Thursday, 2 October 2014

Preview of proposed human rights reforms in the UK

The Jack of Kent blog today features exclusive details on the proposed human rights law reforms for the UK, including the abolition of the Human Rights Act. I believe that these will be officially announced tomorrow. Let us examine each of the proposed reforms in some more detail:
Terrorists and serious criminals who pose a significant threat to the security and safety of UK citizens would lose their right to stay here under Human Rights Laws.
In other words, the current government sees nothing wrong with extraditing individuals to face torture elsewhere.
People who commit serious crimes in the UK, and in doing so infringe upon the basic rights of others, should lose their right to claim the right to stay here under the right to family life. So for example, a foreign criminal, guilty of causing death by dangerous driving and so taking away the rights of another citizen, would not be able to claim family rights to stay in the UK.
Well, this makes perfect sense. We cannot have these people who have served sentences for dangerous driving roaming the streets, even if they are banned from driving for life. Who cares if their British children want to live in the same country as their parents? Indeed, why stop at foreign criminals? Let's reinstate Van Diemen's Land as a penal colony! 
No one would be able to claim human rights to allow them to step outside the law that applies to all other citizens, for example a group of travellers claiming the right to family life to breach planning laws.
To say that planning laws will trump human rights shows just how toothless the proposed new Bill of Rights will be. The whole purpose of human rights is to protect citizens from an abuse of state power and unjust laws that violate their fundamental freedoms.  
The right to family life would be much more limited in scope. For example an illegal immigrant would not be able to claim the right to family life to stay in the UK because he had fathered children here when he is playing no active part in the upbringing of those children.
This example is just ridiculous. If he has no established family life, he cannot currently claim leave to remain under Article 8. How would one prove that they play 'an active part in the upbringing of children', anyway? By taking them to the pub and leaving them behind?!
Limit the reach of human rights cases to the UK, so that British Armed forces overseas are not subject to persistent human rights claims that undermine their ability to do their job and keep us safe.
I do not believe that the torture, inhumane or degrading treatment, or the deprivation of life or liberty without due process of law of persons in war zones under the effective control of the British Army are imperative tenets of keeping us safe. And the extraterritorial reach of human rights law is anything but extensive, as Lord Dyson noted in a recent lecture. One wonders how supporters of these reforms would feel if they knew that this anti-extraterritoriality clause would also mean that members of the armed services would themselves have no claim for violations of their rights whilst in service abroad.

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