News and Views

NAWO Joins National Campaign Telling PM:  DON’T ABANDON OUR HUMAN RIGHTS ACT

Organisations come together to say now is the time to think again, not to risk further division and legal confusion

NAWO is proud to support a letter asking the Prime Minister to abandon plans to scrap the Human Rights Act. 

The British Institute for Human Rights (BIHR) has published the letter on Human Rights Day (Saturday 10th December) to show the breadth of support for the Human Rights Act across the UK. Human Rights Day 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 law-based approach we have in all of our work for the rights of women and girls in the UK and internationally is fundamentally linked to the concept but also the legislation enshrining our human rights. In this UK, this is the Human Rights Act. Please read the letter and more about it below, you can also learn more about cases where the Human Rights Act has been instrumental in creating life-altering change in people’s lives here.

This letter has been signed by 164 organisations, including those working with new mothers, children, patients, carers, people with learning disabilities and mental ill-health, women experiencing violence, migrants and older people, and groups campaigning for LGBT rights, fair trials, access to justice, decent housing and against racial discrimination. Amnesty International UK, Liberty and Human Rights Watch as well as trade unions and law firms have also signed the letter. 

Stephen Bowen, Director of BIHR, said: “I hope the Prime Minister will listen to so many respected organisations, all with first-hand knowledge of how the Human Rights Act helps so many people in their everyday lives and why it isn’t something to scrap but something to cherish. These are uncertain times and Theresa May should not be adding to the legal confusion, risking further division, or signalling that the UK wants to walk away from international standards. Instead, she can give us all something to cheer by saving the Human Rights Act.” 

You can read the letter here, and it is also available in text format below.

The letter reads:

Dear Prime Minister,

Today, on Human Rights Day, we will celebrate the difference the Human Rights Act makes to all our lives.

The Human Rights Act is something to cherish. It helps those delivering frontline services to make difficult ethical decisions and enables families to hold those in powerful positions to account. It is key to defending our free press and to protecting our democracy. It is the Bill of Rights we already have.

This year, huge uncertainty and upheaval began that will continue for years to come. It is not the time to add to the legal confusion, to risk further division or signal that the UK wants to walk away from international standards. Now is the time to champion, at home and abroad, the protection of hard-won human rights. For everyone.

The day you became Prime Minister you said your mission was to make Britain a country that works for everyone, including the disadvantaged. You said that when your government passes new laws you would listen to ordinary people and you would do everything you could to give them more control over their lives.

The Human Rights Act makes a much-valued difference to all our lives and for many people that difference is dramatic. Please, Prime Minister, drop the Government’s commitment to “scrap” the Human Rights Act.