Cameron vows to scrap Human Rights Act, civil liberties groups outraged

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Prime Minister David Cameron has vowed to terminate the Human Rights Act if the Conservatives are re-elected in Britain’s 2015 general election. The controversial proposal has stoked the ire of civil rights groups across the nation.

Speaking on the final day of the Conservative Party’s four-day conference, Cameron pledged to scrap the Act and replace it with a British “bill of rights.”

However, the prime minister did not explicitly confirm that a future Conservative government would withdraw from the European Convention on Human Rights — a move that would have far-reaching repercussions for Britain’s relationship with Europe.

But legal experts and civil liberties campaigners suggest the PM’s pledge to repeal the Act could radically transform Britain’s relationship with the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).

Kate Allen, head of Amnesty International, denounced the PM’s controversial policy proposal, emphasizing that the Human Rights Act has historically been a bedrock of social, legal, and economic protection. “It’s disappointing to hear the PM vowing to scrap the Human Rights Act when it has done so much good. We should be defending it,” she said.

In his address, designed to relay the Tories’ self-styled vision for Britain’s social and economic future, the PM sharply criticized the Court. “It’s not just the European Union that needs sorting out — it’s the European Court of Human Rights,” he stated.

“When that charter was written, in the aftermath of the Second World War, it set out the basic rights we should respect. But since then, interpretations of that charter have led to a whole lot of things that are frankly wrong.”

Cameron added that the ECHR has countered Britain’s national interest by calling for prisoners’ voting rights and delaying the deportation of foreigners suspected of terrorist activities.

“Rulings to stop us deporting suspected terrorists. The suggestion that you’ve got to apply the human rights convention even on the battlefields of Helmand. And now — they want to give prisoners the vote. I’m sorry, I just don’t agree,” Cameron said.

Speaking to conference delegates, the PM argued that Britain should not “require instruction” on such issues from judges located in Strasbourg. He added that the Conservatives’ proposed move to repeal the Human Rights Act would effectively allow for the passing of a bill of rights rooted in British values.

The ECHR reportedly issues ten judgments against Britain out of a total of 1,500 legal challenges brought against the UK government each year. Legal experts claim that while some of these judgments have roused a degree of controversy among UK ministers and media outlets, their real impact has been minimal.

Conference speeches from Justice Secretary Chris Grayling and Home Secretary Theresa May on Tuesday revealed little about the Conservative perspective on human rights. But Cameron’s proposed legislative change offered a glimpse into social and economic Britain under a re-elected Tory government.

The PM’s Human Rights Act vow and pledge to introduce a UK bill of rights has been a long-term Tory agenda. The party’s eurosceptic wing has been particularly vocal with respect to the ECHR, with Grayling and May consistently stating that Britain could reject it on the Conservatives’ watch.

Director of Liberty Shami Chakrabarti condemned Cameron’s suggested legislative overhaul, arguing the move could considerably impact upon Britain’s adherence to human rights law.

“Shame on the prime minister for citing Churchill, while promising to trash his legacy. The Convention protects both prisoners of war and soldiers sent off to fight and die with inadequate equipment. But the Prime Minister believes there is no place for human rights in Helmand — on that, he and ISIS agree,” she said.

Tim Hancock, campaigns director at Amnesty UK, said: “It’s exasperating to hear the Prime Minister vow to tear up the Human Rights Act again – so he can draft ‘his own.’”

Hancock warned that “human rights are not in the gift of politicians to give” and “must not be made a political plaything to be bestowed or scrapped on a whim.”

This piece was reprinted by RINF Alternative News with permission or license.

  • Mick McNulty

    Reactionaries who complain about do-gooders and human rights will be in for a few personal shocks when do-badders are in charge and there are no rights left upon which we can appeal. Then they’ll understand those rights protected them too.

  • Matt

    i have a feeling that election will be stolen like many others and this lying criminal piece of shit will get its wish, falling for this joke will cost big time

  • Unite2014

    Rights are not granted to you by any government, they are yours from birth. The most any government can do is recognize those rights. Statements to that fact exist in numerous other government documents from around the world. IF you think the government grants rights then you truly have none. Brittan is a signatory to the United Nations convention on Human Rights, violating that agreement is a serious violation of an international treaty; if someone is willing to push that. If you refuse to defend you rights then you have none. Freedom is not Free.

  • Rogoraeck

    Quote: Cameron vows to scrap Human Rights Act.
    This is to keep you safe, you stupid Oi Polloi!

  • qweztionz5

    Little boy Cameron thinks he’s Hitler. He obviously didn’t finish watching Downfall to the end to see what happens to tyrants.

    • David Collins

      id like to finish cameron legially wioth every one watching

  • David Collins

    what he really means is his hatred of ordinary people knows no bounds his aim is to kill of through laws as many of us pesants as he and his party can dowhilst going arm in arm with the real enemy

  • Ian Harris

    Labour’s human rights act has been taken far beyond its original purpose in to protecting murderers, rapists and terrorists whilst the human rights of victims to be protected from them is ignored, in cases too numerous to report. Does anyone seriously suggest that a liberal (some would say too liberal) parliamentary democracy based on the Magna Carta eight hundred years ago is suddenly going to turn into a fascist, corrupt, totalitarian state because a few thousand people we could well do without are ejected from the country? The vilification of Cameron shows the political motives behind these comments, and the cries of woe from left-wing asylum lawyers are crocodile tears of self-interest.