Network Rail has been blasted for its last-minute decision to pull Amnesty International’s new marketing campaign – which highlights the role the Human Rights Act has played in the Hillsborough inquest – even though the posters are already running on London Underground.
Poster sites at rail stations in Liverpool, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Manchester, Birmingham and at London’s Waterloo and Victoria but Network Rail which deemed the campaign “too political”.
Transport for London is carrying the ads in Westminster Underground station as planned, and executions are running in print and online extensively. An ad van is also doing laps of Westminster and across London.
Responding to the decision, Amnesty’s UK director Kate Allen said: “We’re very disappointed by Network Rail’s decision to pull these ads at the eleventh hour. We simply don’t accept that basic human rights are ever a political issue.
“The irony is that human rights cross party-political lines and so do failures, cover-ups and abuses. Successive governments managed to let down the Hillsborough families, and their story demonstrates precisely why we need enduring human rights protections which aren’t redrafted by the government of the day, on a political whim.
Barry Devonside, who lost his 18-year-old son Christopher at Hillsborough, said of the decision: “It’s a very small-minded decision for Network Rail to take. Human rights aren’t political; they cover everyone right across society. I don’t think many people know about the Human Rights Act and how important Article 2, which protects the right to life, is. But we do, and the Human Rights Act is one of the most important things in our society.”
JCDecaux, the agency which had booked the space, has switched the ads to key roadside billboards, airports and bus shelters.
Amnesty has also published a new YouGov poll which found that most people (70%) in the UK who expressed an opinion were unaware of the role the Human Rights Act played in the historic Hillsborough inquest which returned a conclusion of “unlawful killing” of 96 football fans earlier this year.
Amnesty is also releasing three powerful two-minute films featuring interviews with three of the Hillsborough relatives talking about their long fight for justice and how the Human Rights Act provided a vital backstop when other avenues of justice had failed them.
The videos feature the stories of Becky Shah, who lost her mother Inger at Hillsborough, Barry Devonside, who lost his 18-year-old son Christopher, and Steve Kelly, who lost his brother Mike. They are all available to embed and are at www.savetheact.ukThe
The campaign will also raise awareness of the role that the Human Rights Act plays in the Good Friday peace agreement which ended “the troubles” in Northern Ireland.
YouGov found that 74% of people who expressed a view were unaware that the Human Rights Act was part of the peace agreement. One in two (49%) of the people who expressed a view reported that they would be worried if the repeal of the Human Rights Act led to a need to redraft the peace agreement.
Troubles victims and a signatory of the Good Friday Agreement, Professor Monica McWilliams, also warned today that the repeal of the Human Rights Act could threaten peace in Northern Ireland and joined the call for the Human Rights Act to be kept.
Professor McWilliams said: “We would never have contemplated that the Human Rights Act would be in jeopardy at any stage. It was a building block of our agreement. To take this away from Northern Ireland is just absolutely shocking.”
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