The revision of Dominic Raab’s human rights law could lift restrictions on police and armed forces


Police work and military operations could be less restricted if the legal obligation of judges to “take into account” European human rights decisions is to be removed.

A revision of human rights law being prepared by Justice Minister Dominic Raab includes ending the obligation for UK courts to adhere to European Court of Human Rights precedents. The plan, due to be presented in a consultation document this week, would go beyond previous proposals by amending Section 2 of the Human Rights Act.

This is likely to prove controversial. Last week, Joanna Cherry, QC and MP for the Scottish National Party, told Mr Raab that such a move would “take the entrails” of the law that allows courts to enforce the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).

The proposals came after the armed forces warned that troops would be “at risk” for fear of legal action under European human rights law, and the Metropolitan Police said the verdicts mean officials wasted time investigating cases who will “never reach the threshold for prosecution” if victims later report them.

Suggestions in the consultation document

That year, Lord Pannick, a QC on human rights for the Independent Human Rights Act Review, said ministers should amend human rights law to make it legally clear that while judges still “consider” ECHR rulings, they are “not” bound by resolutions from Strasbourg.

The Justice Department’s consultation document is expected to suggest options this week, including an explicit statement that UK courts are not required to abide by Strasbourg case law.

Mr Raab’s amendments would make it clear that British precedents should trump that set by Strasbourg.

Senior Defense Ministry officials told the Independent Human Rights Review that, amid concerns that the ECHR had prevented them from moving prisoners from overburdened military prisons to “local facilities” such as those of the Afghan government prior to the Taliban takeover.

The restructuring will also seek to make it more difficult for foreign offenders to thwart deportation proceedings by using Article 8 of the ECHR, which protects the right to family life.


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