Focus: Policy and Politics - Question Time - Katie Ghose, director, British Institute for Human Rights

What do you think of politicians' proposals to amend or scrap the Human Rights Act?

They have distracted us from people's real concerns about their safety.

Politicians have wrongly been talking about public safety versus human rights. This is misleading. Our right to be protected from others' wrongdoings is part and parcel of the Human Rights Act.

Why is the Act coming under fire?

Some high-profile cases - for example, the Afghani refugees who hijacked a plane and were subsequently protected from return to Afghanistan - have been attacked for giving too much consideration to human rights. Some people have latched onto these as evidence that criminals have more rights than the rest of us.

What is your response to this?

Far from being a 'criminals' charter', the Act has strengthened victims' rights. For example, housing officers have used it to secure accommodation for women fleeing domestic violence.

What would be the consequences if the Act were scrapped?

It would be an extraordinary U-turn from the Government, which promised that the Act would help rebalance power between the citizen and the state and help drive up standards of public service. It would also remove a practical tool from voluntary organisations that use it to empower individuals to negotiate better standards of service.

Do you have any plans to lobby the Government or launch a public affairs campaign?

We're confident that scrapping the Act is off the agenda, but we will be lobbying against any attempts to amend or weaken it. If you weaken the absolute bar on torture you inevitably weaken the protection from inhuman or degrading treatment.

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