Today marks twenty years since the Human Rights Act came into force in the UK. For two decades fundamental rights and freedoms have been preserved and promoted in British law. Freedom, justice and peace are all built on human rights. The Human Rights Act is our key to fairness.
The Human Rights Act means police, hospitals, schools, courts, and local government all have a duty to protect our rights. These rights belong to everyone. They include the right to life, right to liberty, freedom from torture or slavery, and many other rights that we take for granted.
Human rights are a legacy of the Holocaust and speak directly to the Jewish experience. At their root is the notion that all humans are vested with dignity that governments have a duty to protect.
The UK’s Human Rights Act ensures this duty and is relevant to current issues such as Grenfell, Windrush and Covid-19. Its power continues to benefit ordinary people in their ordinary lives.
Examples of how the Human Rights Act has worked as our key to fairness during the past 20 years:
- coroner policies on burials protected freedom of religion “bringing some comfort to people coming to terms with the loss of a loved one”.
- the families of those who died at Hillsborough football stadium were able to find out how their loved ones died and hold those responsible to account.
- a dedicated elderly couple were able to live out their final days together.
- procedural safeguards for the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller community were introduced which forced local authorities to consider the impact of eviction on residents.
- the treatment of 17 year olds in police custody was improved.
- families with a disabled child no longer had to pay bedroom tax.
- care hours were increased for people with conditions like Multiple Sclerosis.
- lessons can be learned when a woman is murdered by her partner.
You can learn more about the Human Rights Act here and watch two films that tell such stories
To celebrate the 20th birthday of the Human Rights Act follow @Rene_Cassin on social media and join the conversation
Read The Human Rights Act has a place in Jewish hearts René Cassin’s Debora Singer’s blog in Jewish News – 7 March 2021