Human Rights Act celebrates tenth birthday

By staff

Today marks ten years since the controversial Human Rights Act was introduced, with rows over its effect on British politics showing no signs of fading.

A ComRes poll commissioned by the campaigning organisation Liberty suggests widespread public support for the law, but an almost complete lack of education about what it itself constitutes.

According to the poll, 96% of people support a law protecting rights and freedoms in Britain, while just 9% remembering having the Act explained to them by the government.

Additionally, over 90% of people regarded the right to a fair trial, not to be tortured or degraded and to privacy in family life as being vital or important.

Liberty, staunch supporters of the Act were naturally delighted with the outcome.

Shami Chakrabati, its director, commented: “On the tenth anniversary of the Human Rights Act, this poll shows overwhelming public support for fundamental rights and freedoms. We hope the politicians are listening.”

The organisation did however urge government to make more effort to educate the public about the provisions of the law.

The Conservatives in particular have reservations about the Human Rights Act, which some say puts the rights of criminals over those of victims.

The party promised to revoke the Act and replace it with a British Bill of Rights during the election, although it is still unclear whether that pledge made it through the coalition negotiations.

The Liberal Democrats are keen advocates of the law and frontbench figures have promised to resign if it is scrapped.

Some analysts expect Nick Clegg to incorporate it into a newly-created British Bill of Rights being created in a bid to prevent future government’s clamping down on civil liberties.