(London) – Following the British vote to withdraw from the European Union, David Mepham, United Kingdom director at Human Rights Watch, issued this statement:

“The referendum vote signals Britain’s withdrawal from the institutions of the EU, but it provides no mandate for Britain to abandon its human rights commitments at home or abroad. Nor is it a mandate for British withdrawal from the European Convention on Human Rights and the Council of Europe – critical institutions that have protected and upheld fundamental freedoms for millions of people across Europe, including in Britain, over six decades.

In a period of great political uncertainty for the UK and Europe – and against a very disturbing backdrop of growing and explicit hostility towards migrants and refugees – it is more important than ever to fight for the values of human rights and against hatred and xenophobia. In the context of the upcoming election for Conservative Party leader and next British prime minister, candidates for this highest office should be pressed rigorously on the depth of their commitment to Britain’s human rights obligations and on how they will work with others internationally to advance human rights.”