“Ordinary people have fought hard and often bitter battles to achieve these rights - and we mustn’t let them be struck out by politicians who think they are merely getting in their way."
Amnesty International has warned that the government is engaging in an ‘unprecedented programme of rights reversal’, as it launches a week-long campaign to prevent what it calls ‘a raid on rights’.
Amnesty says it is voicing its concerns about the likely impact of two highly controversial bills currently going through Parliament, as well as threats to remove key protections in the Human Rights Act after Dominic Raab set out plans to overhaul the legislation.
The two bills are the Police, Sentencing, Crimes and Courts Bill – which would place new restrictions on the right to peaceful protest and potentially entrench racism in policing, and the Nationality and Borders Bill – which would reduce the right of people to seek asylum in the UK.
Amnesty and others have hailed the Human Rights Act for the vital role it has played in landmark justice campaigns – including Hillsborough, the Mid Staffs hospital deaths, recent rulings on years of human rights violations against women activists in the Spycops scandal and a mother’s successful challenge over the health threat to her son from toxic landfill emissions.
The human rights group is embarking on a week-long campaign against the “raid on rights”, with activists from Liberty, Stonewall, Freedom from Torture, the British Institute for Human Rights and others joining forces.
Sacha Deshmukh, Amnesty International UK’s CEO, said: “This Government has embarked on an unprecedented programme of rights reversal, with hard-won protections being dismantled and rolled back on multiple fronts.
“Ordinary people have fought hard and often bitter battles to achieve these rights – and we mustn’t let them be struck out by politicians who think they are merely getting in their way.
“The right to peaceful protest, the right to challenge injustice at the hands of the state, and our hospitality to those needing a place of sanctuary on these shores – these are some of our most treasured values.
“Our polling shows that the public doesn’t want these rights removed. Ministers should pause, reflect and halt this raid on rights.”
A Home Office spokesperson said in response: “These bills are vital pieces of legislation, neither of which represents a reversal of human rights.
“Peaceful protest is a fundamental right but public order legislation is out of date to deal with the reckless and dangerous actions of some groups– the PCSC Bill will give police the powers they need to tackle disorder but would only be used where necessary and proportionate.
“While people continue to risk their lives and die making dangerous and unnecessary crossings of the Channel, we have to act. The Nationality and Borders Bill will deliver the most comprehensive reform of the asylum system in decades, breaking the business of people smugglers while allowing us to support those in need.”
Basit Mahmood is editor of Left Foot Forward
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