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Scottish PEN joins Human Rights Day civil society letter

On global Human Rights Day over 110 groups from across the UK issue an open letter to the Prime Minister and political leaders, urging them to protect people’s rights and the rule of law, and stand by the Human Rights Act.

December 10, 2020

On global Human Rights Day over 110 groups from across the UK issue an open letter to the Prime Minister and political leaders, urging them to respond proportionately to Covid-19, protect people’s rights and the rule of law, and stand by the Human Rights Act.

The open letter, which was coordinated by the British Institute of Human Rights and signed by Scottish PEN alongside organisations including Amnesty UK, Children in Scotland, Coalition for Racial Equality and Rights, English PEN, Stonewall and Human Rights Consortium Scotland, highlights the extraordinary events of 2020, noting that “human rights must not be an afterthought in times of crisis; human rights were born of disaster and must guide the Covid-19 response and recovery”.

In the week that the UK Government launches a review of the Human Rights Act; today, the letter urges UK leaders to stand up for the “shared values of equal dignity, respect, fairness and decency; to protect people’s rights and the rule of law, to stand for the Human Rights Act.”

Download the letter as a PDF here, and as a plain text Word document here.

The letter in full

Dear Prime Minister and UK political Leaders,
 
2020 has seen the world face the biggest crisis in generations. Tackling this global health emergency must uphold the dignity and worth of all individuals, without discrimination. Human rights must not be an afterthought in times of crisis; human rights were born of disaster and must guide the Covid-19 response and recovery.
 
The mother of the UK’s Human Rights Act, the European Convention on Human Rights, emerged from WW2 exactly 70 years ago. These rights, which belong to us all, are part of our law – rights to life, liberty, freedom from harm, non-discrimination, family, well-being, and choice. These protections offer powerful, but under-used, tools to guide the response to the pandemic. A human rights lens puts everyone in the picture, implores us to ensure that no one is left behind, and shines a spotlight on who is suffering, and on what must be changed to ensure people’s rights are upheld.
 
Whilst the virus does not discriminate, we have all seen that its impact and responses do. Too many people have suffered disproportionately, including BAME communities, older people, disabled people, children, women, carers and many more. The UK’s response to the pandemic must protect the equal human dignity of us all; our human rights legislation offers a way to navigate this maze, to balance risk with rights
 
Today, we stand together, proud of our human rights standards in the UK but worried that political rhetoric is again turning towards questioning our laws, with increasing concerns that people’s ability to seek accountability will be reduced. We call on the Prime Minister and our political leaders to stand with us and stand for our shared values. To stand with us for the equal dignity of all people, for respect, fairness, and decency. To stand with us for a proportionate response to these extraordinary times that focuses on protecting people’s rights and the rule of law. To stand with us for our Human Rights Act.
 
Sincerely,

  1. British Institute of Human Rights
  2. Access Social Care
  3. Advocacy Focus
  4. AIRE Centre
  5. All Wales People First
  6. Alzheimer Scotland
  7. Alzheimer’s Society
  8. Amnesty UK
  9. Article 12 in Scotland
  10. Article 39
  11. Asylum Link Merseyside
  12. AVA (Against Violence and Abuse)
  13. Birthrights
  14. brap
  15. Bristol Mind
  16. British Association of Social Workers (BASW)
  17. Campaign for Freedom of Information
  18. Carers UK
  19. Centre for Women’s Justice
  20. Certitude London
  21. Changing Our Lives
  22. Child Rights Alliance for England
  23. Children in Scotland
  24. Sally Holland, Children’s Commissioner for Wales
  25. Childrens Law Centre
  26. Choice Support
  27. Coalition for Racial Equality and Rights
  28. Committee on the Administration of Justice (CAJ)
  29. Compassion in Dying
  30. Detention Action
  31. Disability Wales
  32. Discrimination Law Association
  33. EachOther
  34. End Violence Against Women
  35. English Pen
  36. Every Child Protected Against Trafficking
  37. Friends, Families and Travellers
  38. Garden Court Chambers
  39. Grandparents Plus
  40. Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland
    (the ALLIANCE)
  41. HEAR Equality and Human Rights Network
  42. Helen Bamber
  43. HIV Scotland
  44. Hourglass
  45. Human Rights and Equality Group of the Law Society of Northern Ireland.
  46. Human Rights Consortium Scotland
  47. Human Rights Watch
  48. Humanist Society Scotland
  49. Humanists UK
  50. Inclusion London
  51. INQUEST
  52. Judith Trust
  53. Juno Women’s Aid
  54. Just Fair
  55. Just for Kids Law
  56. JUSTICE
  57. Latin American Women’s Rights Service (LAWRS)
  58. Law Centres Network
  59. Learning Disability England
  60. Legal Action Group
  61. Legal Aid Practitioners Group (LAPG)
  62. Leigh Day
  63. Liberty
  64. Marie Curie
  65. Mary Ward Legal Centre
  66. Mental Health UK
  67. Migrants Organise Ltd
  68. Mind
  69. n-compass
  70. National Alliance of Women’s Organisations
  71. National Care Forum
  72. National Development Team for Inclusion (NDTi)
  73. National Survivor User Network (NSUN)
  74. nia
  75. Heléna Herklots CBE, Older People’s Commissioner for Wales
  76. POhWER
  77. Prison Reform Trust
  78. Public Law Project
  79. Quakers in Britain
  80. RAMFEL (Refugee & Migrant Forum of
    Essex and London)
  81. REDRESS
  82. Refugee Action York
  83. Refugee Council
  84. Relatives & Residents Association
  85. René Cassin
  86. Restorative Justice for All International Institute
  87. Rethink Mental Illness
  88. Scottish Care
  89. Scottish Commission for People with Learning
    Disabilities (SCLD)
  90. Scottish Independent Advocacy Alliance
  91. Scottish Pen
  92. Shared Lives Plus
  93. SMK Law Solicitors
  94. Southall Black Sisters
  95. Stonewall
  96. Suffolk Law Centre
  97. Tai Pawb
  98. The British Geriatric Society
  99. The Challenging Behaviour Foundation
  100. The Law Society of Scotland
  101. Tower Hamlets Law Centre
  102. UNISON
  103. Unlock Democracy
  104. Voiceability
  105. Voluntary Organisations Disability Group
  106. Wish
  107. Women’s Aid
  108. Women’s Budget Group
  109. York Human Rights City Network
  110. Youth Access
  111. ForcesWatch
  112. ROTA – Race on the Agenda
  113. tide – together in dementia everyday
  114. Turning Point
TAGS: human rights Human Rights Act