Due to the nature of human rights and the connections between them, it is impossible for every one of our freedoms to exist without interfering with another’s application. Therefore, it is of the utmost importance that we ensure a balance is achieved between certain rights, which allows us to enjoy them in a satisfactory manner. For example, debates continuously take place regarding where the appropriate balance between security and privacy lies. The proportionality of this balance is dynamic, changing due to environmental circumstances within our societies and therefore no enforced balance can ever be said to be wrong. However, the current balance between our freedom of expression or speech (found in Article 10 of the Human Rights Act 1998), with rights such as our freedom of religion (Part of Article 9) and the anti-discrimination principle (Article 14), specifically in relation to Muslims at the moment is extremely troubling due to the rise in something we’ve come to call ‘Islamophobia’.
Burundi is a small country in the ‘Great Lakes’ region of Africa, with an incredibly violent history. Plagued by ethnic tensions, political corruption, human rights violations and civil war for much of its time since gaining independence from Belgium in 1962, Burundi is on the verge of another potential massacre. The chilling possibility of this is exactly why we all need to know about the current situation in Burundi, and what we can do to ensure proper action is taken to prevent such atrocities…
Today, Theresa May has outlined the ‘Investigatory Powers Bill’ regarding data retention and new ways of improving the “outdated” methods authorities currently use to investigate our behaviour online. In the immediate moments after May’s revised proposal, support seems to be far greater than it was in her previous attempt to introduce legislation in this area, through the ‘Draft Communications Data Bill’ in 2012, or as it came to be aptly nicknamed, the ‘Snooper’s Charter’.
However, I intend to argue that this apparently “much-improved bill” (according to Nick Clegg) may not be as much of an improvement as it seems and that there is still a danger this legislation can far too easily be moulded into a tool for mass surveillance, rather than providing a fair balance between national security and personal privacy.
But, first I’ll explain what exactly this bill is and what May was talking about…
I chose to introduce this blog, because I wanted to try and engage people who may not have an interest in human rights. The fundamental block to engagement I felt was the complexity of a lot of human rights debates. When people choose to write or report on human rights, it often involves the use of jargon and knowledge of declarations, law and rights that many don’t have easy access to. Therefore, I chose to try and write in a clear and succinct manner, trying to resist using such jargon – making it as easy as possible for people to follow. However, one thing I didn’t immediately consider was the complexity of the term ‘human rights’ itself. If you ask yourself ‘what exactly are human rights?’ what would be your answer? If your answer is anything like mine, it will start with something like “that’s a tough one…” or “I’m not entirely sure”, so this article will try and tackle that question, to help try and make this topic as easy to understand as possible and to try and encourage you to ask what you think human rights are. I will do this by first discussing where the idea of human rights seemingly began, later discussing what all this progression means and where it has left us…