Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Ministers accused of fuelling myths on human rights

MPs and peers say law is blamed to hide failings
Government refuses to admit errors, says report


Alan Travis, home affairs editor
Tuesday November 14, 2006
The Guardian

Senior ministers from Tony Blair downwards are guilty of making unfounded accusations about the law on human rights and using it as a scapegoat for their own administrative failings, according to a cross-party group of senior MPs and peers today. The joint human rights committee says that "very senior ministers" have fuelled widespread public misunderstandings and myths about the Human Rights Act, which will persist as long as they fail to retract their "unfortunate comments" and continue to use it to cover up administrative failings in their departments.

It found that in each case the government itself was responsible for creating the misleading impression that it was the Human Rights Act or its misinterpretation by officials that caused the problems. "In each case, senior ministers, from the prime minister down, made assertions that the Human Rights Act, or judges or officials interpreting it, were responsible for certain unpopular events when in each case those assertions were unfounded," says the report.

"Moreover, when those assertions were demonstrated to be unfounded, there was no acknowledgement of the error, or withdrawal of the comment, or any other attempt to inform the public of the mistake."

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