7 April 2017

Today, our Deputy Director, Sanchita Hosali, will be giving evidence about human rights at home to 30 member states of the United Nations at a special session in Geneva. Focusing on domestic issues, Sanchita will be discussing how the government’s denigration of the Human Rights Act, isn’t simply about our law, but is a denigration of international universal standards, something which should be of concern to all UN member states.
Organised by UPR-Info, this pre-session provides a small number of non-governmental groups with the opportunity to present their views on how well the UK is doing ahead of its Universal Periodic Review (UPR) examination on 4 May. The UPR is a process by which the human rights record of all 193 UN member states is regularly scrutinised at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. The UK's next review takes place on 4 May 2017. In the run up to this process, non-governmental groups such as BIHR can submit reports to the UN containing their assessment of the human rights situation in the UK, assessing recommendations made at the last UPR and identifying key new issues.
In 2016 BIHR’s Human Rights Check UK (funded by the EHRC) project travelled across England, Wales and Scotland holding awareness raising and consultation events, as well as holding a call for evidence. After engaging 175 groups, BIHR produced the Joint Civil Society report, which was submitted to the UN on 22 September 2016. BIHR’s statement at the pre-UPR session will include:
  • Denigration of the Human Rights Act is denigration of the international human rights standards on which it is based
  • The regression in access to justice created by changes to legal aid, increased tribunal fees and restrictions on judicial review
  • The regression in welfare reform issues affecting the standard of living and poverty, including the “bedroom tax”, benefits sanctions and increased use of food banks
  • Recognising groups who are vulnerable to human rights risks, but who were not considered in the last review, whilst noting the universal nature of human rights
  • Concluding with the impact of threats to the UK’s human rights legislative framework, in terms of domestic, regional and international implications

Sanchita will also flag concerns about access to the UK government’s state report. Although this was submitted to the UN on 10 February, it was only published and made available to people last Monday. This was following calls from both parliament’s Joint Committee on Human Rights, and BIHR, to ensure transparency and access to the report.
The session takes place between 9-10am in Geneva on 7 April 2017 (8-9am UK time). Other organisations that were successful in the application to present at the pre-session are Amnesty International UK, UK Child Rights Alliance (CRAE also representing Together (Scotland) and the Welsh Children’s Observatory, and a coalition of groups on Statelessness. Check our twitter account for live tweets @BIHRhumanrights