Monday, August 22, 2016

UK Human Rights Act is to be abolished

The UK Human Rights Act is to be abolished and replaced by a British Bill of Rights by the new Government, the Justice Secretary, Liz Truss said.

The British Bill of Rights will be introduced, despite speculation that the Government is planning to shelve the election pledge, Liz Truss told BBC Radio 4’s today programme.

There is speculation that Prime Minister Theresa May is concerned about the proposals as a concession agreed by the previous government that Britain would remain signed up to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).

Former Prime Minister David Cameron’s government said that the British Bill of Rights would replace the controversial Human Rights Act, which has led to the Home Office being left unable to deport criminals and suspected terrorists, due to appeals to the court on human rights or grounds such as the article 8 ‘right to a family life’ in the UK.

The Bill of Rights was drawn up by Michael Gove, the former justice secretary who lost his job during Mrs May’s reshuffle.

A Ministry of Justice spokesman previously said: “We will set out our proposals for a Bill of Rights in due course. We will consult fully on our proposals.”

The news came as Mrs May has hit back at Jean-Claude Juncker's claim that borders are the "worst invention ever made" by politicians.



UK Prime Minister, Mrs Theresa May

UK Immigration Figures

In total, 630,000 people moved to the UK in the year ending December 2015. Statistically this is a minor increase on 2014.

Net immigration of European Union (EU) citizens is estimated as 184,000 in the YE December 2015. An increase from 2014’s total of 174,000 is largely due to a rise in immigration from Romania and Bulgaria.

The number of migrants from countries outside the EU remained steady at 188,000 over the same period.

Of these, 308,000 people immigrated for work, an increase of 30,000 from the previous year and the highest estimate on record. Of these, 178,000 (58%) had a definite job to go to.

While the true extent of illegal migration to the UK is unknown, the volume of people claiming asylum has reached its highest level for 14 years.

Total applications in the 12 months to March 2016 were 41,563 (including dependents) - up 30% on the year before. This is actually relatively low compared to other EU countries - the UK ranks ninth out of 28.

The highest number were from Iran (4,811), followed by Pakistan (3,511), Iraq (3,374), Eritrea (3,340) and Afghanistan (3,133).

Source: Office for National Statistics, May 2016

The devil will be in the detail when it comes to scrapping the Human Rights Act, introduced by the Blair government in 1998, particularly if the UK remains part of ECHR, which will allow people to lodge appeals against the UK government.

The Human Rights Act 1998, into force in the UK in October 2000, sets out the fundamental rights and freedoms that everyone in the UK is entitled to.

In practice, the Act has three main effects:

  1. It incorporates the rights set out in the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) into domestic British law. This means that if your human rights have been breached, you can take your case to a British court rather than having to seek justice from the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France.
  2. It requires all public bodies (like courts, police, local authorities, hospitals and publicly funded schools) and other bodies carrying out public functions to respect and protect your human rights.
  3. In practice, it means that Parliament will nearly always seek to ensure that new laws are compatible with the rights set out in the European Convention on Human Rights (although ultimately Parliament is sovereign and can pass laws which are incompatible). The courts will also where possible interpret laws in a way which is compatible with Convention rights.
Source: Equality and Human Rights Commission.

Whilst the Human Rights Act guarantees rights for UK citizens, it has become unpopular in the wake of controversial decisions to allow criminals and suspected terrorists to remain in the UK despite attempts to deport them by the Home Office, previously run by Theresa May.

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