Tory conference: Dominic Raab criticised after vowing to end 'nonsense' of Human Rights Act

Dominic Raab has said making communities safer and allowing women to feel safe walking home at night is his “number one priority” as he vowed to end the “nonsense” of the Human Rights Act.

The UK justice secretary told the Conservative Party conference in Manchester on Tuesday that he wants to expand the use of electronic tagging monitoring alcohol and drug consumption, overhaul the Human Rights Act before the next election, and turn guidance in the victims code into law.

But Amnesty International UK quickly condemned Mr Raab’s call to overhaul the Act, with the organisation’s chief executive Sacha Deshmukh, says: "The Human Rights Act has been key to some of the biggest justice fights over the last 30 years – from Hillsborough and the mid-Staffs hospital deaths, to years of human rights violations against women activists in the Spycops scandal.

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Justice secretary Dominic Raab delivers his keynote speech during the Conservative Party Conference at Manchester Central Convention Complex. Picture: Ian Forsyth/Getty Images

"The deeply unacceptable delay to setting up a public inquiry into the government's handling of the Covid pandemic is just one example of why the Human Rights Act is so important.

"The Human Rights Act is a key protection against an overmighty government – and we need it now more than ever.

"Politicians should not be removing the rights of ordinary people with the stroke of a pen, whilst giving evermore powers to the police and protecting members of the establishment from proper scrutiny. That's the complete opposite of justice."

Speaking about overhauling the Human Rights Act, Mr Raab said it was a change the public want to see, and that “for too long, too often, they witness dangerous criminals abusing our human rights laws”.

Giving an example of a drug dealer convicted of beating his ex-partner who claimed the right to family life to avoid deportation, Mr Raab said: “We’ve got to bring an end to that nonsense.”

And he said: “Under this Prime Minister and before the next election, we will overhaul the Human Rights Act to end this kind of abuse of the system, and to restore some commons sense to our justice system.”

On the link between work and reduced rates of reoffending, Mr Raab said employers looking to fill skills shortages should “come and talk to us at the Ministry of Justice”.

He said the government would “transform” the way the justice system treats violence against women, and claimed he was “shocked and horrified by the harrowing murders of Sarah Everard and Sabina Nessa”.

And Mr Raab said: “Making our communities safer, so that women can walk home at night without having to look over their shoulder, as your justice secretary, that is my number one priority. We will transform the way the justice system treats violence against women.”

The transformation will include from the time it takes to examine phone evidence to the “potential ordeal” vulnerable victims can face at trial, he said.

Mr Raab also spoke about the link between having a job and something to lose with a reduced rate of reoffending.

He said: “To any employer out there with a skills shortage, come and talk to us at the Ministry of Justice.”

Mr Raab said “we need more employers willing” to take on ex-offenders.

The GPS tagging project started in April and was expanded to half of England and Wales last week.

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