The ruling Conservative Party in Britain is planning to pull out of the convention as part of plans to replace the Human Rights Act, passed by Tony Blair, with a British Bill of Rights. The move was dropped at the last moment as thousands joined the campaign against repealing it. Prime Minister David Cameron tactically omitted the move in the Queen’s speech to avoid embarrassment…writes Kaliph Anaz
The world is celebrating the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta – the deal which ensures the freedom of every citizen, including the king.
Magna Carta or ‘The Great Charter’ ensures that everyone is subject to the law, even the Royalty and the clergy, and guarantees the rights of individuals, the right to justice and the right to a fair trial. But the latest trends in the western world is curtailing the rights of individuals for political gains.
The ruling Conservative Party in Britain is planning to pull out of the convention as part of plans to replace the Human Rights Act, passed by Tony Blair, with a British Bill of Rights. The move was dropped at the last moment as thousands joined the campaign against repealing it. Prime Minister David Cameron tactically omitted the move in the Queen’s speech to avoid embarrassment.
Professor François Crépeau, the UN special rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, says Britain risks going down the path of Nazi Germany if Cameron withdraws from the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).
In an interview with The Sunday Times, Professor Crépeau, said the Tory move invoked Hitler’s persecution of the Jews as he warned against the UK abandoning the ECHR.
“If you reduce the human rights protection, you reduce it for everyone,” he told The Times. “If you have a government that says, ‘Well, there is too much human rights in this country, let’s reduce it’, at one point you might think it will reduce the rights of one category of persons but it has a tendency to spill over.
“We have to remember the 1930s and how the rights of the Jews were restricted in Germany and then the rights of the whole German people. I mean, countries that go down the path of reducing the rights of one category of people usually don’t stop there.”
The Canadian academic, 55, who earlier said Britain had a “bullshit” attitude to immigration, said he had no problem with the new Bill of Rights so long as “this rewriting results in the same rights being protected in the same way”.
However, breaking with the ECHR was a different prospect, he said. The repression of 1930s Germany was “exactly why” the ECHR was established after the Second World War.
“We had discovered that majority, parliamentarian electoral democracies were actually capable of making errors, of violating the rights of huge categories of population and we did not want that any more,” he said.
Crépeau added: “If we are now — because of the nationalist, populist atmosphere that is actually also supported by mainstream parties because they cannot find a counter-discourse — if this is allowed to happen again, that majorities are allowed to trample the rights of minorities with impunity, we are going back in history and we are going to pay for it at a collective level. We are going to suffer.”
London-based Liberty is also critical of the government move.
Shami Chakrabarti, Director of Liberty, said: “It is heartening that a Conservative Government committed to scrapping the Human Rights Act has at least paused for thought in its first Queen’s speech. There is a long struggle ahead but time is the friend of freedom. The more this new Parliament understands the value of the HRA for all of us in this United Kingdom and our reputation in the world- the more it is likely to understand how dangerous it would be to replace human rights with mere citizens’ privileges.”
However a number of concerning plans, trailed in advance of the speech, will be brought forward by the Government:
• An Investigatory Powers Bill will revive plans for a Snoopers’ Charter, giving State bodies wide-ranging new tools to collect and process all of our communications data.
• An Extremism Bill will create new banning orders, extremism disruption orders and closure orders, curbing free speech under the guise of tackling extremist behaviour.
• And an Immigration Bill will include plans to criminalise undocumented migrants working in the UK and confiscate their earnings. It will also extend deport first appeal later provisions risking huge injustice and separating families.
Islamic Human Rights Commission said the Extremism Bill and the Immigration Bill signal Tory intent to persecute Muslims.
“The announcement that Cameron is to introduce new anti-terror laws in the new Parliament signals the Tory government’s intent to accelerate Britain’s rapid descent into a totalitarian state in which the Muslim minority will be singled out for prosecution for “thought crime,” the forum said in a statement.
“The legislation, which was originally trailed several months ago but failed to secure the backing of the Tories’ then Liberal Democrat coalition partners seeks powers to close down groups and premises (including mosques) found to be propagating or promoting so-called extremist values. They will also furnish the Charity Commission with additional powers to root out charities who misappropriate funds towards extremism and terrorism”, and broadcast regulator Ofcom will be able to take action against channels broadcasting extremist content.
IHRC chair Massoud Shadjareh said: “”The Counter Terrorism and Security Act moved us one step closer to a police state. The current set of proposals is the Orwellian nightmare with all the trappings, from vague concepts such as British values that the government manipulates to persecute its opponents to using thoughtcrime to silence them. These proposals are not about keeping the UK safe, there are plenty of laws that already do that. The Conservative government is making their agenda clear: minorities that express any difference to their notions of Britishness will be silenced.”