14 rabbis, Jewish campaigners urge Boris Johnson not to review Human Rights Act

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14 rabbis, Jewish campaigners urge Boris Johnson not to review Human Rights Act

Communal human rights activists, including from Reform and Liberal Judaism, say the move would 'undermine' commitment to basic freedoms

Prime Minister Boris Johnson (Photo credit: Peter Byrne/PA Wire)
Prime Minister Boris Johnson (Photo credit: Peter Byrne/PA Wire)

Rabbis and Jewish human rights groups have signed an open letter with other faith leaders urging Boris Johnson not to “undermine” basic freedoms by reviewing the Human Rights Act.

They told the prime minister that the European Convention on Human Rights, on which the act (HRA) is based, was “Europe’s response to the horror of the Holocaust”, and “safeguards our freedoms, including freedom of thought, belief, and religion”.

They added that “it has allowed us to marry and conduct funerals in line with our understandings of the world, letting us live in accordance with our beliefs… Any move to weaken it risks undermining the basis of all of our freedom”.

The intervention of Jewish figures follows the publication of meeting minutes in which police leaders say the act has “changed policing for the better”. Other minutes show the Bar Council saying there is “little appetite for reform” of the HRA.

Jewish signatories include 14 rabbis as well as Dr Edie Friedman, director of the Jewish Council for Racial Equality (JCORE); Robert Wiltshire, chair of the Movement for Reform Judaism; Rabbi Mark Solomon, chair of Liberal Judaism’s Beth Din; and Kira Blumer, chief executive of Jewish anti-poverty charity Tzedek.

René Cassin’s chief executive, Mia Hasenson-Gross said the act “protects victims of crime, the wrongly accused, disabled people, the mistreated, and the elderly”.

She added: “It has allowed countless people to pursue justice here in the UK and is an instrument founded on values which should be respected, not diminished.”

In 2018, the Jewish community was thankful for the Human Rights Act, after the High Court ruled that the Senior Coroner for Inner London must consider fast tracking the cases of Jews and Muslims because their faiths require a swifter burial.

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