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UK courts could ignore interim ECHR decisions under new human rights plan

LONDON — The British government is vowing to stop interim measures from the European Court of Human Rights binding U.K. courts under new draft law.

The long-promised British Bill of Rights, which is being published after ECHR intervention temporarily halted a controversial U.K. deportation flight to Rwanda, would replace the Human Rights Act passed by the last Labour government.

The U.K. Ministry of Justice (MoJ), which will detail the draft law Wednesday, says its plan will set British courts free from the obligation to follow case law from the Strasbourg court in every circumstance. It will make it clear that the U.K.’s own Supreme Court is the ultimate arbiter on human rights issues.

Under the government proposals, interim measures issued by the ECHR under so-called Rule 39, which applies to situations where “there is an imminent risk of irreparable damage,” would not be binding on British courts.

The bill follows anger in the U.K.’s ruling Conservative Party at the ECHR’s move to issue interim injunctions blocking the removal of several asylum seekers from London to Rwanda, putting a flagship migration policy on ice.

Despite pressure from some Tory MPs who wanted the U.K. to abandon the European Convention on Human Rights which underpins the court, the MoJ said the government will retain “the U.K.’s fundamental commitment to the European Convention on Human Rights.”

Participation in the ECHR is also a supporting plank of the Good Friday / Belfast Agreement, which helped secure the end to decades of sectarian conflict in Northern Ireland.

Elsewhere, the bill promises a stronger test for courts to consider before they can order journalists to disclose sources; and steps to to ease the deportation of criminals born overseas by allowing future laws to restrict the circumstances in which their right to family life can be invoked.

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