Thank you to those who have contacted me about the proposed reform of the Human Rights Act (HRA) 1998. I share your concerns about the Government’s proposals to overhaul the Human Rights Act and I strongly oppose any attempts to replace it.
I am proud that in 1998, the then Government introduced the HRA, which brings important rights home, giving our most vulnerable citizens a powerful means of redress. It protects the powerless against the might of the strong and the dictates of the State. That is why I robustly defend the HRA, as well as Britain’s continued membership of the European Convention on Human Rights.
Ministers claim that by replacing the HRA with their now published draft Bill of Rights, freedom under the rule of law will be reinforced. As you have pointed out, they have also said that reform of the HRA would make it easier to deport foreign nationals from the UK. However, a quarter fewer foreign criminals have been deported in the last year than in the previous year, so it is clearly not the HRA that is preventing foreign criminals from being deported.
In my view, should this draft Bill become law, it will impose enormous amounts of red tape on victims of crime seeking justice. I also fear that it is an attack on women who can currently rely on the HRA to challenge the police when they have either failed or refused to investigate rape and sexual assault cases. For these reasons, I urge Ministers to listen to the concerns of lawyers, academics and human rights groups and change course by committing to keep the HRA.
This country’s criminal justice system is in crisis. There are record backlogs and delays in the Crown courts, drug use by prisoners is out of control, and just 0.6% of rape cases reported by women and girls ever result in a charge.
I believe that Ministers should focus on tackling these problems and restoring confidence in the system, rather than proceeding with this Bill.
I can assure you that I will be watching developments on this matter very closely.
Thank you once again for contacting me about this important issue.