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UK reputation for championing human rights ‘under threat’, watchdog warns

The UN posted an assessment of the UK’s record on human rights and issued 227 recommendations earlier this year.

The UK’s status as a champion of human rights is under serious threat, a leading watchdog will warn.

David Isaac, chairman of the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), is expected to sharply criticise the Government over its response to United Nations recommendations.

He will also hit out at the “negative tone” used by some politicians and flag up the “potential risk” to protections when Britain leaves the EU.

Earlier this year the UN posted an assessment of the UK’s record on human rights and issued 227 recommendations.

Of those, the Government has chosen to fully support 96, or 42% of the total, which is significantly lower than the 73% global average, according to the EHRC.

When a recommendation is supported this means it has either been fully implemented or there is an intention to do so.

Measures that are not in this bracket are recorded as having been “noted” by the responding country. There is no option to reject a recommendation.

Recommendations relating to time limits on immigration detention and the proposed British Bill of Rights are among those in the noted category for the UK.

In a statement to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, Mr Isaac will express disappointment at “the lack of leadership on human rights across the UK Government”.

He will say: “Historically the UK has been a champion of human rights.

“But that reputation is now under threat, due to the negative tone of debate from some politicians and many parts of the media around the Human Rights Act, and the potential risk to people’s equality and human rights protections when the UK leaves the European Union.

“The international human rights system provides greater protection for those rights, but the UK Government’s continued refusal to fully incorporate the UN treaties it has signed shows scant regard for its international commitments.”

The Government has ruled out repealing or replacing the Human Rights Act while the process of Brexit is under way, saying it will consider the human rights legal framework when the process of leaving the EU concludes.

A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: “The UK has a long-standing tradition of ensuring our rights and liberties are protected domestically and of fulfilling our international human rights obligations.

“The decision to leave the European Union does not change this.”

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