that a jury can be convened to hear and assess the wider circumstances behind a death(s) when coming to a verdict, not just looking at the narrow question of how a person died.

    The Government have also yet to outline what would be included within the British Bill of Rights. Would people be protected and given a fair trial, and free from torture for example?

    "We simply don't know as there hasn't been a draft yet, but it is clear from everything we have heard it would be less. Recent polling we conducted show that most people in the UK (78 per cent) think in order for rights to work at all, they have to apply to everyone equally.

    "There is no way the British people should accept any stripping of their rights. The recent Hillsborough inquest showed we need this vital backstop for when other avenues of justice fail," Wake told Sputnik.


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    government, human rights, politics, British Bill of Rights, Human Rights Act, Queen's Speech, Amnesty International, Great Britain, United Kingdom
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