Colm O’Cinneide article: Having its (Strasbourg) cake, and eating it

The UK government has proposed replacing its domestic rights charter, the 1988 Human Rights Act, with a new ‘Bill of Rights’. This article highlights that this could further destabilise the UK’s already turbulent relationship with the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) system of rights protection, and risks having wider negative effects. It highlights in particular that ‘the UK government’s proposals include a sustained and explicit attack on the integrity of key elements of the Strasbourg jurisprudence, even though the government also claims to respect the European Court of Human Rights and the ECHR more generally’.

As the article points out, UK human rights law has long been controversial, with two particular points of tension. The first is the UK’s relationship with the European Court of Human Rights, which British critics regularly accuse of indulging in over-expansionist rights protection. The second has been the way that ECHR rights have been incorporated into UK law by the 1998 Human Rights Act (‘the HRA’), which is the UK’s domestic charter of enforceable legal rights. Critics of the HRA claim it gives British judges more power than is constitutionally appropriate, given the limited role that the judiciary has historically played within the UK’s ‘political constitution’

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