UK General Election 2017

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Less than a year after the UK voted for Brexit, Prime Minister Theresa May has announced a General Election, ostensibly to strengthen her mandate as the UK prepares to negotiate its withdrawal from Europe. But what human rights challenges does the UK face during – and after – Brexit? And how do the different UK political parties propose to protect and promote human rights, both within the UK and overseas? In the coming critical weeks, Human Rights Watch will provide rolling coverage and analysis.

What Do the UK Party Manifestos Say About Human Rights?

Human rights have so far barely featured in the British election campaign. Yet in their manifestos theConservatives, Labour and Liberal Democrats as well as the Scottish National Party have set out distinctive positions on a range of rights issues relating to both domestic and foreign policy.  These policies warrant public attention and political debate. To help encourage this, we highlight the parties’ commitments in seven key areas, offer some brief context, and make links to other relevant material. 


Don’t Overlook Women in UK Election

Domestic violence. Equal pay for equal work. Family leave. Child and forced marriage. People often dub these “women's issues,” and, in political debate, treat them as “softer” (read: less important) than, say, security or trade. That’s a mistake with far-ranging consequences; mounting evidence shows that protecting women’s rights is good for families, communities, and countries, writes HRW's Hillary Margolis. 


How Human Rights Laws Protect LGBT People

As the world marks the International Day Against Homophobia this week, how are the rights of LGBT people protected in the UK? Here’s three key ways, courtesy of Rights Info, outlining how human rights laws help let openly gay soldiers serve in the Armed Forces, allow gay people to be treated equally in inheritance laws, and protect LGBT people from being returned to countries where they may face persecution.


How Human Rights Secured Victory for the Hillsborough 96

The basic facts about Hillsborough are now widely known. The crushing to death of 96 men, women, and children at a football match on April 15, 1989, a disaster which the police falsely blamed on the behavior of the Liverpool fans. It then took more than a quarter of a century and dogged campaigning by the victims’ families to establish the truth – that the fans were “unlawfully killed,” a result of serious mistakes by the police, ambulance services, and those managing the stadium. But I suspect that few people in Britain are aware that it was the United Kingdom’s Human Rights Act that helped secure justice for the Hillsborough 96, writes HRW's David Mepham.


UK Election Offers Chance to do Right by EU Citizens

The UK General Election campaign has started. My polling card confirming my right to vote arrived through the letterbox yesterday, but there’s still no official sign of party manifestos. The government called a snap election in part to buttress its support in negotiations to withdraw from the European Union following last year’s Brexit referendum, writes HRW's Kartik Raj


Five Questions You Should Ask When Canvassers Come Knocking

As the general election campaign unfolds, it’s useful to know which issues to raise when canvassers come to your doorstep. Liberty has put together five questions to ask if you want to protect our human rights for the next five years.


Conservatism and Human Rights

HRW's UK Director, David Mepham, talks to Bright Blue  about human rights, Donald Trump’s first 100 days, and the UK General Election, and urges all parties to reaffirm their commitment to the European Convention of Human Rights in their campaign manifestos.


Will the Next UK Government Curb Arms Sales to Saudi Arabia?

The influential International Relations Committee of the United Kingdom’s House of Lords issued a highly critical report this week on UK policy towards the Middle East. Whoever forms the next UK government should look closely at the report’s recommendations, especially on arms sales to the Gulf, writes HRW's David Mepham


How Does the Human Rights Act Protect British Citizens?

A key piece of UK legislation that may be amended under a new government is the Human Rights Act, which some politicians have threatened to scrap. But what exactly is the Human Rights Act, and how does it protect ordinary British citizens? This story shows how a family with a severely disabled son, called Steven, was able to use the Human Rights Act to be reunited with him again, after their local council - against the family's wishes -  tried to move Steven into a care home 150 miles away.


House of Lords Report Backs Suspension of Some UK Arms Sales to Saudi Arabia

At some point in this General Election campaign, attention will turn to parties’ foreign policy priorities. One of the biggest issues will be whether a new UK government should keep selling arms to Saudi Arabia, which stands accused of violating international humanitarian law in its conflict in Yemen. A new report published today by the Lords international relations select committee, 'The Middle East: Time for New Realism', has called for the suspension of some arms sales to Saudi Arabia if it is unable to be more transparent about its use of UK weaponry.


Can the UK Keep Hate at Bay in its General Election?

The last time the United Kingdom went to the polls for the Brexit referendum in June 2016, Member of Parliament Jo Cox was murdered in broad daylight following an ugly campaign tinged with xenophobia. The vote was followed by a spike in hate crimes targeting European Union citizens and others in the UK perceived to be foreigners. This time, can the UK keep hate out of the general election campaign, asks HRW's Benjamin Ward?


Amnesty UK Will Confront Politicians Over 'Toxic Language' During Election Campaign

Amnesty International has said it will confront politicians if they use “toxic language” during the 2017 election campaign. Last year, during the EU referendum campaign, the UK Independence Party (UKIP) came under heavy criticism for the party's "Breaking Point" poster on immigration, which pictured migrants crossing the Croatia-Slovenia border.


What Does the General Election Mean for Human Rights?

Martha Spurrier, director of the civil liberties group Liberty, explains the importance of the European Convention on Human Rights ahead of the 2017 General Election in an interview with Bright Blue. 

Is Britain Serious About Barriers to Global Education?

Britain’s main political parties will disagree strongly on many issues in this election campaign. But there is broad consensus amongst them on retaining a substantial development budget and on using aid money to get more children into school in poorer countries, especially girls, writes HRW's David Mepham


Putting the British Election to Rights

On the day of the Westminster attack last month – when a man drove his car into a crowd, killing five and injuring dozens more – Prime Minister Theresa May made a rare positive comment about human rights, citing them as part of Britain’s defining values. The leaders of Britain’s other mainstream political parties have also voiced support for rights in different contexts. But with a general election now set for June 8, the challenge for each of them is the same: how to protect human rights in practice, writes HRW's David Mepham