Your editorial on the Tories’ new bill of rights (22 June) makes many important points. It is, however, like almost all of the discussion of this threat to human rights, depressingly narrow and inward-looking. The great danger here is the licence that putting national prejudices above international overviews will give to regimes more directly repressive that our own.
International human rights law is designed to put constraints on the most authoritarian governments. It does this in part by more liberal countries accepting restrictions on their actions and setting a platform of minimum acceptable standards. The British drafters of the European convention on human rights understood this.
The enthusiasm of Dominic Raab and Boris Johnson for claiming that Britain can pick and choose which rulings to abide by is nectar for governments such as those of Hungary and Poland, and aspirant far-right parties in countries such as Italy and France, anxious to wage war on minorities they despise.
The full effects of the Conservatives’ plans will not only be felt by the vulnerable here. It will also be felt by Roma people in Hungary, by gay people in Poland and by women seeking abortions in many countries.
Johnson always vaingloriously wishes to be setting an example to the world; it will be our shame if we allow him to set light to bonfires of rights across Europe and beyond.
Prof Philippe Sands states that Dominic Raab’s nationalistic and xenophobic conception of the idea of human rights eviscerates “one of its most fundamental tenets: basic human rights exist for all, and must be enforceable at the instance of all” (No 10 to set out sweeping plans to override power of human rights court, 21 June).
Indeed so, but what Raab is clearly intent on imposing on this country is not a British bill of rights but a bill of British rights. Not content with stripping certain categories of people of their citizenship, this government is now determined to rob those people of their rights too.
In the name of such legal, moral and philosophical vandalism, the UK’s exit from the European convention on human rights (a Tory goal ever since the UK joined it) is almost certainly guaranteed and, among many other devastating consequences, the Good Friday agreement will be put in the gravest jeopardy.
Authoritarian leaders the world over, not least Vladimir Putin, will be cheering Raab to the rafters.
Prof Julian Petley
Brunel University London
Women and girls in this country and overseas will doubtless bear the brunt of this shocking new bill. But we women are perplexed that Labour’s Keir Starmer has failed to castigate the government for its refusal to comply with or domesticate the articles of the UN convention on the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women (Cedaw), which we ratified in 1986.
The government’s indifference to this groundbreaking milestone in the struggle for gender equality and women’s empowerment was demonstrated when it failed even to nominate a candidate from the UK for the Cedaw committee elections held last week.
I beg the Labour leader to robustly defend our rights and keep faith with our obligations enshrined in international law. He will lose the women’s vote if he remains silent.