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We care about human rights more than we think

Human rights are the basic rights and freedoms that we all exercise every day. And, like air, we often take them for granted.

Our human rights are based on the values we hold dear – things like dignity, fairness, equality, tolerance and respect.

Privacy in our own home, expressing an opinion, being paid for the work we do, having an education, a decent place to live, protection from abuse – these things and many others are all our human rights.

These rights are the hidden foundations that help us live together freely and fairly. A safety net to protect us all. And they are essential tools that empower us to stand up to people in power, and to create a stronger, fairer, more compassionate UK.

Our campaign highlights two rights – the right to freedom from slavery and forced labour and right to respect for private and family life – relevant to us all in the UK today. We rely on these rights every day, often without realising it, and we care about them more than we think.

Freedom from slavery and forced labour

CreditHelper – one of the products in our campaign – may be fake, but its features are all based on employment practices happening somewhere in the UK right now. These practices undermine our human right to fair and just conditions of work.  

Both British and migrant workers experience many types of labour exploitation in the UK, ranging from being paid below the minimum wage to more extreme modern slavery practices of human trafficking, being forced to work in inhumane conditions, or being trapped working off an impossible debt, which CreditHelper brings to life.

Modern slavery is much more common than people think, and it’s on the rise: 6,993 potential victims of trafficking and modern slavery were reported to the authorities in 2018 – an 80% rise in two years. And British citizens represented the largest group. But this is only the tip of the iceberg – there are an estimated 136,000 people living in modern slavery in the UK.

‘Wage theft’ is a deliberate and common exploitative practice by employers. In 2016, UK employers unlawfully withheld £3.1 billion pay owed to their employees – over half of which was unpaid holiday pay.

Wage theft also includes things like hospitality workers having the cost of training, uniforms or accommodation unlawfully deducted from their pay, care workers not being paid for travel time between appointments, and many people just not being paid for the work they’ve done.

And wage theft doesn’t just mean workers and their families losing out – a decrease in tax contributions impacts on public services, and their local economy suffers, too.

Our human rights underpin our working lives. They mean we can expect better and challenge abusive employers. And that the government has to take action to stop slavery and exploitation, so that we can all live fairly and freely.

Find out more about this right.

Read how human rights helped a cancer survivor make a stand against discrimination.

See all the features of our ‘CreditHelper’ fake product.

Respect for private and family life

ALAN (Advanced Listening and Notifications) is also a fake product but it combines and builds on the digital assistants and home security systems that many of us now have in our homes.

ALAN feels scary but the technology is either already possible or could be soon. Thankfully, our human right to respect for private and family life prevents it being used in the wrong way in our homes.

Like all our human rights, this is essentially about freedom. The freedom we have to choose who we live with, who we love, what we talk (and argue!) about, how we parent. It’s about freedom from interference – and, worse, surveillance – in our private lives.

There are already many everyday examples of people using this precious right when their freedom is threatened. Challenging arbitrary evictions, and private landlords entering tenants’ homes without prior agreement; CCTV pointing into a neighbour’s house; and even a council spying on a family to see if they lived in the right school catchment area. 

Many of us love the convenience technology gives us, but new developments can blur the line between security and intrusion. When this happens we can use our human rights to help draw the line between right and wrong, so we can enjoy our home life in peace and keep private information about us exactly that: private.   

Find out more about this right.

Read the story of how this right was used to keep an elderly couple together.

Get help and advice on all our human rights.

A brief story of our campaign

Human rights often get a bad press in the UK. We wanted to tell a different story about human rights. A positive story that shows how our human rights are based on the values we hold dear, and are the essential tools we all rely on every single day to do the things we want to do and live well together. 

Because, deep down, we all believe in human rights, we knew that Brits would instinctively band together and stand up for their principles the moment they felt these were compromised or threatened. And that’s exactly what happened in the focus groups we filmed.

The new products we created to test with the groups were fake, but not a million miles away from products already on the market. And, in the case of ALAN, ones many of us already have in our homes. That made them believable and credible.

The focus groups were made up of members of the public. There were no plants, no actors, and the moderator was a professional moderator. The filming took place in an actual market research facility, and the groups assumed the products were real.

As the films show, the moment we don’t feel comfortable with something is the exact moment that human rights become our ally to fight against it. It’s the moment we realise that we care about human rights more than we think.