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Report suggests Government might opt out of human rights laws

Strasbourg, France – October 24, 2013: Building of the European Court of Human Rights. The European Court of Human Rights is an international court established by the European Convention on Human Rights, it is located in Strasbourg, France

It has been reported that the Government is drawing up plans to opt the UK out of key parts of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), which is enshrined in UK law through the Human Rights Act 1998. The Convention is an agreement of 47 countries across Europe, including Russia, Turkey, and Azerbaijan.

In August, Humanists UK launched a joint statement, now signed by over 100 organisations and legal experts, opposing the UK Government’s intentions to review or dilute the human rights framework and judicial review, stating ‘the Human Rights Act is a proportionate and well-drafted protection for the fundamental liberties and responsibilities of everyone in this country.’

If reports are true, such a move by the Government would seriously undermine the human rights settlement in the UK and may, in so doing, legitimise human rights rollbacks abroad.

Humanists UK’s Chief Executive Andrew Copson commented, ‘The Human Rights Act is the keystone of our human rights settlement in the UK. Any move to amend it to override the European Convention on Human Rights would be seriously concerning. It would say dark things  about the value placed on human rights in our society, and risk legitimising human rights restrictions in other parties to the Convention, like Russia, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Hungary, and Poland.’


For further comment or information, please contact Humanists UK Director of Public Affairs and Policy Richy Thompson at or phone 020 7324 3072 or 07534 248 596.

Read the report on Government’s plans:

Read our joint statement:

Read more about our work on human rights:

Humanists UK is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people. Powered by over 85,000 members and supporters, we advance free thinking and promote humanism to create a tolerant society where rational thinking and kindness prevail. We provide ceremonies, pastoral care, education, and support services benefitting over a million people every year and our campaigns advance humanist thinking on ethical issues, human rights, and equal treatment for all.

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