SCOLAG concern at Human Rights Act repeal

SCOLAG concern at Human Rights Act repeal

The Scottish Legal Action Group wishes to express its serious concerns over the UK government’s proposed repeal of the Human Rights Act 1998 and introduction of a “British Bill of Rights”.

In our view the most detailed policy document produced by the Conservative Party to date on the topic; (“Protecting Human Rights in the UK”) was littered with regressive proposals embodying a minimalistic view of human rights law.

Human rights are based on universal values and the UK was a principal party in drafting the European Convention on Human Rights. We cannot see how the qualification of certain rights contained in the Convention will lead to any other situation other than the United Kingdom being in breach of its obligations under the same treaty. That would be a most unfortunate state of affairs.

The proposal to break the “formal link” between the European Court of Human Rights and British Courts, appears to be based on a misunderstanding of the present position under the Human Rights Act and undermines a basic principle of the rule of law in a modern democracy – which is that it is for an independent court system to interpret and apply the law. This can lead to decisions which are not popular with the government of the day, whatever its political views are.

There also appears to be obvious issues with repeal in the context of the devolution settlements, which will undoubtedly require detailed consideration.

The Scottish Legal Action Group will await the publication of the draft legislation in the upcoming Queen’s speech before further consideration of the matter but would note that the rationale for the government’s proposals to date appear to be fuelled by a regrettable populist anti-European sentiment rather than sound legal analysis.

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