Human Rights: A View from the Upper Circle

 

The Human Rights (HR) law is a load of codswallop that does everything for the criminal and the illegal immigrant and nothing for the ordinary law abiding person. I could not count the number of times I have heard this sentiment expressed. It is borne of exasperation, no matter where or when the issue is raised. The exasperation is tinged with a real feeling of powerlessness. People feel outside the loop of decision making; they feel railroaded by the system. Many have begun to question democracy as a bona fide system of government.

Is HR law a political philosophy imposed on the majority without them having a credible input into any discussion? No country, now 45 across Europe, has openly discussed it with their electorate. No referendum has been suggested, let alone carried out. Voices in opposition are quickly dismissed as: fascist, racist, bigots, extreme and on and on. There can only be a few possible answers for this omission:

  • It is a diktat by the highest echelon in our society; backed up by a huge bureaucracy.
  • They don’t trust the electorate to make the preferred decision.

Either way, it is undemocratic and, therefore it is a political philosophy imposed on the people. So much for:

  • Article 9, you should not be indoctrinated by the State.
  • Article 5, the right to Liberty and Security.
  • Article 10, the right to freedom of expression. Handyside v UK (1976) “… but also to those that offend, shock or disturb the State or sector of the population.”

Isn’t it ironic…

If the ‘powers that be’ are so sure that this is the best way forward for the benefit of ‘everyone’, let it be open to serious debate over a protracted period. Let the people examine every nook and cranny and then have a vote. Let us walk the road together and the achievement will be more profound and lasting. What are they afraid of? Are they alluding that the people are too stupid to understand? The alternative is to continue sticking it down people’s throat and dealing with the consequences.

Any commercial guru will tell you that perception is everything. That being the case, our politicians have got it very wrong because the majority perception on HR law is that it does not work for ‘us’. Any surprise here?

Moreover, each succeeding tale of some criminal or illegal claiming and gaining their human rights exacerbates the feeling of isolation from the democratic process. The law is in place and will be forcibly applied on every occasion; a law without recourse. There is no escape. Yes, the public are trapped like a rabbit down a hole and the ferret, (HR law) has been released but the warren is big and the rabbits are many, most will escape and their discontent will fester and become more entrenched. I suppose that the politicians hope that over a few generations the opposition will wither and die. Maybe so, on the otherhand the opposition may intensify.

What generates the widespread distrust and distaste for HR law? Let’s put it in context.

Scenario:

A criminal becomes a victim the moment the police arrest him. He may have cause to complain about his arrest or his treatment whilst held in a cell. If charged, if sentenced, if imprisoned, the moment he arrives at the prison his ‘rights’ are enhanced; it does not matter the crime, murder, trafficking or rapist. Let’s say our guy is a rapist, he is automatically given a copy of the Prisoners Information Handbook and a copy of Prison Rules, if requested. He has the right to see his ‘legal services officer’ in case he wants to complain about mistreatment or the length of his sentence and can insist on legal representation at a future parole meeting, usually half way through his sentence, before which he will have access to all documentation about himself.

Meanwhile, the real victim is traumatized; her life may well be devastated forever. She might not venture out in dark evenings or walk home alone. She may opt for the additional expense of a taxi just to feel a little safer.

In general, does the victim go out as often or become more of a recluse? Do they laugh as much? Can they have male friends as they once had? Is there a loss of confidence in dealing with others? Their prison may be more restrictive, more inhibiting than that of the rapist. Added to which, this is a life sentence, there is no parole from fear and intimidation and a breakdown of trust. Often they are too afraid of authority to speak up for themselves. They may feel that the justice system has treated them shabbily.

Whole families can be affected by a crime on one of their number. Relationships can break down irretrievably and thus the love and automatic support that once epitomized family life has gone. The shadows of fear loom larger and doubts fester like a rat gnawing at the soul.

But, hey! Let’s not get emotional. The criminal has been sentenced and is doing ‘time’ in prison. Now we must detach ourselves from the case and look to see how we treat those who are incarcerated. We must ensure that their treatment is humane. We must show our humanity by treating ‘everyone’ as equals’ poor treatment reflects on ‘everyone’ of us. If we want a just and humane society then by necessity we must give justice to ‘everyone’ and respect their rights. This has a strong biblical connotation, e.g. “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.” Matthew 7:12

What consideration has been given to the victim? Well, she has had justice, the perpetrator is in prison and she is free to rebuild her life. Hmmm. Nice little package that. Hmmm. No problem then? Excuse my sarcasm but I am reminded of the law of the jungle, otherwise interpreted as the criminals’ philosophy, e.g. “Do unto others, then run.” Benny Hill.

I would really like to know of one decision ever taken that did not involve emotion. How do we divorce ourselves from emotion without becoming a sociopath? Are we seriously suggesting that we forget about conscience? What kind of numbskull came up with that prerequisite? And these are the people making the law. We need help from a higher order! From the time of earliest man emotion has been an intrinsic part of our being; we survived thanks to our limbic brain, the flight or fight, did that not involve emotion?

Funny old thing this justice lark.  The HR law is not really there to protect the ordinary citizen, “…qualified articles are largely concerned with preventing the Government, the police or other state bodies interfering with people’s rights.” (yourrights.co.uk) Qualified articles allow the government to interfere for, ‘the prevention of disorder or crime.’

So if you are not up to any illegal shenanigans the HR law doesn’t affect you. It is funny in some ways that you have to commit a crime to become a victim under HR law. Work that one out! Answers on a postcard please.