English PEN, ARTICLE19 and Index on Censorship publish their response to the Government’s consultation on Human Rights Act Reform
In response to the Ministry of Justice’s consultation to reform the Human Rights Act 1998, three organisations that work to promote and defend freedom of expression in the UK – English PEN, Index on Censorship and ARTICLE19 – today publish a briefing on the free speech implications of the proposed reforms.
The response unequivocally rejects the Government’s proposal to abolish the HRA and the narrative advanced in the consultation document that positions the HRA in opposition to free speech. On the contrary, this response shows that the HRA has helped to strengthen free speech protections in a number of areas, including defamation law, source protection, and the right to protest. In most cases, threats to these protections have come from the Government itself: the proposed Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill (PCSC), for example, or the proposals to toughen further the Official Secrets Act.
As well as countering myths and misconceptions about the HRA, this joint response therefore seeks to direct attention to the more pressing issues threatening free speech in the UK. As such, the response issues several recommendations as to how free speech in the UK could be genuinely strengthened: namely, by reforming and repealing problematic laws and legislative proposals; introducing a new UK anti-SLAPP Law to provide procedural protections against abusive civil lawsuits; and by launching an enquiry into how laws that touch upon privacy can be consolidated, codified or otherwise clarified in a way that provides greater space for free expression.
The full response can be seen here