Britain’s long tradition of respect for human rights is under threat

Screen Shot 2018-12-10 at 12.54.07 PMThis article was co-authored by Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London, and Matthew Turner, Chair of the Labour Campaign for Human Rights, and originally published in The Guardian on 10 December 2018.

Exactly 70 years ago, 48 members of the UN general assembly voted in favour of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Support was not unanimous. Drafting was not without controversy or disagreement. But the result was a major victory for humanity. The declaration rightly stands as a beacon of hope to people everywhere, and is the most translated document in the world, available in 370 languages. It forms the basis of human rights laws across Europe – including the European convention on human rights and the EU charter of fundamental rights – that have allowed millions of people to enforce their rights through the courts.

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Britain has overlooked Saudi Arabia’s transgressions for too long

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An abridged version of this article was co-authored by Clive Lewis MP and Matthew Turner, Chair of the Labour Campaign for Human Rights, and originally published in The Times on 1 November 2018.

Saudi Arabia’s crown prince must restore dignity to his country — by ending Yemen’s cruel war. This was the title of one of Jamal Khashoggi’s final articles for the Washington Post before he died. He called for an end to the war in Yemen, not even on humanitarian grounds, but because it has been a political failure. It was this type of criticism for which, according to the Turkish authorities, he was strapped down to a table in the Saudi embassy and cut to pieces with a bone saw while he was still alive. The criticism was mild and legitimate. If the reports are true, the Saudi government has responded with an act of sickening barbarism that has deeply shocked the world.

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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.

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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!

Would you like to volunteer for LCHR?

LCHR is looking for six new volunteers to help us run the organisation and our upcoming campaigns. The volunteers will form LCHR’s managing committee, and we are looking for a Secretary, Membership Officer, Communications Officer, Fundraising Officer, Events Officer, and Campaigns Officer. Each officer will have role-specific responsibilities, as well as being involved with our campaigning work.

Responsibilities (depending on the specific volunteer role) include:

• Liaising with MPs, peers, and their support staff;

• Writing articles and briefings;

• Running our social media channels;

• Producing a regular newsletter;

• Organising events; and

• Carrying out fundraising activities.

Ideal candidates will have:

• A keen interest in human rights and politics;

• Excellent interpersonal and communication skills, including writing skills;

• A good understanding of the Labour Party; and

• Support the Labour Campaign for Human Rights and our mission.

Hours are flexible and the role is primarily home-based, although candidates will ideally be based in London for meetings and events. Around 2-3 hours per week commitment is typical by not required.

If you are interested in applying, please send a CV and short cover note to Matthew Turner at matthew.turner@lchr.org.uk by 31 August 2018. 

We will acknowledge every application, and will aim to contact successful applicants by 1st September 2018. Interviews will take place w/c 3rd September or 27th / 28th September (with some flexibility if necessary).

You can find out more information here: http://www.w4mpjobs.org/JobDetails.aspx?jobid=67389.

 

Introducing LCHR’s new Chair and Executive Director

Mathew Turner_Hi_Env02LCHR is pleased to announce that Matthew Turner has been appointed as Chair and Executive Director.

Matthew is a commercial solicitor with a broad experience of public interest and human rights work. He has spent a year in Texas defending death row inmates, worked in the legal team at Liberty, and volunteered for a wide range of human rights charities.

I am delighted to be taking up this role and leading such an important and meaningful campaign. Human rights have been constantly under attack in recent years, and LCHR has a big task to promote and protect them within the Labour movement, the UK and beyond. I want to build on the excellent work that Andrew has done over the years, and make sure that human rights are always at the heart of Labour Party policy.”

LCHR wants to thank Andrew Noakes for his hard-work and dedication over the years. Andrew grew LCHR from a handful of volunteers five years ago into the powerful and high-profile campaign that it is today. He will continue to serve on the board of directors for the time being to ensure a smooth transition.

LCHR’s volunteers

The Labour Campaign for Human Rights is a small, not-for-profit organisation. In the past, we have been fortunate to benefit from some funding that allowed us to take on paid campaigners, including a paid intern. However, we are presently a voluntary group only, meaning we’re run entirely by volunteers. Our organisation also began this way.
 
We offer opportunities for people who want to get involved in political campaigning to contribute to our activities on a voluntary basis. Such opportunities are designed to be carried out in their spare time, and most of our volunteers work jobs, internships, or study while contributing to our campaigns as and when they can. All volunteers are free to come and go as they please, contributing as much or as little as they wish for whatever period of time they want. Though our adverts often note that 2-3 hours per week is a typical contribution, this isn’t binding and many contribute less or more depending on their own time and preferences. All volunteers contribute remotely, except for any meetings or events they wish to attend. Sometimes, we look for volunteers who are interested in particular kinds of activities, such as digital campaigning or grassroots activism, and we advertise for specific voluntary roles on this basis. However, these roles are governed by the same flexible approach as above. None of our voluntary roles carry the promise of future employment. We do not offer any form of unpaid employment.
 
The political blog, Guido Fawkes, published an article on 4 June that claimed the Labour Campaign for Human Rights is using unpaid interns to aid our campaigning activities. This article conflates the issue of unpaid internships – unpaid, structured work akin to employment – with genuine political engagement carried out as a spare-time activity. There are thousands of clubs, societies, charities, blogs, and small campaigning groups like ours that are run mostly or entirely by volunteers. Political parties also benefit from thousands of volunteers who want to make a contribution in the world of politics. These voluntary activities are vital to our civic and political life and we defend them robustly as an essential feature of our participatory democracy, just as we robustly oppose unpaid employment.