On Tuesday 18 April 2017 Prime Minister Theresa May announced she would be seeking a General Election in the UK on 8 June 2017. You can find coverage of the statement on the BBC website, here

This has raised many questions, not least how human rights and our protections will fare in the coming months. Responding to the announcement, Sanchita Hosali, Deputy Director of the British Institute of Human Rights, says:

Today the Prime Minister announced that rather than working with our system of regular elections every five years, the government will be seeking a General Election in less than 2 months times on 8 June.

A General Election at this time raises a number of potential concerns about the future of our human rights protections - rights which have been subject to considerable ire from both the government and the Prime Minister herself. Current policy commitments include “scrapping” the Human Rights Act, our UK law which sets the rules for how governments treat each and every one of us, and replacing it with a law that meets the government’s idea of “common sense”. Also worrying are previous promises that the government will revisit our relationship with the European Convention and Court of Human Rights, a system which the UK not only championed from the start, but one which helps ensure that no one in our democracy, including the government, is above the law.

The coming days and weeks will provide more information on what the political parties will commit to in the run up to the General Election. Now is the time for all of us who believe that human rights must remain central to our democracy to stand together and speak up for the Human Rights Act and European Convention.

Civil society organisations have already flagged their support of the Human Rights Act with the Prime Minister. You can read our Human Rights Day letter to the Prime Minister, signed by 164 organisations across the UK published on 10 December 2016, and Theresa May’s response.

While we wait for the political parties to produce their manifestos for the General Election on 8th June, here are some statements on human rights and the Human Rights Act from a variety of the large and small parties.

Theresa May, Conservative Party leader and current Prime Minister

So regardless of the EU referendum, my view is this: if we want to reform human rights laws in this country, it isn’t the EU we should leave but the European Convention on Human Rights and the jurisdiction of its court (Speech, 2016)

Conservative Party

We will scrap the Human Rights Act and introduce a British Bill of Rights which will restore common sense to the application of human rights in the UK (Manifesto, 2015)

Labour Party

We will stand up for citizens’ individual rights, protecting the Human Rights Act and reforming, rather than walking away from, the European Court of Human Rights (Manifesto, 2015)

Liberal Democrats

Protect the Human Rights Act and enshrine the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in UK law. We will take appropriate action to comply with decisions of UK courts and the European Court of Human Rights (Manifesto, 2015)

UKIP

We will repeal Human Rights legislation [the Human Rights Act]. It has given European judges far too much power over British law making and law enforcement and prevented us deporting terrorists and career criminals and implementing whole-life sentences. (Manifesto, 2015)

Green Party

Retain the principle that human rights are the common property of the whole world by keeping the Human Rights Act and retaining the UK’s membership of the European Convention on Human Rights and the Council of Europe (Manifesto, 2015)

Scottish National Party

Given the central place of human rights in [our] constitutional settlement, and their importance at the heart of our politics, we will oppose scrapping the Human Rights Act or withdrawal from the European Convention on Human Rights. (Manifesto, 2015)

Plaid Cymru

We support the Human Rights Act and the European Convention on Human Rights, and will oppose any moves by a UK Government to withdraw from those. (Westminster Manifesto 2015)

Women’s Equality Party 

The UK should take pride in its leading role in forming the Council of Europe, rather than retreating from its principles.

The Women’s Equality Party calls upon the Westminster Government to:

  1. Retain all the protections currently provided by the Human Rights Act (1998).
  2. Ensure that access to and enforcement of those protections is strengthened or maintained in any subsequent legislation.
  3. Ensure that the said protections, access, and enforcement remain fully applicable to, and available to, all human beings within the UK.

Furthermore, WE call upon the Government to ratify the Istanbul Convention and take on a leading role within the Council of Europe to promote the protective frameworks applied through the Convention. (from 1st Party Conference, 2016)

 

The right to vote is an important human right, protected by our Human Rights Act and forms a key part of our democratic tradition. You can register to vote here: www.gov.uk/register-to-vote