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Last Updated: Tuesday, 25 July 2006, 07:52 GMT 08:52 UK
Common sense vow on human rights
Lord Falconer
There is public concern over human rights legislation
A raft of measures to restore public confidence in human rights laws is being unveiled by the government.

Lord Falconer said the Human Rights Act should not be scrapped, but measures were needed to ensure it was used in a commonsense way to protect the public.

Public bodies should not be "unduly cautious" over human rights, he said.

Anger was sparked after it emerged convicted rapist Anthony Rice, who killed Naomi Bryant, was freed because of concerns over his human rights.

Rights 'distractions'

The European Convention on Human Rights was incorporated into British law in 2000 through the Human Rights Act.

The Conservatives and other critics say this has caused huge legal problems, with the rights of criminals put ahead of the rights of the law-abiding majority.

Lord Falconer said a government review of the Human Rights Act had concluded the laws had not affected fighting crime and had brought benefits to policy making.

But there were cases - the best example being killer Anthony Rice - where the "officials involved may have been distracted by human rights arguments in releasing him into the community when he was not safe to go there", he said.

"We need to focus on issues like that, not by repealing the Human Rights Act or indeed the convention or leaving the convention but by making sure it's properly implemented."

There would be better training and guidance about the Human Rights Act and a group of ministers would make sure it was used properly, said Lord Falconer.

Some laws, including those involving police and parole officers, would also be reviewed to make sure they made protecting the public a priority, he said.

Hijackers case

Earlier this year, Tony Blair appeared to signal the Human Rights Laws could be changed after a court said nine Afghans who hijacked a plane to Britain could not be deported.

The prime minister called the judgement an "abuse of common sense".

Lord Falconer said the latest changes would not affect the hijackers' case.

But the UK was joining other nations in challenging a ruling made in the European Court of Human Rights in 1996 - on which the hijackers' ruling was based.

They are trying to overturn the case of Sikh militant Karamjit Singh Chahal, where Strasbourg judges said the risk that a suspected terrorist might be tortured abroad if deported could not be balanced against the risk to a country if he were allowed to stay.

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