The threat to Human Rights Act 1998
In its 2019 General Election Manifesto, the Conservative Party pledged to ‘update the Human Rights Act and administrative law’ if it won the election. Following this in July 2020, the UK Government launched a new panel to examine the case for reforming judicial review, in a move which leading lawyers and human rights organisations have warned could undermine citizens’ fundamental rights and constitutional protections.
The panel published its report in December 2021, recommending minimal change to the Human Rights Act. Nonetheless, the Government went ahead and published proposals, in a consultation, to ‘reform and replace the Human Rights Act’ with a British Bill of Rights. Many of the Government’s proposals went against the recommendations of the independent panel of experts. In May 2022, the Government announced its intention to bring forward legislation to reform the Human Rights Act in the Queen’s Speech.
The Human Rights Act is the law that enshrines the vast majority of the fundamental rights enjoyed by people in our country. We are opposed to any weakening of the human rights framework that the Act maintains.
The threat to judicial review
Judicial review is a process that enables citizens to challenge the lawfulness of decisions made by public bodies (such as government departments, local councils, and health authorities).
Any restrictions on the independence of our judiciary, on our human rights laws, or on the right to judicial review could represent a devastating blow to everyone’s ability to guarantee their rights and freedoms against the state. That’s why in February 2020, 29 charities and other human rights-interested groups and individuals joined together in writing an open letter on the need to protect human rights and judicial review and over 250 organisations and individuals support this statement today.