Avoid division and safeguard human rights today, during and after Brexit – over 140 civil society voices urge the Prime Minister PRESS RELEASE Embargoed 0.01am 10 December 2017 A letter urging the Prime Minister to safeguard human rights at home, now and after Brexit, has been signed by over 140 organisations from across the UK. The organisations include those working with new mothers, children, carers, people with learning disabilities and mental ill-health, women experiencing violence, migrants, older people, and groups campaigning for LGBTQ+ rights, fair trials, access to justice, decent housing and against racial discrimination. As the government grapples with Brexit, recently facing the so-called “mutineers” attempts to reintroduce human rights protections into the Withdrawal Bill, the letter is being released on global Human Rights Day (Sunday 10 December) to show the breadth of support for human rights across the UK. Coordinated by British Institute for Human Rights (BIHR), the letter is also supported by Amnesty International UK, Liberty and Justice as well as trade unions and law firms. Sanchita Hosali, Acting Director of BIHR, said: “In these uncertain times the Prime Minister must avoid adding to the confusion, risking division, or signalling that the UK wants to walk away from international standards. It is worrying that the Charter of Fundamental Rights remains the only law being excluded from the EU Withdrawal Bill, and the future of our Human Rights Act post-Brexit remains at risk. Today, as over 140 organisations speak up, I hope the Prime Minister will listen to so many respected voices, all with first-hand knowledge of how human rights help so many people in their everyday lives across the country. Now is the time to safeguard our human rights; for today, during and after Brexit.” The letter reads: Dear Prime Minister, Today, on Human Rights Day, we celebrate universal human rights. These freedoms, written down after World War II in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, have been brought home through the UK’s Human Rights Act and European laws. We face great constitutional change and uncertainty as your government seeks to navigate taking the UK out of the EU. Now is the time to focus on securing the everyday rights of people across the country. Rather than tampering with our hard-won fundamental freedoms, whether in the Human Rights Act or EU Charter, these legal standards must endure now and post-Brexit. We ask you to avoid isolation and division, committing instead to stand firm on universal human rights standards as the foundation of a forward-looking UK. For more information about the letter, published in the Sunday Telegraph 10 December 2017, click here. ENDS Notes for Editors: For a BIHR spokesperson please contact Helen Wildbore 0207 882 5850 / [email protected] (out of office 07811 457343). A full list of the signatories to the letter is available from BIHR prior to 10 December; please contact the spokesperson. For over 45 years the British Institute of Human Rights, a UK-wide independent human rights charity, has worked to bring rights to life here at home. We help people to know what human rights are (and are not), to put their human rights into practice to achieve positive change in everyday life without resorting to the courts, and to make sure that those in power respect our human rights laws and systems. For more information visit www.bihr.org.uk, Twitter: @BIHRhumanrights Human Rights Day, on 10 December, marks the day in 1948 when the United Nations proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The UK provided one of the eight drafters who, alongside US former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, produced the 30 Articles of the UDHR, recognising the “equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family”. The European Convention on Human Rights enforces many of the rights set out in the UDHR and the Human Rights Act (HRA) 1998 brings those rights home in the UK. On 6 December the Department for Exiting the EU issued a report ‘Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU: Right by Right Analysis’ which sets out the Government’s position that the Charter did not create any new rights, so rights which are protected elsewhere will be preserved. However, the report has been met with concern by civil society groups on a number of grounds, particularly because a number of rights in the Charter are not as fully protected elsewhere.