Human Rights Watch (HRW) has denounced the UK government for its ill treatment of women, refugees, demonstrators, welfare recipients, and ethnic minorities, among other violations, warning officials that the country could become known as a “human rights abuser” if it did not correct a series of controversial laws.
In its latest annual global report on human rights in 2022, HRW condemned Britain’s conservative leaders for adopting a slew of measures last year that violated human rights on a range of issues including the rights of asylum seekers, protesters and ethnic groups.
“The UK government in 2022 adopted laws that violate rights and proposed significantly weakening human rights protections in domestic law,” HRW reported.
“The [UK] government signed an agreement to transfer asylum seekers who arrived irregularly in the United Kingdom to Rwanda, putting them at risk. Rising food, rents, and energy prices, and inadequate social protections threatened the rights of people on the lowest incomes, including to food and housing. The government failed to take meaningful steps to address institutional racism including in policing,” the NGO added.
The HRW report criticized the UK in regard to racism and ethnic discrimination. It said a UK government policy paper published in April claimed that institutional racism had disappeared. However, the paper received widespread criticism from anti-discrimination groups.
The report noted that in 2022 multiple reports from the UK cited the negative impact of institutional racism in various areas of life, including at work (particularly for women of color), in prenatal and maternity care, the broader medical system, sports, policing, and mental health detention.
The independent police oversight mechanism for England and Wales published recommendations in April for police to address the disproportionately discriminatory use of “stop and search” powers, citing data that Black people were seven times more likely to be stopped and searched than white people.
“When you come to the UK, you look at the very worrying trend we are seeing,” HRW Executive Director Tirana Hassan said. “A slew of legislation was passed last year where fundamental human rights are being challenged.”
The UK has a “very short window” to abandon these legal and policy decisions, she continued, warning that it would otherwise join “the countries listed as human rights abusers rather than human rights protectors.”
Britain's leaders have pinned much of the problems on the COVID-19 pandemic; however, critics say the UK's ruling Conservatives' incompetence and leadership instability has plunged the country in its current dire straits.