Skip to main content Skip to footer

Weekly Human Rights News: 31-03-23

This week’s news includes our work with Council of Europe and the new Victims and Prisoners Bill.

We said goodbye to two of our Human Rights Officers!

Katie and Lauren both had their last day with BIHR this week.

Katie joined BIHR in 2021 and alongside working on BIHR’s regular programmes, policy work and resources, she’s led a number of community programmes including creating the Rights in Recovery Leadership Programme with Scottish Recovery Consortium. Watch a clip from Tom from Scottish Recovery Consortium who talked about working with Katie at our Human Rights Day event:

Lauren joined BIHR in 2022 and as well as all her work to develop and deliver our new Communities Programme to support groups to address social justice issues using human rights, she’s co-delivered with Lived Experience Experts to upskill staff working in public services. A participant on one of Lauren’s NHS England workshops said:

We talked to Council of Europe about human rights reforms in the UK

Last week, our CEO Sanchita went to Paris to talk to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) about the concerning changes the UK Government is trying to make to human rights protections in the UK. You can read her full speech on PACE’s website. 

On Tuesday 28th March, Carlyn, Head of Policy & Programmes and Helen, Research & Communications Associate, met with PACE’s human rights rapporteur, Kamal Jafarov, during his visit to the UK. They were joined by representatives from JCWI, an independent national charity fighting for justice in immigration, asylum & nationality law, and Justice, a charity committed to the rule of law and the fair administration of justice. 

They discussed our concerns with the Rights Removal Bill and the Refugee Ban Bill and the way they’ll impact people’s human rights across the UK. 

PACE will be publishing a report after its investigation of the UK is completed. 

News from Elsewhere

The UK Government introduced the Victims and Prisoners Bill 

The Government says its new Bill will make it easier for crime victims to get justice, but communities like End Violence Against Women have said it “won’t deliver what victims need”. Victim Support said it has been waiting for a Victims’ Bill for a long time but it is “seriously worried that expanding the Bill’s scope to include prisoners will be a distraction and delay it even further.” 

Through the Bill, the Justice Secretary is trying to award himself the power to overrule decisions of the Parole Board – despite this month’s judgment that found the Justice Secretary breached the right to liberty by undermining the independence of the parole board. 

The Bill also says that Section 3 of the Human Rights Act (which requires laws to be read compatibly with human rights if possible) will not apply to sentencing and release laws. It also says courts must give “the greatest possible weight” to reducing the risk to the public when deciding if someone’s human rights have been breached in relation to prison sentences. The Government admits that it is trying to bring over similar provisions from the paused Rights Removal Bill. It has also tried to disapply Section 3 in its Refugee Ban Bill – demonstrating a pattern of trying to avoid human rights responsibilities.


A group of women brought a case against the Swiss Government for inaction on climate change 

Verein KlimaSeniorinnen Schweiz (“Senior Women for Climate Protection Switzerland”) and four individual women brought a case against the Swiss Government for failing to take steps to meet its obligations under the Paris Agreement – an international treaty on climate change. 

The four women are all over 80 and have health problems that are exacerbated by heatwaves. The women told the European Court on Human Rights that by failing to take action on climate change, the Swiss Government has breached its positive obligations to protect their Article 2 right to life and Article 8 right to private and family life and home. They also say that the Swiss courts have not provided an adequate remedy under Article 13 of the European Convention on Human Rights or a fair trial under Article 6. 

The judgment has not yet been made. 

Read the press release.

Share this

Stay up-to-date

Get our newsletter

Get monthly updates on UK human rights law and our work, resources and events sent straight to your inbox.