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DOMINIC RAAB’S Bill of Rights was dealt a fresh blow today after a damning report warned the reforms would seriously damage people’s ability to enforce their rights.
A cross-party committee of MPs and peers has called on PM Rishi Sunak to totally scrap his Justice Secretary’s plans to overhaul Britain’s human rights laws, with committee members saying they found “hardly any support” for the changes following their inquiry.
The reforms seek to replace the Human Rights Act 1998, which enshrines the European Convention on Human Rights in domestic law, with a new Bill of Rights.
Mr Raab says the overhaul is needed to prevent abuses of the current system, often citing cases where human rights defences have been used to halt deportations.
However, the committee concluded today that there was “no case” for the Bill, nor evidence that it would achieve the government’s stated aims of protecting freedom of expression and empower British courts.
Critics have branded the legislation the “rights removal Bill,” describing the changes as repressive and dangerous.
“Rather than creating a strong new framework for governing how human rights are protected in the UK, the Bill appears to be designed to ‘tip the balance’ in favour of the state when facing allegations of human rights violations,” a statement from the committee reads.
“We believe that some of its provisions are simply unnecessary, while others are positively damaging to the enforcement and protection of human rights in the UK.”
The committee expressed concern that the Bill would require courts to ignore safeguards that protect individuals facing credible risks to life, torture, or inhumane treatment.
Particular concern was also raised over a provision that would prevent people using the right to private and family life defence in deportation cases, which the committee said would likely breach the convention.
Committee chairwoman Joanna Cherry KC said the Bill “removes and restricts certain human rights protections that the government finds inconvenient.”
She said: “The end result, if the Bill is enacted in its current form, will be more barriers to enforcing human rights, more cases taken to Strasbourg and more adverse judgements against the UK.”
The committee has called on the government to reconsider the vast majority of the proposals, but added that there was “such little appetite” for the changes, it “may be more sensible to scrap the Bill in its entirety.”
Liberty policy and campaigns officer Charlie Whelton said the report showed “once again the almost total opposition to this desperate and nonsensical Bill.”
He added: “Everybody of all political stripes who has looked at this Bill, from judges to international bodies, businesses and even Tory MPs agree: it’s an unworkable and unjustified mess. It would take away rights from us all.”
The group has urged ministers to listen to the report and ditch the Bill “once and for all.”
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