Standing up for one’s rights

When your rights are violated and you don’t stand up for them, your lack of action helps enable the violation of other people’s rights.

In many cases, that is perfectly fine.

In some cases, it is not.

The French playwright and novelist Honoré de Balzac is supposed to have said or written that “Laws are spider webs through which the big flies pass and the little ones get caught.”

I don’t believe that this has to be the case. I believe that big flies are more aware of the spider webs and more familiar with their layout.

Moreover, I do not see laws as restrictive spider webs, but as safety nets that exist to protect the rights of everyone.

In some countries, that protection is almost automatically activated when laws are broken. In other countries, it is more complicated.

The fact that we have rights also means we have a duties, namely the duty to observe each other’s rights. I may have the right to not have my toes stepped on, but that right depends on you not stepping on my toes.

The big flies use the laws to their advantage whereas the little flies are often not even aware of the protection the law affords them, or don’t use it. The big flies may count on that, but is that the fault of the big flies or the fault of the little flies?

Waiving your rights is usually much easier than fighting for them. Fighting for them does not mean that you will eventually have those rights honoured, and you may not get anything out of the battle other than knowing that you have made it a little bit less likely that other people’s rights are ignored too, after yours were. Sometimes, that is more than enough.

Sign the petition for Ashya King’s parents

Looks like Britain has done it again… People’s rights were violated by a medical doctor and a bunch of police officers, and that’s okay because in Britain, that is okay. (Courtesy of Tony Blair, perhaps?)

The rest of Britain is stepping up because, of course, this is NOT okay.

Have you already signed the petition? If not, please do: Reunite Ashya with his parents




Here is the 2 September UPDATE in the Portsmouth News (with the petition this morning standing at a whopping high number).

Thank you, law firm, whoever you are, for stepping up. We all have to start putting a stop to the casual way in which people’s rights – and particularly parents’ and children’s rights – are being violated so often in the UK when it concerns normal folks instead of toffs (Britain’s oh so powerful elite).

This feudal nonsense has to stop. We are in the 21st century, for crying out loud. Tony Blair was a complete nut case. The evil practices he introduced in this country should be abolished as soon as possible.

The casual way in which police officers lie so often is a disgrace too. Clearly, Hampshire Assistant Chief Constable Chris Shead was lying here or did not have a clue what he was talking about. Police sometimes loves constructing and directing its own soaps a little bit too much, it seems to me.

For readers who don’t know this:

  • The Kings are a local family, from Southsea, which is part of Portsmouth, so our local media are paying a lot of attention to this case. A court order, apparently, was issued in Portsmouth late on Friday afternoon, not in Southampton. I am initially was not sure what this particular court order says, as there is was also talk that Ashya’s parents were stripped of their parental powers. That apparently is correct.
  • Tony Blair introduced some really messed up ideas in 2006, according to which children can already be taken away from parents even before they are born if someone with enough power does not like the parents, an appallingly “medieval” idea. It appears that he gave NHS staff an insane amount of power which it can exercise as it pleases, fairly randomly. There are now so many cases in which NHS Trusts play such an appalling role that I am starting to equate the NHS with power abuse in Britain; unfortunately many of them carry a gagging order, silencing people effectively (because they get locked up in prison if they say a word about their cases). It is not clear whether the Ashya King case is one of these horrible cases, but the NHS may have acted under powers – or a duty – that it did not have in the past. The main party responsible for the mess appears to have been Hampshire police, possibly because they didn’t want to lose face after they became aware of the facts and realised that they had acted on the basis of incorrect assumptions.
  • In Britain, medical doctors are generally still considered superior humans, particularly if they are male. I guess that they are considered in possession of the holy grail of all knowledge. Doctors for instance have the power to identify you on the basis of your passport, which most ordinary Britons do not have. That is so ridiculously unbelievable. (I think school teachers still have this power too in Britain.)


Another update (parents suing the hospital and Nick Clegg speaking out).

Meanwhile, former children’s minister Tim Loughton who is a Tory MP has spoken out as well, and not in the weasel-like mild manner of Nick Clegg.

And yes, of course, Spanish police is keeping the couple locked up and denied bail! What other country issues arrest warrants without there being a good reason? What other country starts an international manhunt for no good reason?

I do think it’s awesome that so many Britons are signing the petition – which is quite unusual over here – but more is needed to bring more smiles on more people’s faces here.

Final update: the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has now cancelled the European arrest warrant. I presume that this means that the Kings will be released tomorrow and allowed to reunite with their son and arrange for his further treatment.

Criminal investigation of MH17 crash

Tulips for the casualtiesThe Netherlands’ Public Prosecution Service (Openbaar Ministerie, or “Public Ministry”) has launched an official investigation of the crash of MH17, on the basis of suspicion of war crimes, murder and intentional shooting down of a civil airplane.

The country lost nearly 200 people who were aboard the Malaysian Airlines flight.

Public prosecutor Thijs Berger of the division of international crimes has been in Kiev since Saturday.

In 2003, the Netherlands International Crimes Act came into force, which enables the Dutch to prosecute anyone (also in other countries) who has committed a war crime against any Dutch national.

A second possibility is that Ukraine asks the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague to prosecute suspects. In April of this year, Ukraine requested the ICC to investigate possible war crimes committed during the presidency of Viktor Yanukovych in the period from 21 November 2013 to 22 February 2014. The Netherlands may be able to get the ICC to extend this investigation up to and including 17 July 2014, when MH17 crashed.

Yesterday, the Netherlands took charge of the international coordination surrounding the disaster. Recovering and repatriating the remains of the deceased takes priority.

Source: Dutch daily newspaper NRC.

(The Netherlands has a separate Department of Justice and Police as well.)

Bar pro bono unit, legal assistance charity

The unfairness and injustice to which so many Britons are subjected often feels like someone is spitting in my face.

court of lawA few minutes ago, I was composing a letter to someone and found myself explaining something, and then found myself wanting to dive into the issue. It made me realise that there is probably a need in the UK for an organisation of smart volunteers – a bit like the Innocence project in the US – that carries out research and investigations for various cases that need more support but are hampered by a lack of funds.

So I did a web search. First I found an organisation that often holds marches in the UK and is generally shunned. Then I found the Bar Pro Bono Unit. It is a charity which helps to find pro bono (free) legal assistance from volunteer barristers.

I also found the National Pro Bono Centre, with links to additional organisations.

The UK has its own Innocence Project. It was started in 2004.

Here in Portsmouth, the university’s law school carries out various pro bono activities.

Human rights curtailed even further in the UK?

Not if the LibDems can help it, they say. The Independent has the story:

Britain, firmly stuck in the dark ages in so many regards, cannot afford this kind of setback. Don’t let any political party push back Britain even further.

Massive public-sector strikes today

Many schools and libraries were closed, for example. Read more: here.

The Prime Minister commented that he considers these strikes illegal.

The same people who leave the poorest, chronically ill, lowest paid and handicapped dangling and have cut legal aid as well so that these groups of people are even more incapacitated than they already are and are less able to defend themselves against cruel cuts and crazy measures via legal pathways, weren’t those also the ones who had no problem with the idea of an 11% pay rise for MPs?

The minimum wage is going up, though. By £0.05.