The Human Rights Act and Civil Liberties in the UK

The Human Rights Act faces regular calls for its abolition and a strong indictment as a force of bad in this country. It’s seen as the thing that gives criminals an easy time and puts the criminals above those of the law abiding citizens. This is not the case.

The Human Rights Act is there to protect the rights of all citizens from the Government! Any citizen can use it to their advantage when their rights are being breached by the State.

The state is a powerful machine that can be used to terrorise, bully and oppress the citizenry. There are Governments in this world today that bully, terrorise and oppress its citizens.

There was International condemnation of the oppression of the Burmese monks who took to the streets in peaceful and silent protest against their oppressive regime. There has been International Condemnation of the treatment of “terrorist suspects” at the hands of the United States Government in Guantanamo Bay. China has also received its fair share of international condemnation over its Human Rights records. However, British Citizens are openly calling for the only piece of domestic law enforceable in domestic courts that protects and guarantees their fundamental Human Rights – often these people are the same who condemn the actions of the Chinese, United States and Burmese Governments’.

Citizens in custody in Prison are those who most commonly use these laws to their advantage and this does often cause outrage in the Public. Those outside of prison often ask what happened to the Human Rights of the Victim or the Victims Families. The truth is those rights are still there and are the Government is stopped from infringing those rights by the Human Rights Act.

What we must also remember is that while Human Rights cases by prisoners may be improving the conditions in prison for the most serious of offenders it is too improving the conditions for those in prison for “low level offences” such as not paying their Council Tax.

Those outside of Prison campaigning against the Human Rights Act have rarely experienced Prison. Prison is not the holiday camp that the popular press likes to make out. It’s not all TVs and games macines. Prison life consists of a daily routine where prisoners are told when to get up, when to go to bed when to have Breakfast, lunch and dinner. It also consists of Education and counselling to try and prevent them from re-offending. Sadly this doesn’t always work. Many people blame this on the Human Rights Act making Prison too easy for those inside.

Have these people ever considered that these rehabilitation programmes do not work because of prison over-crowding and a lack of staff providing the facilities? Educating prisoners follows the same principles as educating children in our schools: the more crowded the class the less individual teaching time available and the less learning takes place.

For Human Rights to work they must be applied by the Government universally. Yes it is necessary to restrict some peoples rights temporarily such as a persons right to liberty when sending them to Prison. However, there is a very strict line which we must not cross when restricting people’s rights. If we cross that line then we start on the slipper path to a system of oppression and abuse.

We can see this slippery path already beginning. People are already too dismissive of Human Rights and the power of the Government. Too many people are willing to see essential liberties restricted just to try and make them feel a little safer. We must ask ourselves are we actually any safer with these restrictions? For the most part the answer to this is No.

System such as Biometric ID cards, National DNA Databases and electronically chipping prisoners that we release from prison on parole or at the end of their sentence are dangerous.

A DNA Database could be used for ethnic profiling as part of an ethnic cleansing process. Think how much easier Hitler would have found it to find the Jews if he had every single person registered on a big national database which included their ethnicity or religious beliefs? The holocaust was bad enough that I do not even contemplate what it would have been like with such a system in place.

Once you start electronically chipping people who we release from prison, how long will it be before we justify chipping children at birth? Can you imagine being monitored everywhere you go and the government being able to see all of that?

We are already seeing the Government trying to monitor our moves with the expansion of CCTV (yes it has it’s uses in crime prevention and detection, but do we really need such an extensive network?). Then there are the plans to fit every car with a GPS devise to monitor what roads you use and where you travel to calculate your road tax payments. For what other sinister purposes could this be used?

Then there is the draconian anti-terror laws that seek to censor the populous and create fear amongst the citizens. They allow the Police to carry out much more intense and longer interrogations, often without access to a solicitor. The Government want to extend this from its current 28 days to 42 – this should never be allowed (we should be seeking to reduce this period, not extend it). Before we know it we’ll be in a situation where we have political prisoners held outside of the juidical system. 28 days is already longer than some spend in prison after being convicted. Too often these “terror suspects” are Asian or middle eastern in decent and very few are ever charged (and even fewer actually convicted).

Many of us will have read “Nineteen Eighty-Four” by George Orwell (if you haven’t I suggest it as a good read). How many of us would like to live in that kind of world? I can bet that not many would. George Orwell was a genius in the way he provided us with such a warning if how it could one day be. We must remember that it was a warning and not allow our government’s to treat it like an Instruction manual.

I doubt that when Benjamin Franklin made his famous dictum in 1759 (“Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety”) he thought that over 200 years later it would be so applicable. He too provided us with a warning that we should listen to.

The “PC brigade” does not help either. All they do is help the Government justify the censoring of things on the grounds that it may or may not cause offence. Then there are the equality groups who fight for equality when it comes to gender, race and sexuality. All they end up doing is creating a new divide: one of positive discrimination. Why should an assault on an ethnic minority be taken any more seriously than an assault on an ethnic majority? Why should abuse against a woman be taken any more serious than abuse against a man? Why should an attack on a gay, lesbian or Transgender person be taken any more seriously than an attack on a Heterosexual person? The answer is that they shouldn’t. They should all be treated equally and should all be taken seriously. However, the current situation is that these forms of positive discrimination do take place.

We have a party in power that once used to stand for democracy and the rights of the people which is now slowly dwindling away those rights.  They are claiming that they’re doing it to protect us while we sit back and let them do it.

Every new threat of terrorism sees the Government introduce a new draconian measure to protect our way of life and us. What they are actually doing is taking away our rights and destroying our way of life. They are giving into the terrorists. They say that they stand against the terrorist and that they will nto let the terrorists win, when in actual fact that’s what they’re doing. The Government don’t stop telling us to continue going about our daily lives and not to let the terrorists scare us, but in the very same breath are announcing another knee-jerk reaction thought up in a state of fear and panic that further curtails our rights and liberties!

The British Government sends its troops into Iraq and Afghanistan in the hope of brining democracy to those countries. It makes a stand against Burma and China as those countries abuse and oppress their citizens. Does it even know what democracy is? How can these attempts to introduce democracy into foreign countries be taken seriously when the whole world can see Britain desecrating the rights and freedoms so many of its people gave their lives for during WWI and WWII to secure. It’s still sending young men and women to their deaths over democracy, but is forgetting them and those who have fallen before them.

Some people may dismiss this as some overly dramatic conspiracy, but it’s not. It is a very real danger. The Government is in a powerful place and we put it in that powerful place. It is there to serve us and not to oppress us.

I’m not advocating a mass uprising and revolution. What I am advocating is that we show the Government that we will not stand for their actions any longer. We should be seeing the movements we did against the Iraq War on other issues that are no less important.

In short, the people of Britain must stand against the Government in it’s cruised to curtail our Civil liberties before they are destroyed beyond repair.