A Brief Look at Human Rights Violations: (part 18) The UK
A Brief Look at Human Rights Violations: (part...
Hostility to human rights legislation by the UK government raised serious concerns. Less than a month ago some incidents have occurred in the UK that shows human rights for all is still a myth, even in a country which claims to be respectful to these obligations.
In this report we took a brief look at some human rights violations in the UK.
1- In response to the Israeli attacks on Palestinians in the occupied territories of Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem, pro-Palestinian protests erupted in a number of schools across the UK. Students, however, have faced repercussions from school authorities with one head teacher labelling the Palestinian flag a "call to arms" and a "symbol" of antisemitism.
Such remarks and comments have attracted anger and rebuke and questions are being asked as to why children are being punished for expressing their thoughts. "The problem is by using a symbol such as the Palestinian flag, that message is lost because for some people, they see that flag and they feel threatened, they feel unsafe and they worry and for other people that flag is seen as a call to arms and seen as a message of support for antisemitism and for being anti-Jewish and it was never meant to be like that in the first place," Mike Roper, headteacher of Allerton Grange school, said in an online message. Roper later apologized for his inflammatory remarks, arguing that it was never his intention to upset students and the community at large.
The incident at Allerton Grange is one such example as students from Birmingham, Manchester, Rochdale and London have faced similar hostile reactions. At Clapton Girls' Academy in east London, teachers had removed posters and displays of Palestine and its struggle following a protest by students who staged a sit-in in the school and chanted "Free Palestine." In Older Hill, Rochdale, a secret audio recording shows a teacher reprimanding a seventh grade student for expressing his support and sympathy for the Palestinian children murdered by Israeli forces. In the audio recording, the teacher denied that "babies and children" were being killed by Israeli air raids. The teacher accused the student of having "racist views" and told him to "take them somewhere else," arguing that "everybody is entitled to their own opinion … but not in school."
These incidents raised a question over why children expressing support for Palestine are being accused of antisemitism and in some cases subjected to disciplinary action.
Ilyas Nagdee, a former NUS black students’ officer who works on race equality in education, said he had received reports of close to 100 cases of young people facing consequences for speaking up about Palestine. These included being accused of antisemitism, punished, excluded from school, threatened with a report to Prevent anti-radicalisation programme and even being visited by police. He said: “At a time when young people are getting politicised and exercising civil action we are seeing some school leaders do their utmost to stymie them and prevent them developing themselves politically.”
2- Eight year legal battle against UK mass surveillance programmes exposed by whistleblower Edward Snowden culminates in victory for privacy. In a landmark judgment, the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) ruled that the UK government’s bulk interception of communications powers “did not contain sufficient ‘end-to-end’ safeguards to provide adequate and effective guarantees against arbitrariness and the risk of abuse”, thus violating the rights to privacy and freedom of expression. “The unfettered harvesting and processing of millions of people’s private communications must end. Today’s ruling marks a significant step forward in condemning surveillance at the whim of the government”, said Kate Logan, Senior Legal Counsel at Amnesty International. “Bulk surveillance powers allow the State to collect data that can reveal a huge amount about any one of us – from our political views to our sexual orientation. These mass surveillance powers do not make us safer.” Said Megan Goulding, Liberty lawyer. This will have an impact not only in the UK but across Europe.
It is not the first time that the UK is violating human rights for its mass surveillance. In 2018, after a five-year legal battle, the European Court of Human Rights said that the UK government’s surveillance regime—which includes the country’s mass surveillance programs, methods, laws, and judges—violated the human rights to privacy and to freedom of expression. The court’s opinion is the culmination of lawsuits filed by multiple privacy rights organizations, journalists, and activists who argued that the UK’s surveillance programs violated the privacy of millions.