Targeting Key Individuals, Stifling Free Speech, Arbitrary Detention, Withdrawing Rights

The Conservative party released its plan to scrap the Human Rights Act if it won the General Election. Secretary of State Chris Grayling said they’d also be prepared to withdraw from the European Convention on Human Rights, unless they were allowed to veto judgements from the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).

They won and the plan is going ahead.

Included in the Human Rights Act are fundamental rights and freedoms that all individuals within the UK have access to — such as the right to life, the freedom from torture and inhuman or degrading treatment, and the right to a fair trial. But those rights extend much deeper than most people think.

After World War II, the UK was instrumental in devising a list of rights — along with representatives from the 47 other countries that comprise the United Nations — that everybody across the world should enjoy. This became the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was created with the aim of never letting the atrocities of the Second World War happen again. A few years later, these rights were used to form the basis of the European Convention of Human Rights, which was drafted by the Council of Europe — the continent’s 47-strong human rights watchdog. This was led by a British MP and lawyer. This led to the establishment of the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg and gave ordinary people a legal framework to work within, if they felt their rights had been violated.

Amnesty said “Any attack on the Human Rights Act poses a real threat to the freedoms we enjoy in this country — it must be defended.”

“Human rights are for everyone,” explains Sanchita Hosali, deputy director at the British Institute of Human Rights (BIHR). “They’re not only for certain groups. They protect all of us. Relating human rights to specific groups is wrong. They’re for everyone. They’re for the people we like and the people we don’t like — that’s what it means to live in a democratic society where we have a rule of law and we have respect for life.”

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