Campaigners who battled to get a controversial clause removed from a proposed human rights act amendment have questioned why Government axed the whole section.

Lynne Winfield, of anti-racism charity CURB, said she welcomed the decision to rethink a subsection of the amendment, which was feared would legalise police harassment.

But she said: “The fact that the entire section has been removed, I don’t know why they did that.

“There were some good things in the section – it was only one subsection that was the problem. It basically introduced the possibility of discrimination, although the whole concept of the Human Rights Act is to stop that.

“That subsection let law enforcement off the hook if there was any harassment. I’m not sure why it went in at all.”

Exempted

CURB and the Centre for Justice both complained to Attorney General and Minister of Justice Mark Pettingill about the sub-section.

The subsection exempted “a persistent code of conduct if the person who pursued it shows that it was pursued for the purpose of preventing or detecting a crime, it was pursued under any enactment or in the particular circumstances the pursuit of the persistent course of conduct was reasonable.”

Removed

But Mr Pettingill, when he removed the offending clause, also took out two others, dealing with harassment based on age and other grounds and a definition of what could reasonably be regarded as harassment.

Ms Winfield said: “Hopefully, some of these clauses will make their way back into the Act at some point because they are actually quite good.

“We need to have these sections in there, but it appears they thought it was better just to review it properly.”

A spokesman for the Attorney General  yesterday, however, signalled that the other removed parts of the section could make their way back into the bill before it is debated in the House of Assembly. 

Mr Pettingill said: “At this time we are removing Section 6 and will consider a further amendment in due course.”