People are being encouraged to submit their views on government proposals to replace the Human Rights Act with a Bill of Rights. The Joint Committee on Human Rights (JCHR) created a survey to find out whether the public thinks the Bill of Rights will weaken or strengthen the protection of human rights in the UK.
The survey is part of the JCHR’s ongoing inquiry into proposals to revise the Human Rights Act 1998 (HRA) and replace it with a Bill of Rights. Respondents are asked whether the government has painted human rights in a positive, negative or neutral light, and whether they think the Human Rights Act has led to courts making decisions that should be made by Parliament.
The committee also called for organisations and members of the public to submit written evidence in response to the proposals by 26 August.
🚨 We've launched an inquiry and want to hear your views on the Government's proposed Bill of Rights Bill.
— UK Parliament Human Rights Committee (@HumanRightsCtte) July 12, 2022
Reforms not ‘democratic or necessary’ says committee chair
Joanna Cherry QC MP, the committee’s acting chair, said the government had not listened to concerns raised by parliamentary committees in its consultation on the proposed reforms. In a letter to Dominic Raab, the justice secretary, in June, she said that the government had “failed” to make the case for reforming the HRA.
“Given the overwhelming lack of support for these radical reforms the Government should consider whether repealing the Human Rights Act and replacing it with this Bill of Rights is really democratic and necessary. We think not,” she wrote.
Cherry said the Bill in its current form would lead to an “unfortunate regression in rights protection”. “We think it should be an uncontroversial proposition, and hope the Government would agree, that human rights benefit everyone and must be afforded strong protection,” she added.
Government says its plans will strengthen freedom of speech
“The Government will continue to champion human rights at home and abroad. The Bill of Rights respects the UK’s international obligations as a party to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), and will retain all the substantive rights currently protected under the Convention and the Human Rights Act,” said the response.
“We will strengthen human rights protections in a number of areas, including the right to freedom of speech specifically. We will also recognise trial by jury, which the Convention recognises only to the extent that the Strasbourg Court found that jury trials are capable of being consistent with the right to a fair trial (Article 6 ECHR).”
Civil liberties organisations have rallied against the Bill of Rights, known widely as the Rights Removal Bill. More than 100,000 people signed a petition by Liberty which called on Raab to abandon plans to repeal the Act. Experts have also dubbed the Bill a ‘con’, saying it will likely lead to more judgments against the UK from the European Court of Human Rights.