Leading artists join fight to save Human Rights Act

By agency reporter
May 31, 2016

Ten of the biggest names in British art are the latest voices to join the growing chorus condemning government plans to repeal the Human Rights Act.

Inspired by the fight to retain universal human rights protections in UK law, David Birkin, Jake and Dinos Chapman, Mat Collishaw, Ruth Ewan, Rachel Howard, Harland Miller, Bob and Roberta Smith, Mark Titchner, Mark Wallinger and Sue Webster have each contributed a work to a one-off exhibition co-ordinated by the civil and human rights organisation Liberty.

Artists with Liberty: Save Our Human Rights Act will run from Thursday 2 to Saturday 4 June at the Paul Stolper Gallery, London. The exhibition is open from 10am to 6pm daily and entry is free.

The Government confirmed its intention to scrap the Human Rights Act in the Queen’s Speech – despite growing opposition from all the devolved administrations, all major opposition parties, Conservative rebels, anti-apartheid activists and groups ranging from charities supporting children, carers and disabled people to religious bodies, unions, football supporters and the families of terrorism victims. 

Details of its proposed replacement have yet to emerge – but all plans trailed to date suggest it would threaten the concept of universal human rights, allowing politicians to dilute rights protections for everybody in the UK, and certain groups in particular.

Since its introduction in 2000, the Human Rights Act has triggered positive changes in legislation and public policy UK-wide, ensuring all authorities treat people with fairness, dignity and respect. It has been used by countless people – bereaved families, victims of rape, slavery and domestic violence, journalists, servicemen and women and many more – to hold the State to account and seek justice.

Martha Spurrier, Director of Liberty, said: “We’re grateful to this amazing group of artists and the many other professionals who have donated their time, expertise and creativity. They’ve done so because – like the Hillsborough families, like Des and Doreen James [the parents of Pte Cheryl James who died at Deepcut Barracks] and like the thousands and thousands of ordinary people who have turned to the Act in dark times to secure protection, answers and justice – they know just how much we stand to lose.

“We hope people will leave the exhibition inspired to celebrate and defend their rights, and join us in telling the Government it’s time to abandon this unnecessary, unwanted and divisive policy once and for all.”

Rachel Howard said: “Joining forces with Liberty to launch Artists with Liberty just made sense. Human rights are for everyone – not a select few, chosen by politicians. The Human Rights Act protects every one of us from abuse, mistreatment, discrimination and neglect. Hopefully you'll never have to rely on it, but should you find yourself having to fight for your most fundamental rights, it's there – and we must all fight to keep it that way.”

* More about Artists with Liberty: Save Our Human Rights Act here

* Liberty https://www.liberty-human-rights.org.uk/


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