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Debates On The Human Rights Act
Human Rights are those rights that are deemed to belong to all individuals by virtue of their humanity. Previously, these rights were referred to as “the rights of man" or natural rights. As such, these human rights are therefore ascribed to all humanity regardless of their citizenship or nationality. The human rights doctrine can in this respect therefore come into direct conflict with other doctrines of the sovereignty of other governments in the world and the law because of the universality that has led to the pursuit of the agenda of human rights at stages of international co-operation in the era of post war.
Ever since the Human Rights Act came into force, it has elicited a lot of divided opinion. Debate has risen in Britain as whether to repeal the Human Rights Act, extend it or whether it should be replaced altogether with the British Human Rights. Repealing the Human Rights Act refers to abolishing or evoking the act altogether while extending it will imply that this Act could stay on longer without being repealed or cancelled by the British Government. In Britain, some fundamental individual freedoms are today protected by the Human Rights Act of 1998 which requires all the Britain law to obey the European Convention of 1950 on Human Rights (hereinafter ‘The ECHR’) and which also makes it possible for the convention to be enforceable in all the British Courts and makes it mandatory for the Judiciary to interpret the local law so that it complies with the convention.
The Human Rights Act which came into force some ten years ago seeks to protect the individual rights of people and has had a lasting impact in many fields of our private and public lives. The Human Rights Act integrated the ECHR into the British law and therefore made it unlawful for any Public body or Officer to act or behave in way which is incompatible with the convention.
The 1998 Human Rights Act made the ECHR to be part and parcel of the British National Law. Before that, the courts were only allowed to take the ECHR in very limited circumstances during domestic proceedings. However, section 19 of the Act made it mandatory for any future legislation to contain compatibility with the ECHR. The Human Rights Act was in 1998 hailed to be a landmark statute but which has elicited a lot of controversy and misconception.
The Human Rights Act of 1998 is an Act of Parliament that brought some certain elements into the legal system of Britain about the Human Rights of the European convention. In the Human Rights Act, The British Courts are required to uphold and apply the European Convention on Human Rights in each and every decision that they make. This convention was developed so that safeguard against the rejuvenation of Nazism and the protection of the rights it seeks to protect after the Second World War.
The Articles which are contained in the Human Rights Convention proclaim among others the right to life which is contained in Article 2, prohibition of torture of human beings which is contained in Article 3, the prohibition of forced labor and slavery which is contained in Article 4, the right to security and liberty which is contained in Article 5, the right to a fair and just trial which is contained in article six, the prohibiting of extra legal punishment which is contained in article seven, the right to respect of the private family life of individuals which contained in Article eight and the freedom of conscience, thought and religion which is contained in article nine. The convention also spells out the liberty of self expression that is found in Article 10 and the freedom of association and assembly that is clearly depicted in article eleven. The right to marriage and the prohibition of discrimination are contained in articles twelve and fourteen respectively.
The legal modern approach of human rights that binds the governments to this act arose from the United Nations Declaration on Human rights in 1948 which internationally developed a secular agreement on the rights of the human kind to provide the means through which the desire of the governments of the world could be able to prevent the recurrence of atrocities which were committed in the 2nd world war through setting of a common standard for all people and states.
The Human Rights Act should therefore not be repealed but instead, it should be directly incorporated into British law. This is because given the fact that there is lack of a codified constitution which sets out the citizen’s rights, the British doctrine for the sovereignty of parliament cannot provide enough protection for the rights of individuals from a government which is intrusive. The Human Rights Act can therefore ensure that all these are achieved.
The Human Rights Act should be extended so that the British parliament cannot be able to abolish the HRA in the same way as they do to the other laws. Currently, the Human Rights Act has got no privileged position in the British Law and therefore it can easily be changed in the constitution without the need for special procedures and therefore once it can be incorporated into the British Bill of Rights, it will become difficult for anyone to easily change it to suit his or her circumstances.
The Human Rights Act should not be repealed but instead be extended because contrary to the arguments of the critics against the act who say that it has undermined the authority of parliament, the ability by the judges to issue any declarations of incompatibility, these judges have no empowerment to strike down any laws which are incompatible but instead, it is the government which must make a decision as to how to respond to any declaration.
The Human Rights Act should be extended because it does not go far enough and therefore gives numerous chances in the Human Rights Convention for the governments to opt out of some certain provisions for the sake of their national security. Due to the much widened definition of national security in the world of the post September 11, public authorities have been given too much license.
The Human Rights Act should never be abolished or even be replaced with the British Bill of Rights as suggested by some of the conservatives like David Cameron but it should instead be extended so that that a culture of impunity cannot be created by the government. Calls by the democrats that the Human Rights Act should never be repealed should therefore be strongly supported by all and sundry. This is because according to available statistics, the Courts dealing with the Human Rights Act in the convention has performed very well since for the past half century, the court which is concerned has delivered close to 12, 000 judgments.
Repealing of the Human Rights Act would make the laws under it to be under the control of the Judges in Britain. By so doing, a complicated legal situation could be created and this will lead to threatening of the protection that is currently provided in the European Law on Human Rights. By repealing the Human Rights Act, the British government could have been empowered to make decisions affecting Britain to solely remain in Britain and by so doing, a culture of impunity will be created and this will trample on the rights of the ordinary citizens in Britain. The Human Rights Act should therefore never be repealed or replaced with the British Bill of Rights but instead, it should be extended. This is because the British Courts are a backstop of preventing the infringement of the fundamental rights and as such, they command a great respect from the general public.
On the other hand, swapping the HRA with the BBR cannot be a sure way of restoring the responsibility for the balancing act to politicians in Britain which the general public can easily elect or boot out according to their preferences. The Human Rights Act should therefore be extended so that the rogue politicians can be tamed by laws which are universally established and recognized.
The establishment of the British Bill of Rights will make the British government to have absolute power as a result of the rediscovered freedom which will negatively hamper the delivery of justice in the country. Given the fact that the decisions will remain in the country and not subject to laws from outside, it will create more room for bribery to exist and develop roots since people who make major decisions about human rights are located in one specific county. Attempts to repeal the Human Rights Act should be discarded because it could be detrimental to the British people. People are entitled towards voicing their opinions if they feel there is violation of their human rights. The Human Rights Act therefore remains the best for delivering justice to all people without any fear or favor.
The Human rights Act should therefore be extended and not be repealed because it is a very important piece of legislation which has so far been issued by the British Government. The Human Rights Act will therefore make all the British People to be enlightened with the fact that all people are born with obligations which require them to treat other human beings with dignity and in a way which they also expect to be treated. This dignity is therefore not about philosophy or religion but a matter of consideration for other people and common decency.
For Britain to redress the balance, then it won’t be easy for it alone but for the society and a world which bases itself on the respect of human rights to intervene so that the continued struggle aimed at adjusting the current attitudes and explaining to other individuals why there is need to respect other people can be achieved. The Human Rights Act should therefore be extended so that these ideals are realized.
The Human Rights Act should be extended by the British Government because not only does it deal with big issues of discrimination, torture or slavery and other things which are restricted largely to other countries but it is also responsible for the very down to earth principles of the right to privacy, food, housing, equality, health, freedom of speech, e.t.c. The Human Rights Act therefore reaffirms these obligations in a very real way that individuals forget and seek to set them in history and in stone.
The Human Rights Act should never be repealed or even be replaced with a Bill of Rights because this Act is a means through which some parts of Human Rights contained in the European Convention are brought into the British Law books. The Human Rights Act therefore clearly sets out the responsibilities of the people of Britain as a society since with any form of legislation, different people would often try to seek interpretation of its content to satisfy their own selfish ends. In essence, such people will popularly start shouting about the trampling and violation of human rights in any case the other channels are exhausted but funnily enough, this is possible because of the real principle which is enacted in the Human Rights Act itself.
The Human Rights Act should be extended because it gives the British people the legal rights to stand up and be counted and should not be discounted like any other politically correct set of legislation. For the British people to better understand the Human Rights Act at its infancy, then they have to be aware that they have rights to know what their law makers do on their behalf and not solely rely on the media for the interpretation of the law decisions since they can easily be outraged by headlines which are too sensational. Since all the British people are members of their respective societies, then they have to bring with them responsibilities along with the rights because it is their responsibility to know that as much as they may be incensed with the headlines, they are the same laws which protect them as individuals and as a community.
The British government should therefore not diminish the Human Rights Act but instead better understand and appreciate it. There should be no retreat over the Human Rights Act and its critics should be brought on board to understand the benefits it brings the country. The Human Rights Act should be extended because the creation of the British Bill of Rights will not make it possible for the incorporation and builds on the British obligations which are incorporated in the ECHR. This is because once the laws are enshrined in the British Law, then all the Human Rights Act could have totally been overhauled and replaced by the British Bill of Rights.
Rather than the British government seeks to diminish or repeal the Human Rights Act, it should instead extend it and commit itself fully to the ECHR. The government should also be aware that by seeking to swap the HRA with the BBR, then they could have opened up room for the creation of significant legal problems which would arise as a result of reduction of any of the protections which are guaranteed and contained under the ECHR. The HRA should not be repealed because in any case it was to be repealed, and then it will not make any major difference because even if the parliament repeals it, the Courts can on their own decide to enforce it anyway. According to the President of the Supreme Court in Britain, no great impact could be achieved if parliament chose to repeal the Human Rights Act because to him, the Human Rights Act has already achieved the “Constitutional Statutes" which render them very impossible to repeal.
The Human Rights Act 1998 should therefore be upheld and even be extended because it has changed the constitutional role of the British Courts as far as domestic legislation is concerned since all legislation in Britain must now be fully interpreted in accordance with the rights contained in the European convention. The implementation of the Human Rights Act has therefore changed the way the constitution has evolved and also changed the roles of the judiciary. This is because the judiciary has adapted so as to incorporate the Human Rights Act.
The Human Rights Act should not be repealed or replaced by the British Bill of Rights since it is clear that in circumstances where it is difficult to interpret legislation in line with the European Community on Human Rights convention, then the British law will be given prevalence over the contravention. The Human Rights Act should never be re-branded into the British Bill of Rights because it can never improve the public’s perception. This is true because it is not the Act’s text that critics of the Human Rights are against but instead, they are against the public bodies the decisions by the courts that people do not like. We should not therefore, repeal or even substitute the HRA with the BBR before it even survives the stage of adolescence because the politicians who are very well known for permitting internment on a yearly basis cannot be trusted to build on the existing freedoms and rights but instead, they will aim at destroying the same.
The Human Rights Acts of 1998 which incorporated the ECHR into British law should not be repealed or even be replaced by the BBR because it gives the citizens statutory rights to enable them enforce their Human Rights in any Court in Britain. These rights were brought home by the integration of the ECHR, and therefore, made it easier for British Citizens to access them locally in their national courts. The incorporation of these conventions into the British laws therefore not only provided a ceiling but also a floor for human rights.
The Human Rights Act should be extended because it gives parliament the freedom to enhance the rights for instance by a Freedom of information Act which is contained in article 40. The British citizens were very privileged after the full implementation of the Human Rights Act in the year 2000 because they were able to claim their rights under legislation in a British Court rather than in Strasbourg where the final arbiter on interpretation of the convention of the ECHR is located. It should therefore, be noted that the sole reason of introducing the HRA in Britain was actually to bring the rights home to the people of Britain.
The Human Rights Act should be extended because it does not in any way create new human rights or take away any existing human rights. Instead, the HRA followed the devastation that was caused by the World War II and aimed at protecting the basic freedoms and rights of the British people. The HRA seeks to enable the British Citizens to enforce their human rights locally in the courts in the UK without necessarily taking their cases to Strasbourg through provision of easier and better access to rights which currently exist.
The Human Rights Act should be extended because it does not enlarge the remedies or rights of people in the United Kingdom whose rights in the convention have been violated but instead it enables those remedies and rights to be enforced and asserted by the domestic courts in Britain and not by recourse in Strasbourg.
The Human Rights Act should be extended because since its implementation, it has had a great deal of positive influence on the British Courts and therefore led to substantial improvement on the quality of public administration by the Executive, the public bodies, the Judges and the parliament in general. The replacement of the Human Rights Act by the British Bill of Rights will compromise the quality of these public administration institutions.
The Human Rights Act should never be repealed because it could lead to the prevention of the United Kingdom citizens from exercising their fundamental rights in the UK Courts and therefore leading to prolonged delays for the citizens who would be forced to present their appeals to the European Community on Human Rights in Strasbourg in order to assert their rights.
The HRA should not be replaced by the BBR as suggested by the British government which pointed out that they may build on the HRA to build a British Bill of Duties and rights. However such an attempt by the government is prone to fail because of questions that have been raised in relation with these proposals. Among the questions that have been raised are whether there exist things like the rights for the British people or the British rights and how such rights can effectively operate within the framework of devolution to Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland. Questions have also been raised as to whether there should be any inclusion of the economic and social rights within the British Bill of rights. The Human Rights Act should therefore be left the way it is and never be replaced by the British Bill of Rights because it could lead to so many legal complications in Britain.
The Human Rights Act should not be replaced into British Human Rights because the Bill of Rights could bring in ideas of making some of the additional rights in the Bill of Rights to be justiciable and therefore making the judiciary to further expand its scope of influence on issues which could be better handled by the parliamentarians.
The Human Rights Act should not be replaced by the British Bill of Rights because there is a lot of confusion which has continued to reign as to whether the New Bill of Rights would comfortably sit alongside the Human Rights Act or it would be a direct replacement of the Human Rights Act. Instead of having two documents which would be unhelpful to the people it will be preferable to have a single document (the Human Rights Act) which adds to the ECHR
The HRA should be extended since those people who are against it have been known to have moral laxity and ignorance of the law. This is because the Human Rights Act empowers people to promote their interests. The human Rights Act should be upheld and extended because it belongs to all the human kind on account of their humanities and not based on the membership of the narrower classifications like ethnicity, class or citizenship. Unlike the British Bill of Rights which may tend to exclude by definition the non-citizens of a country from its protection, the Human Rights Act seeks to protect every human being regardless of where one comes from, the skin color, age or gender. Individuals like the undocumented employees, a single mum who loses all her benefits and the inmates in Guantanamo Bay actually lack the state or law which can protect them. For such people to enjoy the benefits of humanity and the rights associated with it, passing of a new British Bill of rights or keeping the initial Human Rights Act adds nothing to their lives.
The Human Rights Act should never be repelled or even be replaced by the British Bill of Rights because it was enacted by parliament in 1998 and should therefore be enforced and acknowledged by the courts. The British government should therefore place its focus on the human rights as a way of justifying and improving the official decision making rather than automatically making it to become a legal issue. In cases where the public authorities feel the need to tamper with the individual human rights, then must have genuine motives and follow fair and just procedures.
The Human Rights Act should not be repealed or be replaced by the British Bill of Rights because it is good for the British people. What needs to be done is to improve education about the Human Rights Act among the public to ensure that it occupies a more strategic position in schools and colleges. This is the right time to sell the true values of the Human Rights Act to the general public, something that has never been done since the act came into force.
The Human Rights Act should be extended because it is the safe and sure channel of giving protection to the marginalized and most vulnerable members of any society. This is because anyone who is in Britain for any reason is entitled towards fundamental human rights which the public and the government are duly and legally obliged to obey and respect. This is because the Human Rights Act of 1998 made them to become law.
The Human Rights Act should be extended because the rights contained in the convention not only deals with matters of death and life but also affects the rights possesses by people in their everyday life reflected in what they do, say and their beliefs. The people are also entitled towards being given a fair trial and other similar entitlements which are basic.
The Human Rights Act should not be repealed because the rights contained in it have limits which prevent them against unfair damage to other people’s rights. But it should also be noted that the right of not being tortured cannot be limited by anybody or the court. The Human Rights Act makes people to be responsible by requiring them to respect the rights of other people as they will expect them to respect theirs. The Human Rights Act should therefore not be scrapped or wakened because this will imply that the ordinary citizens would lose the important protection which is offered by the Human Rights. Everything should be done to ensure that the Human Rights Act is extended because it can be used as a tool for broadly achieving the much needed social change and improve the delivery of public services in the society.
McGonnell v UK, European Court of Human Rights, Judgment of 8.2. 2000
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