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Weekly Human Rights News: 07-10-22

We shared an update on the Rights Removal Bill

On Thursday 6th October 2022, our Parliamentary & Policy Assistant published an update exploring what has happened since the Rights Removal Bill was introduced, drawing on intel from the Conservative Party Conference in predicting what might happen now the Bill has been “shelved”, and setting out what steps we must now take in order to prepare for, and prevent, future attacks by the UK Government on our Human Rights Act.

We submitted evidence for a report to the UN Committee on Economic, Social & Cultural Rights

We highlighted the threat that the Rights Removal Bill poses to important rights like the rights to work, standard of living and education in a recent submission to Just Fair.

Just Fair is coordinating a report to the UN Committee on Economic, Social & Cultural Rights as part of a review of the UK. Approximately every five years, the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights carries out a review into how well people's rights are being protected in the UK. Civil society organisations can submit reports to the Committee as part of this review. The Committee then uses these reports to come up with a list of issues they want to ask the UK Government about and ultimately to form concluding observations and recommendations on how the UK Government can better protect rights.

In a new episode of BIHR Explains, we explain what parliamentary sovereignty is and what it means for our Human Rights Act.

We helped staff at Somerset County Council make plans to put rights into action

BIHR are currently delivering a human rights, equalities and social justice learning programme for Somerset County Council which aims to build the human rights capacity of Somerset County Council’s Adult Social Care service. On Thursday 6th October 2022, our Head of Policy and Programmes, Carlyn, helped staff consolidate their knowledge and make plans to put rights into action.

News from elsewhere

Please be aware that the external human rights news BIHR shares weekly contains difficult and potentially triggering issues. This week triggers include deaths by suicide, drug use and mental health issues.

Courts will look again at whether the circumstances of teenage girl’s death engaged her Article 2 right to life

In 2019, 16-year-old Kianna was living with a friend’s family and under the care of Specialist Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (S-CAMHS). The friend’s family allowed Kianna to use cannabis and Kianna’s mother was concerned about the risk this posed to Kianna’s mental health, so she reported it to the police and the council. Kianna also visited her GP and told them she was worried about schizophrenia and delusions. Her GP made a referral to S-CAMHS. S-CAMHS then assessed Kianna as posing “low apparent risk to herself”.

Kianna died by suicide in October. Kianna’s mother said the council, S-CAMHS and the police’s failure to protect Kianna breached her Article 2 right to life. However, the coroner who carried out the inquest said that the local authority didn’t owe a duty to Kianna because she did not need accommodation from them so was not a looked after child.

Kianna’s mother appealed and the court said the coroner should have carried out a more thorough assessment of whether Kanna did need accommodation rather than relying on the council’s assertion that she didn’t. The case will now go back to the coroner to re-determine whether it engages Article 2.

Source: Bailii


A mother has been granted permission to appeal a ruling against a second inquest into her daughter’s death

In 2017, Jodey Whiting died by suicide after her disability benefit payments were stopped because she missed a work capability assessment. Jodey had been receiving disability benefits for more than 10 years and told the Department for Work & Pensions (DWP) she hadn’t received a letter about the assessment. The decision to stop her benefits was overturned five weeks after Jodey died.

Jodey’s mum, Joy, said the DWP’s handling of Jodey’s case contributed to her death and breached her Article 2 right to life. However, the first inquest into Jodey’s death lasted just 37 minutes and did not investigate the DWP’s role.

Joy asked the High Court to order a second inquest, but this was initially denied. However, the Court of Appeal has now granted her permission to appeal this decision so her case will be heard.

Source: BBC


The Conservative Party Conference ran from Sunday 2nd October to Wednesday 5th October

Every year, the Conservative Party hosts a four-day conference in November made up of events, receptions and speeches so members can hear about the party’s ideas and policies. At this year’s event, Grace DaCosta of Quakers in Britain asked, Justice Secretary Brandon Lewis what was happening with the Bill of Rights Bill. He responded that a number of the issues which would have been dealt with in the Bill of Rights Bill (of which he lists freedom of speech, strategic lawsuits against public participation, and illegal immigration) “we will deal with, but we’ll probably do it in different pieces of legislation”.

In her speech, Home Secretary Suella Braverman stressed that “UK policy on illegal migration should not be derailed by abuse of our modern slavery laws, Labour’s Human Rights Act, or orders of the Strasbourg Court.” These speeches indicate that we may see the provisions of the Rights Removal Bill return in separate targeted pieces of legislation.

Read more about the Conservative Party Conference in our latest blog.

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