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Weekly Human Rights News: 02-06-23

This week’s human rights news includes an update on our letter to the Joint Committee on Human Rights and a new case on religious education.

We received a response from the Joint Committee on Human Rights

In April, we wrote to the Joint Committee on Human Right (JCHR) together with 46 civil society organisations to raise concerns about several new Government Bills that attempt to disapply Section 3 of the Human Rights Act. This would mean those Bills wouldn’t have to be interpreted compatibly with human rights, even if it was possible to do so.

On Tuesday 30th May, the JCHR wrote back to us to say they’re aware of the issue and are keeping a close eye on the UK Government’s proposed reforms.

News from Elsewhere

The High Court said humanists have a right to join a religious education committee

Mr Bowen, a humanist, wanted to be appointed to join the Standing Advisory Council for Religious Education of Kent County Council. He was refused under the Education Act because he didn't represent a religion. He took a case to the High Court, which said Section 3 of the Human Rights Act (which requires public bodies to interpret laws compatibly with human rights wherever possible) meant the council should have read the Education Act as allowing the appointment of people with other belief systems, like humanism. The High Court said failing to do so breached Mr Bowen’s Article 9 right to freedom of belief, the Article 2, Protocol 1 right to education and the Article 14 right to be free from discrimination.

Source: Humanists UK


The Home Office’s unpublished policy of detaining people who have NHS debts was found unlawful

MXK and SXB have limited leave to remain in the UK, meaning they’re allowed to live in the UK but do not have access to public funds. They have to pay for NHS care and both currently owe money for their maternity care. Every time MXK or SXB left the country and returned, they were stopped at the airport and detained. The Home Office said they have an unpublished policy of detaining people who owe the NHS money when they come through an airport to up-to-date contact details. Both women were stopped for long periods of time while travelling with their young children and did not have access to toilet or nappy changing facilities or food. They brought a case to the High Court, claiming that the treatment breached their Article 5 right to liberty and Article 8 right to private life. While the Court decided not to make a decision on this ground, it did find that the detention was unlawful and the policy should have been published. It also said the Home Secretary didn't have due regard to the need to eliminate discrimination given the policy disproportionately impacts women and particularly those who are pregnant.

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