Government to reform Human Rights Act before next election: Justice Secretary

The Government will overhaul the Human Rights Act in this Parliament, the Justice Secretary has said.

Speaking at the Conservative Party Conference 2021, Dominic Raab said: “There’s one other big change the public want to see. Too often they see dangerous criminals abusing human rights laws.

“In one case, a drug dealer convicted of beating his ex-partner. A man who hadn’t paid maintenance for his daughter. Then successfully claimed the right to family life to avoid deportation.”

The Justice Secretary said it was “absolutely perverse” that someone guilty of domestic abuse could claim the right to family life to trump the public’s interest in deporting him.

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He added: “We’ve got to bring this nonsense to an end. So, today I can tell you that, under this Prime Minister and before the next election, we will overhaul the Human Rights Act to end this kind of abuse… and restore some common sense to our justice system.”

Raab’s comments were criticised by Liberty, however.

Charlie Whelton, Policy and Campaigns Officer, said: “We all want to live in an equal, just and fair society, where governments and public bodies act in our best interests. Today’s statement from Justice Secretary Dominic Raab threatening to overhaul the Human Rights Act – a vital tool that not only guarantees our human rights but holds those in power to account – represents a significant risk to our democracy.

“The Human Rights Act helped families of those who died in the Hillsborough disaster to secure justice for their loved ones. It has enabled disabled people to challenge the removal of their benefit payments. It has been used by families to win investigations into the deaths of their family members after poor treatment and neglect, and it helped LGBT veterans get their medals back after they were kicked out of the armed forces.”

He added: “The Human Rights Act has made many people’s lives better, allowing ordinary people to challenge governments and public authorities when they get it wrong. No one should be above the law – but this statement, along with the Policing Bill, the Judicial Review Bill and the Elections Bill, shows a Government that is actively planning to erode our ability to access justice and stand up to power – in the streets, in the courts, or in the polling booth.”

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