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Legal experts have warned the Government’s “threat” to exit the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) would strip Britons of “valuable protections”. This, it is claimed, will end up bringing the country’s human rights standards down to the level of Russia and Belarus. Calls by human rights lawyers and professors come after Justice Secretary Dominic Raab suggested the Government could be forced to leave the international convention if it gets in the way of passing legislation to stop “small boats”.
Despite legal concerns around the controversial Illegal Immigration Bill, which would allow the detention and deportation of all asylum seekers arriving in small boats, Home Secretary Suella Braverman has pledged to push the bill through Parliament – even if it means leaving the ECHR.
Barrister Jonathan Metzer said exiting the ECHR would “substantially” reduce several freedoms, including free speech, freedom of worship, the right to privacy and family life, and other protections to ensure state accountability.
“To leave the ECHR would put the UK in a class of European countries with only Russia and Belarus,” he told Express.co.uk.
Russia and Belarus were both excluded and suspended from the ECHR for their “active participation in the aggression” of Ukraine.
“The only member to have withdrawn from the ECHR permanently is Russia, following its invasion of Ukraine,” said human rights lawyer Shoaib M Khan, adding: “It would be foolish and disgraceful for the UK to join that club.”
The “greatest loss” would be to the British people, he added, as Britons would lose “valuable protections”.
He explained: “The ECHR protects rights such as the right not to be tortured, freedom from slavery, right to a fair trial and freedom of religion.”
The judgements made by the court have protected Britons’ rights since the UK drafted it and became one of the first countries to ratify it in 1951.
“ECHR judgments have led to the abolition of corporal punishment on schoolchildren, the end of the ban on employees wearing religious symbols, in the case of an airline worker who was suspended from work for wearing a cross, and vulnerable victims of domestic violence being exempt from the ‘bedroom tax’,” Mr Khan said.
“These changes would not have been possible at the time without the ECHR. For the government to withdraw from such a convention just because while we remain in it, these rights have to be guaranteed for ‘illegal’ immigrants as well, would be dangerous, cruel and counterproductive,” the human rights lawyer told Express.co.uk.
Aria Danaparamita, Liberty campaigns assistant, agreed, saying exiting the ECHR would “strip rights away from everyone in the UK including the elderly, children, and disabled people who need care.”
“Without the ECHR, governments now and in the future could commit human rights abuses against anyone and we would have no way to get justice,” she told Express.co.uk.
Human rights lawyers, professors and campaigners all insisted the ECHR was set up in response to the horrors of the Second World War to prevent them from happening again.
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In a letter to MPs, Home Secretary Suella Braverman suggested there is more than a 50 percent chance the Illegal Immigration Bill is incompatible with human rights.
“We are testing the limits but remain confident that this bill is compatible with international law,” she added.
The bill cleared its first Common hurdle on Monday with a majority of 62 on Monday.
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