With conflicts on the rise, the New Statesmen described the summer of 2014 as “the summer of blood”. Ban Ki-Moon, Secretary General of the UN, himself a child refugee of the Korean War has said that “never before in UN history have we had so many refugees, displaced people and asylum seekers.”
In response to the question of whether or not the UK should have any involvement in rescue missions, the Rt Hon. Baroness Anelay of St John’s, Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, made the rather dishonourable remark that this would only encourage more people to make the journey and so lead to more “tragic and unnecessary deaths.”
In an article in The Guardian, the Chief Executive of the Refugee Council, Maurice Wren disagreed with the Baroness, stating:
“The British government seems oblivious to the fact that the world is in the grip of the greatest refugee crisis since the second world war. People fleeing atrocities will not stop coming if we stop throwing them life-rings; ……boarding a rickety boat in Libya will remain a seemingly rational decision if you are running for your life and your country is full of flames. The only outcome of withdrawing help will be to witness more people needlessly and shamefully dying on Europe’s doorstep. The answer isn’t to build the walls of fortress Europe higher, it’s to provide more safe and legal channels for people to access protection.”
Anne Dickinson (extract from our 2014 annual report - click here to read more)
This year marks the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta. It enshrined a principle of British justice that recent governments of both parties have treated with some contempt. Article 20 stated “A free man shall not be amerced (=punished) for a trivial offence except in accordance with the degree of the offence….but not so heavily as to deprive him of his livelihood….and none of the aforesaid [punishments] shall be imposed save by the oath of reputable men”. Articles 38 to 40 are a firm commitment to due process, asserting the right to legal representation, to know the charges in advance, to be able to contest them before equals, and then only to be sanctioned if found guilty by independent equals.
These rights have been whittled away by successive recent Governments. The principle of proportionality has been lost, the number of acts that can be called criminal have been multiplied enormously and rights to legal aid are denied to many of those for whom it was designed. An unaccountable rash of government agencies administers a vicious arbitrary regime that denies rights and benefits and the bare means of survival to the most vulnerable.
We are bombarded by mis-information about the Human Rights Act by politicians and others who should know better, but have their own agenda and want to restrict our rights even further.
If we are to have a new Great Charter, it must be one that re-asserts the rights and liberties of those who live increasingly insecure lives, re-states their right to protection from state-authorised arbitrary decisions and restores access for all to due legal process. The Human Rights Act is not a charter for others. It is essential to maintaining and restoring our rights and we must protect it at all costs.
We will be holding a bit of a party on Tuesday 9th June 2015 @ 7.00pm at All Saints Church for visitors past and present. We would like the chance to thank you in person for all the help and support you have given.
There will be food and refreshments, lots of chatter and reminiscing and a fun quiz.
We hope to see you there