On 10 December, the British Humanist Association (BHA) has joined other organisations across the country in celebrating International Human Rights Day, and add its voice to a call for politicians to protect the Human Rights Act (HRA).
The coalition of signatories, in which the BHA is accompanied by 42 other leading human rights organisations, sends a strong signal that the HRA is essential in enshrining our rights in the UK to liberty, equality and freedom of speech.
The full text of the letter:
Dear Party Leaders
As leaders of civil society organisations – large and small – we write to remind you that today is international human rights day, a day to celebrate the legal protection of universal human rights. Globally, human rights activism has never been more topical or more important; we have witnessed individuals across the world taking to the streets to defend their rights. Yet as we pay tribute to them, we are saddened and disappointed that, here at home, our own Human Rights Act is all too often vilified by powerful voices in some media and political circles.
For our organisations, and for the people we represent, the Human Rights Act is something to be treasured, to be championed and, if the need arises, to be defended. The vital constitutional checks and balances provided by the Human Rights Act; its defence of free speech, the right to protest and our liberty; and the positive impact it has had on enabling the delivery of better and fairer public services are something to be celebrated. For countless people up and down this country the Human Rights Act protects them from violence, abuse and neglect, and ensures fair treatment. In short the Human Rights Act makes sure we are all treated with basic dignity and respect.
Today, we call on all political leaders and representatives to reflect on the true meaning of universal human rights, hard-won and set down in law following the horrors of the Second World War. Now is the time to recognise that this is the true ancestry of our Human Rights Act, which protects each and every one of us. We call on all political leaders and representatives to commit to promoting a true and genuine understanding of human rights and to defend the Human Rights Act. Such a commitment, if properly delivered, would secure our human rights heritage and protect us all. If we in the UK are not willing to stand firm on our Human Rights Act, we undermine the work of so many courageous people across the world who, often at great risk, are trying to make the legal protection of universal human rights a reality in their lives.
The full list of signatories: British Institute of Human Rights; Action on Hearing Loss; Age UK; Amnesty International UK; AVA (Against Violence and Abuse); British Humanist Association; Citizens Advice; Discrimination Law Association; Down’s Syndrome Association; Employability Forum; End Violence Against Women; Equality and Diversity Forum; Equality South West; Equality Now; Equanomics-UK; Freedom from Torture; Friends, Families and Travellers; Galop; Gender Identity Research and Education Society; Human Rights Watch; JUSTICE; Law Centres Federation; Lesbian and Gay Foundation; Liberty; Mencap; Mind; NAT (National AIDS Trust); National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO); Press for Change; Prison Reform Trust; Race on the Agenda (ROTA); Radar; Refugee Council; René Cassin; Royal College of Nursing; Rights of Women; Runnymede Trust; Songololo Feet; Unicef UK; Unlock Democracy; Women’s Resource Centre; Voice4Change England; Yorkshire MESMAC.
For further comment or information, contact Naomi on 020 7079 3585.
To read more about the BHA’s work on human rights, visit our campaigns page
Read more about International Human Rights Day at the UN’s website
The British Humanist Association is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people who seek to live ethical and fulfilling lives on the basis of reason and humanity. It promotes a secular state and equal treatment in law and policy of everyone, regardless of religion or belief.