Concerns raised about Human Rights Act reform
The Welsh Government has raised its “significant concerns” with UK government plans to replace the Human Rights Act with a Bill of Rights.
Jane Hutt, Minister for Social Justice, and Mick Antoniw, Counsel General and Minister for the Constitution, have published a joint statement setting out the Welsh Government’s conviction that people’s rights should not be weakened.
The Human Rights Act sets out minimum standards of how people should be treated by public bodies. The UK government has published a consultation seeking views on replacing the Act.
Jane Hutt, Minister for Social Justice, said:
The Human Rights Act sets out the fundamental rights and freedoms that everyone in the UK is entitled to. Under the latest proposals a new Bill of Rights would not reflect some of the key principles and protections in the Human Rights Act.
We have been clear and consistent that we will not tolerate any dilution of rights and consider it essential that the United Kingdom remains a world leader. Safeguarding and advancing human rights remains our priority and we would strongly object to any proposals that threaten that.
Mick Antoniw, Counsel General and Minister for the Constitution, added:
We have significant concerns about the UK government’s proposals that weaken rights, for example preventing a court from quashing certain secondary legislation found to be incompatible with a person’s human rights. The consultation appears to raise significant issues with regard to accessibility to the courts, the rule of law and the role of the courts in the application of the law relating to human rights.
There is also an important constitutional issue at stake. The Human Rights Act is fundamental to Welsh democracy; legislation passed in the Senedd must be compatible with the Act, so any action or change must have the agreement of all of the UK’s national legislatures.
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