Why did Britain become so right-wing
The UK's planned exit from the EU (Brexit) in March 2019 continued to dominate public life and pushed other pressing human rights issues into the background. The EU and the UK government reached provisional agreement in November on a treaty for the transition period after the UK left the EU in 2019. They also agreed on a draft political declaration on future relations, which is a commitment to human rights includes. However, at the time of going to press it was not clear whether the treaty would be approved by the UK Parliament, leaving the possibility of Britain leaving the EU in 2019 without a deal. This would bring risks to human rights, including uncertainty about the future rights of EU citizens living in the UK as well as UK citizens living in EU countries.
A law from June 2018 transposing EU law into national law if the UK leaves the EU has been criticized for neglecting the EU's Charter of Fundamental Rights and allowing a future UK government the option of deriving from EU law Weaken protection of jobs and other rights.
There have been important developments in the question of the extent to which the British government shares responsibility for torture and secret prisons by the CIA. In May, the Prime Minister unreservedly apologized to a Libyan couple for the role played by Britain in their 2004 rendition to Libya. In June, a parliamentary committee issued two reports addressing major allegations of British co-responsibility. The committee found that actions taken and tolerated by the UK between 2001 and 2010 were "inexcusable". There have been new calls from NGOs and some politicians for a full judicial investigation. At the time of going to press, no one in the UK had been charged with any crime related to these human rights violations.
The UK maintained no maximum imprisonment limit for immigrants and continued to detain asylum seekers and migrant minors. Data released in November shows that the government has relocated only 220 out of 480 planned unaccompanied children from other EU countries. The UK had only relocated 417 refugee children after pledging in 2016 to accept 3,000 such children from conflict zones in the Middle East and Africa.
The UK Supreme Court ruled that Northern Ireland's strict abortion law violates the right to personal integrity protected by the European Convention on Human Rights. However, the case itself was dismissed for technical reasons. A bill presented in the House of Commons in October called for the decriminalization of abortion across England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Public inquiries into a 2017 fire that destroyed a London block of flats, killing 71 people and leaving hundreds homeless continued. The concern here is that the victims will not be able to fully participate in the process. A criminal investigation into the fire was ongoing at the time of going to press.
A counter-terrorism bill approved by the House of Commons contained problematic measures that could violate human rights. This includes, for example, that viewing extremist material would be criminalized and travel to “designated areas” could be punished. The bill was pending before the unelected House of Lords at the time of going to press.
In September the European Court of Human Rights ruled that the lack of safeguards in the now no longer valid surveillance powers under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act of 2000 had violated the right to privacy. The decision was based on a case brought by more than a dozen non-governmental organizations, data protection organizations and journalists. However, the court did not find the mass surveillance per se illegal. Privacy activists remained critical of the new powers.
The body, established in 2017 to complete investigations into possible human rights violations by British forces in Iraq between 2003 and 2008, continued its work. The work of the body or its predecessor had not resulted in any criminal prosecution at the time of going to press.
After a visit in November, the UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty concluded that changes in the social system and the dismantling of public services are having a negative impact on the rights of people living in poverty.
Sections of the EU Chapter:Migration and Asylum | Discrimination and Intolerance | Rule of Law | Terrorism and Counterterrorism | Croatia | France | Germany | Greece | Hungary | Italy | The Netherlands | Poland | Spain | United Kingdom | Foreign Policy
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