My name is Mark Neary and without the Human Rights Act and European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), I don’t know where my autistic son Steven would be today. After the council wrongly took him away, the Act helped me bring Steven home.
Steven has autism and severe learning disabilities, and lives at home with me. A few years ago when Steven was 20, I was unwell and he was taken into respite care. He was only supposed to be there for a few days. That turned into a year.
Away from home and parted from me, Steven became distressed and his condition deteriorated. The council told me Steven wasn’t allowed home and would be moved into a care home 150 miles away, in Wales.
I was distraught to be separated from my son against our will. I felt helpless. But with the help of the Human Rights Act I was able to bring him home.
Now those rights could be under threat. Some politicians have threatened to scrap our human rights laws.
That’s why I’m calling on all political party leaders to make protecting the Human Rights Act and our membership of the ECHR a manifesto promise.
Like so many others I turned to the Human Rights Act when I felt voiceless because it means officials have a legal duty to respect and protect human rights. It gave me the strength to challenge the council, arguing that their actions breached Steven’s human rights. After nearly a year Steven came home. He’s now content and happy, back where he belongs but still fears he’ll be taken away again.
The Human Rights Act and ECHR give every single one of us the right to life, to not be tortured or treated inhumanely, to a fair trial, to respect for our privacy and family life, freedom of speech, freedom of religion.
These are basic rights we ALL have. And the Human Rights Act and ECHR are the laws that let us hold our authorities to account if they don’t protect and respect them. Even contemplating scrapping these laws is not ok. These laws – our human rights – gave me my son back.
And I’m just one of many they have helped. They have protected women from domestic violence and given soldiers proper equipment for the battlefield. They uncovered the police failings that led to the Hillsborough tragedy. They’re at the heart of peace in Northern Ireland, woven into the Good Friday Agreement.
They’re our laws, and they’ve made the UK a far, far better place. Whoever leads us after 8 June, they must put them at the heart of their vision for our country.
Please sign my petition and ask all party leaders to commit to protecting the Human Rights Act and ECHR today.
This petition is supported by Liberty, British Institute of Human Rights, Human Rights Watch, JUSTICE, and Rights Watch UK.