The head of the Human Rights department at law firm Leigh Day has welcomed the new report by the British Institute of Human Rights (BIHR) and joins calls for the Government to do more to protect people’s human rights.
The ‘Joint Civil Society Report’ examined 85 of the 132 recommendations made by the United Nations to the UK in 2012 to improve domestic human rights protections. As part of an extensive evidence-gathering process, the BIHR received input from 175 civil society organisations and covered areas including children's rights, violence against women, discrimination and criminal justice.
The report identified the Government’s failure to fully meet 81 of the 85 recommendations examined, including many recommendations that the Government has explicitly accepted. The report identified wide-ranging failures to protect the rights of children, women, victims of discrimination, migrants, asylum-seekers, victims of trafficking and prisoners. In many cases the report identified that situation has worsened over the last five years.
The report identifies concerns “about the negative direction of travel for our human rights protections” and expresses particular concern about ”the denigration of the Human Rights Act (HRA)” and emphasises that “denigration of the HRA is a denigration of international human rights law”. The report criticises “the rhetoric in national media and amongst senior officials often repeatedly misrepresents and misreports judicial cases” and expresses increasing concern that “the UK’s political rhetoric will, if not checked, threaten the coherence and credibility of the post-World War II human rights settlement”. The report recommends that the Government builds upon the Human Rights Act rather than amending or repealing it and replacing it with a new British Bill of Rights.
Stephen Bowen, Chief Executive of BIHR, said: "The UK Government needs to listen, not just to the United Nations but to the voices of the huge range of organisations closer to home that have shared their serious concerns with the British Institute of Human Rights. They are troubled the Government is taking the UK towards further isolationism and disregarding the United Nations, worsening the situation with welfare and legal aid cuts, and wanting to scrap the Human Rights Act, weakening its accountability for our rights at home as well as internationally."
Sean Humber, head of the Human Rights department at Leigh Day, said: “The report shockingly identifies how, in so many different ways, people’s human rights are being steadily eroded. Sadly, rather than taking action to protect these rights, this Government seems more intent on weakening them by abolishing the Human Rights Act and replacing it with its inferior own brand alternative.”