Join as a supporter

We’re pleased to announce we’ve introduced a new class of membership for people who want to join LCHR but who are not members of the Labour Party.

If you support the aims and values of the Labour Party but you’re not currently a member, you can now join LCHR as a supporter. The rates and benefits are the same as for ordinary members.

If you have any questions about membership please do email andrew.noakes@lchr.org.uk.

What now in Syria?

The Fabian Society International Policy Group are hosting an event in the House of Lords on 27th February at 18:30. 

What began as a peaceful uprising against Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad six years ago has now became a full-scale civil war. The war has left thousands of people dead and millions more refugees.

The intervention of regional and world powers, including Iran, Russia, Saudi Arabia and the United States has been a key factor for the continuation of the war. Their military, financial and political support for the government and opposition has contributed directly to the intensification and continuation of the fighting, and turned Syria into a proxy battleground.

With a failed peace process and continuing humanitarian crisis, we ask what is happening now in Syria and how should the UK be responding?

Full details here.

Implications of the Watson CJEU judgement on data surveillance

In 2014 David Davis MP (who subsequently withdrew from the case upon becoming Brexit Secretary) and Tom Watson MP brought a legal case challenging the compatibility of the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act (DRIPA) with EU law. The case went to the High Court, the Court of Appeal, and eventually the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), which reached a final judgement in December 2016.

LCHR have produced a briefing which covers the implications of that final judgement. It sets out the main areas in which the judgement declares UK law to be incompatible with EU law, notably around blanket data retention, the threshold for the seriousness of crimes that warrant data surveillance, and the lack of notification if surveillance has been conducted in error. It also highlights the possible consequences for the recent Investigatory Powers Act.

LCHR recommends that Labour press for the government to amend the Investigatory Powers Act to uphold the CJEU’s judgement.

Amendments should:

• Replace provisions for blanket surveillance with targeted surveillance only.

• Raise the threshold for access to data so that it can only be used to investigate serious crimes.

• Include a notification system for people who have been subjected to surveillance.

 

Click here to read the briefing in full.

New Campaigns 2017!

Following a very successful members consultation at the end of 2016 and some wider discussion with our advisory board and civil society, we are pleased to announce three new campaigns:

Refugees and Immigration

 Amid growing anti-immigrant sentiment, we will be working to tackle discrimination in the immigration and asylum systems and ensure that immigrants, asylum seekers and refugees are treated fairly and humanely.

Following the Brexit vote, we will also be working to protect the rights of EU residents currently living in the UK, including their residency rights, employment rights, and their access to healthcare and education.

It is crucial that we put pressure on the government in this heated political environment and do not let them ignore the rights of those who need our help the most.

Human rights in counter-terrorism

Following the passage of the Investigatory Powers Act in 2016 and amid the government’s efforts to develop an effective counter-extremism strategy, LCHR will be using this campaign to stimulate a debate among Labour members, MPs and civil society on how to balance security with human rights.

Today, counter-terrorism and counter-extremism programmes allow security services unprecedented access to our personal communications data. Meanwhile, the controversial Prevent programme has not only interfered with human rights, but alienated large sections of UK society, fostering an atmosphere of mistrust and surveillance in schools, nurseries and within wider society. Our campaign will be inclusive of all of these elements.

The Human Rights Act

The Conservatives have pledged to repeal the HRA and have threatened to withdraw from the European Convention on Human Rights. We are campaigning to equip the Labour Party with the best possible defence of the HRA and ECHR to ensure your rights and privileges are protected.

The ECHR and HRA have given critical protection to people facing all sorts of challenging circumstances. In Britain they have been used to help women fleeing domestic violence, stop cases of modern day slavery, ensure equal treatment for LGBT people, prevent older people from being separated from their husbands and wives in care, stop discrimination in the workplace, and maintain the ban on corporal punishment in schools.

Since the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act of 2012, the government has been chipping away at the types of legal aid that are available to the most vulnerable in society. The types of cases no longer included are some family cases, education cases which do not involve special educational needs, most debt matters, welfare benefits cases that don’t reach the Upper Tribunal, Court of Appeal or Supreme Court and many cases involving employment and homelessness. We will be campaigning to protect legal aid amid these cuts.

We’re hugely excited to get started on our new campaigns and will have more details on upcoming projects and events to follow. For details on how to get involved in any of our campaigns email rachel.finnegan@lchr.org.uk

CLP motion passed by Camborne, Redruth & Hayle

Labour activists in Camborne, Redruth & Hayle have this week passed a CLP motion in response to the government’s invasive Investigatory Powers Bill. The bill, passed in November of last year, forces internet and communications companies to collect and store everyone’s personal communications data, such as information about who we email, which websites we visit, and where we are when we send messages. It also allows the government to hack into our phones and computers, and could be used to force companies providing secure messaging, such as Whatsapp, to remove encryptions designed to protect our privacy.

Members were rightly concerned that the wide reaching legislation gives surveillance powers to too many government agencies and that these should be reserved for the most serious cases where there is already a reasonable level of suspicion. Activists resolved that the Labour Party should work to ensure the right balance between privacy and security and take forward plans for a Charter of Digital Rights that protects both.

You can read the motion in full here.

Rebutting arguments for a British Bill of Rights

We’re pleased to present our latest briefing, ‘Rebutting arguments for a British Bill of Rights‘, which will go out to all LCHR supporters, Labour MPs, and peers.

In the absence of concrete proposals from the government on its planned British Bill of Rights, we’ve trawled through the various arguments and ideas that have been deployed in its favour over the last few years to create a definitive rebuttal guide.

IP Bill becomes law

Last week the Investigatory Powers Bill was approved by both Houses of Parliament, and is now set to become law in a matter of days. LCHR campaigned vigorously against many of the Bill’s provisions over the last 18 months. We argued that mass surveillance, which the Bill authorises, is an unacceptable infringement on privacy and is too open to misuse by the state.

Together with other civil liberties groups we made a concerted effort to challenge the worst of the Bill, and in some areas we were able to work with the Labour Party to win important concessions from the government. We’re proud that Labour secured a ‘double lock’ system of judicial authorisation for intercept warrants and a clause ensuring that mass surveillance powers cannot be used against trade unions conducting lawful activities.

But there was much more that we wanted to see amended in the Bill. Overall, the Investigatory Powers Bill is harmful to our democracy and the bedrock of liberty and privacy on which it stands.

LCHR will continue to look for opportunities to tackle the Bill’s worst provisions in the coming months and years. And we are now looking to expand our campaigning on privacy and liberty in new and important directions. In the next few days we will be launching our members consultation where we will invite views from members on what particular campaign issues you would like us to focus on. If you haven’t yet joined as a member and would like to participate, please join here.

Thank you, as ever, for your continued support.

Best,

Andrew Noakes
Director
Labour Campaign for Human Rights