SCRAPPING the Human Rights Act will open a “Pandora’s Box of dire consequences”, risking violence in Northern Ireland and endangering women’s safety, the Government has been warned.
More than 50 leading human rights groups including Amnesty International and End Violence Against Women Coalition have signed a letter setting out what impact scrapping the Act would have and called for an urgent meeting with the Prime Minister to discuss the matter.
They said scrapping the Act, as a key piece of legislation underpinning the Good Friday Agreement which brokered a fragile peace in Northern Ireland, could risk violence flaring up in the region.
Women would also be threatened if the 1998 Act was binned, the organisations warned because the legislation is a key way public bodies are forced to commit to protecting the safety of women.
They said the Human Rights Act enabled the victims of serial rapist John Worboys – who flew under the radar of police – to sue the Metropolitan Police for “inhumane or degrading treatment” suffered by the women at the hands of officers.
It also allowed victims to sue the force because it had failed to properly investigate allegations against Worboys made years before he was brought to justice and had raped potentially more than 100.
Signatories also said scrapping the Act would undermine international law and see the UK mimicking the rhetoric of despotic states such as Russia and Hungary.
In light of the war in Ukraine, the UK would risk undermining its own calls for adherence to international law and human rights adherence if the move went ahead, the letter warned.
Sacha Deshmukh, Amnesty International UK’s CEO, said: “Tearing up the Human Rights Act will unleash a Pandora’s Box of dire consequences for the UK and we desperately urge the Prime Minister to reconsider.
“Not only will repealing the Human Rights Act damage the UK’s international reputation, but it will also undermine the global system of rights and protections and our ability to hold other countries to account, just at a time when we have never needed those protections more.
“The Human Rights Act is a cornerstone of the Good Friday Agreement and pulling that pilar away makes the fragile peace there even more unstable.
“It’s also deeply alarming that the Government would choose to remove any obligations on the police to effectively investigate violence against women and girls, at a time when public confidence in that area is already in crisis.
“The Human Rights Act is the most significant piece of rights legislation in the UK and it plays an absolutely vital role in ensuring stability, justice and protection at home and abroad. This is no time to replace it with a watered-down substitute.”
It comes the day before the Queen’s Speech, in which the Government sets out its legislative agenda for the next year.
The Government is expected to bring forward plans to scrap the Act on Tuesday.
The Act came into force in 2000 and made into law the rights set out in the European Convention on Human Rights.
Tory prime ministers since David Cameron have vowed to scrap the legislation but action has so far stalled.