Unprecedented coalition of groups form to campaign against Tory government plans to ditch Human Rights Act
A coalition of more than 136 of the UK’s most prominent organisations have committed to oppose any attempt to repeal the Human Rights Act.
Organisations ranging from religious and professional bodies to law firms, unions, environmental charities and the families of terrorism victims will stand against moves by the UK government to create the new “British Bill of Rights” which will be included in the Queen’s Speech to the UK Parliament.
The Human Rights Act enshrines fundamental freedoms into UK law and allows the British public to challenge abuse, neglect or mistreatment. Its introduction in 2000 triggered positive changes in legislation and public policy UK-wide, ensuring all authorities treat people with fairness, dignity and respect.
Details of the bill’s content have yet to emerge – but all government plans published to date suggest the “British Bill of Rights” would diminish rights protections for everyone in the UK and some groups in particular, threatening the very concept of the universality of human rights, and allowing politicians to choose which and whose matter most.
The pledge made by the coalition reaffirms that human rights are “universal, indivisible and inalienable – not a privilege to be given and rationed by any government.”
We pledge to oppose any government plans to repeal our Human Rights Act
It reads: “We believe in fundamental human rights and freedoms – shared values that protect every member of the human family and the society we seek to build together.
“Human rights underpin our democracy, hold governments to account and require that everyone’s dignity is equally respected.
“We pledge to oppose any government plans to repeal our Human Rights Act – in so doing we stand firm on guaranteeing universal human rights protections for generations to come.”
Kate Allen, Amnesty International UK director, said that the evnets from Hillsborough shows how vital the Human Rights Act is to ordinary people when all other avenues of justice fail.
“We mustn’t let politicians tear up those hard-won protections,” she said. “Walking away from the Human Rights Act would also threaten to bring down the crucial peace agreement in Northern Ireland. The government should leave the Human Rights Act alone - it’s ours, it’s working, it’s needed.”
Bella Sankey, director of policy for Liberty, said the forming of so many diverse organisations to speak as one showed how opposed the country was to the move.
“They join all the devolved administrations, all major opposition parties, Conservative rebels, anti-apartheid activists and thousands of ordinary people in opposing divisive and discriminatory plans to replace human rights with government-sanctioned privileges,” he said.
“There is a long struggle ahead, but as the chorus of condemnation grows, how much longer can the Government refuse to listen?”
And Stephen Bowen, director of the British Institute of Human Rights (BIHR), added: “Whilst we still await the details, we are saddened the Government is ploughing ahead with plans to scrap our Human Rights Act, the Bill of Rights we already have.
“Today the British Institute of Human Rights is proud to stand alongside so many who recognise that the hallmark of a genuine bill of rights is its ability to protect everyone when the government doesn’t play by the rules, which the Human Rights Act does very well.
“We urge the Government to scrap these miserable plans.”