Human rights in the headlines - 8 April 2016

Posted by Laurence Holmes on 08 April 2016

After years of trumpeting human rights abroad while seeking to demonise them at home, we learned this week that the Government is finally practising what it preaches. Let’s crack open some cold ones and celebrate, right? Wrong.

Unfortunately it’s now practising elsewhere what it propagates at home and undermining rights and freedoms on all fronts.

This won’t come as a surprise to anyone who’s been following Government policy. Be sure to read Policy Director Bella Sankey’s take on developments for The Guardian for in-depth analysis.

PSPOs

Moving from international to local news, Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs) have reared their ugly head again. This week Worthing Borough Council used one of these dangerously blunt and overly broad instruments to effectively criminalise homelessness.

As well as banning begging, the council has made it a criminal offence to spend the night in a vehicle or temporary structure intended to provide shelter or accommodation – which will obviously disproportionately impact the homeless.

Slapping the most vulnerable in society with fines and criminal records is cruel and counterproductive. The law needs to be urgently changed or these injustices will continue.

On the horizon

If a week is a long time in politics, it must feel like an age since you last heard news of our challenge to the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act (DRIPA) with MPs David Davis and Tom Watson.

After we won in the High Court last July the Government appealed the decision and then published the Draft Investigatory Powers Bill and the Bill proper – which expand the mass data-gathering powers challenged in this case.

The case was referred to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) in October, and will be heard on Tuesday. The Court’s decision will have major implications for the IP Bill which will be considered by MPs again next week.

Tuesday also sees the Immigration Bill in the House of Lords for its third reading before Peers’ amendments – which will serve to protect overseas domestic workers from servitude and allow asylum seekers whose claims have not been processed within six months to work, rather than attempt to survive on paltry handouts – are sent to MPs. Liberty will be working hard to secure those amendments in the Commons.

Oh, and Committee consideration of the Policing and Crime Bill which furthers a divisive Government agenda by forcing people to declare their nationality to police, as well as attempting to create new powers to divert ships, including those carrying asylum seekers, to anywhere else in the world, continues on Tuesday. The fight that is never done and all that.

Marathon effort

One fight is nearly over and done with though. The end is finally in sight for Emma Finch who has been training hard for the London Marathon in two weeks’ time. Emma’s got in touch with her inner super hero and is raising funds to help save our Human Rights Act.

A few powerful people in Westminster think human rights don’t matter. You can show them who’s boss by getting behind Emma here. What better way to start your weekend?

Laurence Holmes

Laurence Holmes

Liberty
Digital Manager