UK govt terrorising free speech and civil liberties, says UN

Given that the government has just revealed that the DNA of forty thousand innocent children is stored on a national database, this is a timely report.

From The Morning Star:

PEACE campaigners called for the repeal of anti-terror laws on Friday after a damning United Nations report warned that Britain’s terror laws were having a “chilling effect” on free speech and civil liberties.

The UN committee on human rights warned that provisions under the Terrorism Act 2006 covering encouragement of terrorism are too “broad and vague” and should be amended to prevent “a disproportionate interference with freedom of expression.”

People convicted of encouragement of terrorism face up to seven years in jail.

The report, which is part of the UN committee’s analysis into human rights in Britain, condemned the extension of detention without charge from 14 to 28 days and said that it was “even more disturbed” at plans to extend this to 42 days.

Despite a major rebellion by Labour MPs, the government narrowly won the 42-day Commons vote in June with the help of the Democratic Unionists.

But the Lords are expected to defeat it when they vote on the anti-terror Bill this autumn.

Britain already has the longest period of pre-charge detention in the Western world.

Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn branded the plans “absurd and excessive,” warning: “Instead of building links with communities, these laws serve to isolate and frighten people. Parliament should be defending civil liberties, not take them away.”

Stop the War Coalition co-founder John Rees welcomed the UN report as “conclusive and authoritative” evidence that civil liberties have been victims of war.

“This government has no right to lecture other countries, whether be it in the Caucasus or the Middle East, about their civil liberties or human rights records,” he stormed.

Mr Rees called for a “wide-ranging review of the government’s civil liberties record and the effect of the anti-terror laws and reverse its policy on 42-day detention.”

The UN report also criticised ministers’ treatment of the Chagos islanders, who have been fighting for their right to return home since 1967, when Harold Wilson’s government turfed them out and handed the island in the Indian Ocean to the US to use as its military base.

Mr Corbyn, who has been campaigning on their behalf in Parliament, said: “The government has used mediaeval orders to block their right to return and the islanders are still fighting their case in the House of Lords.

“It is time to end this travesty of justice and human rights.”

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11 Responses to “UK govt terrorising free speech and civil liberties, says UN”

  1. Tory Black Fist Says:

    “Britain’s terror laws were having a “chilling effect” on free speech and civil liberties”

    There’a shock! Criminalising opinion has a silencing effect… whodathunkit?

    “This government has no right to lecture other countries, whether be it in the Caucasus or the Middle East, about their civil liberties or human rights records”

    Yup, indeed. And I’d have a little more rspect for phoneys like David Davis and Shami Chakribati and Amnesty if they tackled the issue of holocaust sceptics getting jailed. Why is Davis silent on the Heretical Two? (heretical.com’s Sheppard and Whittle)

  2. Renegade Eye Says:

    Tory: The issues you raised are apples and oranges. That is an expression for it applies to another topic.

    Even El Salvador is adopting rules like that. Guess who are the victims? Legal protesters.

  3. charliemarks Says:

    Tory Black Fist – the quote was of John Rees of the Stop The War Coalition not David Davis, Shami Chakrabati, or someone from Amnesty.

  4. Freedom of expression..? Wot freedom of expression « Harpymarx Says:

    […] Charlie Marks has written a good post on the subject. […]

  5. a very public sociologist Says:

    Yes Tory, what great standard bearers for civil liberties Sheppard and Whittle make. Feel free to campaign on their behalf, but don’t expect much sympathy or notice.

  6. dinosaur Says:

    I wonder what the UN position is on Arab countries for slaying people for practicing the bit of free speech known as Christianity.

    Oh wait that’s hypocritical, err different.

  7. Tory Black Fist Says:

    Renegade Eye: apples and apples. Freedom is freedom. The UN Committee and peace campaigners are right to link the “anti-terror” laws with the question of freedom of speech and other civil liberties, Charlie Marks is right to link both to the database of innocents’ DNA.

    a very public sociologist: your comment is an attack on freedom and nothing more. You may have intended to attack “anti-semitism”, or “holocaust denial” perhaps, but that’s not what you did. If you agree with the principle rather than the factional advantage of promoting civil liberties, you’ll see they apply equally to everyone, including Sheppard and Whittle (whom I defend despite their anti-Black writings). You’re in no position to knock them.

    Charlie Marks: I can read, thanks. I bring in the three most prominent voices posing as free-speech and civil liberties advocates and draw attention to their holocaustianity for a reason, and our sociologist friend has kinda proved my point.

    The parties unjustly criminalised and jailed for transgressing other taboos all have their champions for whom it doesn’t prove socially and professionally crippling (heck, it’s a JOB for some!) – holocaust sceptics do not.

    In the hierarchy of taboos, holocaustianity trumps all others. Yet it’s a debate on a historical issue, not a debate on government vs. anarchy, or brotherly love vs. hate. So why should this be? It’s important to know.

    The single greatest threat to the global financial-corporate oligarchy is nationalism, ie., the desire of all peoples not to be dissolved into another, genetically, culturally, and geographically. And Auschwitz, the tptb tell us, is nationalism’s refutation, at least for the non-Jewish peoples of the world (the rest of us can be genocided either slowly or quickly – that’s just fine).

    Of course, the system of taboos and social-costs are only necessary because the cause of nationalism: the desire of peoples to live free and unmolested, safe and sound and self-supporting, CANNOT be attacked directly – for there is nothing wrong and everything right with wanting one’s people to live. The criminals are the people-destroyers.

  8. Marginalized Action Dinosaur » The UN claims to care about free speech! But not for Christians in Arab countries. Says:

    […] UK govt terrorising free speech and civil liberties, says UN By charliemarks Given that the government has just revealed that the DNA of forty thousand innocent children is stored on a national database, this is a timely report. From The Morning Star: PEACE campaigners called for the repeal of anti-terror laws on Friday after a damning United Nations report warned that Britain’s terror laws were having a “chilling effect” on free speech and civil liberties. […]

  9. charliemarks Says:

    I don’t deny people’s right to hold Judeophobic views and would appose the criminalisation of Holocaust denial – it’s just that if bigots get in trouble for lying about the Holocaust and scapegoating Jews, I’m not terribly sympathetic.

    I do not believe that incitement to racial or religious discrimination is free expression as it denies the rights of people to live unmolested; but don’t know anything about the Sheppard and Whittle case and have not read their materials.

    And Dinosaur, I am not aware of any country in which the profession or practice of Christianity is punishable by death, please explain where exactly you mean.

  10. Tory Black Fist Says:

    CM: it’s just that if bigots get in trouble for lying about the Holocaust and scapegoating Jews, I’m not terribly sympathetic…

    This, frankly, is not the problem. Try (anti-racist) bigots lying about the holocaust and scapegoating nationalism.

    Incitement to racial or religious violence would be covered by existing incitement statutes. The new laws clearly have another purpose.

  11. UK Voter Says:

    This issue was and is an important one, but it is also just one aspect of how the right and liberty of UK citizens are being steadily and consistently eroded by the current government.

    When I heard the news that the government now wants to track our mobile phone calls, texts, emails and internet browsing habits has got me enraged. For the past 11 years, this government has sought more and more control over its citizens, from installing 4.2m CCTV cameras, to the suggestion that we must respond to more and more intrusive questions when they complete the next census. It has simply got to stop.

    On this occasion, I have done something about it, in my own small way. I have written an article outlining what the government is seeking to do and my views. But, I have also produced a ‘draft’ letter that can be personalised and sent to local MP’s. I am urging other likeminded people to reproduce the article, to include their own comments, after all, not everyone will agree with all my comments and then publicise it. Maybe we can start a programme where people start to bombard their MP’s with a demand that they do not support the latest data communication bill. The link is here if you would are to take a look.
    http://www.power-to-the-people.co.uk/2008/10/public-call-time-big-brother-britain/


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