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Lara Smallman
Campaigner, film-maker, blogger (London, United Kingdom)

Self-taught film-maker interested in exploring human rights issues. See more on


Human rights gone wrong?

Published 22nd May 2010 - 4 comments - 4139 views -

It's not something we hear all that much about in the British press. But this week, the Human Rights Act has been all over the papers.

Why has it captured the attention of journalists this week? Well, there has been some disagreement in the new Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition over its status and whether to review it. While the Liberal Democrats are defiantly defending it, the Conservatives are seeking to replace it with a British Bill of Rights, or at least they were until they were forced to compromise.

The debate has been further intensified by a complex case, which has not just prompted the Government to question human rights, but every single one of us.

Ordinarily terror suspects, or any convicted criminals for that matter, would face deportation from the UK. But when the country of origin is unstable and in favour of torture and the death penalty, deportation is ruled out.

That's exactly what happened this week, in the case of Abid Naseer and Ahmad Faraz Khan, two al-Qaeda associates who pose a great threat to national security. 'We don't do torture,' Shami Chakrabarti, and a prominent lawyer and director of pressure group Liberty, insisted on this week's BBC Question Time. It follows logically and morally from that standpoint, that we're simply not going to send two people back to a country which we know does.

The case has angered many, worried even more and puzzled the nation. It's also thrown some big questions into the ring: Why should we sacrifice our own safety? Why should we pay to house two people intent on harming this country? Moreover, why aren't we prioritising our own human rights above those who wouldn't afford us any? On the other side of the coin are people who are questioning the very concept of human rights. Are we obsessed with them? Shouldn't rights come with responsibilities too? And are human rights a luxury that would-be terrorists simply don't deserve?

With all of these questions in mind, I wonder, should we be re-th!nking the Human Rights Act?

Category: Human Rights | Tags:


  • Hemant Jain on 22nd May 2010:

    “would-be terrorists”. Interesting. But let me not talk about it and instead talk of the important point you raised. Re thinking Human Rights Act
    Isn’t our history and all progress been marked with blatant disregard for human rights?
    Yes we should be re-thinking the Human Rights Act. But who does the thinking? How do we not end up in a crossfire of global north vs global south? The first world and the third world? The developed and the under-developed? Why is this important? It is. Because the very concept of development is flawed. It is based on exploitation. Of humans, of animals and of natural resources. Till we address that, there can never be a ‘universal’ human rights.
    The development based on greed will ensure that someone will always be exploited. on some pretext or the other.
    The Colonialism Era was fuelled by greed and abuse of human rights.
    Today’s era is fuelled by greed and consumerism and leads to abuse of human rights. (Have you read the story of the Apple factory in China?)

  • Robert Stefanicki on 22nd May 2010:

    Ability to be merciful to our enemies is great achievement of the civilization. Especially to would-be enemies.

  • Lara Smallman on 23rd May 2010:

    Indeed it is something to be proud of. But how far do we go? Should an individual’s human rights be a right for life no matter what?

  • Andrea Arzaba on 25th May 2010:

    I believe YES! Human right’s are for EVERYBODY…because acting in a bad way does not make you “less human”...right?

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