Human Rights, December 2008

West Sussex County Times article

The arrest of Damian Green MP has rightly outraged many of my constituents.  He was held for nine hours, though at least he wasn't confined to a cell.  If he had been, in Sussex, Independent Custody Visitors would not have been allowed to view CCTV footage of him.

The reason?  Concerns about the human rights of detainees, on the grounds that they only consent to face-to-face contacts with visitors.

What nonsense.  The Visitors are meant to ensure the welfare of people detained in police stations.  Preventing monitors from looking at CCTV footage won't enhance the human rights of suspects - it will undermine them.

This appears to be one more example of human rights laws having barmy effects.  One prisoner took legal action against a governor on the grounds that a blocked lavatory in his cell breached his human rights.

The High Court found that the Ministry of Defence's failure to equip soldiers properly breached their human rights.  I'm the first to say that the Government should provide proper equipment for the military, but is it wise to involve judges and human rights laws in the theatre of conflict?

In a recent speech, I argued that over the course of the last decade the Human Rights Act has promoted a rights culture that has distorted the priorities of public bodies and undermined public safety.

There are now over a thousand human rights lawyers practising in this country, many funded by taxpayers through legal aid.  A new textbook on human rights is published every week.  Yet we hear little about responsibilities.

Next week is the sixtieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  This great text was intended to ensure that the atrocities which we fought against in the war never happened again.

The Declaration is a reminder that fundamental human rights matter.  We can't let the Human Rights Act go on devaluing them.


Document type

Articles

Published

4 December 2008

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