We have reluctantly decided to cancel an event – planned for June this year – which was designed to highlight the positive aspects of the Human Rights Act and the benefits we all receive from human rights legislation generally. It was to consist of a week of talks and other events in Salisbury with the overall theme of emphasizing how human rights have improved the lot of citizens in the UK. It was arranged during the anniversary week of Magna Carta.
The idea for the event was spurred by the negative press this legislation receives and the drubbing that European institutions get from our media. It is connected loosely to the Brexit debate where one of the guiding principles of those who wish to leave the EU is to be free of what they perceive as interference in our justice system by the European Courts.
In planning the event we had assumed that legal firms in Salisbury would be willing to support it and it was something of a surprise that none would. Indeed, the majority did not reply to our requests. One firm even hosts a human rights organisation but still did not reply. We did eventually secure some financial support (from Poole) but it arrived probably too late for us to be able to do the planning.
So it will not now take place which is a pity. Salisbury has recently become associated with the poisoning issue and allegations that Russia was to blame: highly likely in view of their previous behaviour and the nature of the attack. At base is the issue of human rights. Russia – if it is them – is a state in which lawlessness is now the norm. There is no free press and corruption is the order of the day. ‘Dirty’ money is looted by the Putin regime and much of it finds its way into the City of London. Journalists are murdered and anyone looking like they might be a threat is prevented from standing in elections.
In the UK, despite many unsatisfactory aspects in our political process and the revolving door corruption, we are still able to vote them out – a luxury the Russians do not enjoy. Ordinary people have more rights as a result of the Human Rights Act than previously yet they are constantly told that the act is a menace and needs to be got rid of. It is sad that we were unable to celebrate this fact.