AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL HAS RESPONDED to the latest briefing from Justice Secretary Dominic Raab, in which he suggested that scrapping the Human Rights Act and replacing it with a Bill of Rights would ensure the principle of free speech,

Laura Trevelyan, Amnesty’s Human Rights in the UK Campaign Manager, said: “Scrapping the Human Rights Act has long been the intention of Mr Raab and others not because they want to extend any protections, but because they want to slash away at the powers ordinary people have got to challenge the Government and its decisions.

“I hope people don’t fall for this latest attempt to mislead; just this week the Human Rights Act protected free speech when a journalist used it to defend the confidentiality of his sources.

“When you think about the Human Rights Act think of Hillsborough, or the successful challenge to police banning women from holding a vigil for Sarah Everard, or how the Government will be forced to hold a proper inquiry into its handling of the Covid pandemic.

“The Human Rights Act is the most important weapon ordinary people have against the state and wrongful treatment, and we should all be very suspicious of the very people it holds to account telling us they are doing us a favour by watering it down.”

The rights protected by the current Human Rights Act are:

  • The right to life: protects your life, by law. The State is required to investigate suspicious deaths and deaths in custody.
  • The prohibition of torture and inhuman treatment: you should never be tortured or treated in an inhuman or degrading way, no matter what the situation.
  • Protection against slavery and forced labour: you should not be treated like a slave or subjected to forced labour.
  • The right to liberty and freedom: you have the right to be free and the State can only imprison you with very good reason – for example, if you are convicted of a crime.
  • The right to a fair trial and no punishment without law: you are innocent until proven guilty. If accused of a crime, you have the right to hear the evidence against you in a court of law.
  • Respect for privacy and family life and the right to marry: protects against unnecessary surveillance or intrusion into your life. You have the right to marry and enjoy family relationships.
  • Freedom of thought, religion and belief: you can believe what you like and practise your religion or beliefs.
  • Free speech and peaceful protest: you have a right to speak freely and join with others peacefully, to express your views.
  • No discrimination: everyone’s rights are equal. You should not be treated unfairly – because, for example, of your gender, race, disability, sexuality, religion or age.
  • Protection of property: protects against state interference with your possessions.
  • The right to an education: means that no child can be denied an education.
  • The right to free elections: elections must be free and fair.

* More information on the Human Rights Act here.

* Sources: Amnesty International and Liberty