‘Black people, racism and human rights’ House of Commons and House of Lords Joint Commission on Human Rights

The Joint Committee on Human Rights (JCHR)

The Joint Committee on Human Rights (JCHR) is appointed by the House of Lords and the House of Commons to consider matters relating to human rights in the UK and proposals for remedial orders, draft remedial orders and remedial orders. It is a cross-party group made up of members of both houses.

The JCHR report: Black people, racism and human rights

On 11th November the JCHR published a report called ‘Black people, racism and human rights’-

You can download a PDF version below:

The overarching issue: a lack of implementation of report recommendations

At the heart of this report is the erosion of the trust of black people that action will be taken to ensure equal protection of the human rights of black people, their equal treatment by the police and an equable prioritisation of their health care issues by the NHS.

The report identifies ‘The overarching issue‘ as ‘lack of implementation of report recommendations

It lists fourteen reports into these topics and comments that:

‘Too often recommendations made in these reports have not been implemented and where actions have been taken, they have been superficial and not had lasting effect. ‘

It quotes Baroness Lawrence who said:

“We have had so many reports, and every time we have a report, they go back to the beginning again and keep repeating the same thing. I am not sure how many more lessons the Government need to learn. It is not just the Government of today but the Government of the Labour Party. How many more lessons do we all need to learn? The lessons are there already for us to implement. Until we start doing that, we will keep coming back in a year or two years repeating the same thing over and over again.”

In reviewing the lack of progress made, the Commission reaches the conclusion that

what has been lacking is the sustained political will over successive governments to prioritise implementation of recommendations.’

It goes on to express the view that:

‘At best this can be viewed as negligent, at worst there is a sense that these reviews, which are undertaken by excellent people in good faith, are used by governments as a way of avoiding taking action to redress legitimate grievances.’

The Commission believes that:

‘The failure to act in response to reports and inquiries erodes the trust of Black people in the state and further compounds the impact of discrimination and denial of human rights.’

It quotes David Lammy MP, who said:

“What happens is what we see on the streets of the United States. They take the law into their own hands. People get very angry and frustrated. I fear and worry for the future if we do not get to a place where we are not just kicking these issues into the long grass but are actually comprehensively implementing reviews that have been recommended after long and careful deliberation.”

JCHR research findings

Research commissioned by the JCHR shows that:

  • The majority (over 75%) of Black people in the UK do not believe their human rights are equally protected compared to white people. 
  • 85% of Black people do not believe that they would be treated the same as a white person by the police. 
  • The death rate for Black women in childbirth is five times higher than for white women. The NHS acknowledge and regret this disparity but have no target to end it.

The JCHR points out that:

‘There is a perception among the Black community that the replacement of the Commission for Racial Equality (CRE) with the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has resulted in a weaker focus on race equality issues than was previously the case. 

There are currently no Black commissioners on the EHRC. This has left the Black community without a clear visible champion for their rights. 

At national level there is no organisation whose priority it is to champion race equality and lead the drive for progress. ‘

They go on to make a number of recommendations for action.

Stopping this becoming another report that is ignored.

It seems to me that these recommendations will also be ignored or paid lip-service to unless significant external pressure is brought to bear.

If you agree,

  • please contact your MP and ask what they intend to do to action the Commission’s recommendations.
  • If you are a member of a political party, publicise this report within you party and call for action.

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