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On Liberty On Liberty is the story of today s threats to our freedoms and a highly personal, impassioned plea in defence of fundamental rights, from Shami Chakrabarti, Britain s leading human rights campaignerOnSeptember , our world changed The West s response to has morphed into a period of exception Governments have decided that the rule of law and human rights are often too costly In On Liberty, Shami Chakrabarti explores why our fundamental rights and freedoms are indispensable She shows, too, the unprecedented pressures those rights are under today Drawing on her own work in high profile campaigns, from privacy laws to anti terror legislation, Chakrabarti shows the threats to our democratic institutions and why our rights are paramount in upholding democracy Probably the most effective public affairs lobbyist of the pastyears David Aaronovitch, The Times The undaunted freedom fighter Observer The most dangerous woman in Britain Sun 3.5 still waiting on my half star Goodreads I guess it was appropriate that I finish this book on the same day that I went to see the Human Rights and Human Wrongs exhibition at the Photography Gallery Shami Chakrabarti takes us on a a path and demonstrates how, during her time at Liberty a day before 9 11 , our government both Labour and Conservative led has done its very best to chip away at our civil liberties and make it easier to criminalise the most vulnerable in our society.It is a 3.5 still waiting on my half star Goodreads I guess it was appropriate that I finish this book on the same day that I went to see the Human Rights and Human Wrongs exhibition at the Photography Gallery Shami Chakrabarti takes us on a a path and demonstrates how, during her time at Liberty a day before 9 11 , our government both Labour and Conservative led has done its very best to chip away at our civil liberties and make it easier to criminalise the most vulnerable in our society.It is a shame that despite the history of the world so many of us need constant reminders that human rights are important I HAVE COME TO LOOK MOURNFULLY AT YOU FOR MINUTES ON ENDShami Chakrabarti is a tiny woman, it s hard to tell from the tv screen but I d say about 8 or 9 inches tall, maybe 10, and she is intensely irritating, she s the Tinkerbell of Human Rights, always zooming and buzzing around and chucking the dust of moral obligation in your face that sounds like fun, but she has no sense of humour, so imagine a glowering Tinkerbell with a copy of the European Convention on Human Rights under her arm In t I HAVE COME TO LOOK MOURNFULLY AT YOU FOR MINUTES ON ENDShami Chakrabarti is a tiny woman, it s hard to tell from the tv screen but I d say about 8 or 9 inches tall, maybe 10, and she is intensely irritating, she s the Tinkerbell of Human Rights, always zooming and buzzing around and chucking the dust of moral obligation in your face that sounds like fun, but she has no sense of humour, so imagine a glowering Tinkerbell with a copy of the European Convention on Human Rights under her arm In this book she is writing about some of the most gripping and fearful events of the past 15 years, and many exciting legal battles, but she does it in the dullest way possible Which makes this a very worthy, lawyerly, and almost completely dispiriting read.For non British readers, Shami is the boss of Liberty, The Organisation Formerly Known As the Council for Civil Liberties is perpetually locked in battle with the British Government who whether Conservative or Labour are constantly trying to degrade British citizen s liberties, privacy and personal integrity in the name of security and the ongoing war with jihadis.YOU AND YOUR FLOOKING HUMAN RIGHTS British people are mostly driven quite mad by Human Rights because they live in a land where 99.9% of them are perfectly secure and never come into contact with any government ministrythreatening than HM Revenue and Customs, so this means the only time they see human rights legislation in action is in a case like that of Abu Qatada Usingcolourful language than is her wont, Shami says The case of Abu Qatada still haunts me like a stalker ex boyfriend Everywhere I go, the time that it took to get the ranty cleric out of the country is put to me as a classic example of human rights madness.So, this guy is Jordanian but came to Britain in 1993 and claimed political asylum, which was granted Nine years later he was arrested as a suspected member of al Qaeda and aiding and abetting terrorists He was detained without charge for four years under Part 4 of the Anti terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001 The British Government did not want to or could not put him on trial in Britain, they wanted to deport him to Jordan, where that government wished to put him on trial, but he claimed that he would be subject to torture if he was sent back there So, under the European Convention on Human Rights, the British government couldn t deport him.This is what drove the British public crazy, and the British rabid attack dog press headlined the whole sorry saga for years The public couldn t care less whether Mr Qatada got tortured or not, they just wanted him out of the country, and they saw their own democratically elected government powerless to deport him.But this is where Shami pops up and reminds us that torture is serious Oh, it is Hmph, I d kind of forgotten that The whole saga kept rolling on he was released and rearrested several times over the next few years, it was a really tortuous legal epic For instance, the question became not that Qatada himself would be tortured, but that evidence obtained through torture on other persons would be used against him On that point, in 2009, the one of the Law Lords at that point Britain s supreme court said There is in my opinion no authority for a rule thatthe risk of the use of evidence obtained by torture necessarily amounts to a flagrant denial of justice I.e sling the bugger out Finally the case made it to the European Court of Human Rights and they reverted to the previous position, that Qatada couldn t be deported as he himself might be tortured.We note that in all of this saga all the authorities agree that the Jordanian government routinely uses torture Is this insulting to Jordan Or were they saying sure, yes, we torture people, don t youCome on, we know you do The British government then got a swear on my mother s grave promise from the Jordanian government that they would not torture Mr Qatada In writing That wasn t good enough for the courts.Finally finally, Mr Qatada himself broke the deadlock and said that if the Jordanians promised that they wouldn t torture him or use torture derived evidence in court he would return So in July 2013 he did And David Cameron and home secretary Theresa May danced a little jig around the dining table in 10 Downing Street.So the Jordanians put Mr Qatada on trial for plotting against the government and last month he was acquitted Maybe it was because they couldn t present all that lovely damning torture derived evidence.Shami would say well, this is the rule of law in operation That s what it s for Equality before the law means that whether you re a much loved peer of the realm or a much hated Jordanian cleric you get the same deal But people are inclined to want to shoot from the hip They would deport, intern and in some cases execute without a qualm.This is why I myself am opposed to the death penalty Horrors like Ted Bundy, Ian Brady, Myra Hindley, Gary Ridgway or John Wayne Gacy should fry for sure, no question But the police make mistakes If Britain still had the death penalty in the 1970s the Guildford Four and the Birmingham Six would have been hung Evidence which proved their innocence would have been unearthed years later We need Human Rights organisations to irritate, cajole, remind and goad us YOU SAY TORTURE, I SAY ENHANCED INTERROGATION TECHNIQUES LET S CALL THE WHOLE THING OFF Everywhere Shami goes she s beset by people who say hey, I know you, you re what s it now, no don t tell me, er, Swami Chocolate Boxy, is that it Always going on about human rights for terrorists Well, let me ask you a question suppose you knew there was a nuclear bomb ticking away in London but you didn t know where, and you got the guy who knew where it was in a room, wouldn t you apply a little pressure to get the information Just a little bit of torture to save the lives of millions Shami says This is what the War on Terror was capable of doing to lawyers It could turn stupid ones into yes men for corner cutting and cruelty and clever ones into the architects of increasingly byzantine processes with which to conceal or even legitimize barbarism.And later Democratic states that launder their torture are no better than the tyrannies they conspire with.Here s an example of where Shami and Liberty lose me Most of this world is not democratic The West believes that it is Shami comes along with her many examples of state misbehavior and punctures that belief In the USA there are a lot of people who believe their own government to be tyrannical In Britain we have a picture of our own government during the Northern Irish Troubles and during the post 9 11 jihadi period, i.e now, setting aside the notion of human rights, equality before the law, due process, no torture, etc , whenever they feel particularly pressured So where does this all leave us In the dark, groping about, is where.This is a somewhat boringly written short book about a whole bunch of essential stuff I didn t enjoy it but I think I m a very very very slightly better person now Shami Chakrabarti has come to harsh all governmental mellow This book is written in the dry and unchallenging style used by many barristers it sets out an argument in favour of Human Rights and in opposition to recent British governments of all persuasions, with supporting evidence from well known cases that have been in our news over the past decade, and in unpretentious language that aims for clarity and simplicity It has no literary pretensions This approach would work better if the Home Office referred to as Mordar or The Dark Tower because o This book is written in the dry and unchallenging style used by many barristers it sets out an argument in favour of Human Rights and in opposition to recent British governments of all persuasions, with supporting evidence from well known cases that have been in our news over the past decade, and in unpretentious language that aims for clarity and simplicity It has no literary pretensions This approach would work better if the Home Office referred to as Mordar or The Dark Tower because of its steady production of evil did not devise such fiendishly convoluted legal devices to misrepresent the most blatant abuse of human rights as something else It is obviously necessary to unravel and expose this abuse but the resulting text can sometimes require slow and perhaps even repeated reading, occasionally because it is complicated butoften because it is so astonishing The point this book makes, in language that is calm and understated, is that the UK has a government system which consciously, persistently and with great ingenuity sets about depriving people of their most basic human rights and would go much further if it were not challenged and held to account by organisations like Liberty, by institutions like the Strasbourg Courts, by clear and definitive principles set out in the European Convention on Human Rights and brought into British legislation by the 1998 Human Rights Act These are laws that Britain played a major part in writing and persuading other countries to accept at the end of World War Two they are courts that cannot force the British Government to do a single thing it does not wish to do, but can only make its rulings and express its opinions for the British Government to consider Not only is the British Government free to break every clause of the Human Rights Act if it so chooses, but in practice that is exactly what it does doAs an aside, it is interesting to compare the sanctions to which the government will cheerfully expose itself if it fails to comply with some of its free trade agreements I think of the imminent proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership TTIP Like a typical barrister, Chakrabarti sets out her arguments and her supporting evidence, but is not strident or overbearing in her style, is not even nasty to the people she holds responsible for blatant abuses of human rights, or the people who tell lies about Human Rights law, or the people who actively propagate false stories and illogical arguments to undermine public support for the victims of government abuse which is often atrocious She trusts instead that the evidence will in itself be sufficient to secure the support she needs in order to continue working on our behalf to shine a light on The Dark Tower and to combat the evil that is produced in Mordar After considering the evidence in this book, those negative metaphors will seemthan appropriate for their target Indeed, my own conclusion is that we now need another book, something farstrident and forceful, to exposegraphically and fully the abuses referred to in this book but that is a challenge for another writer, maybe another Orwell, maybe another Russell Brand Chakrabarti has done her job very well Long may she continue her work But this is a story that cries out foremotion,anger,tears,shame This is a fascinating analysis of the effect of human rights legislation and the erosion of our human rights since 9 11 and the implementation of increasingly restrictive legislation supposedly designed to counter terrorism Its very factual in that the arguments are backed up by evidence of how such legislation has had a wider impact on our freedoms and how this could develop further leaving too much power in the hands of the authorities Naturally the analysis is from Chakrabati s perspective This is a fascinating analysis of the effect of human rights legislation and the erosion of our human rights since 9 11 and the implementation of increasingly restrictive legislation supposedly designed to counter terrorism Its very factual in that the arguments are backed up by evidence of how such legislation has had a wider impact on our freedoms and how this could develop further leaving too much power in the hands of the authorities Naturally the analysis is from Chakrabati s perspective from her position as Director of Liberty but that makes it all theauthentic It s not an easy read but its an informative insight to an area most of us know little about

  • Paperback
  • 256 pages
  • On Liberty
  • Shami Chakrabarti
  • English
  • 12 March 2017
  • 0141976314

About the Author: Shami Chakrabarti

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