Leadership Election: Human Rights Statement from Ian Murray MP

We have asked all of the Leadership and Deputy Leadership Candidates to provide a short statement on their approach to human rights. Below is the statement from Ian Murray MP.

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I want to start by thanking the Labour Campaign for Human Rights, and your members, for the work you do in fighting to enhance and protect the human rights protections brought in under Labour. A record we should be proud of and champion at every opportunity.

Our party has a proud record of defending human rights at home and abroad.

The Human Rights Act of 1998 enshrined in domestic law the European Convention of Human Rights. That piece of legislation has afforded millions of citizens the basic rights they need and deserve, but might not have otherwise had under the Tories.

Standing up for that principle is perhaps more important now than ever, after December’s disastrous election results.

Of course, our Labour values don’t stop at the border.

I have said that as Deputy Leader I will setup ‘Labour’s campaign for Britain’s future’ which will examine not just our own constitution, but how we look out to the world. Standing up for human rights abroad has to be an integral part of that.

I see first-hand the achievements of the ECHR, sitting on the parliamentary assembly of the Council of Europe as a senior member of the UK Labour delegation. Together with colleagues from across Europe, I am proud to defend the human rights of everybody – whether they are my constituents in Edinburgh, or citizens fighting against Erdogan’s autocratic regime in Turkey or the way Russia has disregarded the human rights of many of its citizens.

You just have to look at the tangible achievements of that convention to see how important it is that we fight the Tories plans to take us out of it.

Their plans to ‘update’ the Human Rights Act are nothing but a smokescreen for Boris Johnson’s intention to slash at the hard-fought protections Labour delivered.

The reality of an 80-seat Conservative majority is that our human rights are under threat like never before.

There is no better indicator of that than the previous Tory government’s hollowing out of legal aid in England and Wales. We now live in a country where the underprivileged in some cases simply can’t afford to mount a proper legal defence.

It is utterly shameful.

But I’m afraid that sitting on the opposition benches, there is relatively little we can do about it. So, we have to win these arguments in the country.

I am supportive of enshrining social and economic human rights in law, but in order to do that we have to win the next general election.

If anybody thinks that we will do that with continuity – that all we need is one more heave – they shouldn’t vote for me.

I am the change candidate in this election. I believe that we have to listen to what the public told us in December, and change the Labour Party.

It is only by changing, and offering the country a prospectus they can believe in, that we can kick Boris out of 10 Downing Street and put an end to the government’s attempts to hack away at our human rights protections.

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We are delighted that Ian Murray MP has signed up to our Human Rights Pledge.

Leadership Election: Human Rights Pledge

We are asking all of the Leadership and Deputy Leadership Candidates to sign up to our simple Human Rights Pledge with five key commitments:

  1. Put Human Rights at the Heart of Britain’s Foreign Policy
  2. ​Defend the Human Rights Act
  3. Enshrine Economic and Social Rights into Law
  4. Rebuilt the Legal Aid System ​
  5. Combat All Forms of Racism and Antisemitism in the Party

Human rights are under attack and we believe that it is critical for the next Labour Leadership to be strong defenders of our human rights.

This means developing a human rights-based foreign policy, rebuilding the legal aid system, committing to enshrining economic and social human rights such as food, health, housing and work into domestic law.

LCHR on Venezuela: a man-made humanitarian and human rights catastrophe

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By Corinne Linnecar, Campaigns Officer

As the world divides over its support for the declared leaders of Venezuela, what is happening to its people?

Venezuela was once the richest country in Latin America. It is home to the largest known oil reserves in the world; more than Saudi Arabia. In 2013, it received an award from the UN for reducing hunger by half. Yet today, its simultaneous humanitarian and human rights crises have led to over 3 million people fleeing the country while those left within its borders face life-threatening conditions.

A rapidly deteriorating economy is set to see inflation rise to 10 million per cent in 2019. Even where food can be found, the prices have exceeded all realms of rationality, with one month’s salary now buying only 500g of oats, 24 eggs, or half a burger. The country is also severely lacking basic necessities and medicine. All of this has culminated in a humanitarian crisis, which is exacerbated by a repressive government that continues to crack down on dissenting voices.

Unlike many humanitarian crises in the world, Venezuela’s was not caused by war or natural disaster. This crisis is entirely man-made.

Read more

LCHR on Brazil: Bolsonaro poses a grave threat to human rights

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By Stephen Delahunty, Guest Writer 

As Brazil’s new right-wing populist leader, Jair Bolsonaro, was sworn in as the 42nd president on 1st January this year, he promised the country’s “liberation from socialism, inverted values, the bloated state and political correctness”.

By the following day, it was clear to see what the former military captain actually meant. The President had already named seven former military men to head key ministries, the largest number of military officers appointed to cabinet since the end of the country’s military dictatorship in 1985. While the number of ministries was reduced from 29 to 22, a move that saw the Ministry of Labour axed in a country where over 12 million people are out of a job.

Read more

LCHR on the Bangladesh election: Sheikh Hasina tightens her iron grip on the country

2e6728caeb74475ebcd9e38c618758b8_18By Corinne Linnecar, Campaigns Officer

On Sunday 30th December Bangladesh’s incumbent Prime Minister, Sheikh Hasina, secured an unprecedented third term in office. The ruling Awami League and its alliance took 288 of the 300 seats, with some 100 million Bangladeshis voting in 40,000 polling stations across the country. Yet the results have been marred with widespread allegations of vote rigging, intimidation, and violence, including one horrendous story of a woman being gang raped for voting against the government.

With the Awami League taking 99.9% of the vote in some constituencies, the main opposition party has claimed the election was rigged and called for a re-run. Sheikh Hasina has rejected such claims, assigning her victory to the Bangladesh’s strong economic growth over the last ten years.

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BBC staff being persecuted by the Iranian government

At the Labour Party Conference last week I attended, on behalf of LCHR, a private briefing hosted by the BBC World Service.

From within the UK, it is easy to forget what an enormous organisation the BBC World Service is. It has a weekly global audience of over 347 million people, and provides independent and impartial news, information and analysis in over 43 languages.

The topic of the briefing was the steps that the BBC World Service is taking to try to combat ‘fake news’ around the world, particularly in countries that have important elections next year such as India and Nigeria. We should all be proud of the efforts that the BBC is making on this front – proving once again that the BBC is a national treasure, and a great projection of positive British values around the world.

Read more

Labour Party Conference 2018

We are hosting a joint fringe event with Amnesty International at the Labour Party Conference in Liverpool this year.

Violence Against Women Activists: Defending the Defenders

Thousands of brave human rights activists face persecution and violence around the world – and often the worst of it is directed at women. Just last month, Saudi Arabia announced that it would seek to execute Israa al-Ghomgham, a female human rights activist, for “providing moral support to rioters”. This story is repeated all over the world.

In support of Amnesty International’s Human Rights Defenders campaign, we will be co-hosting a panel discussion about violence against women activists and how we can defend against this.

Date: Tuesday 25th September
Time: 1:00pm
Location: Concourse Room 3, ACC Liverpool, Kings Dock, Liverpool,
L3 4FP

Speakers:

  • Kate Osamor MP (Shadow Secretary of State for International Development)
  • Owen Jones (Journalist)
  • Kate Allen (Director, Amnesty International UK)
  • Idil Eser (Former Director, Amnesty International Turkey)

With more speakers to be announced.

For further details see here

We hope to see you there!