This is a sponsored post by Amnesty International’s Save The Human Rights Act campaign.
I hope you never have to use the Human Rights Act. When my mum was murdered by her violent ex-partner I found I needed it. But it’s not something I had ever thought about before that.
Maria Stubbings was my mother and she was a wonderful, vibrant, caring person full of life and love. She was in a relationship with Marc Chivers, who turned out to be a violent, controlling man with a history of criminal abuse we knew nothing about. Despite her terror and repeated appeals to the police for protection, she was let down and he was left free to attack and kill her. I relied on the Human Rights Act to hold the police to account for a series of failings including, absurdly, giving her a panic alarm which worked when he was in prison and was turned off as soon as he was let out.
Later, police went to her house following a distress call she had made and took his word for it when he said she was away on a walking holiday. In fact, she was lying dead a few feet from the doorway he stood in.
People who care about women’s rights like me were hopeful when Theresa May became Prime Minister. She has worked on a number of women’s rights issues from FGM, to women’s inclusion in politics, to human trafficking, over many, many years and has specifically said she wants to tackle the inadequate police response to domestic violence cases. I hope that as part of that pledge she commits to keeping the Human Rights Act which is a vital safety net, when other avenues of justice have been exhausted.
It’s not at all surprising to me that new polling out today shows most people in the UK don’t know the Human Rights Act had anything to do with the Hillsborough inquest, nor that it formed part of the Good Friday Agreement in Northern Ireland. I wish I didn’t know so much about it myself. I hope no one ever needs to use the Human Rights Act, but in reality it could be any of us, and so we need to make sure it’s still there.