UK

How Human Rights Law Helps All Sorts Of People Get Justice

20/05/2015 16:50 BST | Updated 27/05/2015 09:59 BST

This article was first published on May 20, 2015. It was republished on May 27, after it was revealed the Tories had postponed plans to abolish the Human Rights Act

As they press ahead with plans to abolish Britain's Human Rights Act, the Conservatives have sought to depict its main beneficiaries as villains.

In its much-derided document outlining its plans to abolish the HRA, the party hinted that the current arrangement could see prisoners granted the right to vote over the government's objections and said the HRA empowered "foreign nationals who have committed very serious crimes... to justify remaining in the UK."

Home Secretary Theresa May told her party's 2011 conference: "We all know the stories about the Human Rights Act. The violent drug dealer who cannot be sent home because his daughter – for whom he pays no maintenance – lives here.

"The robber who cannot be removed because he has a girlfriend. The illegal immigrant who cannot be deported because... he has a pet cat."

The HRA itself does not give us its rights, including to the one to "family life" May was so frustrated by.

They come from the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), written and ratified in the 1950s, whose guarantees to certain rights the HRA introduced to British courts.

After the prolonged fight to deport Abu Qatada, May said withdrawing from the ECHR altogether should be an option.

In their document published last year, the Tories said they would have "no alternative" but to withdraw from the ECHR if the Council of Europe refused to recognise any new Bill of Rights as legitimate.

But anyone who thinks abolishing the HRA and withdrawing from the ECHR would only mean prisoners could not vote and foreign-born criminals would be easier to deport is wrong.

Here are some of the groups of people who won fights for justice thanks to the ECHR, either by going to court in Strasbourg or, thanks to the HRA, in Britain.

These Are The People Human Rights Law Really Helps

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These Are The People Human Rights Law Really Helps