LIBERTY’S CHRISTMAS WISHLIST

Posted by Zehrah Hasan on 22 December 2018

This Christmas, Liberty is asking the Government to guarantee our fundamental human rights across twelve core areas – from supporting survivors of abuse to protecting our privacy.

1. END HOSTILE ENVIRONMENT DATA-SHARING

Get rid of measures that turn our doctors, teachers and police into border guards. Despite some positive steps this year – with the Department for Education, NHS Digital and the National Police Chiefs Council all responding to pressure from Liberty and many others – we are still waiting for a cast-iron commitment. Liberty is calling for an impenetrable firewall between essential public services and immigration enforcement, to build an immigration system that respects human rights and the rule of law.

2. OPPOSE INDEFINITE DETENTION, INTRODUCE A 28-DAY TIME LIMIT

Liberty is calling for a 28-day time limit in immigration detention. The case for a time limit is clearer than ever – indefinite detention devastates people’s mental health, separates families for months, if not years, on end, and is a waste of public money. We continue to be the only country in Europe that detains people without a time limit, contrary to domestic and international human rights law. Let’s make 2019 the year to end this brutal regime.

3. REJECT MASS SURVEILLANCE

Liberty has won the right to proceed with our full challenge to the Investigatory Powers Act 2016. This Act gives a wide range of state agencies excessive powers to collect our electronic communications and internet usage data in bulk, as well as hack devices, and create large datasets that can build a detailed profile of our lives – whether or not we are suspected of any wrongdoing. A victory in the High Court next year would mean an end to the Government’s intrusive and unnecessary mass surveillance of us all.

4. SUPPORT A HUMAN RIGHTS-COMPLIANT APPROACH TO POLICING

Roll back the use of dangerous devices like spit hoods and Tasers, take firm action to combat racial disparity in stop and search, and stop the “rollout by trial” of lawless surveillance technologies, such as facial recognition and predictive policing – which threaten our privacy and freedom of expression.

5. MAKE SURE THE BREXIT PROCESS AND OUR FUTURE RELATIONSHIP WITH THE EU ROBUSTLY PROTECT OUR FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS AND CIVIL LIBERTIES

We are concerned that the draft withdrawal agreement between the UK and the EU inadequately protects our human rights. We need a commitment to remain part of the European Court of Human Rights and for Parliament to insist that key human rights protections feature in any future agreements between the UK and the EU. Brexit must not mean fewer rights for any of us.

6. STOP THE COUNTER-TERRORISM AND BORDER SECURITY BILL FROM ERODING OUR HUMAN RIGHTS

This Bill needs radical amendment to delete unnecessary new offences that criminalise activities like speech, travel and looking at online content without any requirement of terrorist intent. It should be used to amend existing border stop and search powers, and to instigate an independent review of the Prevent strategy, rather than extending both these controversial schemes.

7. ENSURE THE UPCOMING DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AND ABUSE BILL PROTECTS ALL SURVIVORS – INCLUDING MIGRANT WOMEN

The Government’s proposals for its imminent new domestic abuse legislation do not go far enough. As well as dramatically improving service provision, safe reporting and statutory responses for all survivors, we believe the protection of migrant women needs to be front and centre of this new legislation – to ensure the most marginalised and vulnerable survivors receive the safety, security and support they need.

8. STAND AGAINST COUNCILS PUNISHING POVERTY

We continue to oppose the use of Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs) by councils who wrongly equate poverty with antisocial behaviour, and use PSPOs to punish rough sleeping and begging. The Legal Aid Agency has continued to block access to justice for residents seeking to take local authorities to court – despite PSPOs detrimentally affecting the poorest in society. We want to scrap these discriminatory Orders, and hold councils to account for unlawful decision-making.

9. PROTECT THE PEOPLE RELYING ON OUR MENTAL CAPACITY LAWS EVERY YEAR

The Mental Capacity Amendment Bill – which is currently making its way through Parliament – needs to be strengthened. People must not be inappropriately or arbitrarily deprived of their liberty, and those being detained must have strong safeguards, including routes to appeal and access to advocacy. This new law will affect hundreds of thousands of people, and Liberty will continue to work with mental health organisations to ensure that the cared-for person’s rights are placed at the centre of legislation.

10. LAUNCH A FULL, INDEPENDENT, JUDGE-LED INQUIRY INTO UK COMPLICITY IN TORTURE AND RENDITION

Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) revealed shocking findings earlier this year regarding the deep and systemic involvement of UK agencies in US torture and rendition after 9/11. But 16 years later, we still don’t know the full extent of this stain on the UK’s human rights record. Liberty continues to call for an independent judicial inquiry, which must be established under the 2005 Inquiries Act. Without a proper inquiry, we all remain in the dark about what really happened, official impunity persists and vital lessons are yet to be learned, as the ISC reports make clear.

11. ENSURE SOLDIERS DO NOT RECEIVE SECOND RATE JUSTICE

Liberty will continue to represent the families of soldiers who were failed by the Armed Forces, using the Human Rights Act 1998 to find answers, achieve justice and make life better for troops. We have secured fresh inquests into the deaths of many service-women and -men, and worked to ensure allegations of sexual offences are properly investigated. But there is much more to be done. Liberty will continue to hold the Government to account, expose Ministry of Defence (MoD) failures, and call on parliamentarians to properly defend soldiers’ rights.

12. DEFEND OUR RIGHT TO PROTEST

Our right to protest is fundamental to a democratic society. This year, Liberty intervened in the ‘Frack Free Four’ case – where three environmental activists successfully appealed against disproportionately long prison sentences. Their only crime was blocking lorries from entering a fracking site. We are also standing in solidarity with the Stansted 15 – activists who were unjustly tried and found guilty under terrorism legislation for peacefully protesting against a secretive mass deportation flight at Stansted airport. The chilling effect of such cases needs to be stopped in its tracks. Liberty will continue to fight for everyone’s right to protest without fear of unwarranted retribution.

We will continue fighting for these crucial rights protections in 2019, and hope you will join us in doing so.

Zehrah Hasan Liberty

Zehrah Hasan

Liberty
Advocacy Assistant