Senior Council of Europe official urges UK not to repeal Human Rights Act | Council of Europe

A senior Council of Europe official has warned the UK government against weakening protections for its citizens by repealing the Human Rights Act.

Dunja Mijatović, the council’s human rights commissioner, said on Monday that replacing the law with a British bill of rights would send the “wrong signal”.

The Human Rights Act (HRA) incorporated directly into national law the rights set out in the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), which has been ratified by all members of the Council of Europe , including the UK.

Mijatović, who concluded a five-day visit to the UK earlier this month which included a meeting with Deputy Prime Minister and Lord Chancellor Dominic Raab, said: “It is worrying that the proposed legal reforms could weaken the protection of human rights at this stage. pivotal moment for the UK, and it sends the wrong signal beyond the country’s borders at a time when human rights are under pressure across Europe.

While Raab defended the British Bill of Rights as a reassertion of sovereignty by reducing the influence of the European Court of Human Rights, Mijatović expressed concern that it would widen the gap between the protection of human rights the ECHR by the British courts and the case law of the European Court of Human Rights. European Court.

She added that the changes were proposed in a broader context of recent laws and policies already strongly affecting human rights in specific areas, such as the right to freedom of peaceful assembly, or on specific groups. , such as refugees and asylum seekers or Gypsies, Roma Communities and Travellers.

Mijatović also expressed concern about the impact of the repeal of the HRA on the peace settlement in Northern Ireland, given that the incorporation of the ECHR was an explicit commitment of the Good Friday Agreement.

“It is crucial that this foundation is not undermined as a result of proposed human rights reforms,” she said.

Sign up for First Edition, our free daily newsletter – every weekday morning at 7am BST

The Council of Europe, which oversees the European Court of Human Rights and is the continent’s leading human rights organisation, has previously rebuked the UK over a plan to grant conditional immunity to those charged with murder and other offenses in connection with the Troubles in Northern Ireland (inheritance and reconciliation) bill.

Mijatović also said the high number of children living in or at risk of poverty in the UK was “a serious human rights issue” and criticized public discourse regarding transgender people in the UK. United. “Contrary to what some try to suggest, protecting the rights of women and trans people is not a zero-sum game,” she said.

The government has been approached for comments.

Mary I. Bruner