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:
- Maintain the balanced and effective framework for securing our human rights, as set out in the Human Rights Act.
- 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.
- Deliver the long overdue Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland.
- 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
British Institute of Human Rights
Children’s Rights Alliance for England (CRAE)
Disability Rights UK
Discrimination Law Association
End Violence Against Women Campaign
Fair Play South West
Friends, Families and Travellers
Gender Identity Research and Education Society (GIRES)
Law Centres Network
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
Trades Union Congress (TUC)
UKREN (UK Race in Europe Network)
Women’s Budget Group
Women’s Resource Centre
Chronic Illness Inclusion
Migrants’ Rights Network
Race Equality First
Restorative Justice for All International Institute
Alliance for Choice
Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations
Asylum Link Merseyside
Best for Britain
Changing Our Lives
Chartered Society of Physiotherapy
Equality Network, Edinburgh
Freedom from Torture
Human Rights Consortium Scotland
The Bridge Plus+
The Judith Trust
Northern Ireland Human Rights Consortium
Sheila McKechnie Foundation
Spinal Injuries Association
United Kingdom Programme Action Committee of Soroptimist International Great Britain and Ireland