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Helena Kennedy vs Jonathan Sumption: Are our human rights laws working?

Is the Human Rights Act a vital safeguard or inherently undemocratic? Two of Britain's finest legal minds go head-to-head

The courtroom of the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. Photo: Rainer Jensen/DPA/PA Images

Yes—Helena Kennedy: “What have the Romans ever done for us?” is the old Monty Python joke. “What have human rights ever done for us?” might be asked by readers. But our Human Rights Act (HRA) has been a vital tool for justice. The Act has been of huge benefit to many ordinary people—and especially women—as the victims of crime.

The HRA, which incorporates the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), ended detention without trial, the use of…

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