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Weekly Human Rights News: 15-03-24

This week’s human rights news includes submission of our impact report to the Equality and Human Rights Commission on our trip to the UN, some more work with the University of Essex and an update of where the Government are at with the Rwanda Bill.  

Follow-up from our UN trip.

The Committee met in Geneva on 11 to 13th March and heard evidence from the UK Government, National Human Rights Institutions and Non-Governmental Organisations.

This week are submitting our impact report to the Equality and Human Rights Commission on "Centring Lived Experience Voices at the at the UN Human Rights Committee's 140th session." Our report shares that funding from the EHRC meant that the Human Rights Committee and all in attendance were able to hear directly from those impacted by rights issues in the UK. We believe at BIHR that valuing, funding and listening to people with lived experience of human rights issues has the power to change things in a way that hearing only indirectly from policy professionals on the issues simply does not. “I feel that I was listened to, I was respected and more importantly that I was heard” - Kirsten Peebles, Lived Experience Expert.


Why Our Human Rights Act Matters Blog Series

We’re excited to share a new guest post in our Why Our Human Rights Act Matters series. Keysha Garcia, a corporate paralegal studying for her master’s degree in Human Rights at the University of London, explores why our Human Rights Act matters to her as an ethnic minority within the legal profession. Keysha says, “Without human rights, we would be weaker in our ability to fight for our right to practise law, to even consider it. The law protects us against forms of racism, discrimination and equality, while being a driving force behind the institutions to continue improving their standards and approach to racial bias.”.

We are working with the Housing Ombudsman.

We are coming up to halfway through our work with the Housing Ombudsman Service (HOS). BIHR have been working together with HOS to support them to embed human rights within the service. HOS has recently published internal guidance on the Human Rights Act and the Equality Act to guide their work. They asked us to design and deliver capacity building workshops to complement this guidance and increase human rights knowledge and confidence across the service. We are also providing three ‘additional learning sets’ to further embed staff knowledge. This work with HOS will continue until May 2024.

We are lecturing at the University of Essex

The University of Essex is offering a short course on Human Rights and Local Government, designed to give professionals practical tools to implement human rights at a local level. The course will consist of six 90-minute modules taught online over two consecutive weeks in April and May 2024. Our CEO, Sanchita, and Head of Policy & Programmes, Carlyn, will be joining the teaching team as guest lecturers for sessions two and three. They will cover the duties of public authorities, looking at law, policy and best practice

News from Parliament: an Update on the Safety of Rwanda Bill

The UK Government’s Safety of Rwanda Bill is now in the final stages before becoming law, at the back and forth stages between the House of Lords and House of Commons (often called 'ping pong'). You can read more about the Bill in our December blog here. When the Government introduced the Bill to parliament they could not say that it is compatible with the UK’s human rights obligations (this is section 19 statement, watch our short video for more information).


One of the key human rights concerns with the Bill is the issue of refoulement. This is where a government sends people seeking asylum back to their/or another country to face likely ill-treatment. The UK Supreme Court has been clear this is not lawful, when it ruled the Government’s Rwanda scheme was not lawful in November last year; read our blog here. This Bill is attempting to say in law that Rwanda is a safe country irrespective of the factual situation. If it becomes law it will effectively remove human rights protections for asylum seekers in the most vulnerable situations in the UK. This includes people’s the right to private and family life (Article 8), the right to be free from inhuman and degrading treatment (Article 3), the right to be free from discrimination (Article 14) as well as limiting people’s access to human rights law whilst their asylum claim is processed. Click here to learn more about these human rights.


Ping pong is fast moving! On Monday the Bill went back to the House of Commons after the House of Lords put in 10 new amendments (changes), including making sure the UK complies with international legal and human rights duties. MPs voted to remove these changes. On Wednesday the Bill went back to the House Lords to look at the Bill again. They disagreed with the removal of many of the suggested changes. This means the Bill has not yet been passed into law, and will be looked at again by parliament after the Easter break on the 15 April 2024 (find out more on parliament’s website)


Find out more about contacting your MP on human rights issues that are important to you, with our guide on writing to your MP.

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