Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Human rights legislation used to justify restricting right to protest

Last night I was dosing off listening to The World Tonight when at 22:40 they had a pices entitled Are civil liberties underthreat? It was the usaual litany of abiuse of the DNA database, 42 days etc but at the end they had a piece about the way local authorities are restircting the right to protest.

The case the used was a protest in Lancaster that was licenced but it inlcuded a steel band. The local authority issued a warning letter that the protest was illegal and shouldn't go ahead, it did. At this point I was starting to listening more intently and couln't beleive my ears when a buracrat came on to justify their rights to curtail freedom. I have listened againthis morning (5:35 mins in) and this is what she said:

..not at all, human rights legislation provides for freedom of assembly and freedom of expression, but those are qualified rights and they are subject to any restriction that governement deems fit to impose, the licencing legislation....
And what was the crime of Kerry Mumford and her fellow protestors? They were protesting against a city centre development and the protest contained "unlicensed music and dancing". A real threat to demcracy then?

So there you have it, in the immortal words of Lord Melbourne:
"What all the wise men promised has not happened and what all the dammed fools said would happen has come to pass".
They are using the human rights legislation to restrict our long held right to peaceful protest.

Another one for David Davis to add to his campaign issues


Vindico said...

Qualified liberties/rights which allow the government to suspend those liberties/rights, makes those very liberties/rights completely worthless. The point of liberties/rights is that they become important precisely in these times, when government least wants them in place.

Anonymous said...

Yet another move from English Common Law (anything that is not expressly prohibited is permitted) to Napoleonic Law (aka EU Corpus Juris) (anything that is not expressly permitted is prohibited).

TheFatBigot said...

Mr Yokel makes, if I might say so, a very important observation.

The point made by the bureaucrat on the radio illustrates the problem very well. He does not look on freedom of assembly as a right. He looks on it as a permission. His starting point is that it is a qualified right, that is the default position, the government took a right we used to have by reason of birth and gave it back to us with a qualification built in.

The government nationalised our rights and turned them into benefit payments, the amount of which can be varied by central or local government almost at will.

The grant of the right does not carry with it a presumption that it is absolute unless a case can be made for limitation, the presumption is reversed.

I waffled on about this in the context of Harriet Harman's latest piece of policy wonk: