Joint Committee On Human Rights Seventh Report

Government Bills not previously reported on

Sexual Offences Bill

40. Following our initial consideration of this Bill, we have written to the responsible Minister raising a number of issues which cause us concern on human rights grounds—

  • whether it is proportionate to impose criminal liability on people with a mental disorder or learning disability such that they are both unable to refuse to be touched or to communicate their refusal to others, if they engage in sexual touching with each other (clauses 33 and 80);

  • whether the fixed period for which notification requirements would apply to children who are sex offenders would take account of the child's age and be proportionate to his or her circumstances sufficiently to comply with the requirements of Article 40 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (clause 84(2));

  • whether the safeguards against the unjustified making of risk of sexual harm orders (RSHOs) and interim RSHOs are adequate, in view of the catastrophic effect such an order would have on a person's life and reputation (clauses 110 and 113).

41. All three matters engage the right to respect for private life under ECHR Article 8.1, and the last of them also engages the right to a fair hearing in the determination of a criminal charge or civil rights and obligations under ECHR Article 6. We publish the Chair's letter to the Home Office regarding these points as an appendix to this Report,[31] and we will report further in due course in the light of the Government's reply.

42. Subject to those points, we consider that the Bill raises no human rights issues requiring to be drawn to the attention of either House at this time.

Other Government Bills

43. In our view, the following Government Bills have no human rights implications which require to be drawn to the attention of either House at this time—

Consolidated Fund (No. 2) Bill

 Northern Ireland Assembly Elections Bill

Water Bill

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