December 10th is Human Rights Day, an international day which marks the anniversary of the launch of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. As we enter the 75th year since the declaration, it is important both to recognise the progress which has been achieved, whilst also being aware of sustained attacks on some of the human rights we hold dear. On a national level, the Bill of Rights Bill which seeks to make sweeping reforms to the Human Rights Act is currently being considered in Parliament. According to the Law Society, if passed, this Bill will lower the level of protection given to human rights.
The theme of this year’s Human Rights Day is Dignity, Freedom and Justice for All which, in this current climate is becoming ever more relevant both on the national and global stage. Locally, we see these three things under attack on a daily basis in the Hate Crimes carried out against people across our communities in Avon & Somerset.
Everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and humanity, yet increasingly we are hearing of incidents which disregard this notion. We have seen recently the murders of Sarah Everard and Sabina Nessa, both of whom were killed because they were women. The growing toxic rhetoric which treats trans people as not equal, with some arguing over their right to exist whilst excluding them from the conversation. Or the revelation that a Black school girl was strip searched by police, treated without dignity because of the colour of her skin – and the fact that this was not an isolated incident. All these situations only emphasise the need for justice for all.
At SARI, we are dedicated to justice. We work daily to fight the injustice of Hate Crime, seeking justice for the victims for the benefit of them and those around them. As Dr Martin Luther King famously said: “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”; whether it is hate-driven prejudice or hate-driven crime, the injustice ripples through communities. It affects everyone, even if they aren’t aware of it.
Last week, our Strategic Director and Bristol’s High Sheriff 2022, Alex Raikes MBE DL, hosted an event called Lifetime for Justice, where people from across Bristol and beyond packed into the Great Hall at the University of Bristol to hear from an array of speakers who have made striving for justice their life’s work. The inspirational event highlighted just how many people are working for better, and how important it is that they do so.
This Human Rights Day we pledge to continue to work for justice for the victims of Hate Crime, recognising that they should be able to live without fear of discrimination or attack because of other people’s prejudices. We want to make sure that hate has no place in our communities, stand together for our human rights and work together for dignity, freedom and justice for all.