Developments in 2022 amounted to “most significant assault on human rights protections in the UK in decades”, says NGO
International NGO Human Rights Watch (“HRW”) has warned that the laws introduced by the UK Government in 2022 “raised grave human rights concerns” and that the UK Government “repeatedly sought to damage and undermine human rights protections in 2022”.
In its World 2023 report, HRW pointed to several laws and policies adopted by UK Government that violate human rights and significantly weaken human rights protections in the UK. These include:
- The Nationality and Borders Act, which strips the rights of asylum seekers and increases powers to strip people of citizenship, and the UK’s subsequent policy of transferring asylum seekers to Rwanda;
- The Elections Act, which encourages voter disenfranchisement by requiring voter identification;
- Leaked proposals limiting judicial oversight of government actions, by limiting the right to judicially review social security and immigration decisions;
- New restrictions on the right to peaceful protest through the Public Order Bill;
- Proposing to repeal and replace with the Human Rights Act, with a “Bill of Rights” (we have written on this separately here)
Tirana Hassan, acting executive director of HRW stated that the protest law in particular was “something we are deeply concerned about”, and forms part of a worrying trend in the UK of legislation being used to challenge fundamental human rights. She pointed out that, “When you talk about civic space and about people’s right to participate in a democratic society, the right to peaceful assembly and the right to protest are key pillars of that. We’ve seen an outright assault from this government on that.”
In addition to these legal developments, HRW also referred to the cost of living crisis in the UK, which has disproportionately impacted those on the lowest incomes. HRW have stated that the Government’s refusal to reverse a social security cut made in 2021, and the announcement in November 2022 that social security support would not increase to meet inflation until April 2023, amount to a breach of the rights to social security and to an adequate standard of living.
The full report on the United Kingdom can be found here.