Human Rights Act overhaul to make it easier to deport asylum seekers who commit offences

Dominic Raab set to remove ‘right to family life’ defence for any ‘imprisonable’ offence

Dominic Raab attacks 'nonsense' of Human Rights Act

A controversial overhaul of the Human Rights Act will make it easier to deport asylum seekers who claim the right to a family life to stay in the UK.

Offenders are expected to lose the ability to mount the defence if they are convicted of any “imprisonable” crime or any “terror-related activity”, under the long-awaited shake-up.

Dominic Raab, the justice secretary – who has described the current protections as “nonsense” – is determined to restrict the ability of judges to make decisions on a case-by-case basis.

In a statement to the Commons, he will claim the new “Bill of Rights” will restore “common-sense” and cut the number of refugees attempting dangerous Channel crossings.

The UK will retain its “commitment to the European Convention on Human Rights”, he will argue – while Priti Patel’s push to also target asylum claimants at risk from torture in their home countries has been rejected.

But Amnesty International accused ministers of potentially “aligning themselves with authoritarian regimes around the world”, by watering down the Human Rights Act.

The Law Society accused Mr Raab of “political rhetoric” when the reality was the landmark legislation did not prevent judges delivering “British justice based on British laws”.

Labour said Mr Raab should be focusing on a criminal justice system in crisis with “huge delays in prosecuting criminals and shamefully low conviction rates for rape and sexual offences”.

Big changes have been expected since Mr Raab – who was recorded, in 2009, saying: “I don’t support the Human Rights Act” – was handed the justice brief in his cabinet demotion in September.

A few weeks later, he was attacked for misrepresenting the case of “a drug dealer convicted of beating his ex-partner” to claim the act was being abused.

But the justice secretary will double down on the claim, arguing up to 70 per cent of successful human rights challenges are brought by foreign offenders who “cite a right to family life”.

Under the plans, likely to be a centrepiece of next year’s Queen’s Speech, a “permission stage” will “intercept frivolous claims that sap the energy and resource of courts”.

Mr Raab will also claim the shake-up will “restore parliament’s role as the ultimate decision-maker” through greater freedom to “interpret rulings from the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg”.

But Sacha Deshmukh, Amnesty’s chief executive, said: “We need to put a stop to this aggressive human rights roll-back. Human rights are not sweets in a sweet shop for ministers to pick and choose from.”

I Stephanie Boyce, the Law Society’s president, said: “Every case is different, making it necessary to weigh each on its own particulars. Talk of restricting rights is dangerous and does not reflect the nuanced job the courts have to do.”

And Steve Reed, the shadow justice secretary, said: “Dominic Raab is ignoring all that so he can tinker with human rights laws as a distraction from the avalanche of corruption that has overwhelmed this out-of-touch Conservative government.”

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