The government is consulting on replacing the Human Rights Act with a “Bill of Rights”.  

The current deadline to respond is midnight 8 March – disability and human rights organisations are demanding that the consultation is made accessible and for the deadline to be extended (see letter).

The consultation is biased. For example, one weighted question asks: “How can we make sure deportations that are in the public interest are not frustrated by human rights claims?

This consultation comes hot on the heels of the horrendous Nationality and Borders Bill which will destroy people’s chance of getting asylum and protection in the UK. See our statement here that dismantles many of the lies the government promotes about immigration.

We cannot allow the government to fuel hostility against those of us who are immigrants and asylum seekers and then use that to abolish the Human Rights Act and undermine all our rights.

You can answer the questionnaire (anonymously if you want) online here. Most of the questions are tick box answers but you can skip questions and use Question 29 to say what you think about this attack on human rights. Or you can email your response to HRAreform@justice.gov.uk in which case please copy in your member of parliament and send a copy to us at GWAD.

There are some issues that would particularly affect women asylum seekers

  • Scrapping the Human Rights Act will prevent women challenging Home Office discrimination and injustice. Rape and domestic violence survivors are least likely to know their experiences can qualify as grounds for asylum and find it most difficult to report them to officials.  The Home Office fails to take into account the trauma and stigma victims suffer, instead seizing on delays to disbelieve women.
  • Undermining the right to family life will make it harder for mothers to win the right to stay in the UK with their British children and to be reunited with children who they were forced to leave behind. Women and children already suffer years of painful separation. There is no legal aid to make these applications. The process is extremely complicated and Home Office fees are extortionate. We have seen from the war in Ukraine how important it is for people to be together with their family so separating children from their mothers is cruel and leaves children unprotected and at risk.
  • Undermining or even removing people’s ability to use human rights to stop deportations. This is based on the false claim that people are making spurious claims and appeals. In reality, people are denied a fair hearing by a system saturated with sexism, racism and other prejudice, and by officials trained in a “culture of disbelief and carelessness”[1] to refuse claims no matter how compelling.  Legal aid cuts of up to £1billion[2] have made it impossible to get a good lawyer. Deliberate Home Office foot dragging[3] and unjustified appeals by the Home Office add to the backlog of cases. Despite this ¾ of claims succeed[4]
  • Cracking down on so called “illegal and irregular migration” when there are no legal routes for people to enter the UK. Only 25,000 people have come to the UK by “safe and legal” resettlement schemes since 2015 – that is just six people per local authority area.

This government attack on human rights comes at the same time as both the Police Bill which will dismantle the right to protest and increase police powers and the Nationality and Borders Bill which undermines the Refugee Convention and people’s right to claim asylum and protection from persecution. There is massive opposition to both bills including in the Lords.

For more information on the consultation see: Amnesty International (including petition) here; British Institute for Human Rights template letter to respond to the consultation here.

More information:

Women Against Rape and Women of Colour/Global Women’s Strike against police bill here.

Women Oppose the Nationality and Borders Bill here.

WAR briefing v Nationality and Borders Bill  here.

GWAD includes the All African Women’s Group, a 100 strong organisation of women asylum seekers and refugees from every continent along with Legal Action for Women, Women Against Rape and Women of Colour/Global Women’s Strike.

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