Friday, 11 December 2020

Humans need rights


It must be a good ten years ago that one of my hiking companions, a staunch Conservative, said he was getting fed up hearing about people claiming their human rights.  To say I was astonished is putting it mildly.  I had thought that everybody accepted respect for human rights: that this was a given in a civilised democracy, just as all Americans are supposed do believe in motherhood and apple pie.

 I now realise that my companion was probably absorbing drip-feed from his favoured newspaper source, the Daily Mail. His and our  problem is that for most of we comfortable British, only very rarely does some misfortune affect us that requires us to appeal to our human rights.  

This, however, is not true of those who, for one reason or another, are pushed to the margins of society.  These include the disabled, the homeless, many of those relying on social security payments, all prisoners and particularly those  who die in custody, migrants, asylum seekers, those claiming they are victims of rape, our soldiers in wars and the enemies they face -  even terrorists.

Yesterday, 10th December, was World Human Rights Day because the United Nations passed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights  on that date in 1948.

The Labour Government in 1998 introduced the Human Rights Bill in the UK, which became operative in 2000.  Our present government is using this as an excuse for reviewing the "effectiveness" of the Act.

In particular the are concerned with the increasing use of Judicial Review, which allows the courts to decide whether or not such and such an act of the government is actually legal.  

Recent examples have been the attempt by the May Government to implement  Article 50 for leaving the EU without reference to parliament (it wasn't) and  the prorogation of parliament to "get Brexit done" without their scrutiny (that wasn't either, leading the the Daily Mail to describe the judges as "enemies of the people.")

 That the government (then the Crown) should obey the law was one of the principles of Magna Carta, first passed in 1215, on which matter we probably really were then world leaders.

 Attempts  to water down the Act diminishes us on the world stage and endangers some our  most vulnerable people.  These attempts  should be resisted vigorously.  

Those who would like to help should join  Liberty.


You can do so for as little as £1 per month.



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