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Human rights of Black people not equally protected, say Committee

11 November 2020

Today the Joint Committee on Human Rights have published their Report “Black People, Racism and Human Rights”, which concludes that the Government must urgently take action to protect the human rights of Black people, including within healthcare, criminal justice, nationality and immigration and democracy.

Against the backdrop of Black Lives Matter protests and the Government's announcement of the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities, the JCHR launched a call for evidence in July and held evidence sessions between July and September. The Committee commissioned ClearView Research to undertake a survey into Black people's perceptions of whether their human rights are equally protected compared to white people.

The Committee have now concluded that the Government, NHS and police must now take action to end the stark inequalities in the protection of human rights of the Black community, including:

  1. The Government should set out a comprehensive cross-Government race equality strategy which has at its heart improved data collection on racial inequality, specifically on health, criminal justice, nationality and immigration, and democracy.
  2. The NHS must set a target to end the maternal mortality gap whereby Black women are more than 5 times as likely to die in pregnancy or childbirth than white women.
  3. The lessons learned review or public inquiry into the Government's response to Covid-19 must prioritise consideration of the unequal impact on Black people.
  4. In view of the fact that 85 percent of Black people are not confident that they would be treated the same as a white person by the police, the police must Set a target to build the confidence of the Black community and undertake and publish polling on Black people’s confidence in the police. The recommendations from the Lammy Review and the Angiolini Review of deaths in custody must be acted upon as a matter of urgency.
  5. The Government must fulfil its promise to implement the recommendations from the Windrush Lessons Learned Review, in full, as a matter of urgency. The Home Office needs to embed the culture change needed to ensure that people are treated with humanity
  6. 25 per cent of Black voters in Great Britain are not registered to vote compared to a 17 per cent average across the population. The Government should consult on the introduction of automatic voter registration to tackle the unequal franchise.
  7. The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has been unable to adequately provide leadership and gain trust in tackling racial inequality in the protection and promotion of human rights. There should be a highly visible national organisation to champion and press for progress on ending race inequality. For the EHRC to be, and be seen to be, effective, it needs more resources, Stronger enforcement powers and must include Black commissioners. 

Chair's comments

Chair of the Committee, Ms Harriet Harman QC MP, said:

“The whole point about human rights is that they are supposed to be universal. Yet here in the UK it is clear that Black people are in no doubt that the protection of their rights are inferior to those of white people.  

We urge the government to take specific actions which will ensure Black people have equal human rights. Commissioning reports and apologising is not enough.”

Further information

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