UK Parliament Joint Committee on Human Rights - legislative scrutiny: Bill of Rights Bill - evidence submitted by the Scottish Government

Our formal response to the call for evidence on the UK Government's "Bill of Rights Bill" from the UK Parliament's Joint Committee on Human Rights

Interim measures and the UK's international obligations

3. Clause 24 would affect how UK courts and public authorities take account of interim measures of the ECtHR, prohibiting them from doing so in many circumstances. Is this compatible with the UK's obligations under the ECHR and international law?

Scottish Government Response

Interim measures are binding in international law on the state concerned[6].

Clause 24 explicitly directs the UK courts (without any scope for judicial judgement or discretion) to have no regard to any interim measure. Such decisions properly reside with the judiciary and must be exercised independently and in light of all the relevant facts[7].

Clause 24 is therefore difficult to reconcile with the UK's obligations as a State Party to the ECHR. It is also potentially incompatible with respect for the rule of law and with the principle that state institutions should comply with decisions reached by properly-constituted courts of law, and is profoundly disrespectful of the functions and professional expertise of both the domestic courts and the ECtHR.

Interim measures are of course also issued in relation to prospective breaches of the Convention rights by other states. These include the measures issued by the ECtHR in June in respect of two UK citizens currently held by Russian forces in the Donetsk region of Ukraine[8]. In that context it is singularly ill-judged and irresponsible for the UK Government to bring forward legislative proposals which seek to ensure that such interim measures are disregarded. The UK Government should make an immediate statement confirming that clause 24 will be removed from the Bill at the earliest opportunity.



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