Government arms human rights body

The Commission for Equality and Human Rights will have tough
enforcement powers under government proposals announced last

Under the plans, the commission will be free to choose which
equality cases to support because it will not be limited by any
statutory criteria.

The commission will also have an explicit role in helping to cut
crime that affects particular groups, such as hate crime. It will
also be able to demand evidence for inquiries without requiring the
authority of the trade and industry secretary.

A bill to set up the commission was included in the Queen’s Speech
this week. The bill will also outlaw religious discrimination. In
addition, the government has pledged to place a duty on public
bodies to promote equality of opportunity for men and women.

The Commission for Racial Equality welcomed the plans for new
legislation. A spokesperson said that it was a disgrace that even
today a sign could be put outside a restaurant saying “no Muslims

The commission will be up and running in 2007. The existing
commissions will merge with it by 2009.

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