Overhaul of UK human rights law to counter 'wokery and political correctness'

Overhaul of UK human rights law to counter 'wokery and political correctness'
3 min read
14 December, 2021
The British government is set to overhaul UK human rights law, with the Justice Secretary claiming measures will defend 'typically British liberties' and make it harder for 'foreign offenders' to cite a right to family life to avoid deportation.
Critics slammed the reforms as 'dangerous' and misunderstanding the 'nuanced job the [UK] courts have to do' [source: Getty]

The British government is set to overhaul UK human rights law in a bid to counter "wokery and political correctness", a senior ministry of justice source said Tuesday. 

British Justice Secretary Dominic Raab will launch a series of "common-sense" reforms to the Human Rights Act, which the ministry says will enable UK Supreme Court to have the final say on matters in the UK, rather than the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg. 

Although the UK has left the EU it is still bound by the European Convention of Human Rights, incorporated into law by the Human Rights Act in 2000. 

Raab claims the changes will defend "typically British liberties" such as freedom of speech and will counterbalance foreign national offenders who cite a right to family life to avoid deportation. However, critics have slammed the changes saying the bill is politicised and will weaken fundamental human rights. 

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"The incremental and elastic expansion of rights has not been properly checked," the Justice Secretary told BBC Radio 4's Today programme Tuesday. 

Raab claimed the system was being "abused", citing that 70 percent of successful human rights challenges to deportation orders by "foreign offenders" are under the "so-called right to family life". 

"This is not a criticism of the judges, it is a criticism of the Human Rights Act," he added. 

A senior ministry of justice source said the government felt strongly that free speech and democratic debate had been whittled away "whether by wokery or political correctness", reported The Guardian. 

The ministry of justice added that intended reforms will allow judges to override the ECHR, rather than following them "blindly". 

However, critics of Raab’s new measures say they will serve only to weaken and undermine people's basic human rights and discriminates against foreign nationals. 

Human rights barrister Adam Wagner said: "Very unlikely this will strengthen rights protections and will more likely weaken, or pick fights with the European Court of Human Rights.

"This looks like a series of relatively small changes which are both highly party political and quite small-minded." 

Wagner explained that the UK government has already enacted legislation to do "precisely" what Raab is trying to do when it comes to deportation claims and that “ironically” the measures could lead to more influence from Strasbourg rather than less. 

Stephanie Boyce, president of the Law Society, said "foreign criminals already can be deported in the public interest even where there are arguments against this from the right to family life", according to The Guardian. 

Boyce slammed the reforms as "dangerous" and said they do "not reflect the nuanced job the courts have to do". 

The UK Human Rights Act was introduced more than 20 years ago, based on the wording of the European Convention of Human Rights - a post-World War Two treaty to protect fundamental rights. 

The UK act sets out in law a set of minimum standards of how everyone should be treated by public bodies. It includes the right to a fair trial, life, and freedom from mistreatment, the right to freedom of speech and privacy. 

Since the Human Rights Act came into force, most claims are handled by British judges rather than going to Strasbourg.