The Human Rights Act 1998 is the law that exists to ensure that every person's fundamental human rights are respected and protected here in the UK. It does this by taking some of the fundamental human rights in the European Convention on Human Rights and making them applicable to our laws here in the UK.
Some of the effects of the Act have been contentious and have at times gained significant media attention. In December 2021, the Government announced a new consultation with proposals to replace the Human Rights Act (the Act) with a British Bill of Rights. You can read more about the consultation in a British Institute of Human Rights’ briefing available here.
In response to the consultation, an open letter has been prepared in which a number of charitable organisations are urging the Government to retain the existing Act. Current signatories include the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust and the Co-op Foundation.
The letter says that “[t]here are compelling reasons why the current approach to human rights accountability should be retained. The... Act has greatly benefited a vast number of people from across society, improving their health and wellbeing; ensuring their dignity, autonomy, privacy, and family life; and overall improving their quality of life.” It also raises a number of concerns about the proposed new Bill.
Other organisations can sign the letter by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org with the name of the signatory, job title and full organisation name until Friday 4 March. The final response to the consultation will be submitted on 8 March.
The Human Rights Act as presently drafted supports people across the UK to live more equal and dignified lives. In order to build greater public confidence... a focus should be given to the proper promotion of, and education about, human rights as they currently appear in the Human Rights Act. It is our clear view that the UK government should not take these unnecessary and damaging proposals any further. To do so will weaken the human rights of everyone.