Human Rights in Action. Assessing the Positive Impact of the Human Rights Act 1998 in the UK
116 Pages Posted: 30 Mar 2021
Date Written: March 3, 2021
When the Independent Human Rights Act Review (IHRAR) was announced, the Human Rights in Action (HRiA) team were reassured, on the one hand, to see that its overriding mission would be to consider how the Human Rights Act (HRA) is working in practice and whether any change is needed.
But on the other hand, we were concerned, first by the fact that the IHRAR’s “terms of reference frame[d] the review against a politically polarised backdrop - concerning how it allegedly allows the judiciary to usurp the power of the executive for instance” and, secondly, by the fact that the terms of reference “fail to ask the cardinal question of whether the HRA has effectively protected individual rights in the UK”.
As academic human rights experts who have observed, analysed and, in collaboration with others, worked to promote – through our scholarship, teaching and public engagement activity – the indisputable positive influence of the HRA in protecting human rights in the UK, we were strongly motivated to join forces, with the ambition of providing comprehensive, evidence-based responses to the key questions being asked by the IHRAR. The HRiA project reflects, and is the mechanism that allows us to pursue, this ambition.
In the context of this project, the HRiA team invited some of the foremost human rights experts in their fields to answer the fundamental question of how the HRA has shaped UK law and UK courts over the last two decades, and to consider the questions that the IHRAR asked in its call for evidence.
The HRiA submission to the IHRAR comprises 20 contributions by 26 experts which provide answers to some of the IHRAR’s central questions, while taking particular care to highlight the continuous positive impact of the HRA in human rights protection in the UK. The individual expert contributions are reproduced in their entirety in this submission, and we are submitting them to the IHRAR with the hope that they will inform its work. We feel that, read together, they highlight the significant value of the HRA to the lives of everyone in the UK. Taking into account that this report is not a submission from a single author but a product created by a group of independent experts, we have exceeded the suggested maximum word count for a single submission.
We have made all of the contributions from the HRiA project available on our website, which we will continue to update with new contributions in the future. In addition to informing the IHRAR’s work, we remain committed to engaging with the wider public to show the positive impact of the HRA and alerting them to the risks inherent in the potential undermining of its key protections.
Keywords: Human Rights Act, European Convention on Human Rights, European Court of Human Rights, Independent Human Rights Act Review
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