The UK Jewish community says: “Hands off our Human Rights Act!”

In response to the government’s review of the Human Rights Act, René Cassin, the Jewish voice for human rights, has brought together cross communal Jewish support for its call to protect the Act.

Twelve rabbis and 29 communal organisations and individuals have signed up to support René Cassin’s submission of 8 March 2022 to the Ministry of Justice consultation on Human Rights Act reform. The signatories are very concerned that the plans, put forward by Secretary of State for Justice, Dominic Raab, in December 2021, will reduce human rights and also access to those rights.

The Human Rights Act helps ordinary people in their everyday lives. In relation to the right to freedom of religion, it has allowed people of faith to wear religious symbols to work and Muslims and Jews to bury their dead in line with their religious beliefs. Other examples of those helped by the Act are an elderly couple able to stay together in the same care home and women seeking protection when fleeing domestic violence. The law on same sex marriage came via the Human Rights Act as did the change in the police code that allows 17 year olds to be treated as children if they are arrested but not charged.

The Jewish community voices particular concern that the government proposals weaken human rights for minorities such as asylum seekers, offenders or foreigners.

Mia Hasenson-Gross, Executive Director of Rene Cassin, said:

“Through our experience of the Holocaust, we know where targeting minorities can lead. We reject the framing of the Human Rights Act review, which pits undeserving people against the majority. As a minority community ourselves, the Jewish community stands with other minority groups, such as Gypsies, Travellers and Roma, asylum seekers and refugees, victims of modern slavery and disabled people in demanding equal human rights. Reducing the rights of minorities and vulnerable people reduces the rights of everyone.”