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Gove urged not to ditch human rights

Human rights groups fear devastating effects of act scrapping

by Lamiat Sabin

MICHAEL Gove was urged to tread carefully yesterday after the new Conservative government announced that he will help scrap the Human Rights Act.

Human rights organisations Reprieve and Amnesty International called on the new Justice Secretary to think about the devastating effects his new rules could wreak on the vulnerable.

The Tories are replacing the Act, that was introduced by Labour in 1998, with a “British Bill of Rights” that will “break the formal link between British courts and human rights.”

The endangered Act includes the right to a private and family life, liberty, a fair trial, freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and association and the right not to be discriminated against — among others.

Presently any cases that made on the grounds of the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR) would have to be heard in a court in Strasbourg — a lengthy and difficult process.

However, Home Secretary Theresa May said that the Tories would resort to slashing links with the ECHR, which even non-EU countries such as Turkey and Russia are members of, if decisions are overruled by the EU.

The right-wing gutter press is also to blame for slandering the Act by spinning stories, human rights campaigners told the Star, and have put its reputation in great danger.

Reprieve executive director Clare Algar said: “We hope that Mr Gove ignores all the myths and spin that many others have used against human rights legislation, and considers instead the important central principles: That this is something which helps defend the weak from the strong, and the individual citizen from the abuses of government.”

It was in Rupert Murdoch’s The Times in 1998 that Mr Gove, the former education secretary, called for the return of hanging.

It is unknown whether he still holds this view, however the discovery has since made him an unpopular choice for his new position.

Amnesty International’s head of policy and government affairs Allan Hogarth said: “The Human Rights Act should be protected and Michael Gove should stand firm over the Act’s fundamental principles of justice and decency.” 

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