18 May 2016



As the Government reaffirms its commitment to replacing the Human Rights Act with a new Bill of Rights over 130 groups stand together in their support of the Act by launching the Human Rights Pledge, which reads:


“We believe in fundamental human rights and freedoms – shared values that protect every member of the human family and the society we seek to build together.

“Human rights underpin our democracy, hold Governments to account and require that everyone’s dignity is equally respected.

“We pledge to oppose any government plans to repeal our Human Rights Act – in so doing we stand firm on guaranteeing universal human rights protections for generations to come.”

The broad and varied group of signatories include charities supporting children, older people, carers, victims of trafficking and slavery, disabled people and asylum-seekers and refugees, as well as national groups representing psychiatrists, teachers, football supporters and students. Among them are Friends of the Earth, Refuge, the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, the Muslim Council of Great Britain, the National Union of Students, Quakers in Britain, the Royal College of Psychiatrists, the TUC, Carers UK, Scotland’s Children and Young People’s Commissioner, the Terrence Higgins Trust, Stonewall, René Cassin, the Down’s Syndrome Association, the Football Supporters’ Federation and UK Families Flight 103 – the group representing families of the UK victims of the Lockerbie bombing.

Why this matters

The Human Rights Act enshrines fundamental freedoms into UK law and allows the British public to challenge abuse, neglect or mistreatment. Its introduction in 2000 triggered positive changes in legislation and public policy UK-wide, ensuring all authorities treat people with fairness, dignity and respect.

Details of the Bill’s content have yet to emerge – but all Government plans published to date suggest the “British Bill of Rights” would diminish rights protections for everyone in the UK and some groups in particular, threatening the very concept of the universality of human rights, and allowing politicians to choose which and whose matter most. The pledge reaffirms that human rights are universal, indivisible and inalienable – not a privilege to be given and rationed by any Government.

The pledge has been coordinated by the British Institute of Human Rights, Liberty and Amnesty International UK. If your organisation would like to join the pledge please get in touch: together@bihr.org.uk

Commenting on the pledge and the Queen’s Speech, Stephen Bowen, Director of the British Institute of Human Rights (BIHR), said:

“Whilst we still await the details, we are saddened the Government is ploughing ahead with plans to scrap our Human Rights Act, the Bill of Rights we already have. Today the British Institute of Human Rights is proud to stand alongside so many who recognise that the hallmark of a genuine bill of rights is its ability to protect everyone when the government doesn’t play by the rules, which the Human Rights Act does very well. We urge the Government to scrap these miserable plans.”

Additionally commenting:

Bella Sankey, Director of Policy for Liberty, said: “These diverse organisations speak as one in defending the Human Rights Act. They join all the devolved administrations, all major opposition parties, Conservative rebels, anti-apartheid activists and thousands of ordinary people in opposing divisive and discriminatory plans to replace human rights with Government-sanctioned privileges. There is a long struggle ahead, but as the chorus of condemnation grows, how much longer can the Government refuse to listen?”


Kate Allen, Amnesty International UK Director, said: “Hillsborough shows how vital the Human Rights Act is to ordinary people when all other avenues of justice fail. We mustn’t let politicians tear up those hard-won protections. Walking away from the Human Rights Act would also threaten to bring down the crucial peace agreement in Northern Ireland. The government should leave the Human Rights Act alone - it’s ours, it’s working, it’s needed.”

The list of pledge signatories:

Act for the Act
Action on Elder Abuse
Advice Services Alliance
Advice UK
Age UK London
All Wales People First
Amnesty International UK
Anti-Slavery International
Arcadea
Ashiana Network
Association of Teachers and Lecturers
Asylum Aid
Asylum Link Merseyside
AVA Project
Bail for Immigration Detainees
BIHR
Bindmans
Birthrights
British Humanist Association
British Institute of Learning Difficulties
CAJ
Campaign for Freedom of Information
Carers UK
Centre for Criminal Appeals
Centre of European Law and Internationalisation
Children's Rights Alliance for England
Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative
Community Development Cymru
CPAG
Crucible Centre for Human Rights Research
Detention Action
Disability Law Service
Disability News Service
Disabled People Against Cuts
Discrimination Law Association
Down's Syndrome Association
ECPAT UK
EMMAUS
End Violence Against Women
English PEN
Equal Rights Trust
Fair Trials International
Family Rights Group
Fawcett Society
Freedom from Torture
Friends of the Earth
Friends, Families and Travellers
Garden Court Chambers
Gender Identity Research and Education Society (GIRES)
Grandparents Plus
Greenwich Migrant Hub
Hackney Migrant Centre
Heart n Soul
Howard League for Penal Reform
Human Rights Watch
ILPA
Imran Khan and Partners
Inclusion London
Index on Censorship
Inspire
Institute of Race Relations
Integrate Bristol
Judith Trust
Just for Kids Law
JUST West Yorkshire
Justice
Kalayaan
Latin American Women's Rights Services
Law Centres Network
Legal Action Group
Leigh Day
LGBT Consortium
Liberty
London Voluntary Services Council
Mary Ward Legal Centre
Medconfidential
Medical Justice
METRO Charity
Migrants' Rights Network
Muslim Council of Britain
National AIDS Trust
National Alliance of Women’s Organisations (NAWO)
National Care Forum
National Development Team for Inclusion
NICEM
Northamptonshire Rights and Equality Council
NSUN
NUS
Office of the Older People's Commissioner for Wales
Older People's Advocacy Alliance (UK)
PALG
Pembrokeshire People First
Prisoners Advice Service
Privacy International
Public and Commercial Services Union
Quakers in Britain
Race on the Agenda
Refuge
Refugee Council
René Cassin
Reprieve
Rights Watch (UK)
Royal College of Psychiatrists
Runnymede Trust
Safer Wales
Safety 4 Sisters
Scotland’s Commissioner for Children and Young People
Shelter
SOAS Student Union
St. Martin of Tours HA
Statewatch
Stonewall

Survivors Speak OUT
Tai Pawb
Tameside Human Rights Watch UK
Terrence Higgins Trust
The Football Supporters Federation
The Traveller Movement
Together – Scottish Alliance for Children’s Rights
Transform Justice
True Voice
TUC
UK Families  Flight 103
UNA-UK
UNISON
UNITE
Unlock Democracy
Women Asylum Seekers Together
Welsh Women’s Aid
West Norfolk Disability Information Service
West of Scotland Regional Equality Council
Wish
Women for Refugee Women
Women@thewell
Women's Aid
Women's Resource Centre
York Human Rights City Network
Young Legal Aid Lawyers