More foreign criminals face deportation as Govt takes aim at European human rights laws

30 April 2022, 09:10 | Updated: 30 April 2022, 09:14

Boris Johnson wants to deport more foreign criminals
Boris Johnson wants to deport more foreign criminals. Picture: Alamy

By Will Taylor

Human rights laws will be overhauled to deport serious criminals who come from abroad in most instances under Boris Johnson's new plans.

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It means criminals will only be able to use measures afforded by Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, the right to a family life, to stop themselves being kicked out of the UK.

The Ministry of Justice says one about seven in ten cases against deportation are successful and that more than 11,000 foreign criminals have left prison but not been sent abroad, The Times reports.

And some in the Government believe the move could see the UK leaving the European Convention on Human Rights - a significant act that would attract heavy criticism.

Legislation on the deportation changes is due in the Queen's speech on May 10, which sets out the Government's planned legislative programme.

Boris Johnson is taking aim at human rights laws
Boris Johnson is taking aim at human rights laws. Picture: Alamy

The move comes as Dominic Raab, the justice secretary and deputy prime minister, seeks an overhaul of the law.

He wants to replace the Human Rights Act with a bill of rights, putting free speech at the fore.

But while he says he wants to safeguard that liberty, lawyers have voiced concerns about the change to deportation rules.

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Foreign criminals would only be able to stay in the UK if they can claim being deported would affect their right to be close to their family.

The Times reported one Government source as saying the exemption could be so narrow that a criminal could only argue that they should remain if a family member is dying.

Courts would no longer be required to take the European Court of Human Rights' judgements into account, though as things stands it will still be possible to bring cases to Strasbourg.

Mr Raab wants to overhaul human rights laws
Mr Raab wants to overhaul human rights laws. Picture: Alamy

But Stephanie Boyce, president of the Law Society of England and Wales, said weakening rights for some people – in this case criminals – "would weaken rights for everyone" and Adam Wagner, a prominent human rights barrister, said the Government should not pick a fight with Strasbourg when Russia is invading Ukraine.

Previously, Mr Raab set out his case for a British bill of rights.

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"We will still be clamping down on those who try and use either media or free speech to incite violence, to radicalise terrorists, or to threaten children. All of those safeguards will be in place," he told the Daily Mail.

"But we've got to be able to strengthen free speech, the liberty that guards all of our other freedoms, and stop it being whittled away surreptitiously, sometimes without us really being conscious of it.

"So it will have a different status in the pecking order of rights and I think that will go a long way to protecting this country's freedom of speech and our history, which has always very strongly protected freedom of speech."