Jack Straw: Human Rights Act needs rebalancing

Justice secretary Jack Straw is planning to “rebalance” the Human Rights Act amid concerns it has become a “villains charter”.

Mr Straw, who has become frustrated with the way that the act is operating, has suggested the rights in the legislation could be balanced with new “responsibilities” to obey the law and to be loyal to the country.

In an interview with the Daily Mail, he said: “In due course I could envisage that there could be additions made to work in the issues of responsibilities.”

Mr Straw placed the blame on “nervous” judges who are unwilling to accept ministers’ advice.

He noticed there is genuine concern from the public that the Act, which makes the European convention on human rights law in the UK, had been used in some cases by prisoners to avoid punishment or to prevent the deportation of Islamist extremists.

“I fully understand that [people] have concerns about the Human Rights Act,” he said.

“There is a sense that it’s a villains’ charter or that it stops terrorists being deported or criminals being properly given publicity.

“I am greatly frustrated by this. Not by the concerns, but by some very few judgments that have thrown up these problems.”

This decision by Mr Straw has been heavily criticised by human rights activists.
Shami Chakrabarti, the director of Liberty, said: “The public will have to judge this latest headline and decide if Britain’s freedoms are safe in Mr Straw’s hands.

“They will notice the sheer cheek of a government that has passed mountains of legislation seeking to ‘rebalance’ power still further so that we owe them even more ‘responsibilities’.”

Mr Straw introduced the Human Rights Act ten years ago when he was the home secretary under Tony Blair.