Tag Archives: human rights

No, really, it’s not the same as being on an all-inclusive holiday

There have been a couple of shocking stories this week about how asylum seekers have been, however, inadvertently, stigmatised which can lead to them being attacked and intimidated. First we had the Middlesborough “red doors” controversy and then, this week, the appalling news that asylum seekers in a hostel in Caefiff were forced to wear wristbands to access their food.

Newly arrived asylum seekers in the Welsh capital who are housed by Clearsprings Ready Homes, a private firm contracted by the Home Office, are being told that they must wear the wristbands all the time otherwise they will not be fed. The wristbands entitle the asylum seekers, who cannot work and are not given money, to three meals a day.

That practice was quickly stopped when the company was shamed in the press, but I have been concerned to see that some people have been saying that it’s ok to do this to people, because if you’re on an all-inclusive holiday, you have to wear a wristband. Really, it’s so not.

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Farron: Don’t train people from countries with bad human rights records at Sandhurst

Tim Farron has called on the Government to stop taking money from states with poor human rights records to train their military officers at the elite Sandhurst training college. He said to the Guardian:

These Sandhurst sheikhs are sitting in our military academies, learning from our best and then taking these things back to regimes that repress their population and trample all over human rights. People will look at this and think why are we selling weapons to Saudi, training Bahrainis and then sitting there while they oppress their population.

Shared military training with our allies is a fantastic resource, but it is time to stand up for the values we talk about so much – democracy and human rights. British forces provide some of the best military training in the world, but the privilege to train with our top class troops should be reserved to those foreign armed forces who share our values and our strict adherence to humanitarian law in combat. I believe we need to end to the training of overseas royals from regimes with terrible human rights records at Sandhurst.

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Farron slams UK’s billion pound arms deals with Saudi Arabia

The Guardian reports that human rights groups have expressed concern at a major rise in UK arms sales to Saudi Arabia.

Last month Saferworld and Amnesty commissioned a legal opinion from Professor Philippe Sands QC and other lawyers which concluded that British arms sales to Saudi Arabia, in the context of its military intervention and bombing campaign in Yemen, were breaking national, EU and international law.

UK arms sales in the three-month period from July to September 2015 for the export category that covers missiles, rockets and bombs amounted to £1,066,216,510, the BIS documents show. They were sold under five separate licences.

You can see the official figures showing the details of the export licences here.

Tim Farron has accused David Cameron of putting profits before human rights.

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Tom Brake slams “shamefully weak” UK government statement on Saudi executions

Lib Dem foreign affairs spokesperson Tom Brake has torn into the Government’s statement on the executions of 47 prisoners in Saudi Arabia in a series of tweets this evening.

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Paddy: Tension between Iran and Saudi Arabia “a far greater danger” than ISIL

Paddy Ashdown has told the Independent that the growing tension between Saudi Arabia and Iran in the wake of the Saudi executions carried out over the weekend is “a far greater danger” than ISIL. He said that the UK Government should be robust about calling the Saudis out for their actions:

Lord Ashdown said Saudi Arabia’s sudden mass execution of prisoners – including the prominent Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr and a number of young political protesters – may have been intended to derail the ongoing Syrian peace talks in Vienna.

These executions are deeply, deeply destabilising to the very delicate situation that exists in the Middle East and the danger of a wider Sunni and Shia conflict. The West, including the UK government, is only just realising the danger of this and its implications for long term peace in the region. It poses a far greater danger in the long term than, for example, Isil,” the former Lib Dem leader added.

The UK Government should be making it explicitly clear that it regards this act as extremely destabilising. These executions are shocking in human rights terms and reveal the real nature of the people with whom we are dealing. The UK’s stance underlines its deeply illogical position of ignoring the funding of jihadist groups, including Isil, which is coming from within Saudi Arabia.

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Tim Farron says UK Government should challenge Saudis over executions and human rights

Tim Farron went on Sky News yesterday to describe the execution of 47 people in Saudi Arabia as both “morally wrong and politically foolish” and to criticise the UK Government for being too soft on the Saudis and not calling them out for their appalling human rights record.

I remember being very proud when one of the first big things Vince Cable did as acting leader back in 2007 was to boycott the state visit of the Saudi King. I was not so chuffed last year when there was a chorus of silence from Liberal Democrats when flags were flown at half mast following the death of the Saudi King.

So, it’s good to see Tim Farron slamming the Saudis for their actions and the UK Government for being too soft on them. I’m also interested that he made the point that the relationships between the two governments benefit the most powerful people in both countries but don’t do much for those who aren’t well off. Watch the whole thing here.

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Farron slams Fallon’s human rights comments: “We do not win by joining terrorists in the gutter”

Strong words from Tim Farron, but the occasion warranted them.

The Tories’ cavalier attitude to our human rights laws has long been a worry. Now that they are in power on their own, unmoderated by Liberal Democrats, it’s a problem. Those human rights laws protect all of us from the abuse of power by governments, local authorities and anyone else with significant influence over our lives. Look at this 50 page document for professionals dealing with older people and you’ll see the huge array of protections that our parents and grandparents have.

The Tories would dearly love to get rid of these protections so they try to do it by arguing that they make troops less effective. The Telegraph reports the Defence Secretary Michael Fallon as saying:

We don’t need these ambulance-chasing British law firms,” he told The Sunday Telegraph. “It is not only extremely expensive but it inhibits the operational effectiveness of our troops because they start to worry about whether they will end up in a court or not.

This is nonsense for many, many reasons. Apart from anything else, being seen to be upholding the highest standards of human rights is a very, very good thing for our international reputation. It’s also not as if individual soldiers end up in court. That’s deliberately worded to make it sound like individual troops are going to end up in the dock under human rights legislation when in fact it’s the Ministry of Defence who would be sued in a civil court. Basically, Fallon doesn’t want to spend the money defending human rights cases. We need to be careful of that kind of logic. Elections are quite expensive things as well but they are a critical and essential part of our democracy. I’m very happy to pay for all citizens to have their human rights protected. The actual cost to each of us will be so tiny as to be inconsequential and is well worth paying. 

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