Thursday, May 25, 2006

Human wrongs?

Some right-wingers (and yes, I would include Tony Blair in that category) have of late encouraged the - already widespread and intensifying - belief that international commitments on human rights threaten the UK’s public order and foreign policy mechanisms.

The recent political melee over released foreign offenders and illegal migrants, for example, as well as continuing threats from terrorism and organised crime, have fuelled high-level calls for the amendment – or even repeal – of the Human Rights Act.

However, as an EU report testifies, our Government is not quite the slave to international conventions that those voices would have us suppose.

It has yet to implement the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings, which provides a minimum 30 day “recovery” period for victims.

This is intended to be an important “breathing space”, in which they can escape the influence of criminal gangs and work towards co-operation with the authorities.

With reference to the United Nations optional protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict, it has reserved the “right” to recruit soldiers from the age of 16.

And British workers are not protected by the UN’s international convention on the protection of the rights of all migrant workers and members of their families, which ensures basic rights when working abroad.

We don’t have too many human rights in this country; on the contrary, we have too few.

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