More than 220 groups criticise UK review of Human Rights Act

, More than 220 groups criticise UK review of Human Rights Act, The Nzuchi Times Guardian

An “unprecedented” coalition of more than 220 organisations has attacked proposed changes to the Human Rights Act and judicial review as a threat to freedom and justice.

The judicial review and courts bill, published on Wednesday, introduces restrictions on challenges to government decision-making in the courts, while a review of the Human Rights Act has yet to be published, but there are fears it will lay the path for its dilution.

The coalition, including charities, trades unions, human rights bodies and religion or belief groups, is believed to be the largest of its kind in UK history, according to Humanists UK, which established it.

The groups say: “While every system could be improved, and protecting rights and freedoms for all is a balancing act, our Human Rights Act is a proportionate and well-drafted protection for the fundamental liberties and responsibilities of everyone in this country.

“The act guarantees the rights to free speech and expression, to life, to liberty, to security, to privacy, to assembly, and to freedom of religion or belief. It prohibits torture and guarantees fair trials and the rule of law.

, More than 220 groups criticise UK review of Human Rights Act, The Nzuchi Times Guardian

“Judicial review is an indispensable mechanism for individuals to assert those rights and freedoms against the power of the state. Any government that cares about freedom and justice should celebrate and protect these vital institutions and never demean or threaten them.”

The statement has been backed by organisations including Shelter, Greenpeace, Amnesty International UK, Save the Children, Refugee Action, Women’s Aid, the Prison Reform Trust and Stonewall.

While the judicial review bill did not include as many restrictions as some had anticipated it limited the ability of migrants to challenge decisions by public bodies. It also created a presumption that quashing orders, which nullify unlawful decisions, should – rather than having immediate effect – be suspended or not have retrospective effect, limiting the remedy to the claimant.

The independent Human Rights Act review, expected to report later this year, has created trepidation given complaints by ministers about the act being exploited.

The Ministry of Justice has been approached for comment.

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