The subject of a UK Bill of Rights has surfaced again in the media. BBC News reports that the Joint Committee on Human Rights has urged the Government to adopt a UK bill of rights. They want this bill of rights to go much further than the Human Rights Act.
Their report said that the bill should give greater protection to groups such as children, the elderly and those with learning difficulties.
Both Labour and the Conservatives agree on the principle of an entrenched bill of rights. However, they differ on what the bill should contain.
I think that this is a good idea. While we do have the Human Rights Act 1998, it is limited in scope. People are sceptical of Human Rights because the media always highlight the cases where the courts have come down on the side of a convcited criminal (and no they shouldn’t forfeit their rights they remain Human even when convicted). If we had a more comprehensive Human Rights Act that protected the whole of society more often then punlic perception might change. International declarations and treaties such as the UN Declaration of the rights of a child, the UN Convention on the Rights of a Child and the UN Declration on Human Rights are all very good International rights treaties and while the UK is a signatory to them, they are not given specific legal effect in UK Law. For example, one could not stand in front of a Sheriff and argue that one’s rights under Article 25 of the UN Declaration on Human Rights are being violated because one’s standard of living is not adequate for the survival of oneself.
I really do hope that we eventually see the Human Rights Law in this country becoming more comprehensive so as to afford everyone, whether that be child, adult or OAP, the same rights within society.