Over 100 organisations come together to protect human rights and access to law

19 October, 2020

Statue of Lady Justice at the Old Bailey London

Do you agree with the views of the signatories? If so, you can add your name to their call, by signing Humanists UK’s petition.

Over 100 charities, trade unions, human rights organisations, and religion or belief groups, coordinated by Humanists UK, have come together to protect human rights and judicial review, to ensure that everyone’s rights and freedoms are protected under the law.

The coalition has formed in response to growing pressure from the UK Government to review both of these areas of our constitutional law, potentially with a view to scaling back, weakening, or repealing protections. This follows the launch of a new panel to examine the case for reforming judicial review powers including exempting certain subjects or Government actions from being judicially reviewable at all. The Government has also indicated that it will look to reform the Human Rights Act and has in the past committed to repealing the Act entirely.

The statement says:

‘While every system could be improved, and protecting rights and freedoms for all is a balancing act, our Human Rights Act is a proportionate and well-drafted protection for the fundamental liberties and responsibilities of everyone in this country.

The Act guarantees the rights to free speech and expression, to life, to liberty, to security, to privacy, to assembly, and to freedom of religion or belief. It prohibits torture and guarantees fair trials and the rule of law.

Judicial review is an indispensable mechanism for individuals to assert those rights and freedoms against the power of the state. Any government that cares about freedom and justice should celebrate and protect these vital institutions and never demean or threaten them.’

The coalition includes Index on Censorship, Article 19, the British Association of Journalists, the British Institute of Human Rights, British Muslims for Secular Democracy, the Campaign Against the Arms Trade, the Children’s Rights Alliance for England, Compassion in World Farming, Disability Rights UK, the End Violence Against Women Coalition, English and Scottish PEN, the Equality Trust, Equally Ours, Freedom from Torture, the Howard League for Penal Reform, Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, the National Aids Trust, the Network of Sikh Organisations, Northern Ireland Council for Racial Equality, the Prison Reform Trust, the Psychotherapy and Counselling Union, the Race Equality Foundation, Race on the Agenda, the Rainbow Project, Reporters without Borders, René Cassin, the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB), Stonewall, the Women’s Budget Group, the UK Lesbian & Gay Immigration Group, and Unlock Democracy.

Humanists UK Chief Executive Andrew Copson commented,

‘Our coalition of organisations from across the UK has come together to state plainly that we are committed to protecting human rights and the rule of law. Both play vital roles in guaranteeing freedom and justice against the power of the state, and we very much hope the Government recognises this.’


For further comment or information, please contact Humanists UK Director of Public Affairs and Policy Richy Thompson at press@humanists.uk or phone 020 7324 3072 or 020 3675 0959.

Read the statement and list of signatories.

Read more about our work on human rights and equality.

Humanists UK is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people. Powered by over 85,000 members and supporters, we advance free thinking and promote humanism to create a tolerant society where rational thinking and kindness prevail. We provide ceremonies, pastoral care, education, and support services benefitting over a million people every year and our campaigns advance humanist thinking on ethical issues, human rights, and equal treatment for all.