Why I Joined Liberty


Well, in a nutshell, it was recommended that I do so …..

See, I have been following the Human Right’s Blog Law, Rights & Peaches for a number of months - casually dipping my toe in grand affairs that I am out of my depth in. After a while I plucked up the courage to post a question to Chris (the author of Law, Rights & Peaches) asking him how I can be more involved with Human Rights on an activist level.

I appreciate I will never be a high flying lawyer at the Hague - rooting out war criminals - but if I can help in my own way then damn it I will.

Why did I choose Liberty? Because of their passion. Admittedly, in an ideal world there would be no need for campaign groups like Liberty. But, even in 2016 Britain, we are having to fight for our fundamental freedoms. The current Government are thinking of rolling back the Human Right’s Act in Parliament. Currently, everyone’s Human Rights are protected by law, including yours. Our Human Rights Act is the law that safeguards our fundamental freedoms.

Our Human Rights Act protects every one of us: young & old, wealthy & poor, you & your neighbour. The act is made up of a small bundle of fundamental freedoms that we all share. They are about big issues, like Life & Death. But they are also about everyday things, like your beliefs and what we can say and do:

Right To Life -

The Human Rights Act protects your life by law. It makes it illegal for someone to take your life.

Right To Liberty -

You have the right to be free and not arbitrarily deprived of your liberty. Means that the state can only imprison you with very good reason. Includes a number of procedural safeguards, if you are arrested or detained.

No Slavery Or Forced Labour -

You should never be treated like a slave, or be subjected to forced labour. Slavery cannot be justified.

Right To A Fair Trial -

You are always innocent until proven guilty and if you are accused of a crime you have the unfailing right to hear the evidence against you in a court of law. The right to a fair trial is fundamental to the rule of law and to democracy itself, and cannot be limited.

No Punishment Without Law -

You cannot be found guilty of a crime if it wasn’t against the law at the time it was committed. Such law must clearly be defined so you know what acts are criminal.

No Torture, Inhuman Or Degrading Treatment -

You should never be tortured in an inhuman and degrading way, no matter what the situation. This is an absolute right - in no situation is it justifiable to torture someone.

Free Speech & Peaceful Protest -

You have the right to speak freely and hold opinions. You have the right to join with others to express these views peacefully, without interference from the state.

Freedom Of Thought, Religion & Belief -

You have the right to your own beliefs and to practice those beliefs. Nobody can make you believe in something, or tell you what to believe.

No Discrimination -

Everybody’s rights are equal. You should not be treated unfairly because of your gender, race, beliefs, sexuality, religion, age - or anything else.

A Right To A Private Family & Home Life -

Nobody can secretly watch what you are doing, read your private letters or emails, or listen to your phone calls without very good reason - like stopping a crime, for example.

Right To Marry -

As long as you are legally old enough, you have the right to marry who you like and raise a family.

Protection Of Property -

The things you own belong to you. Public bodies cannot take them away or tell you how to use them without good cause.

Right To An Education -

All children and young people have a fundamental right to schooling.

Free & Fair Elections -

You have the right to vote for your own Government You should be free to make up your own mind who to vote for.

There has been very little public education about Human Rights contained within our Human Rights Act, and how it works as a result 0 many myths and misunderstanding have sprung up as a result. Including who it protects and who it doesn’t protect and what values it contains. Human Rights are not imposed on us by Europe (before or after the referendum). The European Convention on Human Rights was Winston Churchill’s legacy and adopted by the council of Europe - a body set up to promote democracy, human rights and the rule of law in Europs after WWII - in 1950. It has nothing to do with the EU. In fact, Human Right’s are a very British thing. Our Human Rights act was passed by our own Parliament back in 1998, with cross-party support. It simply incorporates the European Convention on Human Rights - itself largely drafted by British Lawyers - in our own law.

Human Rights are for ordinary people. Our Human Rights Act protects everyone’s Human Rights. Young & old, wealthy & poor, you & your neighbour. Anyone’s privacy can be breached by the prying eyes of the state and anyone can be badly let down by the authorities or wrongly accused of a crime. Hopefully this will not happen again, but, if it does - you’ll be happy we have the Human Right’s Act. Human Rights are indivisible - you cannot pick and choose which rights and freedoms you will honour. Although, our Human Rights Act doesn’t protect an endless catalogue of rights. It only protect 15 well established freedoms (see above).

Founded in 1934, Liberty is a cross-party membership organisation at the heart of fundamental rights and freedoms across the UK. We promote the values of individual Human dignity, equal treatment and fairness as the foundations of a democracy. Liberty influence policy at the highest level, raising awareness through the media and helping thousands of people every year through their free advice service.

Up next Letter #5 An Obituary
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