According to the Equality & Human Rights Commission, the use of flammable cladding on Grenfell Tower and other high-rise residential blocks constitutes a breach of the residents’ human rights, exposing public authorities to prosecution under the Human Rights Act 1998.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has written to the Department for Housing, Communities and Local Government (DHCLG), detailing its concerns about the continued use of combustible cladding in existing buildings and advising of its responsibilities under human rights laws. In a briefing paper on the subject, the EHRC said the following –

“A key issue in the Grenfell inquiry will be whether the building regulations banned the use of polyethylene-based cladding in high-rise residential blocks, due to the risk of fire associated with it. If the building regulations did ban its use, questions will be asked about the adequacy of the systems for monitoring and supervising compliance with those regulations, including in council buildings, to ensure that cladding was installed safely. Both scenarios raise questions about whether the UK has met its duty to protect life. Additional issues arise concerning fire safety regulations, including the installation of fire sprinklers in high-rise buildings.”

“The right to life is one of the fundamental guarantees in international human rights law. In many respects it is a prerequisite to, and closely linked with, the enjoyment of all other rights. The right to life is protected under international and European human rights treaties, including Article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). The UK government has signed up to these treaties and has to abide by them at all times.”

“Article 2 of the ECHR is particularly important in the UK as it has been incorporated into domestic law by the Human Rights Act 1998. This means that all UK governments and public bodies – central, local and devolved – including all public officials, have to take appropriate measures to safeguard life by making laws to protect people and, in some circumstances, by taking active steps to protect people if their lives are at risk. If they don’t do this, they can be taken to court.”