Thursday, November 05, 2009

Human Rights Act

Signing up to the human rights act was one of the best things that this government ever did. It sometimes tires me out to hear people decry such a bill. It only gives rights to criminals, they proclaim.

Well... no, it gives rights to those accused of a crime. These are typically the people who need their rights protected. The police, and the government, are not typically greatly interested in due process (I know, I'm obsessed), and need the law to protect them. Its all too easy to get convinced of a suspect's guilt because of a certain way they acted, or way others have acted in the past. The impartial process of law is important, and the human rights act helps protect it against the tyranny of government. Consider the number of illiberal laws the government passed as a consequence of 9/11, which were intended to circumvent our legal system. It is clear that, given the chance, government would like to ignore due process.

People talk a lot about "victims rights", a curious thing to focus on. Victims of crimes are, of course, deeply unfortunate people who the government should support, through councilling and compensation. But there is no need for them to have a measure as to whether they have as many rights as the accused. They have the same amount of rights, and were they to be implicated in a crime, they could take advantage of them as well.

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