Human rights are universal and threatened in the offices of the state, not in a court in London or Strasbourg

I have been writing a response to the Govt’s consultation on the Human Rights Act. The deadline is midnight this Tuesday. Here is a version of preamble.

I believe that Human Rights law codifies rights and are designed to prohibit and punish over-mighty Governments & politicians that oppress their citizens and their non-citizen residents. They are universal and thus not to be only available to a deserving minority or to be denied to an undeserving minority.

The Human Rights Act and access to the European Court of Human Rights is a crucial defence for all citizens and provides an enhanced route to enforce the rights of public sector workers.

I note that there were only two adverse judgements in 2020, and that since the HRA was passed, the number of adverse determinations has reduced dramatically. This is good because it reduces the cost of justice to those wronged by the State.

I oppose the weakening of the court’s discretion, reducing access to the courts and the weakening of the prohibitions on Government actions. I note that weakening the courts’ ability to take the ECHR into account is likely to lead to more cases being taken to Strasbourg.

It would seem through out the consultation that there is a confusion between the rights of Parliament and the rights of the Government or individual ministers.

I am  concerned that weakening the protections will led to oppressive actions taken by Ministers or their staff, unauthorised by parliament, without an ability to remedy via the courts, a right guaranteed in the ECHR. There will be an effective transfer of the power of interpretation from the courts to officials. This will be an effective diminution of the rights and protections of government employees and service consumers.

My concern is that, as a result of the framing of the consultation, too much attention will be applied to the relationship between the government, parliament, the UK Supreme court and the Strasbourg Court, and insufficient attention to the effective transfer of power to Ministers, Councillors and Officials who may behave poorly and with impunity should they feel less likely to have to answer to the UK or Strasbourg courts.

I was helped in developing answers to some of the consultation questions by the British Institute of Human Rights.

Human rights are universal
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