Amnesty International UK has called for the Human Rights Act to be celebrated all over the country to mark the 20th anniversary of the Act coming into force.
The Act has been essential to the big justice fights of the last 20 years in the UK.
It is the principal law protecting human rights in the UK and incorporates into UK law 16 rights from the European Convention of Human Rights – the treaty drafted after the Second World War as part of the promise of ‘never again’. From then on, successive governments committed to respect, protect and fulfil people’s fundamental rights in domestic courts in the UK.
Previous to the Act being passed, people in the UK had access to their rights only through the Convention and were often required to go to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg to enforce them. Now those rights are part of UK law.
Despite the clear benefits for human rights in the UK of the legislation, there have been repeated threats to remove or repeal the Act by numerous politicians.
Kate Allen, Amnesty International UK’s Director, said:
“The Human Rights Act has been the heart of big justice fights for the last 20 years.
“From Hillsborough, to Grenfell to the Windrush scandal and the appalling mishandling of the recent Coronavirus crisis in care homes, we have never so badly needed a means to hold government to account.
“The Act is the unsung hero of UK life, holding powerful people and institutions to account when ordinary people are let down.
“It took ordinary people a very long time to win these rights and we must not let politicians take them away with the stroke of a pen.
“We should celebrate the way the act defends all of us – especially the most vulnerable.”