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In Defence of Human Rights

rights defender | 15.05.2006 00:46 | Repression

This article criticises the attacks on the Human Rights Act being mounted by rightist political forces, debunking the arguments made against the Act and the idea that human rights go against the alleged rights of "victims".


The argument now being mounted against the Human Rights Act – promoted by right-wing papers such as The Sun, supported by the Tories, embraced by some Blairites and given an unconditionally supportive treatment even by the “neutral” BBC – portends the latest attack on human rights by the British state. The Human Rights Act has been one of the few safeguards through which the totalitarian tendencies of New Labour and the “war on terror” have been slowed down a little by sections of the judiciary. Granted, it is misguided to expect the state to protect human rights, when it is the largest and most pervasive human rights violator. But still, the rhetoric of human rights has something of a function in warding off the worst state excesses. This new attack – ostensibly under the flag of “victims’ rights” – is therefore an extremely dangerous move.

The “victims’ rights” argument is based on a fundamental misunderstanding. The basic claim is that deviants are given “more rights” than victims. This is patently false – if the state is denied (for instance) the right to arbitrarily detain suspected criminals, it is also denied the right to arbitrarily detain suspected victims. Also, the Human Rights Act does not imply a right to commit (say) rape or murder; in this sense people have a right under this act not to be victims of these things. That human rights violations occur, does not prove that human rights don’t exist or aren’t protected. The point is that the existence of a few cases of human rights violations by individuals is no reason to justify wide-ranging violation of human rights by the state. Further, it is no reason for abrogating – as the advocates of “victims’ rights” often do – the very idea of human rights itself.

The main problem is the view that the failure to punish, or to take extrajudicial repressive action, is taken to be somehow “allowing” an action which is not prevented. Hence the state is blamed for somehow “failing to prevent” crimes because it doesn’t commit sufficiently severe human rights violations. This is absurdly distorted. The view seems to be that human rights are not respected if a preventive measure could be taken which is not taken. Obviously there are measures (such as locking up all men) which could reduce certain categories of deviance (such as rape). Obviously it is always possible to come up with worse, even more horrific punishments for supposed deterrent reasons, such as hanging, drawing and quartering, or prolonged torture. In neither case does is this compatible with human rights; in both cases such measures would seem to be logically required by the “victims’ rights” objection.

In any case is it a distortion to say that respecting some basic rights of alleged deviants gives them “more rights” than victims. They are not given any rights which victims do not also have. If their actions violate human rights, they are not given a “right” to engage in these actions.

Similarly, the alternative is not “more rights for victims” but no rights for anyone. The kinds of cases statists use – the idea for instance that people who flee tyranny in Afghanistan have no right to claim asylum if they hijack an aeroplane to get here, or that people released from sentences for serious offences have no right to protection from arbitrary sentencing increases or arbitrary interference in their post-release life – basically are ways of taking away general rights from everybody. That the “victims” have no use at present for the right to flee persecution or the right to protection from arbitrary sentencing, simply shows that they already are socially privileged over the alleged deviants.

Another problem is that the victim-cultists tend to promote an exaggerated set of rights for the socially excluded – people’s “rights” are seen as “violated” if they are subject to petty harassment, if they walk down the road and see graffiti or litter… To posit concern about petty deviance as “rights” of “victims” is to lose all sense of proportion about human rights. In contrast, there is a tendency to act as if a single act of deviance – or even the suspicion of deviance – is enough for someone to be stripped of rights entirely – a position which goes against the very idea of human rights. So the argument turns out to be nothing more than a denial of human rights as such, a celebration of universal rightslessness as a condition for domination by a social in-group.

Basically, the alleged criticisms are based on a dangerous and draconian distortion – the idea that the privileged social in-group has an unconditional right to preferential treatment in lawmaking, that all laws should be rigged exclusively for the benefit of the in-group – in other words, a denial of rights as such. Often this is attached to an equally dangerous support for arbitrary state power and a creeping control-freakery which is as much a threat to the “victims” as to everyone else.

Furthermore, it is obvious that the “stick being bent too far” in modern Britain, is in fact bent against human rights – for example, against the rights of protesters, against people subjected to expanded surveillance, against people jailed for defending themselves against police, against the victims of police shootings, against refugees deported to torture and death, against people wrongly caught up in “anti-terror” purges…

As for the arguments about “security”, these hold up even less. “Security” is doublespeak for state control in the dominant discourse today. Human rights are a barrier to unconditional state control, so of course they seem a threat to the powerful, to be undermining “security”. This makes it all the more important to defend them. Defence of human rights is at the centre of human security, such as security from arbitrary state violence. The idea that “security” has any value independently of human rights is nothing better than state-worship.

What about the claims that the Human Rights Act is producing a “compensation culture” or a set of spurious legal claims? Often these arguments are made with examples which are far from spurious. And the basic argument, is an argument against law as such – when the people who make the argument are in fact arguing for more and tougher laws! The same people who whine about the Human Rights Act leading to legal cases and compensation, do not complain about all the legal technicalities which are used against protesters and victimised minorities. They don’t complain for instance about the use of legal technicalities to smash protests, or about the slippage in interpretations of harassment laws so these are used to criminalise activists. They don’t object when technicalities and Kafkaesque legalities are used to attack people – they only complain when legal cases defend rights instead of taking them away. This proves their claims are selective and spurious.

The cases really deserving of our concern, are not a few tragic instances of serious crimes, but cases such as Babar Ahmad, exposed to a possible stitch-up in America because of a compliant British government, Christopher Alder and Harry Stanley, whose murders have been excused by the courts, the refugees on hunger strike in several “detention centres”, the victims of stop-and-search at Fairford during the Iraq war protests, the protesters arrested because of ASBO “dispersal zones”, the young man with learning difficulties served with a curfew under an ASBO despite having no sense of time, the man arrested at an airport because of his choice of music, the computer expert jailed as a potential terrorist because using a computer at a train station was deemed “suspicious”… These are the real victims of human rights abuses by the state. So the only problem with the Human Rights Act is that it does not go far enough in protecting human rights.

That the crackdown freaks manage to portray the current climate of state authoritarianism as somehow granting too many human rights is proof of the irrationality of their mindset, the fact that they will never be satisfied with anything short of total fascism. In any modern industrial society, there are so-called “crimes”; social deviance is not the real problem in Britain today, simply a distraction concocted by the mass media. Rather, Britain now faces the same issues that face the reform movement in Egypt, the Philippines and Azerbaijan, the struggle against a state despotism which is out-of-control. The more the control freaks “bend the stick” towards “the victim”, the more they take away elementary protections and make us all potential victims of arbitrary state power.

We must also learn from the reform movements elsewhere, that the struggle against state despotism cannot be carried out solely in the law courts, but must above all be a struggle in the streets. Only the threat of insurrection holds the state to its promises of human rights, and only a mass dissident movement able to out-balance the raving bigots can change the political climate for the better.

Tyranny in the UK: A litany of human rights violations, 2005-6

Oppose Blair’s “ordinary fascism”!
Civil liberties in Britain destroyed – Monbiot,9321,1584143,00.html


Protest hauliers warned that they may lose licences
Times Online - UK
By Valerie Elliott, Countryside Editor. POLICE chiefs have told hauliers who protest at British refineries this week to expect a tough response.
(licenses are meant to be about safe driving, yet here we have police abusing them to attack protesters)

Pre-emptive arrests of moderate anti-ID activists at northeast UK-based EU summit,3800010140,39152175,00.htm

Man arrested for leafleting at mosque (?!?!)

Prosecutor tries to prejudice trial by blaming activists who hung banner because cops closed road

Absurd conviction of football fan for standing up for the right to protest in the face of police persecution

Another fascist decision – Keith Mann jailed for being a victim of verbal abuse
In April '05 British ALF activist, Keith Mann, was given a non-custodial sentence for rescuing 695 mice from Wickham Laboratories in Hampshire. The Prosecution felt the sentence was unduly lenient and appealed against the sentence. In July 05 the Court of Appeal agreed with the Prosecution and increased the sentence to 12 months imprisonment. This is to be served
consecutively to Keith's 6-month prison sentence for threatening a director of Wickham Labs as he left court in April 2005. (Earth Liberation Prisoner)

People arrested for sitting on a bench

Fascist cops order photographer to move, and search him under “terrorism” laws, for photographing parliament

Repression at DSEI:
The Met police have been showing us how they serve the community at this year’s DSEi arms fair. As long as you’re only in the area to sell or buy guns and bombs, that’s ok, guv, but if you step out of line….here’s a sample of some of the reasons for the 31 (so far) arrests …for having 2 mobile phones, for having spray paint, for ‘going equipped to cause criminal damage’ by carrying 2 marker pens and for not wanting to be photographed by a FIT (cop surveillance) team. One poor chap was arrested for blocking the road even though he was standing on the pavement.

Fascistic intervention by goon Prescott leads to cops trying to use anti-protest laws to persecute Greenpeace activists accused of peaceful sit-in
Peaceful protest is “terrorising”, says this New Labour goon

Democracy smashed in Britain – MPs summarily punished for protest in chamber

Cops jail council tax refusenik after moving the goalposts to make impossible demands

Disability discrimination is legal in Britain, according to cops – “national security” excuse used to suppress disability lawsuit

Censorship in the UK – Iraq protest book under attack,6903,1530311,00.html

During an animal rights demonstration against Covance Garfield jumped
onto the bonnet (what Americans call "the hood") of a Covance car. A
security guard pulled Garfield off the car and Garfield went onto kick the
security guard in the foot. Garfield has denied a charge of assault causing
actual bodily harm but has admitted "affray". In a letter to ELP he said he
is expecting a sentence of between 18 months to 3 years.
(In other words – a guard assaulted him; in the resultant melee he supposedly kicked the guard who was manhandling him… and despite him being the one assaulted, he’s been charged!!! So guards not only expect to be able to manhandle with impunity, but actually to be able to get victims of their assaults locked up!!!)

And more of the same… Cop cleared of racial attack despite admitting making first physical contact with wrongly-accused man
Racist court convicts Kosovar refugee for self-defence against racist thugs, because racist laws do not recognise racist terror as “immediate threat”
(Apparently people are supposed to ignore violent gangs of racists carrying out armed patrols)

With scrutiny criminalised, EDO private goons run rampage, brutalise protesters
One protester is jailed under fabricated accusations after being attacked by guards
Rare defeat for state totalitarianism – ban on protests on EDO overturned

Ridiculous arrest and jailing of peace activist for taking photos – anti-protest laws ban protest against corporations
Photographer arrested at port for taking photos

BP illegally refuse AGM entry to protesting shareholders

London Animal Action (LAA), an organisation that campaigns peacefully on animal welfare issues, has had its bank accounts frozen by a High Court Order. It was named on an injunction taken out by Huntingdon Life Sciences (HLS) under the Protection from Harassment Act. LAA's harassment amounted to organizing transport to demos against HLS and arranging demos in London. their bank account contained several thousand pounds that had been raised to buy a minibus. LAA is taking legal advice to fight the case, but this would itself cost thousands of pounds and if any person claimed to speak for LAA they themselves could be made bankrupt - even if that person had never been involved in the campaign. This is just like the case of Lynn Sawyer who was going to lose her house after being sued by HLS for over 2 hundred grand in order to shut her up (SchNEWS 471). Fortunately a judge has recently overturned this ruling and reduced Lynn's fine to £2500 costs. LAA has ceased to exist as a result, but an ex-member said "The likelihood is that this will stir up a hornets' nest of anger against HLS."
(from SchNews)

Yesterday I was arrested and handcuffed from Maidenhead Nicolson Centre for asking the question- Do these products come from the illegal Israeli Settlements in the Dead Sea? A reasonable ethical question concerning an Israeli stall in my town.
I wanted to remain by the stall staying put until someone - either on the stall or from
the Management of the Nicolson Centre who franchise it - could satisfactorily answer this
question.Needless to say eventually ( 45 mins later) there were 4 security men , the
manager and two police officers all discussing the settlement concerns.
Its a simple question requiring a straight forward response which was not forthcoming
They have put me on bail & are enquiring into aggravated tresspass which I hope will go
to court for the chance to defend myself that I was simply asking if the products came
from the illegal Palestinian settlements , which are the symbol of the Palestinian
oppression. A question I believe all sales assistance should be able to give an answer to
( obviously a categorical no)or the management of the franchise. This was a personal
stand which I hope gives the opportunity for the settlement issue to be raised in a law
court, though the case may be dropped.Anyone interested in joining the direct peaceful
action against Dead Sea Products in our towns- feel free to contact me.
Cath Palatz

Police terror at the G8 – suspected protesters held at London airport
Nimbyite bigots sabotage G8 protest camp
Persecution ahead of G8 – protesters get police visits
Cops near Gleneagles plot local ID cards, roadblocks and violence against protesters, making terroristic threats against those who defy their fascistic demands
Blair threatens imprisonment without trial for G8 protesters
Free speech under attack - protester and journalist banned from G8 protests
Police persecution of activists and others – pub besieged
Rundown of police repression from Legal Defence and Monitoring Group
Police fascism in Stirling
More on repression
In run-up to G8, cops encourage snitching of unusual actions/people, and SNP support anti-protester crackdowns
Morag Balfour, SSP candidate for Glenrothes, has condemned police requests for personal details of visitors to Fife during the G8 summit as a "disingenuous breach of privacy".
Morag was responding to the revelation that hotels, bed and breakfasts, camping and caravan sites were being asked to provide details of bookings coinciding with the summit between 6-8 July 2005.

Derby cops try to limit numbers for peace demo


New “Super-ASBO” repressive measures could lead to lifetime restrictions for minor “offences”
ASBOs = terror against the different – persecution of children with learning difficulties highlighted by charity
Another charity head slams ASBO “over-use”
ASBO fascism continues – more absurd ASBOs and info
A third of ASBO victims are psychologically-different; youths, ethnic minorities and the poor are all targets
ASBOs used by homophobes to target gay men
ASBO threatened against peace protester Lindis Percy,3604,1459008,00.html
Judge refuses ASBO on Lindis Percy, but agrees to curfew and tagging

“God works in mysterious ways….in this case via the mortal coils of Tory Coucillor Allison Bucknell and Andy Humm. These two are begging for an Anti Social Behaviour Order (ASBO) to be served on the creator of website, Mitch Hawkins (no relation to Stephen, the international professor of Outer Space). Based in Wiltshire, Mitch ran a few Dead Pope jokes on his site, much to the annoyance of Humm”

Fascist use of Nazi “anti-social behaviour” laws to smash protests excused by judge


UK cops murder in broad daylight
Latest fascist wish-list from British police-state tyrants
Police-state terror on the underground – random passengers under attack from police snoops
Frame-up of Egyptian scientist disintegrates
Police response – more frightening than the killing
Law professor says police shooting illegal
Police racism – background to the London murder,3604,1538380,00.html
Blair and cops lie
Globalising racism: plans to auto-ban people banned from America or Europe, from Britain also

As police terror spreads, reports emerge of further shootings – 2 killed at Canary Wharf
Cops allegedly throw bomb at Birmingham “suspect” and then torture him with a taser
Pervert police force suspect to strip in violent siege,,22989-1713498,00.html
IHRC cuts relations with cops over shooting

Police state terror grips London – dozens of random Muslims rounded up “on suspicion”,7340,L-3110182,00.html
Two-thirds of Muslims consider fleeing Britain due to state and racist terror,16132,1536222,00.html

UK cops terrorise computer expert

Armed police abuse child and elderly woman – point gun at child, give elderly woman heart attack by slamming her against a wall,16132,1537572,00.html

Ethiopian refugee, wrongly accused, beaten by police thugs
Ethiopian refugee beaten by cops in London

Police terror on London train – passengers held-up by armed police


Persecuted cleric is seriously ill because of prison conditions

Another fascist law – “control orders”
“Control order” victim re-imprisoned – removed tag on advice of psychiatrists
The men labelled a threat to Britain include one who has no arms and another who is wheelchair-bound with polio…
"They feel they're being used for political purposes and were arrested to create fear in the public," he said. "They know they're no threat. They feel that if they had a fair trial, they could prove to the public they're not a threat. They say they escaped as refugees to this country for safety and justice: it's ludicrous for them to be described as a threat to this country."
Tortured at Guantanamo, and now at risk again – British detainees freed, but at risk from new fascistic laws allowing suspects to be put under house arrest and even innocent family members to be detained
Imposition of fascist "control orders" leads to an attempted suicide or overdose, and another medical emergency
Freed Gitmo prisoner fears use of control orders to suppress revelations of torture
Control orders are reminiscent of apartheid South Africa and attack dissent
Escalating police-state terror – British citizen is victim of “control order”; other “control order” victims at risk of deportation, jailed
Treacherous Stalinist Livingstone extends CCTV intrusion in response to crackdown freakery,16132,1569266,00.html
The nightmare of control orders
More vindictive statist detentions – foreign nationals held for causing “bad atmosphere” (thought-crimes)

Muslim who killed cop in self-defence, denied fair trial and stitched-up because judges refuse to overturn use of prejudicial ricin lies
“Lord Justice Judge, sitting with Mr Justice Newman, said evidence about the ricin explained to the jury why he was so determined to evade capture, refuting the argument that he had acted in self-defence. Without it, the jury would have been left speculating as to why he wished to "take on" a large number of police officers unless he was fearful they might "do him serious injury".”
Judges sympathise with racist white cop and widespread anti-“terrorist” hysteria to excuse callousness to victim of police terror

Persecution of moderate Muslim cleric for questioning the existence of al-Qaeda and denouncing statist lies and state terror

Persecution of Babar Ahmad continues
Police who tortured Babar Ahmad whitewashed by internal inquiry

British Iraqi detained for 8 months in Iraq, sues British government


Another murder by police echoes the Menezes shooting – Azelle Rodney
Another death in custody
Police murder innocent Somali youth in revenge for shooting

Nico Ntumba persecution case

Police not charged for putting boy in bin

Stop-and-search terror targets black people
Police persecute Sikh lawyer

Nazi cops stage “mob-handed” attack to remove someone who sneezed in church,,2088-1743461,00.html

Persecution of youth for resisting police violence – judge sets arbitrary curfew
Racists and rightist scumbags attack Channel 4 drama for telling the true story of the persecution of Bradford insurgents and the racism which led to the uprising
Vindictive statist scum dish out mass sentences to Lincoln Prison insurgents

As state terror is globalised, alleged hacker could be jailed for life in America – even though he never went there!,3605,1523143,00.html#article


Byebye parliamentary democracy – new Bill will lead to rule by ministerial fiat,,1724047,00.html,,6-2040625,00.html

Planned new laws would ban free speech such as calling suicide bombers “martyrs”
Blair’s proposals “comparable with Hitler” – Muslim cleric
Lawyers call Blairite proposals “unthinkable”
“The Orwellian concept of “thought crime” is to be made the basis of British law.”
Fascist “anti-terror” law attacks free speech

Cops demand license to hack

Totalitarianism creeps closer – now police try to track all cars, all the time

New menace to shoppers as corporate goons and cops threaten searches,16132,1534926,00.html

British Army on the streets to extend police state,,2-10-1462_1723441,00.html

Latest attacks on civil liberties – London railcard used to track commuters

Government plans license to stitch-up and impunity for state corruption in latest attack on compensation for stitch-ups


European watchdog reveals inhuman treatment of Belmarsh detainees,12780,1503521,00.html
Calls to deport refugee for having controversial beliefs
British state goons deport persecution victim to Syria
Algerians found NOT GUILTY of ricin plot, threatened with deportation and torture
Human rights activists accuse Britain of already deporting people to be tortured
Nurses condemn abuse of refugees in Britain – handcuffings in hospital and abduction at gunpoint are among the accusations
Another inhuman deportation planned
UK immigration centre racist abuse exposed
Scotland’s official anti-racism campaign thwarted by anti-refugee hysteria
Refugee beaten, abused for revealing mistreatment to press,,1764967,00.html
More anti-immigrant terror – Pakistanis deported to abuse; one still in hiding
Crackdown freakery kills: Roma refugee attempts suicide because of state harassment
Iranian dissidents at risk of deportation
Turkish refugee at risk of deportation
Crackdown freakery kills: asylum crackdown victim is hospitalised after overdosing

Crackdown freakery conceals the real scandal: foreign prisoners abused, detained beyond sentences in UK prisons,,1762118,00.html


Football club bans fan for life, for throwaway remark
Similar vindictiveness over convictions by another club
Police escalate terror against football fans
Crackdown freakery in football continues – Hull fans banned for London bombing remarks

Rightist political-correctness: man hauled off plane for listening to the “wrong” music

UK doctor suspended for protesting against cuts
Worker sacked for blog critical of boss,3604,1388249,00.html

Ethnic cleansing against “gypsies” continues
Ethnic cleansing "eviction" at Paynes Lane - photos of trashed campsite

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