Tag Archives: human rights

Another day, another new Conservative Prime Minister to muck up our lives

Boris Johnson and Liz Truss are in for an absolute treat today. It’s more of a faff to get to Balmoral than a quick spin up the Mall to Buckingham Palace, but the journey from Aberdeen through Royal Deeside is absolutely gorgeous. The heather in the hills round about Aboyne is particularly stunning, even if it is, as forecast, tipping it down.

I am so glad that they are going north to see the Queen. The 96 year old monarch has earned the right to say that they should come to her.

I wonder what arrangements have been made for Boris and Carrie to get back from Balmoral. Normally the outgoing PM gets a taxi from Buckingham Palace. Will the estate manager drop them in Ballater so they can get the bus back to Aberdeen to catch the Easyjet back down south? Probably not, but it’s an amusing thought.

Much has been said about the new Prime Minister’s bulging in tray. Competing economic, energy, international and health crises require urgent action. I don’t think we are emphasising enough, though, the extent to which all these issues have been made worse by the foolish actions of the Conservative Party in Government since 2015.  From David Cameron’s ill-advised pledge to hold a referendum on our EU membership, to Theresa May’s and Boris Johnson’s choice to pursue the most extreme form of Brexit, they have helped create much tougher economic circumstances than in similar economies.

Sectors like social care are falling apart because of their anti-immigrant ethos. As care workers went back to the EU, our disabled and elderly friends and family found that the help that they relied on disappeared.

Boris Johnson’s boasterish farewell speech this morning didn’t mention this. He didn’t get Brexit done. He left a predictably impossible situation in Northern Ireland and the new PM intends to take the nuclear option of breaking international law rather than find a more pragmatic solution.  Deaths from Covid in the UK are the highest in Europe and the long term consequences of their pretence that the pandemic is over are being felt by too many people.

It takes some brass neck to deliver such a bullish speech when you have been forced from office in disgrace after the resignation of half of your government. Tim Farron summed it up this morning:

Jo Swinson said back in 2019 that the worst thing about Boris Johnson was that he just didn’t care. He simply couldn’t be bothered to understand how his Government’s actions affected people. Liz Truss, similarly, shows no sign of giving a damn and she doesn’t have anything like the charisma of her predecessor.

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Carmichael: Ministers must explain themselves over Jagtar Singh Johal allegations

The BBC reports that UK intelligence services have been accused of tipping off Indian authorities about a British national, leading to his abduction and alleged torture. Jagtar Singh Johal was detained on a visit to India in 2017 and says that he has been tortured. But how did the Indian authorities catch up with him?

The BBC cites a claim from human rights organisation Reprieve that the information may have come from UK intelligence:

Reprieve says it has matched several details relating to his case to a specific claim of mistreatment documented in a report by the watchdog that oversees the intelligence agencies.

“In the course of an investigation”, says the Investigatory Powers Commissioner’s Office (IPCO) report, “MI5 passed intelligence to a liaison partner via the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6).

“The subject of the intelligence was arrested by the liaison partner in their country. The individual told the British Consular Official that he had been tortured.”

Mr Johal is not named in the report, but Reprieve’s investigators are adamant the facts match his case due to the dates concerned, the lobbying by British prime ministers and supporting evidence detailed in the Indian press.

Human rights are hardwired into the DNA of liberals, so as you would expect, Alistair Carmichael, our Home Affairs spokesperson, has demanded that ministers explain themselves:

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Myanmar Executions, what now? 

After the initial burst of news, there have been few updates in the UK press on the situation in Myanmar following the military coup in February 2021.  This was till recently on 25th July 2022, when the military rulers announced that 4 democracy activists were executed.  According to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP), these 4 executions “were the first carried out among some 117 death sentences handed down by military-run courts since the coup”.

Chinese Libdems posted two articles on Myanmar previously Standing with Myanmar – Military rule and the struggle for democracy in Myanmar (March 2021) and Myanmar’s Simmering War and UK’s moral duty (June 2021).  Given recent developments, it is perhaps timely to give an update on the situation.  

Based on our research, we have gleaned the following:
– Myanmar is in early stages of civil war.  The pro-democracy groups have set up a National Unity Government (NUG) and has established a People’s Defence Force (PDF).  Other armed groups are the Ethnic Armed Organisations (EAO) and the Sit-Tat (Myanmar Armed Forces belonging to the Junta).

– Myanmar is fragmented along conflict lines.  Some areas are under NUG control, and others by the various EAOs and the SIT-Tat.  Some areas would be in conflict as between government and rebel groups.  There is also a breakdown of national institutions (i.e., the military government) with some villages establishing their own administrative bodies.

In July 2022, China’s foreign minister during his first visit since the coup, “called for Myanmar’s junta to hold talks with its opponents.  The Junta would of course want to retain power as far as possible and is currently set on destroying the NUG despite calling themselves a transition government.  The NUG on the other hand is far from united with some seeking the replacement of the 2008 Constitution without any power sharing arrangements.  The execution of the 4 political activists can only stiffen the resolve of the NUG to defeat the Junta.

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Pride in the Lib Dems

Yesterday marked the 50th anniversary of London Pride and Liberal Democrats were right there marching with all the pride we could muster -both as Liberal Democrats and throughout the parade Liberal Democrats were marching with other groups and organisations from the Armed forces to NHS trusts to Sports Groups. It was amazing to be part of this piece of history with 1.5 million people involved! Thanks to every Lib Dem who came yesterday, whether you were marching with the group or elsewhere or supporting from the crowd – and many thanks to our fabulous GLA Assembly Members – Caroline, Hina and Luisa for sharing the day with us.


Thanks to Luisa, Caroline, Hina and all the other Lib Dems
who helped give us an amazing presence yesterday.

Pride has always meant a lot to me – it’s the first place I felt I could be unashamed of myself when I was 16 and had just come out as bi. I’ve seen some of the best moments of solidarity there – adults taking it upon themselves to hide hateful banners from teenagers going past, cis people passionately defending trans people, thousands of people screaming support for LGBT+ refugee groups to give a very few examples I’ve seen over the years.

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2022 Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy

EDITOR NOTE: some of this report contains references to torture and abuse.

I arrived in Geneva last night for the first time in two years for the Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy, an annual event raising the plight of political prisoners worldwide and drawing attention to human rights abuses by state actors. It is always a privilege to be in the company of the speakers, who are variously former political prisoners, family members and representatives of prisoners and front line human rights defenders.

The event at the UN was opened by the Canadian permanent mission to the UN who asked for full support for the suspension of Russia from the Human Rights Council this week.

The first speaker was Nazanin Boniadi, an Iranian human rights defender who focusses on the denial of due process in Iranian courts and torture of defendants. She pointed out that 72 deaths have occurred in custody in a decade.

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The courage of Ukrainians should truly humble us

The Ukrainian border guards on Snake Island had a while to think about their response to a Russian warship demanding that they lay down their arms.

Several years in fact.

There can’t be much to do at such a border post, apart from contemplate your potential enemy and the day of reckoning that might finally arrive.

So their response of “Russian warship – go to hell”, or alternatively fruity translation, was spoken in full awareness of the potential consequences.

We’ve seen similar awe-inspiring bravery and defiance from President Zelenskyy to ordinary pensioners berating Russian soldiers.

And what for?

What are they fighting for?

A large parcel of land where they and their ancestors have lived.

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Cable causes controversy over Uyghurs comments

Our beloved former leader Sir Vince Cable took to a new right wing tv news channel last night to have a pint with Nigel Farage.

During that interview he basically said that we shouldn’t call the brutality that the Chinese authorities are inflicting on to the Uyghur population genocide. He said:

“The use of the word genocide is not right here. There is terrible human rights abuse in many countries of minorities and China is one of them and they have abused those minorities for sure but calling it genocide is hyping the language.”

I wonder if he would consider that Amnesty International were “hyping the language” in their report last month in which they described China’s treatment of the Uyghurs as “crimes against humanity.” Over 160 pages, they outlined horrific human rights abuses:

Agnes Callanard, Amnesty’s Secretary General said:

Uyghurs, Kazakhs and other Muslim minorities face crimes against humanity and other serious human rights violations that threaten to erase their religious and cultural identities.

“It should shock the conscience of humanity that massive numbers of people have been subjected to brainwashing, torture and other degrading treatment in internment camps, while millions more live in fear amid a vast surveillance apparatus.”

In February, the BBC reported on allegations of systematic rape in detention camps:

Tursunay Ziawudun, who fled Xinjiang after her release and is now in the US, said women were removed from the cells “every night” and raped by one or more masked Chinese men. She said she was tortured and later gang-raped on three occasions, each time by two or three men.

Earlier this year, the US Government described the treatment of the Uyghurs as genocide in its annual report on global human rights practices:

Genocide and crimes against humanity occurred during the year against the predominantly Muslim Uyghurs and other ethnic and religious minority groups in Xinjiang. These crimes were continuing and include: the arbitrary imprisonment or other severe deprivation of physical liberty of more than one million civilians; forced sterilization, coerced abortions, and more restrictive application of China’s birth control policies; rape; torture of a large number of those arbitrarily detained; forced labor; and the imposition of draconian restrictions on freedom of religion or belief, freedom of expression, and freedom of movement.

With that sort of evidence, it’s not hard to see why Vince’s comments have provoked some controversy in the party, even from a senior MP.

Alistair Carmichael said on Twitter that while Vince was a long standing colleague whose views he valued, on this he was wrong:

Other members and party bodies criticised his comment too:

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Human rights campaigning wins in Ireland in the end

At the All Party Parliamentary Group for refugees Nick Henderson from the Irish Refugee Council told us about the “Direct Provision” Accommodation Centres in the Irish Republic.

Asylum Seekers live in these privately run Accommodation Centres whilst their case is being assessed.  They were originally meant for short stays when started in 2001, but are now used for much longer one’s and the median stay is 27 months.  Around 7,000 people are currently housed like this.

Those housed there have little privacy, no cooking facilities, and they are excluded from any community life.  Nearly 2,000 are sharing bedrooms with people they are not related to.  Guardians who manage it appear to have oversight of children from families in there, which causes a lot of problems for the future as well as present.

The Centres are very expensive to run and there has been a lot of opposition to them from Human Rights groups since they were started in 2001.  The system could not be amended to be done better, but needed to be replaced.  One woman said that dignity, independence and freedom had been taken from her and her children had lost their self-confidence.

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Suzanne Fletcher on her lifelong mission to speak up for the most vulnerable people

Suzanne Fletcher is one of the hardest working, humanitarian, compassionate people I have ever known. She has devoted her life improve living conditions for the poorest people with the least power.

Her local paper, the Darlington and Stockton Times, has done a wonderful profile of her as part of their series of features inspired by Middlesborugh Soroptimists’ list of outstanding local women.

Suzanne talked of her own experience of poor housing when she was small:

“We lived in an awful place, near the slag heaps,” says Suzanne. “It was difficult and dangerous as there was so much pollution in the air. Coal gas came up through the cellar, our plants died, as did my pet mouse, and the curtains rotted. My mother and father were both hardworking and did their best to keep everything clean, but when we complained the authorities didn’t listen. They considered our living conditions to be fine.

“The noise and swearing from the police cells at night kept us awake. My mother would prepare meals for the prisoners. They were sometimes sent back uneaten, but she was determined they would be treated with dignity.”

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Trade deals reveal Tory contempt for human rights and Parliamentary scrutiny

During the referendum, voters were promised Westminster would have greater power to scrutinise legislation. Liberal Democrats recently made valiant attempts to hold the government to account for its post-Brexit trade deals.

European Union era deals are being “rolled over” by the government. These recycled deals contain review mechanisms that can be triggered if parties breach human rights and democracy clauses. Yet, in the case of the Cameroon deal, those mechanisms were not triggered despite decades of election-rigging, corruption and more recent human rights abuses. What hope is there that the Conservatives will consider current atrocities as sufficient to suspend the rolled over deal? When Lib Dems asked why Parliament was allowed no scrutiny, they were told that MPs had a 14-minute debate in 2010. So much for post-Brexit sovereignty.

In addition, a new report by Global Rights Index finds that five of the 10 countries rated as the ‘worst in the world for workers’ have been given trade deals by Britain in the past two years. The UK-Australia deal has been widely condemned by environmentalists, animal welfare charities and farmers.

The debates initiated by Sarah Olney and Lord Purvis revealed the time warp in which the Foreign Office and Department for International Trade exist. The trade ministers, Graham Stewart MP and Lord Grimstone, gave a masterclass in arrogance and delusional 1950s thinking. They assume that foreign governments respectfully take notice when visiting British ministers raise human rights issues. But in the absence of the carrots and sticks of diplomatic persuasion, the UK’s pompous words have little effect.

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Liberal Democrats must acknowledge massive human rights abuse in India

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Britain’s announcement of a £1 billion trade deal with India coincided with a thundering condemnation of that country by the British-Indian artist Sir Anish Kapoor in The Times. He writes:

Sixty per cent of the population — 800 million people — live, or more accurately survive, in abject poverty and are forced into invisibility. The harshness of caste boundaries and endemic social segregation means they are the downtrodden of the earth and it matters not if they live or die.

Britain is pursuing India for post-Brexit trade deals and as a strategic ally against China’s expansion. By doing so, it is turning a blind eye to widespread human rights abuses there where individual suffering may well be equal or higher than that of China.

The voice of Liberal Democrats is close to silent on these atrocities.

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Young Liberals demand cancellation of deportation flight – how you can help

Who on earth would deport people in the middle of a global pandemic?

From the Independent:

The Home Office has scheduled a deportation flight to Jamaica on the day England’s month-long coronavirus lockdown lifts, sparking outrage and accusations of institutionalised racism.

Speaking with The Independent, Zita Holbourne, the national co-chair of Black Activists Rising Against Cuts UK and the organiser of a long-running petition calling on the Home Office to end “mass deportations” to Jamaica, said it was a dangerous step to deport people during a pandemic.

She said she was disturbed to learn the government had planned the deportation flight for 2 December, the day England’s nationwide lockdown aimed at preventing the spread of Covid-19 lifts.

We shouldn’t be surprised at our Home Office’s callous disregard for people’s health.

But nor should we stand by.

Young Liberals are writing to the Home Secretary to ask her to stop this deportation.

Their letter says:

Dear Home Secretary,

The Young Liberals write to you, with support of the wider Liberal Democrat membership and those with other political affiliations, with our concerns regarding the scheduled deportation of up to fifty people to Jamaica on Wednesday 2nd December 2020. We wish to add our voices to those of esteemed organisations such as BARAC UK & BAME Lawyers for Justice, who are urging the Home Secretary to reconsider the proposed action in line with legal and moral considerations.

We note with significant alarm the Home Secretary’s lack of confirmation that a review of Home Office policies will take place to ensure that the Home Office’s current practices comply with equalities legislation.

The ‘deport now and appeal later’ principle underpinning the Home Office’s ongoing Hostile Environment Policy preys on minority ethnic individuals without sufficient money, connections, or support in the UK, acting in a highly discriminatory way.

We wish to reiterate ongoing concerns about the systematic prejudices of the Home Office, with the Home Office failing to implement the total findings and recommendations of the ‘Windrush Lessons Learned Review’, the Joint Committee on Human Rights’ Report on ‘Black People, Racism and Human Rights’, or the 2018 Shaw Report which recommended that the Government should not deport those born or brought up in the UK.

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Alex Cole-Hamilton hails law giving children equal protection from assault

Today is an important day in Scotland.

The law giving children equal protection from assault becomes law.

It’s always seemed very strange to me that if I were to slap a 6 foot 4 adult, I’d find myself on an assault charge, but it would be fine for me to slap a 3 foot 2 child. It’s a pretty gross abuse of power and people can retain the memories of these incidents for years after. They cast a very long shadow.

It’s an important step because it sets out very clearly that hitting anyone to make them submit to your will is an abuse of power that we will not tolerate.

And one of the strongest advocates of this measure is our own Alex Cole-Hamilton. I spent ten years trying to get that man into Holyrood for one major reason – because he would be a brilliant advocate for young people. And he has been. On the smacking issue, on campaigning for a much greater rise in the age of criminal responsibility than the SNP Government was prepared to implement, on calling for care leavers to be properly looked after and many other issues, he has been the young person’s best friend in the Scottish Parliament.

On today’s milestone, he said:

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Why we need to decriminalise abortion and give women agency to make their own decisions

Abortion has been high on the social agenda in recent months.

The Coronavirus pandemic necessitated a change in practice. So regulation around home abortions were adapted and the pills needed for early medical abortions (before 10 weeks) were allowed to be taken at home.

Unsurprisingly, this thoughtful kindness to allow women to go through this devastating experience privately, at home, sparked a huge debate on both sides.

Advocates of the decision looking to make a permanent change to the draconian 1967 Abortion Act and other, most notably, Christian Concern, claiming the decision goes against the purposes of the Act and beyond its remit.

Fortunately, after taking the case not just to the High Court but also to the Court of Appeal, Christian Concern lost.

Unfortunately, this is isn’t a rare occurrence. It’s happening across the globe.

Six US states- Indiana, Iowa, Mississippi, Ohio, Oklahoma and Texas- have already categorised abortions as non-essential medical procedures, effectively using the pandemic to crack down on female reproductive rights.

This temporary change in the UK guidelines marks a significant shift towards the liberalisation of female sexuality.

But as usual there’s a catch- it follows a phone or video consultation and an approval by not one, but two medical professionals.

What is the need for this approval? Isn’t abortion legal in the UK? Can’t a woman make that decision without the approval of two, doctors, most likely men?

Well, actually no she can’t, and I found out the hard way.

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28 July 2020 – today’s press releases

  • Davey calls for PM to put Martin Forde QC in charge of a Coronavirus Inquiry
  • Davey: PM must take second wave risk seriously
  • Government gaps in support for freelancers leaving employers to pick up the tab
  • Government must apply same human rights standards to US when it comes to exports
  • Dodds: ‘Swansea Tidal Lagoon is a vital part of our post-Covid recovery’
  • Davey calls for PM to put Martin Forde QC in charge of a Coronavirus Inquiry

    Today Acting Leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey has written to the Prime Minister with a plan for an immediate inquiry into the coronavirus pandemic.

    Ed has called on the Prime Minister to appoint Martin Forde QC as the chair of an independent coronavirus inquiry and to start work immediately. Martin Forde was the independent adviser on the design of the Government’s Windrush Compensation Scheme and is chair of the independent inquiry into Labour’s report on the party’s handling of antisemitism complaints.

    Ed also released proposed Terms of Reference for the independent inquiry agreed to by the Covid19 Bereaved Families for Justice.

    A spokesperson for the Covid19 Bereaved Families for Justice said:

    Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice are relieved that Ed Davey has seen the urgent need for a rapid inquiry.

    The Government’s own ‘Preparing for a challenging winter 20/21’ report (The Academy of Medical Sciences) predicts over 119,000 excess deaths this winter if urgent action is not taken now.

    That action has to be informed by this transparent inquiry. It’s time the Prime Minister put the well-being of the nation above politics.

    Acting Leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey said:

    The Prime Minister confirmed to me weeks ago that there would be an independent inquiry, but we have seen no action from the Government since. Bereaved families I speak to are so disappointed that the Government is yet to begin an inquiry. They just don’t want any more families to go through what they have.

    The coronavirus threat remains very real. Were a second wave to happen during the winter, it could be even more deadly and damaging than the first. The Government must immediately start an inquiry so that we can learn from mistakes and properly plan for a second wave.

    This plan has been agreed by the Covid19 Bereaved Families for Justice. I hope Boris Johnson takes it seriously and sees it as an opportunity to get an inquiry going as soon as possible.

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Liberals and the cancel culture

The sujet du jour; at least on Twitter, seems to be “cancel culture”.

I’m a newbie on Twitter and as I have scrolled through my feed and seen various threads; I’ve noticed a schism between Lib Dems, on this particular issue. On one side there are Lib Dems, advocating the necessity to protect the individual, human and civil rights of the oppressed and that freedom of speech doesn’t come with freedom from consequence. On the other side are those Lib Dems who see freedom of speech as a key tenet to liberalism. An article by Tim Farron (advocating the latter), exemplified this schism with Tim being supported and rounded on, in equal measure. However, this isn’t a divide about free speech – it is a divide in the discourse of what is morally absolute and what isn’t.

Within social justice, liberals will always seek a moral universalism when advocating human rights for the oppressed minorities. The danger is, this advocation can fall into absolutism and that those opposing the perceive moral truths by absolutists are not only wrong, they are immoral; leading to those opposing their worldview to be swiftly labelled “racists,” “bigots,” “Nazis,” etc. In a democratic society our cultural norms, ethics and morals, evolve over time through societal discourse. Absolutists, in shutting down what they perceive as immoral; shut down the debate. In effect, they break the social contract that allows for moral consensus to be agreed upon.

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What is in a name? 

Lib Dem run Watford Borough Council this week voted unanimously to pass a motion in favour of reviewing our town’s street names with links to slave and colonial history.

The Black Lives Matter Campaign and others have rightly highlighted the harm slavery, indentured labour and exploitation inflicted on individuals and whole societies during the cruel period of slavery – the legacy of which continues to this day.

It is important to remember that sickness and destitution were rife amongst slaves, there was a significant need for acclimatisation for immigrants to any slave colony, however, many slave owners failed to do this and as a result thousands of slaves died within weeks of arrival.

Others eventually succumbed to the poor working conditions on plantations and within other slave roles. Slaves were literally worked to death.

As part of the slave trade whole families were imported from Hindu, Muslim, African and European cultures, living together in barracks in often squalid conditions with minimal privacy.

Many slaves committed suicide, with trade unions and strikes made illegal by the governments of the West Indies.

Even indentured slaves had to seek permission to leave their plantations, corporal punishments were enforced for crimes including insulting the plantation owner.

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28 January 2020 – today’s press releases

  • Tory proposals to end free movement will make it harder to recruit teachers, nurses and doctors
  • Liberal Democrats: Huawei decision shows no regard for its human rights record
  • Davey calls for ‘Net Zero’ department to slash UK greenhouse gas emissions
  • Liberal Democrats: Trump’s negotiations a sham

Tory proposals to end free movement will make it harder to recruit teachers, nurses and doctors

Responding to the publication of the Migration Advisory Committee report which has advised against against a full points-based system for UK, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs spokesperson Christine Jardine said:

The Conservative Government wants to impose an entirely new immigration system in less than 12

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14 November 2019 – yesterday’s overnight press releases

  • Lib Dems unveil plan for Equalities and Human Rights
  • Lib Dems: Spiralling class sizes shows brutal impact of Conservative cuts
  • Lib Dems: Reforming Gender Recognition Act can’t wait (see here)

Lib Dems unveil plan for Equalities and Human Rights

The Liberal Democrats will today (Thursday 14 November) unveil the party’s Plan for Equalities and Human Rights. The plan is at the heart of the party’s vision to build a brighter future for everyone.

The ambitious policies being revealed at a press conference today by Luciana Berger and Chuka Umunna include:

  • tackling the rise in hate crimes by making them all aggravated offences
  • providing funding for protective

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WATCH: Luciana Berger describe her experience of anti-semitic abuse in the Labour Party

Lib Dem MP Luciana Berger described her experience of anti-semitism in the Labour Party at a campaign event today. Watch here;

This came on the day Jo Swinson signed the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition on antisemitism, which all candidates are being asked to sign this Election.

The party published its plan for Equalities and Human Rights  today, which covers everything from protecting civil liberties, banning use of facial recognition technology for police surveillance, protecting the Human Rights Act, a Lovelace Code of ethics to cover use of personal data and ending the snoopers’ charter on communications data to extending equal marriage and abolishing the unfair spousal veto and reinstating marriages which were forced to be dissolved because of the gender recognition process.

Chuka Umunna said we would take on the right wing forces of nationalism:

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Thoughts on the tragedy of the 39 killed in the lorry

All reading this will have read about the tragedy of those who died in the lorry on the way to the UK.  These deaths have made the headlines because so many people died, all at once.  But there are deaths connected with trafficking every day that we don’t hear about.

This report from “Missing Migrants” shows the figures from around the world.   It gives the facts about the tragedies of desperate people trying to reach Europe bringing the total this year to 1090 deaths, out of 2063 worldwide this year.

There are also those who are trafficked here, and are victims of slavery.  Paul Vallely, writing in the Church Times, says “What if the 39 migrants had survived?”  A big question that isn’t being addressed.  There is no doubt that the outpouring of sympathy would not have been the same.  If they had been intercepted by the authorities they would have been treated badly, and probably detained, and “sent back to where they came from”.  They certainly would not have been able to work here.  Had the smugglers been successful, the migrants would have been subjected to being treated as human slaves here.  No rights; no documentation; no employment legislation; no decent housing.  

There are many examples, from the many recently reported, of how victims of trafficking have been badly treated in the UK after arriving here. It is criminal for our Government to send those who have been trafficked (and proved to be so) back to where they are so vulnerable to be trafficked again. Every possible effort must be made to stop the smugglers and their agents, who profit from trading human beings.

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10 April 2019 – today’s press releases

Moran: Recognition of Palestine cannot wait a moment longer

Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran has today called on the UK Government to recognises Palestine following the Israeli election.

Ms Moran, the first MP of Palestinian decent, previously introduced the Palestinian Statehood (Recognition) Bill which would require the UK Government to recognise the State of Palestine within 3 months of the Bill being passed. It had support from Lib Dem, Labour, SNP, Plaid and Green MPs.

Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran said:

The dead heat between Gantz and Netanyahu means uncertainty for Palestinians continues. We now wait with baited breath for the

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9-10 March 2019 – the weekend’s press releases (part 1)

There’s no doubt that the Press Team have been busy over the weekend, and we’ll spread the press releases over two posts accordingly…

  • Lib Dems: Javid’s judgement has had tragic consequences
  • Lib Dems: We must now eradicate period poverty from society
  • Swinson: UK must help secure release of Egyptian woman Amal Fathy
  • Jardine reveals “embarrassing” gender balance of the Privy Council

Lib Dems: Javid’s judgement has had tragic consequences

Responding to the reports that the baby son of Shamima Begum has died, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Ed Davey said:

The news that a little baby has died will touch the vast majority of people’s hearts –

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Lib Link: Vince Cable Human rights day: Demand better for freedom and dignity

Vince Cable has written an article for Human Rights Day over on the party website. It’s 70 years today since the International Declaration on Human Rights was signed.

On 10th December 1948, history was made. The United Nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

In the shadow of the Second World War, the nations of the world came together to declare that everyone – no matter who they are and where they live – has the same fundamental rights.

With one voice, we pledged to “strive by teaching and education to promote respect for these rights and freedoms and by progressive measures, national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance.”

That was a mission statement for the world. But it equally serves as a mission statement for the Liberal Democrats today.

We are committed to promoting and protecting human rights, here in the UK and around the world.

And, as we celebrate the momentous step that was taken 70 years ago today, we must also rededicate ourselves to that mission.

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Baroness Celia Thomas writes….The disabled man in the airport

A few days ago, it was reported that last year a paraplegic athlete, Justin Levene, shuffled through Luton Airport on his bottom because his own self-propelled wheelchair was stuck on the plane. He didn’t want to accept Luton Airport’s offer of a different non-self-propelled wheelchair, not least because of the danger of pressure sores, but also the indignity of losing his independence that had been so hard-won.

I have seen various accusations; that it was churlish, offensive, arrogant, publicity seeking – the list goes on.  However others, notably disabled people themselves, have applauded him for drawing attention to the difficulties people with disabilities face if they travel, particularly the inadequate facilities at airports. Some people have accused him of making a fuss but, until you have experienced how little people seem to consider accessibility issues, making a fuss often becomes the only thing you can do to ensure people take notice. The news coverage of Justin Levene is case in point.

This comes at the end of a week when I attended a meeting about disabled access and inclusion, with two Ministers, civil servants and disabled Peers. We were told about the new cross-departmental committee on disability, and its consultation with the Disability Charities Committee – a group I’d barely heard of.  After a bit, one of the Government-supporting Peers let fly.  He told about attending a VIP dinner at a high-end hotel in central London, only to discover that there was no accessible toilet there, but that he could be led to a bedroom some way away which had an accessible bathroom attached to it. He said he felt worthless and demeaned by that, and made sure he was dehydrated.

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Checking my underwear

Dateline: Brighton, September 2018

Wandering into Conference a leaflet is thrust into my hands. It touches on current Government consultation on the Gender Recognition Act.

One paragraph of the leaflet sets the tone “sex self-ID that would allow any man to get his birth certificate reissues in the opposite sex. Just like that. On demand. With no change to his body and no medical supervision.”

The rest of the leaflet is a list of scenarios each more prurient than the last. None of these scenarios are evidenced as ever having happened, no evidence that a trans woman has ever abused the trust of other women in these sensationalist and inflammatory ways. Just a list of “what if”.

Leaving aside the paucity of the author’s hypothesis there is another consideration, if not sex self-ID then what?

The author suggests “changes to his body” and “medical supervision”.

While this article is not a treatise on the NHS most people recognise that for anything beyond measles that means triage, waiting times, a postcode lottery, financial limits and gatekeepers.

In the context of the current gender recognition process (leading to a Gender Recognition Certificate and a new Birth Certificate) that means two medical practitioners from suitable disciplines with experience in treating gender dysphoria.

Let me tell you about my gatekeepers.

My third psychiatrist was a sincere doctor from Iran. They cared about their patients, understood the genuine and immediate health care implications of gender dysphoria – depression, stress, frustration, anger, self-harm, self-loathing and suicide. They wanted to help not just by treating the symptoms, but the root cause as well. Everything a good doctor should be.

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LibLink: Christine Jardine: The EU champions LGBT rights. Will Brexit Britain?

Christine Jardine has used her column in the Scotsman to highlight the difference that the EU has made in LGBT rights. Lest we get complacent and think that the work is done, she reminds us how Roe v Wade, the landmark decision on abortion in the US that everyone thought was settled could well unravel.

And we aren’t as far on as we thought we were, either:

As a society we have travelled a long way, but this is not the time to relax and assume the work is done. I have LGBT constituents who are still not comfortable holding their partners hand in public, or displaying any kind of affection, in case they draw attention to themselves.

She highlights how the EU and its human rights charter have been such a driver of rights:

It has been used by the Court of Justice to outlaw homophobia, and to make it clear that the sort of incidents we have seen particularly in eastern Europe are unacceptable. Yes, the UK has gone beyond what has been required by EU law, but without the measures adopted by the EU, the encouragement that offered and the legislative background it provided, would we be where we are now? While the Tory government seeks to argue that the protections enshrined in the Charter already exist in British law or will be incorporated through other EU directives, there is really no coherent argument for scrapping it. The Charter is the only international human rights document that contains a provision specifically outlawing discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation.

She went on to talk about Theresa May dancing her way round Africa but not bringing up the subject of human rights in countries where same sex relationships are punishable by lengthy prison terms or worse.

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Trump’s awful, but we need to put our own house in order

We expect President Trump to turn our long-held values on their head. Whether it’s banning Muslims or building a wall against Mexican migrants, withdrawing from the world’s agreement on limiting climate change, cosying up to Russia’s President Putin and doubting if NATO is still valuable, Trump’s Presidency seems like a bad dream from which we, and America, will only awake when his term ends.

But that will be years hence, Meantime he will visiting Britain next week. Has America changed so much that this presidency is not an aberration but a consistency?

Britain has to stand strong against that fear with Europe, with the EU and with our NATO allies. Our rocky, deplorable government has to be made by the progressive forces to stand up for our national values and our continued security.

So, when we hear that the government is to give ‘careful consideration’ to calls for a renewed judge-led inquiry into our country’s involvement in human rights abuses after the Iraq invasion, Liberal Democrats must assert the necessity for that enquiry until it is granted.

The necessity arises from the two reports published by Parliament’s intelligence and security committee. They show a shameful slippage of our own intelligence services’ values when assisting American operations in Iraq after the 9/11 attacks. It is reported that the UK had planned, agreed or financed 31 rendition operations. In addition, on 15 occasions, British intelligence consented to or witnessed torture, and there  were 232 occasions when the intelligence agencies supplied questions to be put to detainees whom they knew or suspected were being mistreated.

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Nick Clegg: No evidence that human rights laws undermine security

I wondered how long it would take for Theresa May to roll back on her always flimsy commitments to human rights. They didn’t even make it till polling day.

She said last night that she’s prepared to rescind human rights legislation as part of a counter terrorism review.

Nick Clegg criticised this approach on the Today programme, saying that there was no evidence that human rights laws had anything to do with the attacks. Listen here.

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LibLInk: Alex Cole-Hamilton: On selling our souls for a US trade deal

Lib Dem MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton is a vocal opponent of Donald Trump. He’s always had a massive interest in US politics. In 2008, he and his best friend Kevin Lang went out to Virginia to campaign for Barack Obama.

He’s written for the Scottish Lib Dems website to talk Trump and trade deals – specifically why we mustn’t allow our commitment to human rights to be diminished.

Many have watched in horror as the progressive legacy of Barrack Obama has been comprehensively devoured in the early days of Donald Trump’s post-truth presidency and with it, a cold awakening to a new kind

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