Full text below.
What do you think of when you hear the phrase ‘human rights’? Too often people think that human rights aren’t for people like them. That they’re for criminals and terrorists, or only important in other countries. But in truth they are for all of us. Our human rights laws offer protection of basic fundamental rights such as the right to a fair trial and freedom of speech. And on a daily basis they’ve helped protect victims of crime, the disabled, the sick and the elderly. From preventing rape victims from being cross examined by their attacker, stopping council misuse of CCTV surveillance or allowing access to life-saving drugs, thousands of people's lives have been improved in this country through human rights laws.
As a teenager growing up in South London, too often I saw my friends and neighbours stopped and searched by the police, and treated unfairly by the authorities. I was frustrated, and I wanted to do something about it. It’s why I joined the Labour Party at the age of fifteen, and it’s why I decided to become a lawyer: to represent those in my own community who were being discriminated against and defend their basic rights.
It was while I worked as a lawyer that the Labour Government introduced the Human Rights Act. Before the Act, British citizens whose basic fundamental rights had been breached faced lengthy waits to take their cases to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. After the Act was introduced, these cases were dealt with in British courts by British judges. To me, this was one of the greatest achievements of the last Labour Government.
As a former lawyer, the MP for Tooting and in my current role as Shadow Justice Secretary, I see countless examples of how the Human Rights Act protects each and every British citizen from abuses of power. I have grave concerns at the recent pledge from the Conservative Party to scrap the Act. That’s why over the coming months I will be shouting from the rooftops how important our human rights are and why we need to protect them. Will you join me?
Sadiq Khan MP