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Weekly Human Rights News: 10/05/2024

This week’s human rights news includes our latest SEND focussed blog and information on our upcoming event about supporting community groups to take a human rights based approach.  

We have published a new guest blog as part of our SEND focussed blog series

This week we published a guest blog from Catriona Moore, who is the head of policy for IPSEA who provide legal advice and training around the law that governs special educational needs provision. Catriona is also a member of our RITES Committee and a parent of a disabled teenager with complex needs. In her blog she talks about blanket policies in schools, and how the Human Rights Act can be used to ensure that children with SEND are not being discriminated against.  

BIHR Event: Supporting Community Groups to use a Human Rights-Based Approach

There’s one week to go until BIHR’s online event on Wednesday 22 May 2-3pm, which is run as part of BIHR’s Community Programme 2022-2025. At this exciting event, we will be focusing on how BIHR supports community groups to take a human rights-based approach to their advocacy work by co-designing a support “solution” to issues they face in their lives and work. We will be joined by guest speakers from Families in Trauma and Recovery and My Life My Choice who will talk about their experience working with BIHR in 2023 and the impact the co-designed solutions has had on them and their work. 

We are gearing up to run our co-design programme again in 2024, and we will be sharing what this year’s programme will involve and how small community groups across the UK can apply. 

RITES Committee members shared our social media pack

This week, members of our RITES Committee spoke to civil society organisations across the UK about co-producing our social media pack. The pack supports organisations and individuals to talk about and create content about human rights online and is now available on our website. Members talked about the process of co-production and shared their insights into making sure lived experience voices are at the centre of policy and communications work. 





News from elsewhere

Under our Human Rights Act, the higher courts in the UK can issue a declaration stating that law in an Act of Parliament is not compatible with human rights (a Declaration of Incompatibility (DOI), section 4, HRA). A DOI does not change the law or the way it works because courts must respect parliamentary sovereignty (i.e. UK Parliament can pass any law it wants). If a UK court makes a DOI it is up to the government and parliament to decide whether changes need to be made. DOIs are quite rare, the latest report from the UK Government showed there have been 47 DOIs in the 23 years since the Human Rights Act has been law. However, this week the UK courts issued two new Declarations of Incompatibility.


The Illegal Migration Act was found to be incompatible with human rights 

In 2023, UK Parliament passed the Illegal Migration Act but a lot of it is not yet in force – meaning it hasn’t taken effect. The Act prevents many people who come to the UK without permission from making an asylum claim and puts a duty on the Home Secretary to remove them.  
The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission (NIHRC) brought a legal claim against the UK Government saying the Act breaches the right to be free from inhuman or degrading treatment, to be free from slavery, and to private and family life. NIHRC also said the Act is incompatible with the Windsor Framework – an agreement between the European Union and the UK that says the UK Government must make sure there is no weakening of the rights protections in the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement. 

 On Monday 13th May, the High Court in Belfast ruled that certain sections of the Act do breach human rights. These include sections related to the duty to remove and impacting children and potential survivors of modern slavery. The Court granted a Declaration of Incompatibility under Section 4 of the Human Rights Act. This does not change the Illegal Migration Act or the way it works but states that it is not compatible with human rights.  

However, any law that breaches the Windsor Framework must be disapplied (meaning it stays on the statute book but doesn’t have any effect).  This is because when the UK and EU agreed the Framework, they agreed that the rights it protects should apply in the same way for people in Northern Ireland as for people in EU member states, where EU law takes priority. The Court said that because a number of the sections of the Illegal Migration Act reduce people’s rights, such as the right to an effective remedy, these breach the Windsor Framework and must be disapplied in Northern Ireland.

The High Court in England has found that parts of the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act are incompatible with the Human Rights Act.  

On the 14th May the High Court in England issued a Declaration of Incompatibility for some of the sections of the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act (PCSCA). The increase from 3 to 12 months to the length of time that the police can ban Gypsies and Travellers from an area, was ruled incompatible with the right not to be discriminated against (Article 14) when read with the right to respect for private and family life, home and correspondence (Article 8). In the ruling, the court said the extension of the no-return period to 12 months puts “Gypsies at a particular disadvantage”. 

The case was brought by Wendy Smith, a Romany woman, as Claimant with the charity Friends, Families and Travellers (FFT) and Liberty acting as intervenors.  

You can read the judgement by clicking here

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