Mind comments on UK government proposals to weaken Human Rights Act protections
Today the UK government has announced sweeping fundamental changes to the UK’s human rights system and Human Rights Act.
These changes will make it harder for people to enforce their human rights in court, will limit obligations on public bodies to protect human rights, and will weaken the role of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) in British law - as well as implement other reforms detrimental to our human rights system.
The Human Rights Act (HRA) provides significant protection for people with mental health problems. For example, by helping change practice and procedure, culture, and attitudes, and offering redress – through acknowledgement or reimbursement - when breaches have taken place. As European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) case law has developed, so too have the safeguards and rights of people with mental health problems in the UK.
Mind has previously contributed to the Human Rights Act review draft consultation, and the Independent Human Rights Act Review’s call for evidence.
Reacting to the news, Rheian Davies, Head of Mind’s Legal Unit, said:
“These proposals put forward by the UK government to weaken the Human Rights Act are incredibly concerning. The changes proposed present a very real threat to essential rights which people with mental health problems rely on every day, from the right to privacy to the right to be free from inhuman and degrading treatment. Too often the Human Rights Act has been wrongly dismissed as a law misused and exploited by criminals and extremists. The truth is it offers essential protection to so many including those of us with mental health problems. This morning's proposals threaten to strip away our strongest protections.
“The big question everyone should be asking today is: why? The current Human Rights Act provides a proportionate, balanced, and most importantly effective level of protection for the rights of those in society most at risk of abuse from the state – including people with mental health problems. Our current human rights model has worked incredibly well over the last two decades, and there seems to be little legitimate justification for changing it.
“The government has limited legislative time to work on legislation which does need reforming, such as the Mental Health Act. It’s self-defeating to prioritise parliamentary time on a divisive and ultimately harmful change, and we’d urge the government to reassess their priorities.”
Notes to Editors:
• Rheian Davies is available for broadcast interview today (22/06/22). If interested, please e-mail [email protected] to arrange.