THE new Government must turn the page on a grim chapter for human rights, says Amnesty International. The organisation is calling for a “rights renaissance”, saying there is much to be done to rehabilitate human rights in the UK and reset the UK’s reputation on the global stage.

Sacha Deshmukh, Amnesty International UK’s Chief Executive, said: “Keir Starmer’s to-do list should include immediately suspending arms sales to Israel, repealing the Illegal Migration and Rwanda Acts, scrapping the grossly-unjust Troubles Act, and making human rights universal once more by reversing the appalling ‘carve outs’ from the Human Rights Act for politically-unpopular groups like people in prison and people seeking asylum.

“Far from being the problem we’ve seen them cast as over the last decade, human rights provide the solutions to many of our problems, allowing ordinary people to challenge injustice. The new Government can show it’s charting a new course by ending homelessness and making the right to a decent standard of safe and dignified housing legally enforceable. It also needs to remove the many authoritarian anti-protest measures of recent years.

“Most importantly, the new Government should be vocal in its defence of human rights and unwavering in its adherence to the rule of law – at home and abroad. It’s been truly chilling to see a UK government attempt to normalise the notion that human rights protections can simply be legislated away. It’s time for a rights renaissance.”

First 100 Days to-do list:

Suspension of UK arms transfers to Israel

Recent government figures show that the UK has issued more than 100 export licences for arms transfers to Israel between 7 October 2023 and 31 May, with no arms export licence application rejected or existing licence suspended or revoked. As well as calling on the new government to suspend arms to Israel, Amnesty wishes to see it fully supporting all international justice processes over the crisis in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, including ongoing legal cases at the International Court of Justice and measures taken by the International Criminal Court. Should the situation arise, the UK government should be prepared to act on ICC arrest warrants including against any Israeli political and military leaders.

Making Homelessness History

The last Government oversaw a huge rise in homelessness, failed to tackle insecure tenancies or grapple with the severe lack of available, affordable safe and decent housing, to the extent where most people agree there is a housing crisis across the UK. Amnesty is calling on the new Government to make immediate efforts to address the crisis including by; ensuring homelessness is not a criminal offence; recognising a decent standard of dignified and safe housing as a legally enforceable right, and making sure people with lived experience are actively involved in creating solutions to address the housing and homelessness crisis.

Restoring legal compliance and human dignity to asylum policy

Labour must deliver on its pre-election commitment to immediately scrap the Rwanda Scheme and end the bar to people’s asylum claims in the UK. However, it must go further in changing language and policy. Toxic depictions of refugees and migrants have damaged the UK’s international reputation and sullied the country’s moral standing. Our asylum system must be made to focus on delivering as fairly and efficiently as possible the security and certainty to which every refugee is entitled, however they may arrive – just as demanded by our international obligations, the rule of law and basic respect for every human person.

Repeal the Troubles Act and allow families truth and justice

Labour have committed to repealing and replacing the Troubles Act, which is welcome, necessary, and must be urgently acted upon. We must see judicial processes, such as inquests, reinstated, and victims’ rights to truth, justice and reparations fully realised. The Stormont House Agreement, with adjustments, must be legislated for and rights and the rule of law must be respected, protected, and upheld.

* Source: Amnesty International