Human Rights Day: Growing public support for human rights protections

10 December 2013

Today Liberty celebrates Human Rights Day by releasing polling data that shows growing public support for a law that protects rights and freedoms here in Britain.

The ComRes polling, commissioned by the human rights group, revealed that 98 per cent of the public think it is “important” that there is a law protecting rights and freedoms in this country. That figure is up from 96 per cent in September last year and 93 per cent in October 2011.

Meanwhile less than one tenth of people in Britain – just eight per cent – remember ever receiving or seeing any information from the Government explaining the Human Rights Act – again exposing the woeful lack of public education about the rights and freedoms contained within it and how it works.

The figures come as negative rhetoric surrounding human rights – particularly in Westminster – reaches an extraordinary scale. Home Secretary Theresa May has said that the next Conservative Party Manifesto will include a pledge to scrap the Human Rights Act, while Justice Secretary Chris Grayling has vowed to publish a Conservative Bill of Rights to replace the Act as early as next year. Amid such a toxic climate Liberty is urging politicians of all parties to take stock of this polling data and, rather than promote myths and misunderstandings about the legislation, do more to educate the public about their fundamental rights and freedoms.

Other key findings from the polling include:

  • 97 per cent of respondents think that the right to respect for privacy, family life and home (as protected by Article 8 of the Human Rights Act) is “vital” or “important”;

  • 96 per cent believe that the right to a fair trial (as protected by Article 5) is “vital” or “important”;

  • 89 per cent believe that the right not to be tortured or degraded (as protected by Article 3) is “vital” or “important”.

Shami Chakrabarti, Director of Liberty, said: “The public are far more in step with Nelson Mandela's values than some of the British politicians who are so keen to pay tribute to him."

“On an annual day of global unity, perhaps our leaders might explain why human rights are always justification for war abroad but never legal protection at home?”

Contact: Liberty Press Office on 020 7378 3656 or 07973 831128

 

NOTES TO EDITORS:

1. ComRes interviewed 1002 GB adults by telephone between 22 November and 24 November, 2013, 1002 GB adults by telephone between 31 August and 2 September 2012 and 1007 GB adults from 20 September to 21 September 2011. Data was weighted to be demographically representative of all GB adults. ComRes is a member of the British polling council and abides by its rules. Full data tables can be found at www.comres.co.uk. For a copy of the full findings, please contact the Liberty Press Office on 020 7378 3656.

2. The Human Rights Act, which came into force in October 2000, incorporates the European Convention on Human Rights, which itself embodies many of the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, signed on 10 December 1948, into UK law. Find out more about international human rights.

3. Find out more about Common Values, Liberty’s campaign to protect and promote the Human Rights Act.

4. Find out more about the rights in the Human Rights Act and what they mean – read our What’s Not To Love? guide.