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Hillsborough families call on Theresa May to save the Human Rights Act

Relatives of some of the victims of the Hillsborough disaster have today issued a call on Theresa May to keep the Human Rights Act (15 November).

The call comes as Amnesty International published a new YouGov poll which found that most people (70%) in the UK who expressed an opinion were unaware of the role the Human Rights Act played in the historic inquest which returned a conclusion of “unlawful killing” of 96 football fans earlier this year.

Meanwhile, Amnesty has today launched a nationwide public awareness campaign on the importance of the Human Rights Act, which the government has repeatedly threatened to scrap, highlighting its role in the Hillsborough inquest. The campaign will feature billboards and screens in train stations across the country as well as in Westminster tube station. There will also be ad vans, printed adverts in local papers and extensive online advertising.

In addition, Amnesty is releasing three two-minute-long powerful films featuring interviews with three of the Hillsborough relatives talking about their long fight for justice and how the Human Rights Act provided a vital backstop when other avenues of justice had failed them. The videos feature the stories of Becky Shah, who lost her mum Inger at Hillsborough, Barry Devonside who lost his 18-year-old son Christopher and Steve Kelly who lost his brother Mike.

Peace in Northern Ireland

The new campaign will also raise awareness of the role that the Human Rights Act plays in the Good Friday peace agreement which ended “the troubles” in Northern Ireland. YouGov found that 74% of people who expressed a view were unaware that the Human Rights Act was part of the peace agreement. One in two (49%) of the people who expressed a view reported that they would be worried if the repeal of the Human Rights Act led to a need to redraft the peace agreement. Troubles victims and a signatory of the Good Friday Agreement, Professor Monica McWilliams, also warned today that the repeal of the Human Rights Act could threaten peace in Northern Ireland and joined the call for the Human Rights Act to be kept.

Other Human Rights Act cases

Amnesty is also highlighting the stories of several other individuals who relied on the Human Rights Act, and who will feature on the posters and adverts. The four other cases featured are those of Celia Peachey, whose mother Maria was murdered by her violent partner and who used the Human Rights Act to hold the police to account for a series of failures in providing her with protection as well as in investigating her death; Frank and Janet Robinson, who were granted a second coroner’s inquest which looked at the hospital’s systematic failures which contributed to the death of their son John in Mid Staffs hospital after he was originally sent home despite having to be put into a wheel chair semi-conscious  and vomiting violently on discharge; Jan Sutton, who is severely disabled with MS who challenged the inadequate care provision from her local council which left her bedbound for hours every day; and Gary McKinnon, who was accused of computer hacking and whose extradition to the USA was prevented by the then Home Secretary Theresa May using the Human Rights Act.

Kate Allen, UK Director of Amnesty International, said:

“People might not know what the Human Rights Act does, but they’d miss it if it wasn’t there.

“There’s probably no other law that’s been the subject of so much misreporting and myth-making. It’s no surprise that after they’ve been force-fed a diet of distortion, relatively few people know about the role the Human Rights Act has played in helping ordinary people up and down the country win historic legal battles.

“From Hillsborough families, to parents who lost their son in the Mid Staffs hospital scandal, to a woman killed by her violent partner, these are tragedies that could happen to each and every one of us.

“The Human Rights Act protects people in their darkest hours, when other avenues of justice have let them down.

“Peace in Northern Ireland has the Human Rights Act as one if its cornerstones - it would be absolute folly to tamper with this.

“Even Theresa May found that she needed to use the Human Rights Act when she was Home Secretary and so it’s only fitting that she should commit to keeping it now, so that others can do the same.”

More information about all the cases as well as powerful videos and a petition already signed by more than 130,000 people can be found at:

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