The Tory government plans to scrap the Human Rights Act. And Theresa May has pledged to take the UK out of the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR) altogether, if she wins the next General Election.
We believe the protection of human rights – here and across the world – is a fundamentally good thing and will oppose Tory plans to scrap the Act and withdraw from the European Convention.
Here’s what you need to know about human rights in the UK.
What rights do people have under the Human Rights Act?
The following rights, set out in the ECHR, are protected under the Act.
Article 2 – Right to life
Article 3 – Freedom from torture and inhuman or degrading treatment
Article 4 – Freedom from slavery and forced labour
Article 5 – Right to liberty and security
Article 6 – Right to a fair trial
Article 7 – No punishment without law
Article 8 – Respect for your private and family life, home and correspondence
Article 9 – Freedom of thought, belief and religion
Article 10 – Freedom of expression
Article 11 – Freedom of assembly and association
Article 12 – Right to marry and start a family
Article 14 – Protection from discrimination in respect of these rights and freedoms
Protocol 1, Article 1 – Right to peaceful enjoyment of your property
Protocol 1, Article 2 – Right to education
Protocol 1, Article 3 – Right to participate in free elections
Protocol 13, Article 1 – Abolition of the death penalty
What does this mean in practice?
The Human Rights Act ensures that your fundamental human rights are protected in UK law and that you can enforce them in Scottish and UK courts.
The Act also ensures that public bodies – like the police, your local council or the government – must respect and protect your human rights. For example, the Human Rights Act has allowed people to successfully challenge draconian Tory policies like the Bedroom Tax and their discredited workfare scheme. On both issues court decisions have forced the Tory government to think again.
What does the Tory government propose to replace the Human Rights Act with?
The Tories propose the introduction of a British ‘Bill of Rights’ but have offered very little detail on what this means. Any legislation that weakens human rights protections will diminish our reputation overseas and impact on people’s welfare.
What will withdrawing from the European Convention of Human Rights mean?
There is a clear risk that the Tory plan to scrap the Human Rights Act and leave the European Convention will harm people in the UK who need support and protection and give comfort to illiberal governments around the world.
Human rights are a devolved matter and any plans to take Scotland out of the ECHR would require the consent of the Scottish Parliament – we would oppose any such move.