With 2021 drawing to a close, the EachOther team are both ready for a break and excited, after that, to continue putting the human into human rights in 2022. So, here is our round-up of the key rights issues of 2021 and beyond.
First up, let’s meet the team. Andy Hull (AH) is our Chief Executive here at EachOther. He has over a decade’s experience of championing human rights and uses his skills to help us expand our reach through the power of storytelling.
Our Creative Director Sarah Wishart (SW) takes the team to new heights with a constant stream of innovative ideas. This year, her documentary ‘Excluded’ won numerous awards for the way it centred young people’s voices and she was the driving force behind the launch of our first ever comic strip.
While Covid-19 still rages, the UK government is using parliament to pass legislation on multiple fronts which are curtailing people’s rights and reducing our ability to hold the state to account, including on the streets, in the courts, and at the ballot box
Our multimedia team is led by film producer Jack Satchell (JS) who uses his expertise in filmmaking to inform and inspire the UK public when it comes to human rights. Helping the multimedia side of EachOther grow is our video assistant Rhys Norman (RN) who has helped produce some incredible video content and refreshed our Instagram feed in 2021.
Lastly, my name is Hannah Shewan Stevens (HSS) and I have been acting as Interim Editor for the latter half of 2021. I will be leaving at the end of February, once EachOther’s new permanent Editor has arrived and settled in, but I am eager to keep highlighting human rights issues on EachOther’s platforms until my last day with this wonderful team.
To wrap up the year, we chatted about the key rights issues of 2021, how we at EachOther covered them and what we think is coming over the horizon in 2022.
What were the most pressing human rights issues of 2021?
SW: Beyond the obvious ongoing impact of the pandemic, the government is passing multiple bills that threaten human rights. From the threat to the way of life for Gypsy and Traveller communities threatened in Part 4 of the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill to the horrific news of Clause 9 in the Nationality and Borders Bill, which empowers the government to revoke the citizenship of over six million people living in the UK who either have dual nationality or who were born outside the UK. Once again, the rights of the most marginalised are under attack. These are the rights we must flock to protect, if we believe in human rights at all.
JS: I think the most pressing human rights issues this year have been those associated with the pandemic, and in particular with people living with Long COVID, as well as the rights of migrants seeking safety in our country.
RN: The appalling murder of Sarah Everard and the subsequent handling by police of the vigil in her name days later was the most pressing human rights issue of 2021 in my eyes. The abuse of power we witnessed throughout the entirety of this tragic incident is truly disturbing and it’s really angered me. Not only the way in which Sarah was murdered, but also the response by police to those mourning the death of an innocent woman. It’s clear that we still need to have a serious discussion and make real change in our society when it comes to the way gender-related violence is handled, and find better ways to stamp it out for good.
HSS: Human rights abuses have been rampant in 2021, but the most pressing for me has been the rise in hate crime against various marginalised groups. While the fight to class misogyny as a hate crime is ongoing, communities already supposedly protected by hate crime laws are not receiving the justice they deserve. We have a long way to go before such hatred is truly eradicated from our society.
AH: While Covid-19 still rages, the UK government is using parliament to pass legislation on multiple fronts which is curtailing people’s rights and reducing our ability to hold the state to account, including on the streets, in the courts and at the ballot box.
What have been some of your personal highlights of EachOther’s work this year?
AH: I love The Inspired Source series of opinion pieces by aspiring writers from marginalised communities and particularly remember the articles we ran on the cancellation of Notting Hill Carnival and on image-based sexual abuse. Overall, I’m just really proud of the way everyone in the EachOther team has adapted to working life in the coronavirus era. It’s not without its stresses and strains, but colleagues have supported each other throughout. Here’s hoping 2022 will see the impact of the pandemic on everybody’s daily lives subside.
SW: It has been fantastic to launch our new comic strip in time for the holiday season, which is a difficult time of year for many. I was also really glad to feature the issue of how Long COVID is affecting so many people and to be able to work with that affected community to ensure our explainer video covered new ground, amplifying their words about Long COVID’s impact.
RN: While a very broad subject, I think our coverage on matters relating to COVID-19, at home and in the workplace, particularly when it comes to the new rules and legislation that are associated with it, has been a really invaluable resource for many. It goes without saying that COVID is an ever-developing issue, and I feel we’ve been really careful and considerate with the information and reporting we’ve done on it.
HSS: We have covered so much this year, it’s hard to narrow it down to just a few! However, I’ve been really proud of our ‘Visions of Human Rights’ series this year, with our exploration of issues that may need the added protection of becoming a human right in the future. I also loved our Spaces of Human Rights week!
JS: I think our week-long coverage of the rights of people living with Long COVID was a particular highlight, as it was an area being only very scantly covered elsewhere.
What areas of our coverage do you think we need to develop in 2022?
JS: I don’t think any particular area needs more coverage from us: we just need to continue to strike a good balance of covering all the relevant human rights issues in the UK and always talking to people affected by those issues.
SW: I’m so proud of our ‘The Inspired Source’ commissioning strand and delighted that we’ve been able to double the payment to writers for that series, but in general we definitely need to be featuring affected communities’ voices more. We’ve long talked about citizen-sourced stories, so I’ll be keen to investigate how we might explore that kind of coverage in 2022.
AH: I wonder if we should publish a piece on the human rights implications of mandatory vaccination, plus update our coverage of vaccine passports.
RN: As an organisation, I would like to see us doing more to tackle the issue of homelessness in the UK. The pandemic has hit everybody hard, but especially those living close to the poverty line or who are homeless altogether. While we have produced some stories on homelessness, I feel like more needs to be done to drive the conversation forward and make real change.
HSS: I’d love to expand our coverage of how the treatment of marginalised groups in the media directly impacts their treatment in day-to-day life. Plus, it would be wonderful to keep building on our editorial content so we are covering every single aspect of human rights legislation and its impact in the UK.
Looking forward to 2022, what human rights issues do you think we need to put under the spotlight?
RN: We saw this year even more talks and urgency when it comes to the climate crisis, especially with COP26 held in Glasgow. I think we need to hold a spotlight on what exactly the human rights implications are when it comes to our right to health and global warming. We also need to ensure that we hold those in power to account – when they make decisions and promises to improve the planet for all of us, we need to make sure they follow through on them.
HSS: I think 2022 is going to require more people to get involved in protecting our human rights. Many of the Bills currently making their way through parliament are in danger of encroaching on the human rights we have all come to rely on. For EachOther, our job is going to be making sure every single aspect of human rights is covered, so that no one is left behind.
SW: With the news that Dominic Raab is now threatening the HRA, we’ll be needing to highlight the ways that rights protect everyone in the UK. I think we need to do some more explainers around these bills and their implications – a thing EachOther does pretty well, I think. In addition to adding to our comic strips in 2022, I’m also really excited to be launching our very first podcast – so, lots of new content in the pipeline!
AH: In 2022, we can do more to communicate what is at stake in the government’s proposed overhaul of the Human Rights Act.
JS: I think again, next year, COVID will be a big focus. It’s constantly shifting the nature of our lives and therefore our rights. The biggest thing for us will be the government’s overhaul of the Human Rights Act – this is a very scary prospect. We really need to communicate its implications for everyone.