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Standing up for our Human Rights Act

The government seldom defends it and the Tories want to scrap it. They even blamed it for preventing the deportation of Learco Cindamo, convicted of stabbing to death headteacher Philip Lawrence. That the court reached its decision by interpreting EU law didn’t bother Cameron’s Conservatives, who appeared happy to indulge in wilful ignorance and lead the charge against the Human Rights Act.

As Katie Ghose, director of the British Institute of Human Rights, explained in The Guardian last week, “Nothing in the Human Rights Act prevents removal of a serious criminal to another country, except when there is a real risk of torture.” She goes further and lauds the Act’s achievements in protecting ordinary Britons’ right to a family life and to be free of arbitrary interference from the state.

Take the example of an elderly couple who were forced to live in separate care homes – thanks to the HRA the local authority was compelled to think of ways the pair could remain together. Similarly, a woman was allowed to visit her children after suffering a breakdown, so too were parents barred from seeing their ill son in hospital after questioning the way he had been treated.

“These are the everyday ways in which bringing human rights closer to home via our Human Rights Act has made a difference,” continues Ghose, who must be wondering why the government has left it to others to promote its own legislation. If Gordon Brown wants to show that he is different from Tony Blair, perhaps he should make a start on doing so.

A question of loyalty

Fascist Lite