Association For The Advancement of Civil Rights

The Association for the Advancement of Civil Rights (AACR) is a now defunct political party in Gibraltar.

Like all Gibraltar political parties, it opposed transfer of sovereignty over Gibraltar from the United Kingdom to Spain. As the name of the group implied, it was in favour of greater civil rights for Gibraltarians, removing many of the political disabilities inherent in any territory with colonial status.

The AACR was the first political party created in Gibraltar. It dates back to the Second World War, when most of the Gibraltar population had been evacuated and only a small number of Gibraltarians remained on The Rock. At the same time, the colony was crowded with British soldiers, sailors and airmen. In September 1942, a group of fellow Gibraltarians, clerks and workers, led by Albert Risso came together to form an association advocating the civil rights of the local inhabitants of Gibraltar. They asked a young lawyer who was then serving in the Gibraltar Defence Force, Joshua Hassan, to join them. Initially named "The Gibraltarian Association", upon Hassan's advice, the group took a much more ambitious name: "The Association for the Advancement of Civil Rights in Gibraltar".

They received wide support from the Governor, General Mason-MacFarlane (later a Labour MP in the United Kingdom), who allowed them to fulfill the representative role that the Committee of the Exchange and the Commercial Library used to fill. The Governor also left the AACR with the responsibility of managing the leave scheme that allowed the Gibraltarians who remained on the Rock to visit their families in Britain. They also took a leading role in the repatriation of the Gibraltarian evacuees.

Under the leadership of Joshua Hassan, the AACR remained the dominant political party in local politics for over forty years. In August 1945, the first City Council elections since the war were held. The AACR won all the electoral seats in the Council and thus Joshua Hassan became the chairman of the Council. The AACR won all the elections held in Gibraltar from 1945 to 1984 (except the 1972 elections). However, Hassan resigned without completing his term as Chief Minister in 1987 after an agreement on the shared use of Gibraltar Airport was signed by Spain and the United Kingdom, citing personal reasons. He was succeeded by the then Deputy Chief Minister, Adolfo Canepa. However, Canepa lost the 1988 election to Joe Bossano of the Gibraltar Socialist Labour Party (GSLP), taking only seven seats and forming the opposition in 1988. In 1992 they failed to return and were effectively dissolved thereafter. The last election with an AACR candidate was the 1998 by-election following the death of Robert Mor of the Gibraltar Socialist Labour Party (GSLP). Candidate John Piris received only 337 votes and was defeated by Joseph Garcia of the Gibraltar Liberal Party (GLP), backed by the GSLP.

Read more about Association For The Advancement Of Civil Rights:  Gibraltar Award

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