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The Bill of Rights – Or the Inequality Act?

Today the Justice Secretary, Dominic Raab is attempting to sidestep parliamentary scrutiny of his proposed replacement legislation for the Human Rights Act 1998 (HRA), the “Bill of Rights”

This follows an incident earlier this week where the European Courts blocked a deportation flight to Rwanda using an interim measure under European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR) that implemented the “right to family life”. 

Dominic Raab has also earnt himself a poor reputation amongst Criminal Barristers recently following a long period of underfunding of criminal legal aid. Underfunding that has led to a planned strike of criminal Barristers who intend to attend an organised protest on Monday 27 June outside “The Old Bailey” in London. It seems that the justice system is now “teetering on the brink of collapse”.

Mr Raab claims that the Bill of Rights will save the Courts money and time as it will stop cases that are not relevant Human Rights matters being progressed through the Courts. The problem is that these cases will still occur, however his proposed “Bill of Rights” will take the decision of whether the matter is progressed to a Court out of the hands of the legal experts and into the hands of politicians.

One of the underpinning principles of Human Rights is that they apply equally to everyone. To remove this principle is essentially purporting that some people do not deserve Human Rights, whilst others do and allowing lay people to decide who should have human rights and who should not.

Mr Raab claims that the Bill of Rights contains every right that the Human Rights Act contains. Following the consultation of the bill it was raised that if the Bill of Rights replaces all the provisions of the HRA 1998 why is it even needed? As surely it is a superfluous Act?

Mr Raab also states that he wishes to explain to Judges how they should implement human rights with “common sense”. Frankly I feel that Mr Raab may be a little overconfident in his grasp of Human Rights legislation and its application. Perhaps this matter may be better left to the Judges?

Mr Raab’s suggestion that the Bill of Rights should progress through parliament without committee scrutiny has been harshly criticised by Campaigners that claim it is will reduce people’s rights and is an ideological attack on human rights that will harm the most marginalised in

society disproportionately. Campaigners point out that the HRA has been used by the victims of the Hillsborough disaster, and by disabled people to enforce their rights and achieve justice.

Disabled people rely on the raft of legislation that has been implemented off the back of ECHR. Art 2 Pro 1 is the right to an education for children under the age of 16 years. The Equality Act 2010 and the domestic employment legislation was implemented to enshrine many of the rights under the European Convention of Human Rights domestically.

Essentially this means that if the Bill of Rights becomes an act the government will not have a higher power it is accountable to and can deport people willy nilly without a second thought. It is a massive violation of the right to family life and is saying that in our country we propose that everyone is equal but some are more equal than others.

Campaigners also say that scrapping the HRA risks breaching the peace deal in Northern Ireland as incorporation of Human Rights was an explicit commitment of the “Good Friday” agreement.

It really does raise the question that if Mr Raab’s Bill of Rights is such a trumpet for Human Rights and not a completely draconian measure ……..why doesn’t he want it scrutinised by parliamentary committees?