Great was the joy among those who want to see an end to the ‘hated’ Human Rights Act when it was announced that Michael Gove is the new Justice Secretary and Theresa May – no longer hampered by Lib Dems – will be able to introduce a new Communication Bill commonly called the ‘snoopers’ charter’.
Details will be in the Queen’s Speech at the end of the month and the act might be gone by Christmas. We look forward to seeing the British Bill of Rights when it is finally published and there is press comment that it has gone through eight drafts in an attempt to sort out the complexities.
There will be many who will be delighted by these moves such has been the press campaign waged against it. We have noted in a previous blog that a web site called Rights Info has been launched to try and counter the avalanche of negative reporting. As the debate goes by it would be worthwhile catching up with this site which seeks to set out the true story in each case. Few will read it unfortunately. The case of Abu Qatada has become to epitomise the (alleged) failings of the act and the fact that Jordan used torture was conveniently overlooked.
In common with almost any act of parliament you care to mention, the Human Rights Act is capable of improvement or reform and few would argue with that. For years the problem was individuals who had a problem had to make their way to Strasbourg to seek justice. The HRA was passed with a lot of cross party support to enable these sorts of cases to be heard in the UK. Such has been the hysteria and miss-reporting that a calm look at the act does not seem to be possible and in any event the die has now been cast. The benefits that many ordinary people derive from the act rarely get a mention.
We shall follow events with interest.
UPDATE: 16 May. Message from Kate Allen
Over the last few months we have been calling on all our political leaders to keep the Human Rights Act. Tens of thousands of you have taken action, held hustings, and discussed human right issues directly with your prospective parliamentary candidates.
With the election results now in it is likely that the Human Rights Act is will be under threat like never before.
Over the next few days and weeks we will be carefully analysing the results and planning our next steps. Together we face a huge challenge and you have a vital role to play in the next phase of our campaign if we are to be successful. We will be in touch with more information about the campaign and how you can get involved soon.
Director, Amnesty International UK