Human Rights Act reforms ‘lack evidence and risk reducing protections’

Published: 09 Mar 2022

Some of the government’s proposals to reform the Human Rights Act risk reducing protections and lack evidence, the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has warned. 

Responding to the UK Government’s consultation on proposed reforms to the law, we have welcomed the commitment to remain party to the European Convention on Human Rights, and to uphold our obligations under international human rights law, but recommended significant amendments to the proposals in order to protect human rights, to improve public understanding of human rights and their importance, and to strengthen access to justice.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission:

  • Opposes any changes that weaken human rights protections, or reduce access to justice for human rights violations.
  • Strongly welcomes the commitment to remain a party to the European Convention on Human Rights and maintain Britain’s international law commitments.
  • Supports the Independent Human Rights Act Review panel’s recommendation on human rights education.
  • Expresses concern that some of the proposals would reduce protections, or that they lack evidence.
  • Advises that any change to the Human Rights Act should be subject to an in-depth, inclusive consultation process, in order to gather and reflect the views and needs of all groups and particularly those with protected characteristics.

The Government’s proposals come after Sir Peter Gross’s Independent Human Rights Act Review panel considered whether changes to the Act were needed. In our response, we highlighted that the government’s consultation could have reflected more on the independent panel’s measured analysis and recommendations. Many of the Government’s proposals did not address its considerations in detail.

Baroness Kishwer Falkner, Chairwoman of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, said:

“Human rights are the foundation of our everyday freedoms and the legal protections we all rely on. They play a pivotal role in protecting everyone in Britain.

“The EHRC’s duty is impartially and fearlessly to protect and promote human rights laws and standards.

“We welcome the government’s proposals to maintain human rights protections, including by remaining part of the European Convention on Human Rights. But we question other proposals where evidence for change is lacking, and will oppose any changes that risk reducing or weakening human rights in Britain.”

Read our full submission to the Human Rights Act reform consultation on our consultation responses page

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