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Civil society groups in the United Kingdom feel they have their finger on a problem. That is a current national government ambition to scrap the UK’s Human Rights Act. Its protections for the human rights however, will allegedly be replaced by incorporating its principles in a long overdue UK Bill of Rights. (It’s been overdue, some feel, since the Magna Carta in 1215.)
More than 150 agencies in the UK (including Human Rights Watch and Child Poverty Action Group) are claiming that a Bill of Rights is not a suitable form of legislation to guarantee human rights. Instead, they see a future Bill of Rights as a codification of government powers.
The concern is that a Bill of Right’s ‘constitutional’ powers might well water down or scupper completely a nation’s commitment to what might be viewed as a ‘higher calling’ — a Human Rights Act that binds not only citizens, but their governments as well, in commitment to basic human rights.
Those in government who are pressing for a Bill of Rights appear to be uninterested in the benefits of a Human Rights Act, which might effectively limit the power of government by forcing a set of responsibilities upon it — ‘holding its feet to the fire’ as one of our recent posts from Australia put it.
Has Canada anything to offer in this debate? It seems to be surviving with both pieces of legislation — a Bill of Rights (known as the Charter of Rights and Freedoms) to showcase the federal Government’s pumped up muscles, as well as Human Rights Act (actually two) to hold government feet to the fire, with a hope of more to come.
Read more on these legislative quarrels currently at issue in the United Kingdom , as reported by The Guardian: Civil society calls on Rishi Sunak to commit to keeping Human Rights Act