UK civil society organisations statement: Human Rights Act Review

Equally ours has convened a statement from our members and the wider network of UK civil society organisations, in response to the Human Rights Act Review report and Government consultation that were published today.

The government established the Independent Human Rights Act Review in December 2020 to examine how the Human Rights Act is working in practice and whether any change is needed.

With 60 signatories, this statement is a reminder to the government that our human rights are the hidden foundations that help us all live together freely and fairly, a safety net to protect us all.

We all want to live in an equal, just and fair society, where governments and public bodies respect, protect and fulfil our human rights. The Human Rights Act, along with other legal processes, gives people the ability to hold governments and public bodies to account when they fail to uphold our rights. It allows ordinary people to stand up to those in power and demand that their rights are respected.

The Human Rights Act is an essential tool that allows the courts to find the right balance between individuals’ different rights and between individual rights and the collective rights of society.

Being able to challenge governments and other public bodies and hold them to account is at the heart of our democracy. We all deserve effective access to justice and a fair hearing.

This is a deeply disappointing report, and one which seems to bear little relationship to the weight of the evidence submitted to it, that overwhelmingly demonstrated that changes to the Human Rights Act are both unnecessary and damaging.

Human rights are the essential tools that empower us to stand up to people in power, and to create a stronger, fairer, more compassionate UK. 

The Human Rights Act is a sensible and transparent balance between the roles of the government, of Parliament, of public bodies, of the courts and for all of us who use human rights every day to ensure we are treated with dignity and respect. It’s the bedrock of a fair and free society, but it is delicately balanced. Even tiny changes to this framework undermine the basis of our rights and freedoms, placing them at the mercy of fate not fairness.

We agree this is time for change, but that change should be an end to the relentless attacks on the Human Rights Act. Now that this latest review has concluded, it is time for the government to acknowledge that our human rights are the hidden foundations that help us all live together freely and fairly, a safety net to protect us all.

We call on the UK Government to reject these unnecessary proposals, that would dangerously weaken the protection of our rights. Instead, it should commit to:

  1. Maintain the balanced and effective framework for securing our human rights, as set out in the Human Rights Act. 
  2. Proactively raise awareness of our human rights and support a public dialogue on how they can be fully realised that is grounded in fairness, equality and justice, recognising that human rights are at the heart of how we treat one another and live our lives. 
  3. Deliver the long overdue Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland. 
  4. Consider how the models of incorporating additional rights being developed in Wales and Scotland, such as the rights of the child and economic, social and cultural rights, could be applied to the UK as a whole.

If you would like to support this statement, sign up here

List of signatories

Members

Age UK

brap

British Institute of Human Rights

Children’s Rights Alliance for England (CRAE)

Citizens Advice

Disability Rights UK

Discrimination Law Association

End Violence Against Women Campaign

Equality Trust

Fair Play South West

Fawcett Society

Friends, Families and Travellers

Gender Identity Research and Education Society (GIRES)

Humanists UK

Law Centres Network

Maternity Action

Mind

National AIDS Trust

National Alliance of Women’s Organisations (NAWO)

Press for Change

Race on the Agenda (ROTA)

Royal National Institute of Blind People

Royal National Institute for Deaf People

Runnymede Trust

Security Women

Sign Health

Scope

Stonewall

Trades Union Congress (TUC)

Traveller Movement

UKREN (UK Race in Europe Network)

UNISON

Women’s Budget Group

Women’s Resource Centre

Associates

Amnesty UK

Chronic Illness Inclusion

EqualiTeach

Just Fair

Migrants’ Rights Network

Race Equality First

René Cassin”

Restorative Justice for All International Institute

Additional signatories

AdviceUK

Alliance for Choice

Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations

Asylum Link Merseyside

Best for Britain

CARAS

Changing Our Lives

Chartered Society of Physiotherapy

Children England

Equality Network, Edinburgh

Freedom from Torture

Human Rights Consortium Scotland

Inclusion Scotland

The Bridge Plus+

The Judith Trust

LGBT Foundation

Netpol

Northern Ireland Human Rights Consortium

Rainbow Migration

Sheila McKechnie Foundation

Spinal Injuries Association

United Kingdom Programme Action Committee of Soroptimist International Great Britain and Ireland

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