Weekly Human Rights News: 05-05-23
This week’s human rights news includes a new team member and an update on the new Public Order Act.
We welcomed our newest team member, Valentina!
This week, Valentina joined us as our new Administration Officer. Valentina has a background in office management and experience working in the charity sector with a particular focus in the disability sector.
We continued our workshops with staff in mental health and learning disability services
Human Rights Officer Phoebe talked to staff in North England about human rights in health and care settings and how the Human Rights Act underpins other laws like the Mental Health Act and the Mental Capacity Act.
The workshop was part of our programme designed to support staff to make rights-respecting decisions in their everyday work.
We sent evidence to the Joint Committee on Human Rights about the Refugee Ban Bill
Refugee Ban Bill and the concerning implications they both have for human rights in the UK. The Refugee Ban Bill is due to be debated in the House of Lords on Wednesday 10th May. The Rights Removal Bill remains on the Parliamentary timetable, we wait to see whether new Justice Secretary Alex Chalk will pursue his predecessor’s dangerous Bill or opt to stand firm on our Human Rights Act . Read about the ways these Bills attempt to limit government accountability and how they’re connected to other recently passed laws.
News from Elsewhere
The Public Order Act 2023 received royal assent
On Tuesday 2nd May, the Public Order Bill (now the Public Order Act 2023) received royal assent. This is when a Bill officially becomes a law and means that it has been approved by the King. Find out more about how laws are made in our explainer.
The Public Order Act applies across England and Wales, and two provisions came “into force” on the day the Bill received royal assent (meaning they take effect). These allow the Secretary of State to make regulations about what constitutes “key national infrastructure” (things like road or rail infrastructure) and would be a crime to interfere with (Section 7); and allow the Secretary of State to make regulations about what police are allowed to do with objects they seize during a stop-and-search (Section 13). Further provisions came into force on 03 May 2023, including ones to make it an offence to "lock on" (attach yourself to things) (Section 1) or even to carry the equipment to lock on (Section 2); ones to introduce a broad definition of what constitutes "serious disruption" (Section 34); and ones to allow police to stop and search people even when they don't have grounds to suspect that person has done anything wrong (Section 11).
There have been lots of concerns about the Public Order Act’s impact on protest – particularly as it has been approved just before the King’s coronation, at which there are expected to be protests.
A new poll found most people want to stay in the European Convention on Human Rights
In a new poll commissioned by The Sun newspaper, 53% of respondents said the UK should remain in the European Convention on Human Rights with just 27% saying it should leave.
The European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) is the international treaty that first established the 16 fundamental rights that have been brought into UK law through the Human Rights Act. Despite some common misconceptions, the ECHR has nothing to do with the European Union and so was not affected by Brexit. It was an agreement drafted by countries including the UK in the aftermath of World War II as part of a mission to ensure that governments of the day are never again allowed to decide who has rights and who does not.
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