The Labour MP Jo Cox, killed on Thursday by a man who shot and stabbed her on a West Yorkshire street, was an exceptionally principled and effective advocate for human rights, humanitarian causes, development and social justice. We are many at Human Rights Watch who worked closely with Jo, and we are shocked and devastated by her murder.

Batley and Spen MP Jo Cox in Westminster, London. 

Jo did so much in the British Parliament to highlight the suffering in Syria's conflict. She championed the cause of protecting civilians in Syria, and in many other countries, including Sudan and Yemen.

Jo was courageous and outspoken on refugees, and a powerful voice calling for Britain and other countries to resettle more desperate and vulnerable people fleeing war and rights abuses in their home countries, including children. She never stopped reminding those in power that they could make choices to affect people’s lives in a positive way. She was in so many ways a visionary leader, and humanity was her guiding principle.

Jo was passionate about the rights of women and girls, and tireless in her efforts to advance their rights, including through the campaign she so expertly led on maternal mortality before she entered parliament in 2015. 

Jo was small in stature, but she had a big personality and a big heart. She was exceptionally smart and dedicated. She made a huge impact on the many humanitarian causes she fought for and left a deep and lasting impression on all those she met.

We feel profoundly privileged to have known and worked with Jo – our cooperation and friendship was a treat every step of the way. Jo had such spunk. She was feisty and tremendous fun and she was an inspiration to us all. Today, our hearts are broken, but we pledge to continue the work that Jo championed like no other: to confront hate, bigotry and intolerance in all its ugly forms, and to work for respect of rights, justice and tolerance.

Our thoughts and heartfelt condolences are with Jo’s husband, Brendan, their young children, their wider family and Jo’s many friends, colleagues and admirers.