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Justice

House of Lords written question – answered on 21st May 2008.

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Photo of Lord Laird Lord Laird Crossbench

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they have any proposals to alter the laws protecting the right to liberty and security; if so, when; and whether they will (a) abolish the detention of persons under 18; (b) abolish the detention of immigrants, either on arrival or prior to removal; (c) require communication of reasons for detention in accessible and appropriate language; (d) create a right of detained persons to be visited by medical practitioners, lawyers and family members at any time; and (e) create a presumption against remand; and

Whether they have any proposals to alter the laws on equality and discrimination in the United Kingdom; if so, when; and whether they will (a) widen the grounds of discrimination beyond those protected in European Union law; (b) adopt positive discrimination in favour of defined social groups; and (c) ensure that disabled persons enjoy human rights equally with others; and

Whether they have any proposals to alter the laws on the right to life and protection against state killing; if so, when; and whether they will (a) create an equivalent horizontal right to life, protecting persons from other persons as well as from the state; (b) retrospectively apply the Human Rights Act 1998 to deaths which occurred before 2 October 2000; (c) extend the law on inquests to allow witnesses to be compelled to give evidence; and (d) alter the law on the minimum use of force to create a different test for persons under the age of 18; and

Whether they have any proposals to alter any laws protecting the right to physical integrity; if so, when; and whether they will (a) extend hate-crime legislation to cover all forms of discrimination; and (b) give women the right to control their reproduction; and

Whether they have any proposals to alter the laws prohibiting inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment; if so, when; and whether they will (a) reform the law permitting the return of a person to a country where he may be legally executed; and (b) prohibit evidence obtained through ill treatment or torture from being admissible in criminal proceedings; and

Whether they have any proposals to alter the laws prohibiting slavery and forced labour; if so, when; and whether they will only permit work in prison which is rehabilitative; and

Whether they propose to alter the law on the right to respect for private and family life; if so, when; and whether they will (a) add freedom from domestic violence and the protection of the best interests of the child to those rights; (b) repeal statutory limitations on non-nationals marrying and entering into civil partnerships; (c) strengthen data protection legislation to make processing of data subject to the consent of the persons concerned; and (d) remove all exemptions to disclosure of personal information; and

Whether they propose to alter the law on the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; if so, when; and whether they will abolish all oaths imposed by state bodies; and

Whether they propose to alter the law on the right to freedom of expression; if so, when; and whether they will (a) extend freedom of information legislation to cover information required for the exercise or protection of human rights; (b) add consideration of the best interests of children to the limitations on that right; and (c) alter the law on restrictions on free speech through the extension of anti-hatred legislation to cover all grounds of discrimination; and

Whether they propose to alter the law on the right to freedom of association and peaceful assembly; if so, when; and whether they will (a) reverse the emphasis of the right to make association more important than peaceful assembly; (b) add the right to participate in trade-union activities (including the rights to strike and engage in collective bargaining) to the rights to form and join trade unions; (c) alter the law on restrictions on peaceful assembly and association through the extension of anti-hatred legislation to cover all grounds of discrimination; and (d) grant trade-union rights to the Armed Forces; and

Whether they propose to alter the law on the right to culture, language and identity; if so, when; and whether they will (a) incorporate in domestic law the Framework Convention on the Protection of National Minorities of the Council of Europe; (b) limit cultural, ethnic, linguistic, religious and communal minority rights so as not to conflict with the rights and freedoms of others; (c) protect against coercive cultural assimilation by public bodies; (d) create a right for indigenous and non-indigenous groups to be educated through minority languages; and (e) treat sexual orientation as a basis for national minority status; and

Whether they propose to alter any law on the right to nationality and identity; if so, when; and whether they will (a) create a right in domestic law to nationality equivalent to the right in international law not to be stateless; and (b) add to nationality law provisions barring discrimination on all grounds except nationality; and

Whether they propose to alter any law on the right to education and lifelong learning; if so, when; and whether they will (a) add lifelong learning to the existing right to education; (b) ensure private educational institutions respect democratic principles; (c) work towards the realisation of universal educational access and achievement; (d) create extensive rights for children in education; and (e) ensure education is provided in accordance with parental preferences; and

Whether they propose to alter any law on the right to an adequate standard of living; if so, when; and whether they will (a) create a right to an adequate standard of living; (b) create a right to the continuous improvement of living conditions; and (c) work towards the realisation of these two rights; and

Whether they propose to alter any law on the right to the highest attainable standard of health; if so, when; and whether they will (a) create a right to receive appropriate health and social care; (b) alter the law on reproductive healthcare; (c) work towards the realisation of the right to the highest attainable standard of health; (d) create a right to emergency medical treatment and essential primary healthcare; and (e) create a right for children to have access to information on social and health issues; and

Whether they propose to alter the law on the right to housing; if so, when; and whether they will (a) create a right to adequate housing that is affordable, accessible, habitable, safe and appropriate, with access to public services and social facilities; (b) create a right to appropriate emergency accommodation; (c) work towards the realisation of the right to adequate housing; and (d) make public authorities responsible for housing those evicted by the courts; and

Whether they propose to alter any law on the right to a sustainable environment; if so, when; and whether they will (a) create a right to a sustainable, healthy and safe environment; (b) provide public information on the environment; and (c) foster participation in decisions on planning applications; and

Whether they propose to alter any law on the right to work; if so, when; and whether they will alter the law on (a) the right to choose freely and practise a trade or profession; (b) conditions of work and terms of employment; (c) equal conditions of work for women and men; (d) equal treatment for migrant and national workers; (e) entitlement to rest, leisure, respite and reasonable limitation of working hours, as well as appropriate provision for retirement; and (f) equality of opportunity and fair treatment of pregnant women and workers with children; and

Whether they propose to alter any law on the right to social security; if so, when; and whether they will work towards the realisation of this right, including the right to social assistance, social insurance and pensions; and

Whether they propose to alter any law on the right to a fair and non-discriminatory justice system; if so, when; and whether they will (a) create additional informal justice mechanisms; and (b) ensure that all those in the administration of justice are recruited or appointed on the basis of objective and non-discriminatory criteria relating to qualifications and experience; and

Whether they propose to alter any law on the right to a fair trial; if so, when; and whether they will (a) remove civil rights from the ambit of this right; (b) ensure the right of appeal to a higher tribunal; (c) provide information on rights in appropriate and accessible language; (d) ensure the right to silence with no adverse inferences being drawn subsequently by juries or judges; (e) ensure the right to trial by jury; (f) allow defendants to compel witnesses; (g) ensure evidence incompatible with human rights is inadmissible; (h) ensure the free use of an interpreter in custody; (i) ensure no child or other vulnerable person is subjected to the ordinary criminal process; and (j) ensure there are no controls on lawyers; and

Whether they propose to alter any law on the right to humane conditions of detention; if so, when; and whether they will (a) ensure there is no deprivation or restriction of any human right except to the extent demonstrably necessitated by the fact of detention; (b) ensure information is provided on the reasons for deprivation of liberty; (c) ensure that treatment or other support that enables reformation and social rehabilitation is provided; (d) ensure that there is prompt access to appropriate legal and medical assistance and pastoral care; (f) provide adequate support for the families and children of prisoners and ex-prisoners; and (g) provide for the reintegration and resettlement of former prisoners into society under the best possible conditions; and

Whether they propose to alter any law on the rights of victims and witnesses to fair treatment; if so, when; and whether they will ensure witnesses are treated in the same manner as victims; and

Whether they propose to alter any law on the rights of children and vulnerable adults as witnesses and victims of crime; if so, when; and whether they will require children and vulnerable adults only to be cross-examined by trained individuals with appropriate expertise; and

Whether they propose to alter any law on the rights of victims of crime or of human rights violations; if so, when; and whether they will (a) require full disclosure of the truth relating to relevant crimes or human rights violations; (b) ensure necessary care and support is provided in accordance with the needs of victims; (c) require thorough investigation of missing persons; (d) ensure that status as a victim of crime is not dependent upon whether the crime is reported to the police; and (e) ensure that lawyers and voluntary sector workers are also to be treated as victims; and

Whether they propose to alter any law on the rights of children and young people in the justice system; if so, when; and whether they will (a) treat every person under 18 as a child; (b) ensure the best interests of the child are the paramount consideration; (c) raise the age of criminal responsibility to 18; and (d) ensure that children are not detained or imprisoned except as a measure of last resort and for the shortest appropriate period of time; and

Whether they propose to alter any law on the right to participate in public life; if so, when; and whether they will ensure there is (a) the opportunity without discrimination to participate freely in public life and political affairs; (b) a balance of men and women holding domestic and international public positions; (c) equal representation of men and women in the formulation of government policy; and (d) an increased role for women in decision-making with regard to conflict prevention and resolution; and

Whether they propose to alter any law on the right to freedom of movement; if so, when; and whether they will provide (a) the right to a passport for citizens; and (b) special treatment for trafficked people, domestic workers and victims of domestic violence; and

Whether they propose to alter any law on the right to choose a nomadic or settled lifestyle; if so, when; and whether they will permit persons to change from one lifestyle to another; and

Whether they propose to alter any law on the rights of the child; if so, when; and whether they will (a) extend all human rights and fundamental freedoms to children; (b) ensure the best interests of the child are the paramount consideration for all public bodies and private institutions; (c) ensure the right of children to participate; (d) ensure a child's right to a stable, safe and secure family environment; (e) provide a right to play; and (f) ensure that under-18s are not recruited into the Armed Forces; and

Whether they plan to repeal the Human Rights Act 1998 in part or all of the United Kingdom; and

Whether they plan to dispense with the United Kingdom's powers to derogate from and to make reservations under the European Convention on Human Rights; and

Whether they plan to empower the courts of the United Kingdom to apply unincorporated international human rights law; and

Whether they plan to establish human rights courts or tribunals.

Photo of Lord Hunt of Kings Heath Lord Hunt of Kings Heath Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Ministry of Justice, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice

In view of the number and breadth of the Questions posed by the noble Lord, I shall reply to him by means of a letter once I have collated the information relevant to his Questions; and I shall place a copy of that letter in the Library.

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Annotations

barbara richards
Posted on 22 May 2008 10:38 am (Report this annotation)

Thank you to Lord Laird for bringing up these points.

There are many of us, myself included, who feel that they have no access to the justice system at the moment. Victims of domestic violence are treated in an appalling fashion in this country. Women must be very very careful that they do not become rape victims, lest they end up being dragged through the family courts for seven long years by the man who raped them. This is my personal experience of British justice. A rapist really does have greater rights than his victim in Britain at the moment.

Is this really sending the right message out to people? I do not think so.