After six months of campaigning on data surveillance and international counter-terrorism, LCHR has brought these two important campaigns to an end. We are now moving on to two new campaigns, which will run between April and October 2014. The first is focused on defending the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and the Human Rights Act (HRA). The second is on women’s rights in Afghanistan.
We look forward to getting all of you involved with these campaigns. You can find more details about them below. For both, we will be organising events, doing grassroots campaigning, and conducting advocacy and policy work among other activities. If you’d like to help, send a message to our Chair at [email protected].
The Conservatives have pledged to repeal the HRA and have threatened to withdraw from the ECHR if they win the next General Election. We will campaign to equip the Labour Party with the best possible defence for the ECHR and HRA as we move into election season.
The ECHR is an international treaty that protects human rights. Numerous European countries, including Britain, are signatories. There is also a European Court of Human Rights that enforces compliance with the ECHR through its judgements. The HRA is the piece of legislation, passed by the Labour Government in 1998, that incorporates the ECHR into UK law. This means people do not have to take cases to the European Court of Human Rights if their rights under the ECHR have been violated in Britain. They can take their cases to British courts instead.
The ECHR and HRA have given critical protection to people facing all sorts of challenging circumstances. In Britain they have been used to help women fleeing domestic violence, stop cases of modern day slavery, ensure equal treatment for LGBT people, prevent older people from being separated from their husbands and wives in care, stop discrimination in the workplace, and maintain the ban on corporal punishment in schools.
The ECHR is heavily influenced by British legal and political traditions, and has allowed us to extend protection for basic rights across Europe.
LCHR will campaign vigorously to stop the Conservatives from denying these protections to British people.
Women’s rights in Afghanistan
As NATO forces withdraw from Afghanistan this year, women’s rights are increasingly under threat. The Afghan government has, in the last few months, threatened to remove protections against rape in marriage and re-introduce public stoning for adultery. The Afghan Parliament recently nearly overturned key provisions in Afghanistan’s Elimination of Violence Against Women Law.
With NATO pulling out, the Afghan government is more vulnerable than ever. They will be under strong pressure to appease conservatives and make a deal with the Taliban, both of which could involve abandoning women’s rights.
Britain must use all of its influence and leverage to ensure this does not happen. There can be no true peace without respect for women’s rights. Opinion may be divided on the war in Afghanistan, but there is no doubt one of the main gains over the last decade has been in women’s rights. Girls are now able to attend school and get an education. They have proper protections against rape and other sexual crimes. And they can seek legal recourse for infringements of their rights. It is vital these gains, achieved in large part due to the sacrifice of British soldiers, are not lost.