Alarm bells rung at UN over UK rights record

New laws are weakening rights and checks on power, the Law Society of England and Wales warned today as it submitted a report on human rights in the UK to the United Nations (UN) for its Universal Periodic Review.

The Universal Periodic Review examines human rights in each UN member state every four to five years.

Law Society president I. Stephanie Boyce said: “There has been a sea-change in the UK since our last UN review.

“The Law Society believes a succession of changes to UK law are weakening people’s ability to uphold their rights or challenge the government.

“At the same time, the UK government has shown a disregard for international agreements that protect rights, from the UN Refugee Convention to the European Convention on Human Rights.

“The government is taking a sledgehammer to a cornerstone of British justice with its proposed reforms to the Human Rights Act, making life easier for government at great cost to the nation, eroding people’s ability to enforce their rights and risking the UK’s reputation as a committed member of the international community of rights respecting nations.

“The Judicial Review and Courts Bill creates barriers to people challenging the state through the courts and giving British government bodies that act unlawfully an easier ride.

“The Nationality and Borders Bill attempts to ditch fundamental commitments we made in the United Nations Refugee Convention, creating a sub-class of refugees based solely on how they arrive in the UK, despite them needing the same protection.

“If fully enacted, these reforms will alter the landscape of human rights protections in the UK and the UK’s relationship with its international obligations, including UN human rights conventions.”

Law Society Press Release