Make Your Vote a Vote for Human Rights

4 Dec, 2019 | Blogs, Latest, Protecting Human Rights in the UK

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With just over a week left until polling day, we have been thinking about what the future holds for human rights in the UK. We have read through the manifestos to see what each party says about some of our campaign areas. We have summarised our key findings below, or you can read a more in-depth analysis here.

You can find the full Conservative Manifesto here, the Labour one here, the Liberal Democrat one here and the Green Party one here.

Protecting Human Rights in the UK

In the aftermath of the Holocaust, lawyers and policy makers, such as our name-sake Monsieur René Cassin, worked to ratify the cries of ‘never again’ into law. The UK’s Human Rights Act (1998) is a part of that legacy and serves to safeguard human rights in the UK by incorporating them into domestic law. At René Cassin, we continue to remake the case for human rights, and ensure vulnerable peoples’ rights are protected in law. Therefore, we encourage the statements in the Labour, Green and Liberal Democrats Manifestos, which defend the Human Rights Act and the values it stands for.

The Conservative Manifesto states the Party will ‘update’ the Human Rights Act to “ensure that there is a proper balance between the rights of individuals, our vital national security and effective government.” This raise concerns over the preservation of individual rights, which a Conservative government may undermine in the name of national security and effective government. We recommend the Conservative Party reconsider its stance, to ensure that human rights safeguards in the UK are protected, and not undermined.

Tackling Hate Crime and Discrimination

The UK has seen levels of hate crime continue to rise dramatically in recent years. As public figures, MPs have a part to play not just in tackling hate crime in wider-society, but in working to challenge and cut out hateful rhetoric in political spaces, which is linked to increases in levels of hate crime.

The Conservative Party’s statement of solidarity for protected identities notably fails to include mentions of race and racial discrimination. We hope the party’s policies and practise do not make the same mistake in ‘forgetting’ racial discrimination in their attempts to combat hate crime.

More so, its statements can be seen little more as paying lip-service to the cause, as they fail to eradicate hateful rhetoric from their own manifesto, which pledges to, “tackle unauthorized traveller camps…in order to protect our communities.” The criminalisation and demonization of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities in the manifesto is unacceptable. This sort of harmful rhetoric contributes to the stigmatisation and discrimination that has contributed to Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities experiencing some of the highest levels of discrimination and racism of any ethnic group. We urge the Conservative Party to recognise the ways in which this statement contributes to the endangerment of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities and #CutItOut.

The Labour, Green and Liberal Democrats Parties all pledge to tackle not just hateful narratives, but also structural inequalities that seek to oppress Black, Asian and other Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities and pledge to ensure religious groups have adequate security to organise in safety.

Additionally, the Labour Party and the Green Party would make misogyny a hate crime. As the levels of hate crime in the UK rise, women and girls also face alarming levels of harassment[1] because of their sex and/or gender. This is an important step toward shifting the societal-narrative and recognising the seriousness of the problem as this policy would enable police and other hate crime reporting mechanisms to understand the extent, complexities and commonalities in regards to misogyny and sexual harassment.

[1] 64% of UK women and girls have experienced sexual harassment.

Asylum Detention

The ability to seek refuge and our duty to welcome and protect those in need has a long history in both Jewish values and experience. René Cassin will continue to campaign for our government to value human life and dignity in its detention of asylum seekers and migrants and support a 28-day limit on indefinite immigration detention.

Therefore, we welcome the Labour Party and Green Party policies to end indefinite immigration detention, and the Liberal Democrats pledge to close seven of the ten UK immigration detention centres, as well as introduce a 28-day limit on immigration detention.

Where currently the Conservative Party has little mention of immigration detention, we recommend the party follow suit and roll-back immigration detention in the UK. If the Conservative Party decides, as stated in its manifesto, to continue with current policies, we urge it to rethink the inhuman practise of indefinite immigration detention, which is a continued stain on the UK’s human rights record.

Modern Day Slavery

The legacy of the Israelites in Egypt, a story told year after year at the Passover Seder, commits us to fighting for the freedoms of others. However, slavery is not yet history, it continues to ruin the lives of thousands in the UK alone.

The Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrats Party all pledge to combat modern slavery and human trafficking in the UK with varying degrees of victim support, whilst the Green Party focus primarily on an intersectional approach which it commits to as part of its strategy for ending gender-based violence.

 The Conservative Party highlight continuing its current international work and the Labour Party pledge to “contribute towards a fund of £20 million to support the survivors of modern slavery, people trafficking and domestic violence.”

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