Juan Méndez, the UN special rapporteur on torture, has warned that Prime Minister David Cameron’s plans to scrap Human Rights Act risk undermining international obligations intended to shelter people fleeing persecution. He accused Mr Cameron of taking a “cold hearted” approach to Europe’s current migration crisis.
“Dangerous and Pernicious” are the two words Mr Juan Méndez used to describe the British government’s intention to replace the Human Rights Act with a British bill of rights. The UN special rapporteur on torture said that the proposals of British government indicated a lessening of safety for individuals that would leave people at risk of degrading, inhuman and cruel treatment and being rejected asylum and deported to their home countries despite facing ill-treatment.
Méndez strongly stated that the replacement of Human Rights Act will set a real bad example in front of the rest of the world as such an approach could breach British government’s obligations under existing international law. This can potentially allow many other states to weaken protection levels of vulnerable people, causing level of human rights go down in many countries.
Méndez mentioned that the fact is that when a country mistreats you, there is going to be nothing to stop them from torturing you. So, the replacement of Human Rights Act can be a dangerous development which can violate the purpose and object of the norm.
He added saying that it is not about the government’s flexibility to decide who stays; we need to protect vulnerable people from ill-treatment and torture.
With the British government set to reveal its complete plan for bill of rights very soon, many British Ministers say the move will provide the British supreme court superiority over the European Court of Human Rights. On last Friday, Sir Simon McDonald, the most senior Foreign Office official, said human rights were no more a top UK priority. Simon McDonald’s statement surely draws attention of human rights organizations around the world.
Méndez questioned the timing of passing the bill of rights. He said in the middle of a big migration crisis across Europe, passing the bill of rights replacing Human Rights Act will be completely repulsive to international observers. He described that in this migration crisis, so many people are looking for protection and safety as they are helpless and the passing of the bill surely will be a cold hearted and ungenerous way of dealing with a crisis.
But the British government seems to be in real hard-line dealing with the current migration crisis. With Britain’s workforce to grow significantly between now and 2060, British government seems to be very strict to deport unauthorized individuals living in UK with little or no focus on human rights.