University of Leicester eBulletin

Human Rights Issues Brought to Fore at University of Leicester Law Lecture

November 2002
No 252

Human rights issues in the UK were addressed in a lecture hosted by the University of Leicester on Thursday 14 November.

John Wadham, Director of Liberty, delivered the Faculty of Law’s Annual Law School Lecture in the Ken Edwards Building. The lecture was completely free and open to the public.

During the lecture a programme was set out to extend human rights protection in the UK. Liberty made four key proposals:

·       Ratification and incorporation of those ECHR protocols not yet ratified by the UK.

·       Ratification of further international treaties which contain human rights protection missing from the current regime

·       Incorporation of at least some of these “missing” rights into domestic law

·       A domestic Bill of Rights entrenched in the law to protect our rights from any future erosion. This proposal also considers whether the current regime goes far enough in protecting the liberty or freedom of action of individuals. It is proposed that a right to freedom of action would be the most effective and appropriate method of further guaranteeing liberty for individuals in the UK

The Human Rights Act was an important step forward for human rights protection in this country. Liberty argues that the Act does not, however, go far enough in bringing a full complement of “rights home”: “We welcome the forthcoming review of the status of the UK’s position under human rights instruments and we hope that the outcome of that review will confirm the UK’s strong commitment to human rights.

“Unfortunately the range of rights that UK citizens can bring to domestic courts or to Strasbourg falls far short of the rights to which the government has already committed itself in international law. To demonstrate true commitment to human rights and to give the people of the UK the ability to enforce their rights we would argue that more of these rights should be incorporated into domestic law ideally through a domestic bill of rights.

“We would also argue the rights of individual petition under international treaties such as the ICCPR should be extended to UK citizens to give a hearing and an effective remedy where this is not possible under the domestic system.

“Finally, we would argue that this country’s long standing commitment to liberty and freedom is not adequately protected in the current system. We propose that this is remedied by an explicit right to freedom of action within the human rights protection system.”

Note:

Liberty is an independent human rights organisation which works to defend and extend rights and freedoms in England and Wales. Founded in 1934, it is the largest membership organisation of its kind in Europe.

Liberty aims to secure equal rights and freedoms for everyone by:

See http://www.liberty-human-rights.org.uk/

About John Wadham:

John Wadham spent six years working for law centres in London and then in 1989 he qualified as a solicitor. He worked in private practice in a civil liberties firm for three years before moving to Liberty. In 1992 he was promoted to the post of Director of Law and Policy at Liberty and then in 1995 was appointed as Director of the organisation. He was a member of the Government's Human Rights Act Task Force and has been commissioned to train many public authorities, senior civil servants, police officers, court staff and lawyers on the Human Rights Act and the European Convention on Human Rights.

NOTE TO EDITORS: For more information on the Law Lecture, please contact Professor White on 0116 252 2374.
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