Plans to abolish Human Rights Act 1998
After the Second World War, nations came together in order to prevent another war and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was created. These standards were intended to protect the individual from the state, to uphold the rights of minorities and to provide support for the vulnerable.
The Human Rights Act 1998 came in to force in 2000 and it was Britain’s way of implementing the European Convention on Human Rights. The Act sets out the fundamental rights and freedoms that individuals in the UK have access to. All public bodies including schools and the police must therefore comply with the Human Rights Act. If an individual wishes to bring a claim under the Human Rights Act then then they can do this in a British Court, they would not have to make a claim in the European Courts.
The rights of individuals under the Human Rights Act include:-
- The right to life – for instance the state is required to conduct investigations into suspicious deaths and deaths in custody;
- The prohibition of torture and inhuman treatment – nobody should be tortured or treated in an inhuman or degrading way
- The right to liberty and freedom –everyone has the right to be free and this liberty will only be taken away if for instance you are convicted of a crime;
- The right to a fair trial and no punishment without law – the concept that everyone is innocent until proven guilty.
- Respect for privacy and family life and the right to marry – this protects against unnecessary surveillance or intrusion into your life. You have the right to marry and raise a family;
It is clear that the Human Rights Act is very much the ‘people’s law’.
The Conservatives proposal to abolish this Act coupled with the impending legal aid cuts will severely restrict people’s access to justice and it is no surprise that people are feeling uneasy about it.
Instead, they plan to introduce a British Bill of Rights as an alternative which would mean that British people would not be able to have their case heard in a British court but would need to go to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. If Britain were to opt out of the European Convention on Human Rights then they would be the only European country other than Belarus which is not signed up to the convention.