Diary of a Sutton Councillor

Protect my human rights

universal-declaration-of-human-rights

Here is the full text of the open letter I submitted to the new Sutton and Cheam Conservative MP in the Sutton Guardian this week:

Dear Paul Scully MP

I believe that I have the right to liberty; the right not to be tortured; the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; the right to a fair trial, and the right to be free from slavery or forced labour.

All of these rights and eleven more were established in the 1950 European Convention on Human Rights led by the UK and set up with the Council of Europe. The purpose was to prevent any state abusing its citizens following World War II and the atrocities of the Holocaust. These rights were later enshrined in the Human Rights Act 1998 to ensure that British courts could uphold them.

Page 60 of the Conservative Party Manifesto 2015 states ‘We will scrap the Human Rights Act and introduce a British Bill of Rights.’

As these rights were set down to protect the citizen from the abuse of the state, a scrapping of the Act is the state withdrawing my rights and redefining them. The UK Government should not have the power to change or take away my fundamental rights. The Human Rights Act is the British Bill of Rights.

I ask you to promise to protect my human rights as enshrined in the Human Rights Act and not support the Conservative Government when it seeks to remove them.

Jayne McCoy, Liberal Democrat and supporter of human rights.

I am not alone in my concern about this Conservative Government’s attack on universal human rights, see:

The British Institute of Human Rights: After the Election: The Human Rights Act, Protect what protects us all

Amnesty International UK: Save the Human Rights Act

38 Degrees: Save Our Human Rights

Equality and Human Rights Commission: Commission warns against ‘regressive’ change to human rights law

Liberty: Save our Human Rights Act

Counsel Magazine: The Case for the Human Rights Act

Fawcett Society: Threats to the Human Rights Act 1998

Liberal Democrats

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May 15, 2015 - Posted by | Liberal Democrats, Opinion | , , , , ,

2 Comments »

  1. The Human Rights Act in its present form does not protect the rights and safety of ordinary British citizens. When a criminal who has emigrated here, committed another haneous crime here, is able to stay in this country because of his ,human rights, that is not protecting the rights of the victimt and that is not protecting ordinary citizens rights. That is what we must change.

    Comment by Anonymous | May 15, 2015 | Reply

    • I am not too keen on anonymous comments, especially as in this case when the commenter has hidden their identity even from the moderator, however this is the standard argument that the Conservatives are making to justify their proposed change and so worth addressing.
      The principle of universal human rights is that they apply to everyone. That includes criminals. No matter how heinous someone is judged to be, if we agree that it is wrong to torture or falsely imprison someone, then that applies to every human. We cannot pick and choose. And we need to be careful of demonising or dehumanising certain people or communities. Jews were depicted as sub-human to justify the atrocities inflicted upon them, and Africans viewed similarly when slavery was common. The current political narrative of fear and division is being used to justify the erosion of liberties that have protected us for the last 65 years.
      Those rights were introduced to protect citizens from the abuses of the state. There must therefore be a body higher than the state to appeal to. And of course if the state tries to renege on the promises made in signing up to the European Convention on Human Rights then it will not like its decisions being challenged, but that is the point.
      There have been one or two cases reported in the media that are being used as the justification for this fundamental change to the rights of the British people. But how much do we really know of the facts in those cases? The judicial system is robust and probing. Not liking the outcome of a couple of cases is not a valid reason to throw over the whole principle, especially when it is something as fundamental and universally agreed as basic human rights. The benefits that the Human Rights Act has brought far outweigh those one or two unpopular decisions.
      Another misunderstanding is that the European Court in Strasbourg has the final say in determining the application of Convention rights. UK courts do not have to follow the judgements of the Strasbourg court, only take account of them. A recent example is how the UK has ignored the ruling on prisoner voting.
      So if the basic principle being used to justify changing the rights of British people is wrong, how can we have faith in the Government to redefine the principles of our rights?
      Follow some of the links in my post to find out more about the positive impacts the Human Rights Act has enabled, and far more knowledgeable minds than mine making the case against reform.

      Comment by jaynemccoy | May 17, 2015 | Reply


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