A report published by the Joint Committee on Human Rights has determined that various reforms and changes in the area of legal aid services are interfering in the enforcement and protection of human rights in the UK.
In 2012, the UK government enacted the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act which has seen the introduction of cutbacks to legal aid services. The Joint Committee has expressed its concerns that this legislation has resulted in legal help becoming ‘‘simply unaffordable’’ for many people. Many areas of law no longer fall under the remit of legal aid, and stricter measures have been implemented when testing for eligibility.
The Joint Committee proposes that this is impeding on people’s fundamental right to access to justice as a rule of law, and that certain regions in the UK have become ‘‘legal aid deserts’’ where affordable legal aid and advice are completely unavailable in many aspects of law, which is a breach of the human rights of the people living in these areas.
The report calls on the UK government, among others, to support and encourage the protection of human rights, and to ‘‘appropriately prioritise due respect for rights, so that administrative decisions are taken with proper consideration of people’s rights.’’ The Committee expects this report will be considered during the UK government’s ongoing review of legal aid.
Click here to read the full report published by the Joint Committee on Human Rights.