What’s Really Behind Boris Johnson’s Review of the Human Rights Act

London: Human rights are ultimately about what governments cannot do to their citizens.  This is why every government, regardless of its political stripe, nearly always eventually ends up stymied by them during its term in office. Provided rights are properly protected by the courts, they serve to erect an impassable barrier before the government, forcing it to either plot another, likely more arduous, route to its goal, or to abandon the goal entirely. Given this, any review of human rights legislation should be focused on how effectively the legislation is protecting individuals’ rights.  Is it properly constraining executive overreach, or is it a paper tiger, promising much but delivering little?

Curiously, this does not appear to be the focus of the government’s Independent Review of the Human Rights Act, launched this week by Robert Buckland, the Lord Chancellor.  Instead, Number 10 seems more concerned with evaluating the ‘relationship between the UK’s domestic courts and the European Court of Human Rights’, as well as resolving the question of ‘whether domestic courts are being unduly drawn into areas of policy’, and, presumably, therefore trespassing upon the rightful territory of the executive and Parliament.

For anyone who has paid the barest of attention to the behaviour of Johnson’s government, such a focus can come as little surprise.  This is a government that views human rights as a mere inconvenience, and the lawyers and judges who uphold them as enemies to be bludgeoned aside. Since the Conservatives won the general election in 2019, they have sought to strip Shamima Begum of her citizenship (foisting her on Bangladesh instead), have tried to prevent asylum seekers from claiming refuge in the UK, and have initiated a review into the courts and judicial review, hoping, if not expecting, recommendations on how the power of the courts can be curbed.

Nicholas Reed Langen, Justice Gap,

Related Articles

Back to top button