A day of human rights

Today I shall be in Cambridge participating in human rights debates, including ‘honour’ based violence against women, secret detention, children’s rights and the Israel-Palestine conflict. What better time to raise the mysterious disappearance of BBC reporter Alan Johstone which is causing increasing concern.

Expert speakers will include activists and policy experts from Amnesty, (which I used to belong to), Human Rights Watch, Liberty, and the Southall Black Sisters, along with academics and lawyers specialising in human rights issues.

A bonus is the venue, the glorious St John’s College, where many brilliant brains have sought, and continue to seek, academic excellence; it is a truly awe-inspiring place.

Update: This conference was well timed to coincide with the Libyan terror suspects winning their appeal against deportation from the UK fearing they would be tortured if sent home. Under international human rights law, the UK does not deport people to regimes where they may face persecution or torture.

Ben Ward, from Human Rights Watch, spoke about this, but insisted that it was wrong to return anyone to a country where this could happen, that we cannot trust any promises given by a government known to torture prisoners. He does not believe our national security is any worse today than after WW2. He believes the way forward is to work with the governments in countries known to abuse human rights, something he knows will take a very long time.

Does anyone have any ideas how this can work?


  1. I assume the judges are happy to let the suspects remain in the UK as it’s very unlikely their family or friends would be killed in any future terrorist attack.

    They are far more concerned about the human rights of two Libyan terror suspects than the right to life of sixty million other British subjects.

  2. Steven_L

    There’s probably a very good reason that they want to torture these terrorists. What happens now? Do we just let the terrorists roam around the UK?

    This ruling makes bad law. Terrorists worldwide will flock to the UK as a safehaven as soon as the heat gets turned up. Who wants to be a safehaven for international terrorists?

  3. Elle I’ve just checked Easyjet’s site – its not functioning properly but Tessaloniki is on their destination list; they are no doing hotels too so it might be worth trying them tomorrow. Wish I could come too…

  4. Its not comparable (I think) but our record for Human Rights is not that great either. As a society, surely we should support the decision today; as an individual, then of course I have my concerns, but that is not reason enough to waver.

  5. Newmania, I believe in human rights, but our political environemnt means the support it gets has changed. Ben Ward does not even believe those with liberal views are supporting their cause as they should be, it is because we all fear for our safety with the increasing threat of terrorism on our doorstep. Ben thinks our perception of that is too black and white.

  6. The problem with human rights is that it tends to cbecome Liberal Imperialism and while i do not strongly object to Liberalism abroad it is dangerous and expensive

  7. He does not believe our national security is any worse today than after WW2.

    Is that a great recommendation, Ellee?

  8. I suppose it’s better to work with the human rights abusers than ignore them, as they can just go on doing it. BBy working with them, we can show the benefits of our way of living.

  9. Now that sounds like a really interesting day. Beautiful venue, as you say. Not looking good for Alan Johnstone, is it? And I can’t imagine how his poor family must be feeling, with all the conflicting reports about what has / hasn’t happened to him coming out.

  10. The Wedding Cake is the “prettiest” part of St John’s.
    I usually go past the main gate on St John’s Street cum Trinity Street at least twice a day.

    If I’d known you were about I would have looked in. MEP Secretary, Human Rights …

    If you ever do decide run of to Greece and do a Shirley Valentine, be sure to let me know.

    Ooops – better state I’m joking in case hubbie is reading. Can’t risk making any improper comments – that may come back to haunt me or damage my ‘politica;’ career – lol!

  11. “Policy experts”!?! It’s difficult to imagine any group of people less qualified to issue public pronouncements…

  12. I wonder if Jacqueline Rose will be mentioning the great website, Honest Reporting.

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