News

Queen’s Speech: News laws would undermine fundamental freedoms in the UK

Article by Fair Trials

New Bills announced in the Queen’s speech at the state opening of Parliament will give the Government draconian powers that undermine fundamental freedoms, including the right to protest, and the right to family life.

Of most concern, is the proposed introduction of a British Bill of Rights which could give judges the power to deviate from rulings of the European Court of Human Rights, in particular enabling them to deport non-British citizens convicted of crimes.  Justice Secretary Dominic Raab has said this would ensure “public safety gets more priority than the rights of offenders”.

Fair Trials’ CEO Norman Reimer responded to the announcement:

“At a time when fundamental freedoms across the world are facing the most brutal assault in recent decades, the UK government is launching its own offensive against the European Convention on Human Rights.

“Human rights are inherent to everyone, irrespective of their nationality, status, or personal experiences. And when governments start challenging this, they deny our shared humanity as the fundamental basis of human rights.

“Deporting more people will not make societies safer. Instead, it will tear families apart and uproot people from the communities they grew up in. It is inhumane and unfair to subject people convicted of crimes to disproportionate further punishments for the sole reason that they are foreign nationals.”

The government also announced plans to introduce new offences attacking the right to protest as part of the Public Order Bill, introducing police powers that will make it easier to suppress peaceful protest.

This Bill will criminalise “locking on” – a protest tactic in which one or more protestors attaches themselves to an inanimate object – and extend stop and search powers, ignoring overwhelmingly damning evidence about its discriminatory impact and growing concerns about systemic racism in the police.

These proposals were previously included in the draconian Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts (PCSC) Bill but were thrown out by the House of Lords.

Reimer added: “By reintroducing plans that have already been rejected by UK parliamentarians, the UK government appears to be intent on destroying the right to peaceful protest rather than protecting it.”