The government says Human Rights Act will stay but it needs to be better understood

Officials to be advised on human rights law

Officials to be advised on human rights law

The Human Rights Act will be retained but people working in the criminal justice system must be better trained in how it should be implemented, John Reid said today.

The home secretary said his wide-reaching review of law and order, published today, had concluded that there was no basis for repealing the legislation, which incorporates the European Convention on Human Rights into UK law.

Conservative leader David Cameron recently called for the act to be scrapped, and replaced with a bill of rights that would protect basic freedoms such as a right to a free trial and freedom of speech, but today Mr Reid rejected this outright.

“We don’t believe [in] the solution from the leader of the party opposite to bring in yet another bill of rights – that is the last thing we need,” he told the House of Commons.

However, Mr Reid said it was “plain” that there were occasions when people had misunderstood how the Human Rights Act should be implemented, and said the Home Office would set up an advice system to try to counteract this confusion.

Shami Chakrabarti, director of human rights campaign group Liberty, welcomed the home secretary’s commitment to fight the “myths” surrounding the act.

“Any defence of human rights must promote better understanding of how they protect victims as well as the accused. We promise to hold Dr. Reid to his word,” she said.

Concerns about the act arose in May when an official report into the murder of Naomi Bryant concluded that probation officers had placed the rights of her killer, Anthony Rice, before the need to protect the public when authorising his early release from jail.

Today’s criminal justice review pledges to issue “robust, practical, myth-busting advice to practitioners on how rights should be balanced between offenders and the wider community”, and to set up a new advice service for frontline staff such as the police.

But Mr Reid also pledged to be “robust” in challenging judgments from the European court of human rights “that stop us applying a proper balance effectively”.

For example, in the 1996 Chahal case, the court found the British government could not use public protection as a factor when trying to deport someone it considered dangerous to a country where they might face ill-treatment.

“We believe that this goes against the fundamental principle in the Human Rights
Act that individual and collective rights can and should be balanced against each other,” today’s Home Office review says.

“That is why, in the context of the current threat posed to this country and its people by international terrorism, we are working with our partners in Europe to challenge this as vigorously as possible.”