Charities aim to close up the rights law loophole

Human rights campaigners are seeking changes to care homes legislation in order to close a loophole in the Human Rights Act that means people living in charitable or privately run homes are not protected.

Third Sector has learnt that lawyers at the civil rights group Liberty are examining how laws governing standards in care homes for older and disabled people can be altered to ensure that the human rights of residents are not violated.

The campaign suffered a major setback last month when the law lords decided that human rights law does not apply to homes not run by the state. They were considering a case against Birmingham City Council involving an 83-year-old Alzheimer's sufferer who was forced to leave her private care home because of her family's alleged unruly behaviour. She was placed in the home by the council.

The law lords ruled that the act applied only to bodies that perform "functions of a public nature".

Liberty insists research is still in the early stages, but any action would mark a significant step forward in a long campaign to close the loophole by it and other charities, including the British Institute of Human Rights, Age Concern, the United Kingdom's Disabled People's Council and human rights campaign group Justice.

A spokeswoman for Liberty said: "We were really disappointed by the law lords' decision in this case. We have always held that it would be far better to close the loophole through existing case law rather than by amending the Human Rights Act, for example.

"What we are looking at now is the possibility of amending care homes legislation."

Several attempts last year to close the loophole using what is now known as the Equality Act also failed.

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