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Updated: Oct 31, 2021

An article in The Telegraph of 16 October 2021 on how the Justice Secretary Dominic Raab plans to do away with large parts of the Human Rights laws and « acquis » causes considerable concern.

The European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) signed by the 47 members of the Council of Europe - not to be confused with the EU Treaty - (and later translated into the UK’s laws via the Human Rights Act 1998) was designed by the finest European legal minds in the aftermath of the atrocities of Nazi Germany and of the Second World War. It was originally proposed by Churchill and many British legal minds worked on it.

We forget so easily the dangers of permitting the Executive (the Government of the day) to act with little restrain over individual freedoms and fundamental rights.

The checks and balances where the Separation of Powers of the Legislature (the Parliament), The Executive (the Government) and the Judiciary (skilled and impartial judges in an appellate structure where there is possibility of further challenge if an error is made by a lower court) are extremely important safeguards in any democratic society.

The Telegraph article on Mr Raab’s proposal:

What has ECHR ever done for us?

Not intending to make light of what is an extremely serious subject the following Patrick Stewart sketch in the Guardian from 2016 sums up the answer:

What would Churchill, who provided the impetus for the ECHR, in war torn Europe, have said of the dismantling of decades of hard work?

Head of legal casework at Liberty comments in the Law Society Gazette on 29.10.21 as follows:

Similarly, the Judicial Review and Courts Bill currently going through Parliament (sponsored by Mr Raab's department) seeks to undermine the ability of individuals to challenge unlawful acts of public authorities by way of Judicial Review.

Alarmingly, safeguards to individual rights and liberties and access to justice appears to be whittled away on several fronts. This gives serious cause for concern.

See the JCWI briefing which is prefaced as follows:

"The Bill should also be understood as part of the Government’s wider programme of constitutional reform. The true impacts of the Bill can be better understood in the context of the ongoing review of the Human Rights Act and the planned review of the Constitutional Reform Act, as well as other Bills currently before Parliament dealing with electoral reform, policing, and borders. Taken together, these would grant unprecedented power to the executive, reduce accountability and, ultimately, tip the balance of power in favour of the executive over Parliament, the courts, and the public"

Author: Nilmini Roelens

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