Alicia Kearns Takes £5,349 from Human Rights-Abusing Bahraini Government

With the mourning period now well and truly over, Alicia Kearns’ campaign to become chair of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee is in full swing. Last week she made her case for the gig in the Times, claiming:

“The decisions we take now, from investment and supply chains, to defending our multilaterals and the rule of law, and upholding human rights […] matter.”

All well and good, although it does beg the question of why this donation appears in her register of interests:

£5,349 for an all expenses paid trip, courtesy of the Kingdom of Bahrain’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Here’s how Human Rights Watch described that same Kingdom of Bahrain in 2021:

“The human rights situation in Bahrain did not improve in 2020 […] Authorities arrested, prosecuted, and harassed human rights defenders, journalists, opposition leaders, and defense lawyers, including for their social media activity. All independent Bahraini media have been banned since 2017 from operating in the country and all opposition groups dissolved.”

At least they picked up the meal tab…

mdi-timer 27 September 2022 @ 14:48 27 Sep 2022 @ 14:48 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Parliamentary Ombudsman Attempting to Water Down British Bill of Rights

The Parliamentary and Health Services Ombudsman is lobbying Parliament to water down key provisions in the Bill of Rights currently going through Parliament, according to leaked confidential documents seen by Guido.

One of the key provisions of the new Bill of Rights is aimed at reducing challenges to public authorities on dubious human rights grounds and reducing retrospective court challenges that second guess bodies’ “professional judgement exercised under considerable pressure.” One example the government cites as proof this is needed is the 1998 Osman case:

“[When] a teacher became obsessed with one of his pupils. He shot the boy, injuring him, and killed his father. The family claimed that the police had violated the father’s right to life, by failing to prevent his death.

The claim of negligence against the police failed in the UK courts. The claim was then taken to the Strasbourg Court in 1998. The family’s claim was rejected on the facts of the case, but the court nonetheless held that the right to life placed a general duty on the police to do everything ‘that could be reasonably expected of them to avoid a real and immediate risk to life of which they have or ought to have knowledge’

In the confidential document, the PHSO calls for Clause 5 of the Bill to be amended to maintain Section 6 requirements of the current 1998 Human Rights Act. The current Section 6 places a positive obligation on all public bodies to consider “Human Rights”. “Ensuring public services or private contractors acting on their behalf are proactive in protecting the rights of citizens in their care.”

In July the government published a consultation response on the Bill of Rights, in which they set out the reasoning behind Clause 5 – which the unelected ombudsman now wants to quash – as a key section behind the drive to reduce wasted police time, which deprives the force “of their ability to take their own decisions about where to allocate time and resources.” Retaining a positive obligation on public bodies would largely remove the whole point of replacing the Human Rights Act 1998 in the first place. The government wants to bring an end to the make-work legal gravy train where breaking a finger is a violation of one’s human rights. Bring it on. 

UPDATE: A government source responds to the leak, telling Guido “The courts and ombudsman play a vital role in holding the government to account, but they should not be using the Human Rights Act to shift the goalposts or expand the law. It is the role of elected lawmakers in Parliament to make the law of the land.”

mdi-timer 30 August 2022 @ 16:00 30 Aug 2022 @ 16:00 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Thornberry’s Bizarre British Bill of Rights Rant

A bit of a tortured metaphor from Emily Thornberry last night as she attempted to dismantle the government’s new British Bill of Rights, publishing this morning. Appearing on Newsnight to criticise the Tories for “just choos[ing] the bits they like and the bits they don’t” over plans to detach UK courts from the European Court of Human Rights, Thornberry revealed what she thinks is “really going on” with the announcement:

“Do you know what I think is really going on? They’re just behaving like some sort of drunk when the pubs are throwing out, and they’re in the car park, and they’re rolling around and they’re going ‘fight me, fight me!’ They’re just trying to think of anything that they can take on at the moment in order to distract us all from what’s really happening, which is their inability to govern. They’re trying to pick another fight.”

Right…

mdi-timer 22 June 2022 @ 09:56 22 Jun 2022 @ 09:56 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Raab Confirms Overhaul of Human Rights Act

Confirming the details of Guido’s exclusive yesterday, Justice Secretary Dominic Raab announced in his Conference speech this morning that the government plans to reform the Human Rights Act. They will detach it from the ECHR, enabling quicker deportations of convicted criminals and swifter action on domestic abusers:

“Too often [the public] see dangerous criminals abusing human rights laws. In one case, a drug dealer convicted of beating his ex-partner, a man who hadn’t paid maintenance for his daughter, then successfully claimed the right to family life to avoid deportation. Conference, it is absolutely perverse that someone guilty of domestic abuse could claim the right to family life to trump the public’s interest in deporting him from this country. We’ve got to bring this nonsense to an end. So, today I can tell you that, under this Prime Minister and before the next election. We will overhaul the Human Rights Act to end this kind of abuse, and restore some common sense to our justice system.”

You’re either in front of Guido…

mdi-timer 5 October 2021 @ 11:20 5 Oct 2021 @ 11:20 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
“Humble Address” Breaches Article 10 of the Human Rights Act

That this House has considered the matter of prorogation with the imminence of an exit from the European Union and accordingly resolves–That a Humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, that she will be graciously pleased to direct Ministers to lay before this House, not later than 11.00pm Wednesday 11 September, all correspondence and other communications (whether formal or informal, in both written and electronic form, including but not limited to messaging services including WhatsApp, Telegram, Signal, Facebook messenger, private email accounts both encrypted and unencrypted, text messaging and iMessage and the use of both official and personal mobile phones) to, from or within the present administration, since 23 July 2019 relating to the prorogation of Parliament sent or received by one or more of the following individuals: Hugh Bennett, Simon Burton, Dominic Cummings, Nikki da Costa, Tom Irven, Sir Roy Stone, Christopher James, Lee Cain or Beatrice Timpson; and that Ministers be further directed to lay before this House no later than 11.00pm Wednesday 11 September all the documents prepared within Her Majesty’s Government since 23 July 2019 relating to operation Yellowhammer and submitted to the Cabinet or a Cabinet Committee.

Dominic Grieve, Stephen Doughty, Sir Oliver Letwin, Ian Blackford, Jo Swinson, Caroline Lucas, Liz Saville-Roberts, Hilary Benn, Guto Bebb, Anna Soubry, Mary Creagh, Jonathan Edwards, Chris Leslie, Justine Greening

Remainers in parliament have passed a motion to present a Humble Address to the Queen with the aim of forcing the government to reveal communications with journalists. Downing Street says that “under no circumstances will No. 10 staff comply with Grieve’s demands regardless of any votes in Parliament”. Guido has notified those named in the humble address, with whom he has communicated, that he expects them to protect his rights under Article 10 of the Human Rights Act and notify him in advance of any action or inaction which might potentially prejudice his rights under the Act.

Article 10 of the Human Rights Act states

Freedom of expression

1. Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. This right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers. This Article shall not prevent States from requiring the licensing of broadcasting, television or cinema enterprises.

2. The exercise of these freedoms, since it carries with it duties and responsibilities, may be subject to such formalities, conditions, restrictions or penalties as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society, in the interests of national security, territorial disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, for the protection of the reputation or rights of others, for preventing the disclosure of information received in confidence, or for maintaining the authority and impartiality of the judiciary.

Article 10 guarantees the absolute right of journalists to “to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority”. Ironically Grieve was always very keen on this right being incorporated into UK law, it ultimately allows people to take their case to the European Court of Human Rights…

mdi-timer 9 September 2019 @ 20:36 9 Sep 2019 @ 20:36 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Shameful Silence of Labour’s Chavistas

On Tuesday the Organisation of American States issued a strongly worded condemnation of Maduro’s secret police’s arrests of opponents:

“This latest action taken without the minimum guarantees of any legal framework is completely harmful to the human rights of both leaders and their families. In both cases, the detentions are carried out instilling fear and intimidation of their families. The Venezuelan regime continues to escalate its use of repression.

On Sunday there were 16 indiscriminate murders of citizens who protested against a fraudulent election and the installation of an illegitimate national constituent assembly. Today there was the selective targeting of opponents. The regime is trying to silence Ledezma and López and, through them, silence and subdue an entire people. It is no accident. They are opposition political leaders in a framework of the social, political and economic crisis of a Venezuela that is suffering to return to democracy.

There are no legal rationale for Ledezma and López to be in jail. This is the same lack of rationale used in the cases all political prisoners. The justifications are arbitrary and unlawful, among other things because they ignore the health concerns- which have not changed- that led to the leaders’ release, because they imply that they were planning an escape, or because they broke a prohibition of making public declarations.

These are errors in the manipulation and use of the law that are made by the Regime. They are imprisoned because they are politicians who demonstrate leadership. They are imprisoned because they are hostages of the government. I urge the international community, the countries of the OAS, the United Nations, the European Union and the Vatican, among others, to continue to adopt measures to defend democracy and human rights in Venezuela.”

In 2015 some 114 politicians, mostly Labour MPs, backed the Organisation of American States call for “respect for the principle of non-intervention in the internal affairs of states and its commitment to the defence of democratic institutionalism of the state of law in agreement with the OAS Charter and international law, and therefore disagree with all external interference, including through US sanctions on Venezuela.” Guido lists their names below:

1. Dave Anderson MP, 2. William Bain MP, 3. Dame Anne Begg MP, 4. Clive Betts MP, 5. Roberta Blackman-Woods MP, 6. Paul Blomfield MP, 7. Sarah Boyack MSP, 8. Annette Brooke MP, 9. Richard Burden MP, 10. Molly Scott Cato MEP, 11. Martin Caton MP, 12. Katy Clark MP, 13. Ann Clwyd MP, 14. Michael Connarty MP, 15. Jeremy Corbyn MP, 16. David Crausby MP, 17. Mike Crockart MP, 18. Alex Cunnigham MP, 19. Jim Cunningham MP, 20. Nic Dakin MP, 21. Ian Davidson MP, 22. Geraint Davies MP, 23. John Denham MP, 24. Rt. Hon Frank Dobson MP, 25. Brian Donohoe MP, 26. Frank Doran MP, 27. Jim Dowd MP, 28. Mark Durkan MP, 29. Jonathan Edwards MP, 30. Bill Esterson MP, 31. Neil Findlay MSP, 32. John Finnie MSP, 33. Paul Flynn MP, 34. Hywel Francis MP, 35. George Galloway MP, 36. Andrew George MP, 37. Lord Anthony Gifford QC, 38. Sheila Gilmore MP, 39. Baroness Anne Gibson, 40. Pat Glass MP, 41. Mary Glindon MP, 42. Roger Godsiff MP, 43. Tom Greatrex MP, 44. Nia Griffith MP, 45. John Griffiths AM (Welsh Assembly Member,) 46. Rt. Hon. Peter Hain MP, 47. David Hamilton MP, 48. Mike Hancock MP, 49. Mike Hedges AM (Welsh Assembly) 50. Mark Hendrick MP, 51. Stephen Hepburn MP, 52. Cara Hilton MSP, 53. Kate Hoey MP, 54. Jim Hood MP, 55. Kelvin Hopkins MP, 56. George Howarth MP, 57. Glenda Jackson MP, 58. Cathy Jamieson MP, 59. Bethan Jenkins AM (Welsh Assembly) 60. Darren Johnson AM (London Assembly) 61. Baroness Jenny Jones AM (London Assembly) 62. Rt. Hon. Sir Gerald Kaufman MP, 63. Baroness Glenys Kinnock, 64. Jean Lambert MEP, 65. Ian Lavery MP, 66. John Leech MP, 67. Andy Love MP, 68. Alex Lowley MSP, 69. Caroline Lucas MP, 70. Elfyn Llwyd MP, 71. John McDonnell MP, 72. Jim McGovern MP, 73. Catherine McKinnell MP, 74. Siobhan McMahon MSP, 75. Anne McTaggart MSP, 76. Michael Meacher MP, 77. Ian Mearns MP, 78. Graeme Morrice MP, 79. Grahame Morris MP, 80. Ian Murray MP, 81. Lord Martin O’Neill of Clackmannan, 82. Fiona O’Donnell MP, 83. Sandra Osborne MP, 84. Albert Owen MP, 85. Rt. Hon Lord Pendry PC, 86. Baroness Margaret Prosser, 87. Murad Qureshi AM (London Assembly) 88. Yasmin Qureshi MP, 89. Jenny Rathbone AM (Welsh Assembly) 90. Lord Nic Rea, 91. David Rees AM (Welsh Assembly) 92. Linda Riordan MP, 93. RT. Hon. Dame Joan Ruddock MP, 94. John Robertson MP, 95. Alex Rowley MSP, 96. Lindsey Roy MP CBE, 97. Barry Sheerman MP, 98. Jim Sheridan MP, 99. Rt. Hon. Andrew Smith MP, 100. Elaine Smith MSP, 101. Keith Taylor MEP, 102. Rhodri Glyn Thomas AM (Welsh Assembly) 103. Stephen Timms MP, 104. Derek Twigg MP, 105. Jean Urquhart MSP, 106. Valerie Vaz MP, 107. David Ward MP, 108. Tom Watson MP, 109. Mike Weir MP, 110. Sandra White MSP, 111. Hywel Williams MP, 112. Mark Williams MP, 113. Chris Williamson MP 114. Mike Wood MP

Not all are by any means Corbynistas, Tom Watson, for example has always been a supporter of NATO, the Western alliance and the norms encouraged by multilateral organisations. Do they no longer back the OAS when it calls out Maduro for escalating repression?

mdi-timer 3 August 2017 @ 12:30 3 Aug 2017 @ 12:30 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
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