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.”
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.