“We can be sure of one thing. A battle is coming.” The future of the Human Rights Act still dominates the news, and this quote comes from UKHRB’s Adam Wagner, who suggests five tactics to ensure that human rights are not eroded. Perhaps the most in-depth analysis to date comes from Jack of Kent, who isolates the “seven hurdles” facing the government, including Scotland, Tory backbench rebels, the House of Lords and the wording of the “British Bill of Rights” itself. He summarises:
So the current situation is: if the UK government can address the immense problems presented by Scottish devolution and the Good Friday Agreement, win-over or defeat Conservative supporters of the Act, shove the legislation through the house of lords, work out which rights are to be protected, somehow come up with a draft Bill of British Rights, and also explain why any of this is really necessary, and can do all this (or to do something dramatic) in “one hundred days” then…the Conservatives can meet their manifesto commitment in accordance with their ambitious timetable. But it seems unlikely.
Jack of Kent´s conclusion is echoed by Matthew Scott in the Telegraph (“Gove…faces almost insurmountable odds”), Mark Elliott in Public Law for Everyone (“the HRA…is far more deeply politically entrenched that the UK Government has so far appreciated”) and the Economist (“getting rid of the HRA will be tough – and almost pointless”).
The BBC´s legal correspondent concurs, and argues that tackling human rights reform before the UK´s EU membership issue is settled would be “putting the political cart before the much bigger political horse”. David Green in the Financial Times: the incoming government´s desire for a “quick win” could become a messy defeat. Amnesty focus on how the reforms might jeopardize the Good Friday Agreement.
Keir Starmer, in the Guardian, predicts that most arguments in favour of repealing will falsely paint the HRA as a “villains´ charter”. In fact, this has already started – see Allison Pearson in the Telegraph (“the HRA gives comfort to [the UK´s] enemies”) or the Daily Mail, here, where they bizarrely use cases from the 1970s and 80s to show why the 1998 Act is not fit for purpose.
Adam Wagner has collected other commentary about the HRA here, as has ObiterJ here . This post will give the last word to Joshua Rozenberg, writing in the Guardian. He argues that “there is really no need for any significant reform at all” and calls upon Michael Gove to bring a measure of “humility and sensitivity” to the role that was so lacking in his predecessor.
- Philippe Sands: The British bill of rights could “end the UK” by producing an intolerable situation where different people have different rights depending on which side of a border they happened to live.
- Shami Chakrabarti: the Government’s plan to scrap the HRA is “pandering to xenophobia”.
- The UN Human Rights Council has chastised the US over its epidemic of police violence and brutality. Their report makes an incredible 348 recommendations that address the “myriad human rights violations in the United States” (Huff Post).
- Sepp Blatter among Fifa candidates failing to engage on human rights
- The Boston Bomber, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has been sentenced to death, a decision criticized by Amnesty International.
In the courts
The Supreme Court has departed from the so-called Pereira Test, bringing significant and far-reaching consequences to homelessness law. The test determined whether a homeless person is “vulnerable” and therefore requires priority involved comparing a particular applicant to an “ordinary homeless person” – obviously leading to the issue of what constitutes an “ordinary” homeless person. This has been replaced with the simpler question of “is the applicant more vulnerable than an ordinary person if made homeless?”. According to nearlylegal.co.uk, this has thrown out the window “old shibboleths that the homeless are depressed/take drugs/are at more risk of sexual or physical abuse etc”.
On May 26th, Human Rights Lawyers Association and Bail for Immigration Detainees are holding an event entitled “Expensive, ineffective and unjust: what next for immigration detention after the parliamentary inquiry?”. The event is free and registration details can be found here.
If you would like your event to be mentioned on the Blog, please email Jim Duffy at firstname.lastname@example.org