- David Cameron, leader of the Conservative party
- United Kingdom
Dear David Cameron,
Further to your election as our Prime Minister and your invitation to the British public to offer our energy, ideas and passion, we have put our names down on this petition to show our support for the Human Rights Act. We sincerely hope you will take note of this petition and understand that we have considered the Conservatives' reasons for replacing the Act with a Bill of Rights and Responsibilities. In light of all the arguments and evidence, we strongly believe that the Human Rights Act is one of the most precious and important pieces of UK legislation and we feel passionate about protecting it. We would like to take this opportunity to remind you that it was instigated by the great Conservative Prime Minister, Winston Churchill.
This is not a political stance specific petition; we voted for a range of parties in the recent election, however we are appealing to you, as you negotiate our country's future, to assure us that you will not repeal this Act.
Our reasons for this are as follows:
1) Human rights are important words to us and human rights law is vital. It has evolved over many years to protect citizens from their state and to allow everybody to enjoy rights that they deserve, simply by their nature of being human. The Human Rights Act is simple and gives every person in the UK the following rights:
1) the right to life
2) freedom from torture and degrading treatment
3) freedom from slavery and forced labour
4) the right to liberty
5) the right to a fair trial
6) the right not to be punished for something that wasn't a crime when you did it
7) the right to respect for private and family life
8) freedom of thought, conscience and religion, and freedom to express your beliefs
9) freedom of expression
10) freedom of assembly and association
11) the right to marry and to start a family
12) the right not to be discriminated against in respect of these rights and freedoms
13) the right to peaceful enjoyment of your property
14) the right to an education
15) the right to participate in free elections
16) the right not to be subjected to the death penalty
There are absolutely no articles in the Act that we, as members of the public, would not want to be fully protected by. We can see no reason for taking any of these rights away.
2) The Human Rights Act has been hugely misunderstood and misinterpreted. Many of the more ‘ridiculous’ law suits brought under the name of the act have been dismissed. It does not allow criminals to get whatever they want, in fact it actually makes it a legal requirement that the public is protected from dangers to society. Just one example of the benefits of the act is its use in keeping an elderly married couple in long-term care together. Although in an ideal world this should have been avoided by common sense or compassion, the fact is that law is clearly needed to prevent unpleasant situation like this occurring. Secondly, the Act does not, as it sometimes suggested, mean that threats to our nation’s security cannot be dealt with. The Act requires courts to balance public safety against individual rights and, if necessary, a person at risk of harming our country can certainly have their liberty deprived.
3) Far from, as the Conservatives have suggested, the Human Rights Act devaluing the words ‘human rights’, the Act actually strengthens them. The Conservatives have shown a great deal of interest in foreign policy and human rights abroad, but if we do not respect human rights at home we do not set a good example. For example, Guantanamo Bay has severely damaged the reputation of the USA. The USA put a lot of pressure on in the international community to respect human rights, yet did not themselves. This has tainted the concept of human rights negatively and has given countries who abuse human rights leverage to argue against changing their abusive practice. The UK should be an excellent example to the international community of a country that has the utmost respect for human rights. Removing the words ‘human rights’ from our laws would be a terrible signal of our lack of promotion of the concept within our own borders.
4) We welcome the promotion of more responsibility within society and are happy to lend a great deal of support to making this ideal a reality. The Human Rights Act is not the place for this however. There are many pieces of law that outline out responsibilities towards each other; the Act is the place to outline the state’s responsibilities towards us. It is therefore illogical to replace the Human Rights Act with a Bill of Rights and Responsibilities.
5) The Conservatives are unhappy with judges having power to advise Parliament, as the Act has allowed. We contest the idea that judges should not have a say in politics. They are exceptionally bright, informed members of society who would have had to demonstrate nuanced understanding and careful, responsible judgement before gaining such a position of authority. They will have a niche understanding of human rights that politicians cannot have because of the breadth of their mandates, and it is not wrong that they should not be consulted for their opinions. We note that, contrary to popular understanding, the Act does not give judges power to decide laws; MPs always have the last say on the laws Parliament produces.
6) It concerns us that a piece of legislation should only be designed to protect the British. For example, the issues of migration and asylum seeking have become confused, and there is often a lack of understanding that asylum seekers, who have suffered unimaginably and may face torture or even murder if they return to the country of origin, are different to economic migrants. We do not want our country to remove the piece of law that guarantees minorities such as asylum seekers the dignity they desperately deserve.
7) The Human Rights Act has not been imposed by Europe. The European Convention of Human Rights (upon which the Human Rights Act is based) was designed by European countries after World War II and has nothing to do with the EU. The Human Rights Act therefore actually allows human rights issues to be dealt with domestically rather than going all the way to courts in Strasbourg.
We implore you from the bottom of our hearts to, rather than encouraging a negative human rights culture in Britain by removing the words ‘human rights’ from our legislation, promote the benefits of universal human rights by keeping our Human Rights Act, reassuring the public that human rights protect us all.
We thank you for your kind acceptance of this petition and hope that you take our views seriously. Should you wish to contact the author, Miss Wass, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
The Please do not scrap our Human Rights Act petition to David Cameron, leader of the Conservative party was written by email@example.com and is in the category Politics at GoPetition.