Human Rights Act

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Way back in 1988 the Labour party introduced a law called the “Human Rights Act” and it protected 15 fundamental rights and freedoms which were based on articles from the European Convention on Human Rights. However, Liz Truss, the Justice Secretary has insisted, despite rumours and speculation to scrap the manifesto pledge, that a British Bill of Rights will be introduced or the “Human Wrongs Act”.

The aim is to break formal ties between British courts and European courts, making the supreme court supreme. The argument is that foreign nationals sentenced for serious crimes are able to use the freedoms guaranteed under the Human Rights Act to justify staying in the UK.  The inspiration for the act is to be deeply rooted British values because it is not British to believe in freedom of speech or protection from slavery…

The Human Rights Act is in an invisible safety net for those who are not exposed to the horrors such as discrimination and abuse but if we ever find ourselves in a situation where we are, we have protection and we have rights. We can marry who we choose, we can share our opinions about our government and we are entitled to our privacy but who knows what this new Bill of Rights could mean. Every person residing in our country, regardless of what nationality they are from, are entitled to the freedoms stated in the Human Rights Act and it is not yet detailed how the new Bill of Rights will compare.

May has stated there will be no “parliamentary majority” for pulling out of the European Convention on Human Rights, but this does not have to be mean that the Human Rights Act has to be scrapped. She has commented that she intends to keep our current liberties with the intention of adding traditional British rights but of course there will be at least some change. But what are British values? Queuing, saying please and thank you… the Human Rights Act contains universal values that everyone should believe in, is this an attempt to section ourselves from the rest of the world further?

Of course one woman stands against them all: the mighty, the strong minded, Nicola Sturgeon. It seems as if we keep pushing Scotland to the edge of the cliff and eventually into a referendum, following the Brexit result and now this suggestion. Sturgeon said in 2015 that the Act should “not be scrapped or altered” and has already tweeted that the Scottish Government “will defend the Human Rights Act” despite no concrete outlines of what the Bill entails.

Who knows what this could mean for our country, it’s the uncertainty that scares us most of all: we know where we stand with the Human Rights Act because we have had it for 28 years but this new Bill of Rights mean change. We have not even evoked Article 50 yet but already change is hitting us fast and furiously from all directions: economically, socially and politically. The future is uncertain but hasn’t it always been?

Emily Simms: 20:12


If you would like to find out more on this issue, Amnesty is a great place to start :




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