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Blair proposal to limit Human Rights Act draws protest

[JURIST] [JURIST Europe] Leading UK human rights lawyers and activists are protesting the Blair government’s readiness to limit the application of the Human Rights Act [JURIST report] in the wake of a High Court decision [JURIST report] last week that permitted nine Afghan hijackers to remain in the UK. Speaking to the Guardian newspaper late Sunday, Anthony Lester QC [official profile], a Liberal Democrat peer, accused Home Secretary John Reid [official profile] of overstepping boundaries and abusing power by attempting to challenge the court ruling and to create changes to the Act, calling the suggestion that the legislation requires amendment to protect public safety “rubbish” and pointing out that "public safety is at the heart of the human rights convention", referring to the European Convention on Human Rights [PDF text] that the 1998 Human Rights Act [text] implemented in the UK when it took effect in 2000.

Other opponents of changing the statute have suggested that the problem is not with the law, but with the way courts have chosen to interpret it, and still others are suggesting that the government is merely trying to divert attention from its own recent law-related missteps, such as the premature release from prison of some 1000 foreign criminals [JURIST report] before deportation review, the disclosure of which cost former Home Secretary Charles Clarke his post earlier this month in a Cabinet shuffle. The Guardian has more.

Tatyana Margolin is an Associate Editor for JURIST Europe, reporting European legal news from a European perspective. She is based in the UK.

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