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Reviving the Bill of Rights is dangerous, ill-advised, and damaging for this country

Image of the Bill of Rights cross out and handwritten 'A complete mess'
The Bill of Rights is a disastrous folly; rushed, incoherent and at every turn directed towards shielding the government from accountability.

Joint blog by Amnesty International UK and Liberty



During his first stint as Justice Secretary, under Boris Johnson, Dominic Raab launched his Bill of Rights Bill to replace the Human Rights Act, which has been protecting people’s rights since 2000.

The bill was a disastrous folly; rushed, incoherent and at every turn directed towards shielding the government from accountability and making it harder for the individual to protect their human rights against state encroachment. When Boris Johnson’s government fell and Dominc Raab left office, the Bill was rightly dropped. Government sources leaked to the press that the bill was “a complete mess.”

But now, Rishi Sunak has reportedly allowed Dominic Raab to rush forward with plans to bring the Bill back - without engaging with or addressing any of the criticisms levied against it. 

Repealing the Human Rights Act breaks from a 2019 manifesto commitment. The day before Rishi Sunak came to power, then-Justice Minister Gareth Johnson confirmed that the manifesto did not say that the Conservative party wished to repeal and scrap the Human Rights Act, yet the Bill of Rights Bill does exactly that. 

To be clear, almost nobody wants this bill.

  • Former Lord Chancellor Robert Buckland has argued that the Bill is  “worse than useless”
  • Chair of the Justice Select Committee Bob Neill  has said that it ‘needlessly undermines some of the practical workings of the convention rights for UK citizens’
  • Former Northern Ireland secretary Julian Smith has called the Bill “wrong headed and regressive” and celebrated its being dropped as ‘good news for Northern Ireland and the Good Friday Agreement
  • Just last week, a Conservative Home editorial argued that ‘The Bill of Rights Bill is still a bad idea, and Sunak and Raab should abandon it’.
  • Even the Judicial Power Project at conservative-leaning think tank Policy Exchange, no friends of the Human Rights Act, said that, ‘the new Government is right to withdraw the Bill of Rights Bill’.

It seems that the only person who wants this Bill of Rights is Dominic Raab.


Bringing the bill back now, after it has been dropped and roundly condemned on all sides of the debate, is embarrassing and illegitimate, and the Government does not have the democratic mandate to make it happen


Rishi Sunak must drop this Bill of Rights once and for all.

About Amnesty UK Blogs
Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
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