Posts Tagged ‘British Bill of Rights’


The government is proposing to issue a public consultation on scrapping the Human Rights Act sometime in the autumn.

abolish hra


rightsinfo-logoRights Info has only been going four months but has already begun to establish itself in the human rights world.  It is dedicated to providing accurate information on the subject of human rights. This is extremely important now because the present government would like to repeal the Human Rights Act (HRA) and replace it with their own Human Rights and Responsibilities act (or whatever it may be called).  This has been promised for several years and we await details in due course.

The government is egged on by a media which regularly produces inaccurate or exaggerated stories of the workings of the act, often tying it into the European Convention on Human Rights, presenting it as an unwarranted intrusion into our legal processes.  The fact that it was British and French lawyers who prepared the ECHR – at Churchill’s behest – based on basic principles of justice established over many years, seems to have been forgotten.  As we have noted before, the act is of great benefit to ordinary citizens in the UK who use it to secure justice from authorities.

Rights Info has been providing a source of information to counter the tide of misinformation from newspapers and some politicians. They have just launched a similar exercise to provide information about the European Court which also gets a bad press.  It is called The European Court of Human Rights Uncovered.  One of the examples it gives concerns the total number of applications and judgements.  There have been 22,781 applications against the UK.  Number of judgements is just 513 of which the court found at least one violation to be 301.  301 over 22,781 is 1.32%.  The Sun newspaper reports this as ‘UK loses 60% of cases’.

Terrorism cases get a lot of publicity with the impression given that they are winning cases all over the place.  In 40 years (1975 – 2015) out of 297 cases, just 14 were terrorists.  203 were ‘other people’ that is ordinary citizens in their fights against authorities of one kind or another.

Over the coming months we are likely to see an increase in bad news stories about the HRA and the European Court as the government seeks to soften up the public ahead of its plans to abolish it.  It is useful to know that there is a source of accurate information to go to.


June 15 007

Kate Allen, Director of Amnesty International with David Davis MP, Peter Oborne the journalist, and Ed Probert of the Cathedral posing for a photo during the sixth form conference which took place at the Cathedral on 15 June.

Attendance was good with several hundred 6th formers from the local schools who listened to the speakers and then asked questions.

Kate also took part in another event in the Playhouse in which she was joined by Prof Guy Standing, author of The Precariat and A Precariat Charter and Ben Rawlence writer and researcher and author of Radio Congo.  Ben used to be a country representative with Human Rights Watch.

The event was called Magna Carta Now and was looking at the relevance of the Magna Carta in today’s world especially as it was the 800th anniversary of its sealing.  Edward Fox the actor read out sections of the charter and the panel debated their significance and relevance today.  Local member, Peter Curbishley was in the chair.  Around 140 people attended.

Playhouse event. L to R: Group members Fiona, Karen, Lesley, Kate Allen, Peter Curbishley, Ben Rawlence and Prof Guy Standing. Photo: Paul Donovan

Playhouse event.

A PANEL DISCUSSION WITH READINGS BY EDWARD FOX, OBE

MAIN HOUSE

Monday 15 June at 2pm

MAGNA CARTA

Magna Carta’s importance meant that it was traditionally read out at the opening sessions of Parliament and in English cathedrals. This panel discussion about its relevance today will include Kate Allen, Director of Amnesty International UK, Professor Guy Standing, author of The Precariat: The Dangerous New Class and Ben Rawlence, formerly of Human Rights Watch. Excerpts from the charter will be read by one of our most celebrated actors, Edward Fox OBE.

Chaired by Peter Curbishley.

Presented in partnership with the Playhouse and Amnesty International.  Tickets from Salisbury Playhouse http://www.salisburyplayhouse.com or 01722 320333


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.

Thank you,

Kate Allen
Director, Amnesty International UK 


Playhouse event

UPDATE: Piece in the Salisbury Journal

On Monday, June 15, celebrated actor Edward Fox will read extracts from Magna Carta at Salisbury Playhouse as part of a panel discussion investigating the relevance of the historic document today.

We are pleased to announce an event at Salisbury Playhouse called Magna Carta Now on 15 June at

Edward Fox

Edward Fox

2pm.  It will involve Edward Fox OBE who will read parts of the Magna Carta and there will be a panel discussion on the relevance of these readings in the politics today.

The event is particularly relevant in view of the announcement by the new government of their plans to scrap the Human Rights Act (or the ‘hated’ Human Rights Act as some would say), details of which are expected in the forthcoming Queen’s Speech on 27th.  We have waited several years now for the promised British Bill of Rights which we understand from press comment has gone through at least 8 drafts but has still not been published.

The panel is a distinguished one:

  • Kate Allen, Director of Amnesty UK
  • Prof Guy Standing, author of among other writings The Precariat and A Precariat Charter
  • Ben Rawlence, from Salisbury, who has been a country representative for Human Rights Watch and is author of Radio Congo

Tickets are available from Salisbury Playhouse www.salisburyplayhouse.com (24 hours) or phone 01722 320333 or at the Playhouse itself.

We hope local Amnesty supporters and others will come along to what promises to be an interesting event.  We should add that there will be an opportunity for audience participation at the end of the event.