Poll shows big support for Human Rights Act

Amnesty International celebrate the anniversary earlier in the week
Amnesty International celebrate the anniversary earlier in the week

A new poll released today shows surprisingly widespread support for the Human Rights Act in Britain.

Timed to coincide with the 60th anniversary of the universal declaration of human rights, the survey showed 96 per cent of Britons want a law protecting their rights and freedoms.

The survey comes two days after lord chancellor Jack Straw attacked the Act, saying it was due for a radical overhaul.

"Two days after the lord chancellor grabbed the headlines with his trashing of the Human Rights Act, this poll shows that Britain values its hard won rights and freedoms rather more than he thinks," said Liberty director Shami Chakrabarti.


Only 13 per cent of respondents remember ever seeing or receiving any information from the government explaining the legislation.

The polling, conducted for Liberty by ComRes, found 89 per cent of people thought the right not be tortured or degraded was vital or important.

Ninety-five per cent identified the right to privacy, family life and the home as vital and important. Ninety per cent said the same of freedom of speech, protest and association.

"Of course fundamental freedoms belong to people not governments, but it should still be a cause for embarrassment that our leaders have done so little to inform us about our rights," Ms Chakrabarti.

The Human Rights Act has come under sustained criticism from elements of the tabloid press due to a series of court judgements in Britain which were seen as overly liberal.

The government has shown signs of discomfort on the Act, issuing occasional statements criticising it, of which Mr Straw's was the last contribution.

The Conservatives want it replaced with a British 'bill of rights'.

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