I’ve seen a lot posts and petitions in the past few days saying how the Tories are removing the right to life and the right to not be tortured by scrapping the Human Rights Act (HRA). Now, I am as displeased as the next person about the Tories getting a “majority” (we really do need proportional representation) this election, but I can’t stand people harping on about how we’re going to lose these rights at the hands of the Tories because, put quite simply, we’re not.
The European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) is the list of things that we have the right to as EU citizens. It contains 18 articles that cover things like the right to life, freedom of expression, privacy, marriage and to not be tortured. Due to how EU law works, the countries within the EU are responsible for implementing these laws (within 2 years) within their own systems. They act as a guideline for the minimum amount of rights allowing countries to add extra rights for its respective citizens, but not to reduce them. The UK HRA is the UK’s implementation of these EU laws and therefore, repealing the HRA would be violating EU law. In fact, it has recently surfaced that the scrapping the HRA would be a breach of the Good Friday agreement that sealed the peace process in Northern Ireland. This act was ratified by the UN meaning that getting rid of it would be a violation of an international treaty as the agreement was an accord between two sovereign states.
What the new Conservative government want to do is replace the HRA with their own constitution, a move which I truly support. HOWEVER, knowing the Tories, they are very likely to reduce our rights down to the absolute minimum making it easier for big businesses to screw over the little people. One of the areas I expect them to make the most changes is in the right to privacy, given the government’s stance on not allowing any form of communication to be unreadable by the government.
I’m not saying we shouldn’t be worried by this move from the Tories, but I can’t stand the scaremongering that is surrounding this debate.