Justice, Mr Gove?

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Justice, Mr Gove?

By Neda Tehrani


Michael Gove wants to get rid of human rights. (Policy Exchange under a Creative Commons Licence)

British Prime Minister David Cameron has made Michael Gove the Justice Secretary and Lord Chancellor in his new Conservative government. And Gove has the job of getting rid of the EU’s Human Rights Act. Gove was Secretary of State for Education before, but he lost this job when some people thought he was making the public not like the Conservatives.

The Tories (Conservatives) think it is important to get rid of the Human Rights Act and break the link between the British courts and EU human rights. The Human Rights Act was first introduced in 1998, and Tony Blair’s Labour government made it law in 2000.

The two main aims of the Human Rights Act are:

1/ to make sure that British law follows the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and

2/ that all public institutions (eg. healthcare and police) follow these rights under British law.

The rightwing newspapers are saying that the ‘British Bill of Rights’ (that Cameron wants instead of the Human Rights Act) does not say we should treat people worse. But a lot of people don’t believe this.

People who say it won’t be worse are not thinking about the fact that if you have less access to courts of justice, you have less access to human rights. If we don’t have a link between British courts and the ECHR, it will be much more difficult for people who feel they have been treated unfairly, with no respect for their human rights. If there is no formal link between the two courts, British citizens can only take their human rights case to a Strasbourg Court. So everything will be a lot slower.

We need to fight against rightwing support for the bill. And the rightwing newspapers need to see that this will not help. They can’t say we will have a new bill to protect our rights if we get rid of the Human Rights Act – this is like creating borders to restrict rights. People won’t have the rights if the cases are so slow that they never happen.

The Human Rights Act says we should all have: ‘Freedom from torture and inhumane and degrading treatment and punishment.’ Conservatives do not like this. And they don’t like Europeans being involved in British law. But they mostly don’t like it because it means they are not allowed to dehumanize their prisoners. The act has not always stopped this.

In 1988, Gove, writing in The Times, said he wanted to bring back hanging. He is probably one of many Tories who want to allow the deportation of prisoners to countries with torture. Under the Human Rights Act they cannot do this. Gove wants a system of justice like the US – with torture and racism.

James Slack, in the Daily Mail, gave 15 reasons why Gove must get rid of ‘Labour’s hated Human Rights Act’. Most of the reasons are about cases where criminals got money. This shows that the loss of money is more important than the loss of human rights.

We almost miss Nick Clegg (Liberal Democrat Deputy Prime Minister). Clegg did not keep his promises (eg. about university fees). But one thing he did was to stop the idea of getting rid of the Human Rights Act (which was in the Tory plans). Now the Tories have a majority and there is no-one to stop Cameron. There is no limit to their far-right plans.

Neda Tehrani studied Religion, Philosophy, Ethics at Kings College London.

NOW READ THE ORIGINAL: http://newint.org/blog/2015/05/12/european-human-rights-act-threatened/ (This article has been simplified so the words, text structure and quotes may have been changed).