1,000 people pledge to pay for newspaper adverts in first few hours of new campaign
‘The repeal of this Act could lead to an unravelling of progress on human rights across the world’ – Kate Allen
Amnesty International has received a huge response to a new crowdfunded newspaper adverts campaign calling on the recently-appointed Justice Secretary Michael Gove to save the Human Rights Act.
Amnesty is warning of significant global repercussions if the government proceeds with what could be the biggest roll-back in human rights in British history, and over 1,000 people have made financial pledges to pay for national newspaper advertisements in support of the Human Rights Act in the first few hours of the Crowdfunder campaign.
Contributors are paying £10 for their name to be included in the newspaper ad via www.crowdfunder.co.uk/humanrightsact. Amnesty campaigners and Crowdfunder have both been impressed by the speed and volume of responses.
The first of the publicly-funded adverts is set to appear in The Times newspaper on 26 May, with further national titles set to follow in the run-up to the Queen’s Speech on Wednesday 27 May.
The Conservative Party’s election manifesto had said it would repeal the Human Rights Act should it form a majority government, with earlier Conservative proposals also suggesting that the UK might additionally withdraw from the European Convention of Human Rights. The European Convention was established in direct response to the horrors of the Second World War, and if the UK withdraws from it the country would become one of only two in Europe which is not a party to the convention – the other being Belarus which has an extremely poor human rights record.
Kate Allen, Director of Amnesty International UK, said: “Repeal of the Human Rights Acts could represent the single biggest roll-back of rights in British history.
“Repeal of the Act could lead to an unravelling of the progress on human rights across the world.
“People all over the world are risking their liberty and their very lives to try to get the same rights protected by the Human Rights Act. It took ordinary people here in Britain a very long time to win these rights and we shouldn’t let politicians take them away at the stroke of a pen.
“The British government is effectively saying to dictators the world over: ‘Pick and choose your human rights and pick who you think deserves them’. We want everyone in Britain to join us in rejecting this politics of fear and to instead stand up for hope, equality and fairness.”
Graeme Roy, Head of Marketing at Crowdfunder, said: “It’s incredible to see the show of support for the Amnesty UK project on Crowdfunder – it just shows that people not only want to pledge funds to support the Human Rights Act, but also are willing to stand up and publicly show how much they care about this issue.
“Amnesty UK are showing very clearly what can happen – and the speed at which it can happen, when the crowd come together to support a well-planned, motivational and thought-provoking Crowdfunder campaign – paving the way for charities to revolutionise their donor support, outreach and fundraising streams.”
Members of the public have also been leaving comments in support of the Crowdfunder campaign, including “This is a great way to show the government that the Human Right Act fundamentally matters to many, many ordinary citizens” (robyn-pender) and “This country should be as a beacon to the rest of world with regard to human rights, leading the way” (robert-fillies).
The Human Rights Act makes 16 freedoms and protections legal entitlements, including the right to a fair trial and to be free from torture. Instances of its use include a woman who had been subjected to domestic violence who was able to be reunited with her children, and an elderly couple able to sue the Act to argue that they should be allowed to live together in the same care home after they had been separated after 65 years of marriage.
Despite some claims and misperceptions, only 1.8% of pending cases at the European Court of Human Rights involve the UK, whilst more than 60% involve Russia, Ukraine, Italy or Turkey.
Nearly 80,000 people have already signed an Amnesty petition calling for the Human Rights Act to be kept (see www.savetheact.co.uk).