I’ve worked in care in one capacity or another since I first volunteered as an unemployed school-leaver in 1981. Over the last 30 odd years I’ve been privileged to see some amazing developments in the way that vulnerable people are treated by society and by the caring professions. I’ve met some incredible, inspiring people and watched in awe as people overcome seemingly insurmountable odds, sometimes as a result of the care they receive and sometimes in spite of it. It’s been and continues to be a fantastic career, witnessing human growth and potential that would have been impossible without this country’s extensive package of human rights protections.
That’s why, some years ago, long before Brexit I wrote this little PDF. It outlines just why I love the European Convention on Human Rights, not just in relation to care services but because of its benefits for society as a whole.
If you’re at all unsure why so many care workers and others fear for our rights post-Brexit please download ‘The convention‘ and see just what the fuss is about.
New seminars and training on human rights coming soon. It’s important for care workers to know what we risk losing. That way they have a chance to help keep our rights.
So many nationalists talk about how great UK is. They cite our history, particularly 20th century history and the post-war society they grew up in. And I agree – for all its faults, post-WW2 UK hasn’t been a bad place to grow up in.
Our emphasis on justice, compassion, tolerance and human rights has created a pretty cool place to live. We have education, health care, protection for workers, unemployed people and the sick and disabled. We have a reasonable justice system without barbarity and access to legal remedy for all. It’s true that recent ideologically driven austerity measures have definitely impacted negatively on most of these advantages. None the less most UK adults today grew up with a working set of rights and safeguards before recent governments began trying to remove them.
What seems odd to me is the way that, whilst extolling our nation’s virtues, these nationalists often want to remove the emphasis on rights, tolerance, representative democracy and justice that made modern UK society so good in the first place.
Why is that? I think it’s probably because they don’t quite get the reality of Human Rights and what they’re in place to achieve. For years now the media and certain politicians have distorted the public’s perception of human rights with a parade of half-truths and downright deceptions.
My solution is to develop a training pack, primarily for care workers but actually relevant across society to help show people what’s at stake as the UK prepares to leave the EU. There is a lot of talk about scrapping our human rights. I think we need to be very, very clear about just what that means – and about what we want to come next. Knowledge is power!
Please get in touch if you have any suggestions for topics to include, FAQs to prepare for or any other questions or comments about this new project.
There is little that needs to be said about article 13. All it really means is that each country must enact laws to ensure that European Convention rights are upheld. If they are not then enacted then aggrieved citizens can take their country to the European Court of Human Rights to sit in judgement in their particular case.
Appealing to Europe is expensive and time-consuming though and so most countries try to ensure that their own, domestic legislation reflects the ECHR. Here in UK that’s what the Human Rights Act 1998 is all about. It includes all the articles of the ECHR except for article 13. That’s because the government believes that article 13 is automatically upheld simply because the Human Rights Act 1998 exists. It provides effective remedy in itself and needs no further discussion.
ARTICLE 13 says:
“Everyone whose rights and freedoms as set forth in this Convention are violated shall have an effective remedy before a national authority notwithstanding that the violation has been committed by persons acting in an official capacity.”
The Human Rights Act 1998 also re-emphasises the duty of all UK courts to interpret the law in a way that is consistent with the ECHR when reaching a judgement. There is a ‘side option’ known as a ‘statement of incompatibility’ which allows the court to say that existing UK law cannot be interpreted in keeping with the ECHR and so pass it back to Parliament to review but this is rarely needed.
About ‘The Convention’
This series of posts first appeared on Stuart’s blog in June 2011. It is not intended to be a comprehensive or even particularly authoritative reference guide to the ECHR. Rather it is a brief introduction to a much larger and infinitely more fascinating subject. You can download the entire series in PDF format here: https://stuartsorensen.wordpress.com/amj-freebies-downloads-and-services/