Do you know yours?
What's it all about?
Basic human rights are founded on the concept that all people should enjoy freedom of speech, freedom from tyranny and oppression, and should have fair legal treatment. They should not be discriminated against on grounds of race, colour, sex, language, religion, nationality, political opinion, or other status.
In the UK, our human rights are upheld in:
- The United Nation's Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), and
- The European Human Rights Act (1998) - which can be seen on the Liberty website (link below). Slavery, torture, arbitrary (unlawful) arrest or detention are all banned by the Human Rights Act.
Human rights also extend to education, the workplace, marriage, owning property, basic standards of living, emigration, asylum, and even copyright issues.
Needless to say, there are human rights abuses all around the world. These include:
- 'Prisoners of conscience', opponents of a regime being detained without fair trial, often indefinitely
- The death penalty, and summary executions
- 'Disappearances', people being detained without record or assassinated, often for political reasons. Their bodies are rarely found.
- Mass detentions, sometimes in concentration camps
- Attempted genocides, seen recently in parts of Africa and Eastern Europe
Due to the secretive nature of these activities, it is often hard to find out the full extent of what is happening in many countries. Media restrictions also mean much of what goes on never makes it into the newspapers.Closer to home, there are fears about the proposed Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (AKA the cybersnooping act) and privacy issues, fair trials, immigration, identity cards, employment rights and racial discrimination.
What can I do?
Join organisations like Amnesty International or Liberty, help them to raise funds, or take part in one of their many campaigns. These organisations lobby UK and worldwide governments, bring events to the attention of the media, take cases to court, and organise campaigns such as letter writing to free political prisoners. Some more examples of campaigns.Article produced by the Choose Action Alliance.
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