The Human Rights Act could be scrapped by the UK government, following the appointment of Dominic Raab as justice secretary, legal experts have warned. Raab has a long track record of criticising the Human Rights Act (HRA), which he has described as “feckless” and “undemocratic”.
He championed a failed attempt to replace the Act in 2011, and criticised its “continental approach to rights”.
The act was brought in by Labour in 1998 to incorporate the European Convention on Human Rights into British law.
In video footage from 2009 – uncovered by Labour’s David Lammy – Raab says: “I don’t support the Human Rights Act and I don’t believe in economic and social rights.”
video footage from 2009 – Raab says: “I don’t support the Human Rights Act and I don’t believe in economic and social rights.”
In a book published the same year, entitled ‘The Assault on Liberty: What Went Wrong with Rights’, Raab also claimed that “the spread of rights has become contagious” and attributed the HRA to the influence of “Marxists”.
Brief history of the Human Rights ACT 1988
The Human Rights Act received royal assent in the United Kingdom on 9 November 1998 and came into force on 2 October 2000. The purpose of this legislation was to incorporate into United Kingdom law the rights and freedoms guaranteed under the European Convention on Human Rights (1953). It enabled British courts to enforce the Convention without referring to the European Court in Strasbourg. The Act repeats verbatim the Articles of the European Convention, and in so doing re-establishes in British law the ideals of civil liberty inspired by Magna Carta. Article 6(1) reiterates clause 40 of the Charter, that justice should not be delayed, while Article 5, providing that, ‘No one shall be deprived of his liberty save … in accordance with a procedure prescribed by law’, echoes clause 39 that ‘No free man shall be seized or imprisoned … except by the lawful judgment of his equals or by the law of the land’.
The rights as set out in the Human Rights Act, 1998 are as follows:
- the right to life
- freedom from torture and degraded treatment
- freedom from slavery and forced labour
- the right to liberty
- the right to a fair trial
- the right not to be punished for something that wasn’t a crime when you did it
- the right to respect for private and family life
- freedom of thought, conscience and religion
- freedom of expression
- freedom of assembly and association
- the right to marry or form a civil partnership and start a family
- the right not to be discriminated against in respect of these rights and freedoms
- the right to own property
- the right to an education
- the right to participate in free elections
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights vs The Human Rights Act
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a historic document which outlined the rights and freedoms everyone is entitled to. Without the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), the human rights act itself would not come to exist as it stands today in the UK.
So what is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights? Well, it is simply that! A declaration of our human rights to be recognised universally. It is the foundation for modern human rights. To put in other terms, the Universal declaration of human rights is the overseeing father document. The human rights act is its child. Without the father the child wouldn’t exist.
The thing about UDHR is that it is commonly referred to as being the only document that entails the rights of the people. This is not true, for example, In the UK we have charters that stem all the way back to the early1200s. The most important being the Magna Carta 1215.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is still intact to this day and can still be referred to as a point of reference when it comes to your rights. The human rights act even if scrapped would only mean that we can now go back to the original source rather than its counterparts.
Natural Rights vs Legal Rights
Natural rights and legal rights are the two basic types of rights.
- Natural rights are those that are not dependent on the laws or customs of any particular culture or government, and so are universal, fundamental and inalienable (they cannot be repealed by human laws, though one can forfeit their enjoyment through one’s actions, such as by violating someone else’s rights). Natural law is the law of natural rights.
- Legal rights are those bestowed onto a person by a given legal system (they can be modified, repealed, and restrained by human laws). The concept of positive law is related to the concept of legal rights.
A definition of the two law types:
So as we can see, there is a difference between Natural inherent rights and Legal rights. Natural inherent rights can NEVER be taken away from you unless you give them up. Legal rights however can be taken away, adapted or changed at any time as they are man made.
So where does the Human Rights Act fit in with all this?
Simple! The human rights act is a law enacted by parliament, which means that it is a legally binding charter. It is your Legal right as opposed to being your Natural right. Yes, you will notice the human rights act itself reflect our natural rights- and so it should, being it derives from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, however, the word ACT is what deems it to be a legal document. Any law or policy that has the word, ACT, legislation, code or pace in are all parts of a legal construct.
On the flip side, the Universal declaration of human rights is the natural law that points out all of our inherent natural rights and cannot be taken away even if the European convention collapses. It will always remain intact and in relation to our natural rights.
So in other words. Even if the UK scraps the Human rights act 1998, our rights are still protected by the universal declaration of human rights. So just go back to the source now and you will be fine.
Check out the Universal declaration of human rights and see how the articles mimic that of the human rights act