United Kingdom: human rights organization on the defensive

It’s a campaign promise that Boris Johnson could well keep. In its 2019 manifesto, an “update” of the British law on human rights was on the agenda. This law, introduced under Tony Blair in 1998, was intended to automatically implement the European Convention on Human Rights in the United Kingdom. According to the government, the purpose of this text change would be to restore “the role of Parliament as the final decision-maker on laws affecting population”.

But for various justice and human rights organizations, the project is making it more difficult for ordinary citizens to claim their rights. Hazel Blake, adviser to The Law Society of the Order’s attorneys’ counterpart, outlined, “An independent investigation into the application of this law produced an 800-page report which stated that the law was well-functioning and only was proposing minor changes.”

Criminal. However, the government wants to make substantial changes, such as limiting measures to those who threaten eviction. According to internal estimates, “up to 70% of successful human rights challenges are brought by foreign criminals who invoke the right to family life when appealing a court order. ‘deportation’, particularly those of men I have not paid alimony to support the partners and their families who have assaulted them.

But according to the expert it is against the principle of equality before the law to discriminate against a category of people on general grounds. “Judges know that the deportation of a criminal can be done in the interest of the country and even his family, decisions are always made with these principles in mind. »

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Limit. According to the expert, it is the very framework of the law that the risk can be changed. “For example, it is proposed to introduce a commission to decide whether a case can be brought before the court,” she says. This already exists in other legal areas, it introduces the idea of ​​a limitation, a citizen must prove that he has suffered substantial harm. In fact, it creates a class of human rights abuses which are acceptable and for which it will not be possible to go to court. ,

Another proposal dilutes the responsibilities of public bodies such as the police, ministries or local authorities. “While these bodies may choose between different procedures in a particular case, they have a duty to choose those that respect human rights. Changes proposed by the government remove this obligation: they are free to act according to their law even if they violate human rights and when they could have opted for an alternative process. ,

This reform is in addition to a series of bills that question democratic achievements in the country: stricter monitoring of demonstrations, limits on the independence of the Election Commission … “The reform of judicial review is another matter that concerns us. , outlines Hazel Blake. It is a similar mechanism for challenging a decision made by a government or public body. Citizens are likely to have fewer avenues of legal recourse and, in the event of defeat, the repercussions for these organizations will be less. »

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