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Raab criticised after revealing details on plans to overhaul Human Rights Act

DOMINIC RAAB was criticised today after revealing new details on plans to overhaul the Human Rights Act, including a mechanism to “correct” rulings by the European Court of Human Rights.

The Justice Secretary revealed earlier this month that Prime Minister Boris Johnson had given him the task of rewriting the Human Rights Act.

In an update on those incoming changes, Mr Raab said that British soldiers and institutions such as the police and health service should not be “dictated to” by judges in Europe.

As part of the overhaul, the Justice Secretary said he would seek to introduce a “mechanism” to “correct” rulings by the court in Strasbourg.

“We want the Supreme Court to have a last word on interpreting the laws of the land, not the Strasbourg court,” Mr Raab told the Telegraph on Sunday.

Expanding on this, Mr Raab said it was wrong that judges in Strasbourg ruled on matters relating to soldiers fighting overseas, adding that he is studying how to dilute the court’s influence in Britain.

His words have renewed concerns that the ban on torture is at risk. 

Freedom From Torture chief executive Sonya Sceats said Mr Raab’s criticism of the court for passing judgement on the conduct of British troops “reflects an enduring government agenda to shut down accountability for torture and other serious abuses committed by or with the complicity of our military and security agencies.

“Earlier this year ministers tried to decriminalise torture by our troops abroad, but they were defeated by a coalition of torture survivors, military top brass and principled Britons from all walks of life,” she said.

“Now they are at it again, trying to keep torture cases out of the Strasbourg court, which Britain helped to build as a safeguard against the return of authoritarianism in Europe.”

Shadow justice secretary David Lammy said: “Scrapping human rights protections because you don’t like abiding by the law, all while the justice system crumbles: the new Justice Secretary shows his true colours.”

Mr Raab has also been accused of spreading a false narrative that judges in Europe rule over British courts. Rights lawyer Jessica Simor QC said that European Courts of Human Rights judgements are “persuasive” but not binding.

Amnesty International UK’s head of policy and government affairs Allan Hogarth said: “It’s extremely worrying to have it confirmed just how hell-bent the new Justice Secretary is on weakening vital human rights protections.

“As well as the familiar drum beat of promises to rein in the influence of the European Convention of Human Rights, Dominic Raab appears determined to scrap this vital tool that protects the rights of us all.

“Mr Hogarth added that the Human Rights Act has played a key role in some of the biggest landmark cases for justice in the past 30 years, including the Hillsborough disaster.”

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