Are you willing to sacrifice your human rights in the future just to deny others theirs now out of misguided hatred?

First published in October 2020.

Speaking as professional do-gooder, but despite qualifications in international law not a lefty lawyer, let’s clarify a few things about why human rights and the law is important, for everyone.

The current attacks by the likes of Boris Johnson and Priti Patel are primarily, but not solely, aimed at those who are holding the government to account for violations of human rights.

There is a key word there “human”.

They are “native citizens rights”. They are for everyone.

Imagine if you will that you are abroad and, God forbid, something happens and you end up detained. Would you be willing to accept that you should not be provided with a defence, or that you were treated in an inhumane way because you were born in a different country?

I would assume not, and yes, I know, I will get people shouting “They came here illegally”, but the principle stands. If the UK sets a precedent of breaking human rights laws here then it allows others to break them elsewhere when it may harm you.

That’s not to mention what happens if some future government decides that you or your politics are not the right fit for them. That’s when you would need to rely on the very laws which some are celebrating this government trashing right now.

Human rights are essential. I don’t disagree that they get bandied about for things which many would argue are not though. That doesn’t detract from the fact that what we are seeing right now is a fundamental attack on the very ones which would all expect to be shown.

Right to life, right to a family, right to be allowed to work, right to safety and be free from persecution based on our political beliefs, religions, sexuality etc, the right to food and shelter. These aren’t huge asks, they are basic rights which most of us take for granted.

Would you accept that if you were charged with a crime that you could be denied a defence in a court of law? That’s a key thing we are talking about here, the right for everyone to be provided with a defence. It’s down to the prosecution to then argue against that defence.

There is a reason why the government is complaining about “lefty lawyers”, it’s that they can’t provide an effective argument against that defence, because there isn’t an effective argument to deny people their human rights.

It doesn’t matter if you agree with what the government’s aims or not. What matters is you recognise that human rights are for all and not just those you agree with. They should be defended if for no other reason than personal self interest about what happens if you need them.

Look at history, look at the present for that matter, and you see how quickly things change and with those changes comes threats to your own security you may never have thought of. It is the height of both exceptionalism and delusion to assume “it couldn’t happen here”.

One day you may need those lawyers defending you. One day you, or someone you care about, may need to rely on human rights. Are you really willing to sacrifice that just to deny others theirs now out of misguided hatred? Because that’s exactly what is happening.🔷

Dan Sohege, Human rights advocate, international refugee law specialist, immigration economist, charity fundraising professional and Director of Stand For All.


Check their Voting Record:

🗳️ Boris Johnson

🗳️ Priti Patel

[This piece was first published as a Twitter thread and turned into the above article on 7 October 2020 with the purpose of reaching a larger audience. It has been minorly edited and corrected, and published with the author’s consent. | The author of the tweets writes in a personal capacity.]

(Cover: Pixabay.)

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