This year has shown the Human Rights Act is never more needed
Posted on 02 Oct 2020
We celebrate the Human Rights Act today in circumstances that serve as a stark reminder of why defending human rights is the job that is never done.
Given current events, today’s anniversary of the Human Rights Act could not be timelier.
Under the cover of crisis, Governments can usher in legislation which restricts liberty and waters down rights. When this pandemic hit, this Government did exactly that.
In March this year the Coronavirus Act, a piece of legislation which undermines many of our most basic rights, was nodded through Parliament. It weakens social care safeguards, leaving people without vital support. It removes protections for people experiencing mental health problems. It creates sweeping and unworkable police powers that have been disproportionately used against people of colour. It threatens our fundamental right to protest.
Despite growing dissent, the Act was renewed through a vote by MPs this week.
While this is more than disappointing, this growing awareness of what is at stake should give us hope. It shows that people are waking up to why it is dangerous to be complacent when it comes to our rights and why we should cherish the Human Rights Act.
This pandemic has brought human rights back into focus like nothing else.
The Government not only faced a strong backbench rebellion when it came to a vote on the renewal of the Coronavirus Act – tens of thousands of people used Liberty’s tool to write to their MPs calling for its repeal.
They were not alone. More than 40,000 people signed our petition and when we asked people how they felt about human rights, more than three quarters of them said they must be protected during national crisis. This pandemic has brought human rights back into focus like nothing else.
Since we were founded, Liberty has upheld the rights of the most marginalised, challenged injustice and stood up to power. Never has our role been more important.
Not only will we continue our fight for a repeal of the Coronavirus Act, we’ll continue to help you defend the rights enshrined in the Human Rights Act.
At the outbreak of the pandemic, we adapted our work rapidly, challenging these new threats to our liberties and empowering people to defend their rights. Over the next six months, we stand ready to build on this work.
By standing together, we can continue to advocate for equality and fairness, to empower even the most marginalised in our communities, and to uphold justice.
Liberty’s Advice and Information team continues to scrutinise the developing rules to provide the clear guidance we need to understand them.
Our journalists continue to investigate how the Government’s response is affecting already marginalised communities and give a voice to the voiceless in this crisis.
Our lawyers are reviewing the legality of the Government’s actions and stand ready to hold it to account.
Our campaigners are working within and outside Parliament to make the case for change.
And finally, our members continue to be the backbone of everything Liberty does. By standing together, we can continue to advocate for equality and fairness, to empower even the most marginalised in our communities, and to uphold justice.
As we celebrate the Human Rights Act today we do so in circumstances that serve as a stark reminder of why we have this Act and why defending human rights is the job that is never done.
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