National charities reject call for UK Bill of Rights.
The Equality and Diversity Forum (EDF) welcomes the publication of today’s report, The Choice Before Us, by the Commission on a Bill of Rights. However, the network of national charities fundamentally disagrees with the majority of the Commission about the merits of a UK Bill of Rights. Responding to the Commission’s report, Amanda Ariss, Chief Executive, said:
“Our network of national charities works with tens of millions of ordinary people up and down the country. We see first-hand how people’s rights are affected, for better or worse, by our human rights laws. Our experience shows that the Human Rights Act already does a good job of protecting people and helps hold to account those responsible for abusing people’s rights – something that is still far too common in the UK today.
“Sadly, we still see too many abuses of people’s rights - older people suffering physical abuse and degrading treatment at the hands of their care providers, thousands of people trafficked illegally into the country each year, tens of thousands of girls at risk of female genital mutilation and more.
“There is no room for complacency when it comes to protecting our human rights. EDF believes that any new UK Bill of Rights would risk confusing and diluting our human rights laws, taking us backwards instead of forwards.”
Commenting on the Commission’s conclusion that a new UK Bill of Rights could create a “fresh beginning” in the public debate on human rights, Ms Ariss said:
“The polarized nature of the current human rights debate is not a good reason for unpicking our human rights laws, particularly when public education could achieve better results. Research consistently shows that most people believe in having human rights laws but are hugely misinformed about how our current human rights laws work. We fail to see how repackaging the Human Rights Act as a UK Bill of Rights would tackle the misperceptions and misunderstandings that permeate current debates.”
Ms Ariss called for leadership from all political parties as they respond to the Commission’s report, stating:
“Debates on human rights must get back to the point. Human rights have always been about protecting ordinary people from the abuse of power in all its forms. As we all consider the future of our human rights laws, we must always return to this most crucial question – how can we best protect everyone’s rights, everywhere, every day?”
Notes to the editor:
Contact Amanda Ariss on 07806 353364 or Emma Hutton on 07549 181956
1. EDF is a network of national non-governmental organisations working to advance equality, human rights and social justice. Its members include large charities like NAT (National AIDS Trust), Age UK, Action on Hearing Loss, RNIB, Citizens Advice, Mind and Scope. Full membership is listed here.
2. EDF’s response to the Commission on a Bill of Rights is available here.