The UK Government’s Nationality and Boundaries Bill is just one of several pieces of draft legislation passing through Parliament, the effect of which would be to erode individual rights, making it more difficult to challenge the state through the courts (FT View, January 17).
A person secretly stripped of their British citizenship – an act that would have obvious implications for access to justice – would probably hope to challenge the Home Secretary’s decision to do so.
Parliament is considering changes to how far the government should rectify its injustices when it has made an unlawful decision, in the Judicial Review and Courts Bill. New powers can, for example, limit or remove the retroactive effect of a judge’s finding that a government decision was illegal, so that there will be no redress for the people affected – even those who brought the case. This will make life easier for the government at the expense of accountability and justice.
People from all walks of life used the Human Rights Act to protect their rights – to live free from state interference, to gain access to essential services or to ensure that the right balance between freedom and security is struck.
Proposals to reform the law, in the form of a “Bill of Rights”, seek to make life easier for the government at great cost to the nation, making it more difficult to bring a case when the government citizens have been wrongfully treated, placing the UK on a collision course with the European Court of Human Rights.
Changes will affect each of us and lead to a culture of disrespect for human rights in decision making, with rights violations that can be seen as “low level” becoming acceptable as it can no longer be challenged, even if it is against the law.
I Stephanie Boyce
President, Law Society of England and Wales, London WC2, UK