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Human Rights Repeal After Brexit

The European Convention on Human Rights was passed by the Council of Europe, now consisting of 47 countries including Russia. The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) is the court for the Convention.

Great Britain acceded to the European Convention on Human Rights but made no provision for the recognition of Convention rights or Convention jurisprudence within UK law. Complainants had to exhaust their UK remedies before they could apply to the ECHR.

A Mr Chahal, who had a very clear case under the human rights Convention, spent six years in UK prisons before winning his case at the ECHR.

The Human Rights Act 1998 passed by Labour incorporated the Convention and all its jurisprudence into UK law. Convention rights are now enforceable in most British situations.

Should the Tories “simply” repeal the Human Rights Act 1998 we would still be signatories to the Convention and Chahal type situations would recur.

The Tories could bring in a new Human Rights Act laying down most of the Human Rights under the Convention and possibly tweaking them. Presumably the Tories would withdraw from the Convention, as otherwise why bother to abolish Labour’s Human Rights Act?

What human rights will the Tories attempt to abolish?

The front runner is that the right not to be tortured or subject to inhumane or degrading treatment in Article 3 might be waived for terrorist suspects. Once abroad they would be tortured to confess and then they would be executed. That would be popular with many authoritarian minded people and with the media. The number of these cases is small. The people concerned are often terrorists.

Article 11 the right to organise trade unions is also a front runner. The Tories might welcome a battle with the trade unions in the run up to the 2020 General Election.

An attack on trade union rights would have an adverse effect on trade negotiations post BREXIT, at the very least slowing down the process of negotiation. It could lead to boycotts of British produced goods. So attacking the trade unions may not be first on the Tory agenda.

The EU Charter of Fundamental Rights came into force in 2009. All ECHR human rights law is now also EU law.

All EU agreements on trade or cooperation with non-EU countries must include a human rights clause stipulating that human rights are central to relations with the EU. The EU has imposed sanctions for human rights breaches in a number of instances.

The Article 50 agreement must bind the UK to protect human rights in the UK. It will be difficult for the UK government to diminish our human rights, because if they do the European Union will enforce the agreement.

Which leads to the question of why did the Tories pledge to repeal the Human Rights Act?

A sop to the media and the Right generally, or sheer ignorance of the extent to which Human Rights are now protected under EU law?

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