Blog: Help us fight back against the government’s ‘Rights Removal Bill’

The Westminster government has deliberately used negative stereotypes to pass a bill that will remove our basic human rights

Christina McAnea

Your basic right to justice could be taken away, but at UNISON we’re doing everything we can to stop the #RightsRemovalBill.

This is another ambush from the Westminster government on our basic rights, and it’ll hit the most vulnerable hardest.

Our human rights are the basic rights and freedoms that we all rely on every day, even when we don’t realise it. They belong to us and are protected in law by the Human Rights Act.

But the proposed Bill of Rights – we’re calling it the Rights Removal Bill – is being forced through Parliament against all advice, and with no rationale except to prove the government can dominate the powerless.

Parents trying to get an education for their disabled child, older people trying to get decent care, and families seeking a safe and secure home, all rely on their human rights to challenge wrong decisions or harmful policies, to try and make their lives better.

The government is deliberately peddling negative stereotypes and debunked narratives to get this bill through, as well as minimising it as just a ‘tweak’ to ‘strengthen rights’. The Rights Removal Bill does not create new rights or strengthen existing protections; it only removes access to, and weakens the rights we already have.

Even the government’s own, lengthy and expensive independent Human Rights Act Review, which UNISON gave evidence to, said change wasn’t necessary and that, if anything, the problem was that too few people understood how the current system worked – not that it needed to change.

Both Scottish and Welsh governments issued strongly worded statements outlining their concerns with the UK government’s proposals, but those voices are being dismissed as it pushes ahead anyway.

In Northern Ireland, by undermining the European Court of Human Rights within the UK, the bill risks jeopardising the Good Friday Agreement and the political and policing structures that ensure peace and stability. This cavalier attitude to the impact on devolution risks legal chaos and confusion.

This bill will limit access to justice for all of us by placing new hurdles in the way of our right to be heard. It will create a new imbalance of power in favour of the state, losing rights explicitly designed to curb abuse by the state, and creating different categories of ‘humans’ based on the government’s determination of who deserves ‘human’ rights and who doesn’t.

The bill will result in more cases having to go to European courts rather than British ones, and will limit freedom of speech – including whistleblowing – while pretending to enhance it.

UNISON nationally is working on this with a coalition of civil rights groups including Liberty, Amnesty and the British Institute of Human Rights.

Together, we must act now to stop the bill.

You can help with just two minutes of your time – have your say on the new bill.