On Liberty Epub ↠ Paperback

On Liberty 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 reuire slow and perhaps even repeated reading occasionally because it is complicated but often 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 do As 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 seem than appropriate for their target Indeed my own conclusion is that we now need another book something far strident and forceful to expose graphically 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 for emotion anger tears shame A really great exploration of the importance of our human rights and the often difficult balancing act involved in upholding them There was potential for Shami to get much deeper into some of the issues she raises but ultimately this would turn off many readers possibly new to the ideas discussed from picking the book up at all As such I think it is aimed just right The arguments and style are such that novices and experts alike can appreciate the points raised for discussion and whether you agree with Shami or not no one can argue that the discussion isn't important The book is perhaps a little outdated since it was written during the time of the coalition government but that does not detract from the relevance of the ideas and the last sentence is perhaps particularly pertinent given the current political hot potato 'Trust me you won't know what you had till it's gone' This is a fascinating analysis of the effect of human rights legislation and the erosion of our human rights since 911 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 the authentic It's not an easy read but its an informative insight to an area most of us know little about Human rights empower the vulnerable and irritate and inconvenience the mighty Thought provoking read can't wait to hear her speak on Thursday Liberty once well known as the National Council for Civil Liberties will be celebrating its 80th birthday next yearIt is an auspicious moment for an organisation that was born in the heat of the social and economic struggles of the 1930s bringing radical lawyers into the fray as defenders of the rights to the unemployed workers participating in the famous hunger marches of that period With all the news about the entrenchment of low wages and the ubiuity of food banks in the life of the nation again one imagines there will be plenty of occasions to call on the support of legal defence teams to protect the rights of those being marginalised by the arcane workings of the economy in the days aheadThe organisations current director Shami Chakrabarti offers up a personal account of the work of Liberty today weaving it around her won involvement firstly as in house lawyer freshly poached from the Home Office’s legal team and latterly as a leader who has crafted a much higher media profile for its workShe came to the forefront during the years when New Labour was performing a peculiar volte face on its own Human Rights Act as it zealously promoted the ‘War on Terror’ alongside its US partner Government ministers rushed to drawn the curtains down on privacy the right to a fair trial and the freedom to protest Citizens found their daily dealings online and in real life being subjected to unprecedented surveillance the Home Office threatened 90 day detention orders ASBOs were sprinkled confetti like across deprived housing estates and anyone indignant enough to want to speak out risked being ‘kettled’ by police cordons for hours on end on streets that they once thought they had the right to traverseOnce promoted by Jack Straw during his time as Home Secretary as the single measure that would come to define New Labour’s period in office the Home Rights Act came to be reviled by government because of the way it provided opportunities to ordinary citizens to challenging the increasingly authoritarian ways of the country’s rulers Chakraborti shows how her team at Liberty threw body and soul into the task of gathering evidence and representing people being lashed by the new harshness of the stateBut she also saw the need to go beyond the legal strategies of public trial to challenge the unhealthy anti liberty moods of the powers that be The values of human rights needed to take root in the lives of ordinary people who were being reuired to fight daily battles to resist the sorts of injustices that began to rip across the land Doreen Lawrence’s decades long battle with the Metropolitan Police over their failings to track down the killers of her son Stephen needed the dimension of human rights law to force disclosure and make public all the manifold failings that arose from the force’s institutionalised racismThe loutish behaviour of local government threatening to evict the parents of offspring deemed guilty of anti social behaviour without any consideration being given to the degree of responsibility for such wayward action or the hardship it would cause the family was also the subject of Liberty action as it worked to deepen and broaden the application of human rights to these situationsLiberty was born during an epoch of struggle in which the leadership of the labour movement evinced a modicum of understanding about the class nature of the grievances that beset millions of citizens The party that was on the streets and marching alongside impoverished workers back in the 1930s long ago withdraw itself from this role and settled back to enjoy the perks of what felt like the exercise of power and authorityWe are again standing on the threshold of austerity driven hardship that is as likely to be as great as anything that went on during the time of the Jarrow Marches Once again the skills of libertarian lawyers will be needed to hold the state in check as it lashes out against all the people who are being ordered to deliver up massive sacrifice in order that the profits of the private sector are safe and secure We should be grateful that Liberty is in such obvious rude health celebrating 80 past years of trenchant legal battling and hopefully looking forward to many to come I really did not realise how vulnerable our human rights actually are Fascinating and poignant read “Human rights empower the vulnerable and irritate and inconvenience the mighty but trust me you won’t know what you had until it’s gone” 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 campaignerOn 11 September 2001 our world changed The West's response to 911 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 past 20 years' David Aaronovitch The Times'The undaunted freedom fighter' Observer'The most dangerous woman in Britain' Sun This is Shami Chakrabarti's autobiography of her professional life concentrating mainly on her time at campaigning organisation Liberty In it she discusses many of the pressures that come with occupying legal posts in the Government and in the third sector and offers genuine insight into law is practised in these different settings I really enjoyed these bits of the bookI'm surprised to find myself saying that I enjoyed her extensive discussion and defense of Human Rights Law rather less From my completely non expert position I completely support the principle of Human Rights and haven't heard any convincing argument as to why the Human Rights Act should be changed or repealed But I had two slight problems with Chakrabarti's discussion of the topic in this bookThe first was that I struggled to find consistency in a number of her positions That isn't to say that her positions were necessarily inconsistent just that I as a non expert struggled to see how they were consistent For example Chakrabarti mounted a passionate argument against phone tapping suggesting that this was wrong partly because the evidence was inadmissible in court and investigations should only proceed on the basis of admissible evidence I can see that argument But then Chakrabarti suggested that if evidence is obtained through torture that information should be shared with the Police to assist investigations even though is it inadmissible in Court I'm sure the two positions are consistent at a deeper level for example the intentions of the collection of information the agency of collection etc etc but that wasn't explained There are several examples of this sort of thing which left me feeling a bit unsatisfiedThe second problem I had was with the slightly dismissive tone with which Chakrabarti discussed politics and politicans She and I completely agree that Human Rights Law is crucial but if the population of a country actively or passively votes for repeal of that law then isn't there a moral imperative to consider following through on that? All the so if elected representatives are in agreement with their electors? Chakrabarti's approach seemed to be to almost ignore the supremacy of the democratic process but never made the reasoning behind this clearSo all things considered this turned out not to be uite the masterclass I had hoped that it would be But still the book makes a passionate and detailed case and is probably worth reading anywayCoI I think I may have been a member of Liberty at some point in the past but don't think I am any though not sure on either count A really important book It tackles topics like the Human Rights Act prisoners' voting rights and police snooping all things I thought I had a clear opinion on and all things that Chakrabarti either crystallised or altered in her argumentsMy criticisms are few The book isn't ambitious enough as far as I'm concerned You can't evoke John Stuart Mill and then spend your entire word count consumed by legal matters A little philosophy would have been greatThe writing also isn't of the highest uality Maybe I've been spoilt by literary dexterity lately but the prose was a little clunky and metaphors occasionally creaky This is thrown into stark relief when Chakrabarti uotes her elouent human rights heroesThat's not to say that On Liberty isn't clear and informative A vital read if you care about civil liberties not just for yourself but for society at large And you should definitely care 35 still waiting on my half star GoodreadsI 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 911 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 societyIt is a shame that despite the history of the world so many of us need constant reminders that human rights are important

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About the Author: Shami Chakrabarti