Ministers accused of failing to acknowledge the benefits of Human Rights Act

The Government has “entirely ignored” the power that the Human Rights Act has given to victims of crime, Liberty said this week.

The civil liberties group was reacting to an announcement by Justice Secretary Chris Grayling, who promised to enshrine the rights of victims in law.

Among the measures announced last Saturday would be requirements for courts to keep victims up-to-date with cases and, in most instances, allow them to provide a personal impact statement.

But Rosie Brighouse, one of Liberty’s legal officers, said: “Anyone who really cares about supporting the victims of devastating crimes…needs to understand that for many victims the Human Rights Act is the law they need the most.”

The act, which was introduced in 1998, has played an important part in a number of high-profile cases.

In 2011, four victims of human trafficking and slavery successfully sued the Metropolitan Police for failing to investigate their case.

In another case, the family of Zahid Mubarek, a teenager who was murdered by his cellmate at Feltham Young Offenders’ Institution, used the Human Rights Act to secure an inquiry into the failings which led up to the 19-year-old’s death.

Liberty’s statement echoes comments made last year by the Shadow Attorney General, Emily Thornberry, who accused opponents of the Human Rights Acts of glossing over these examples and fixating on a fictional “rogue’s gallery” who exploited the laws.

“It is our human rights laws, first the Convention, then the HRA, that have cleared a path for victims and their families to the independent and impartial justice that is their right,” she said.

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