Don’t turn Britain into Guantanamo Bay pleads Chakrabarti

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Shami Chakrabarti says the UK government is the key threat to human rights protection 

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18th February 2016 by Paul Cardwell 0 Comments

The biggest threat to human rights in the UK is the Westminster government, the outgoing Liberty director Shami Chakrabarti told Scottish charities.

Chakrabarti, who has been at the human rights organisation for 12 years but recently announced she is stepping down, said the government's plan to replace the Human Rights Act with a new British bill of rights and responsibilities should make people nervous.

Speaking at The Gathering in Glasgow, she told the audience, made up of third sector employees and volunteers, that doing so would lead to people being treated like they are in Guantanamo Bay.

"Despite all the many challenges in human rights in the United Kingdom at the moment, and in the wider world, let's make no mistake the existential threat to human rights protection in all of our islands, in all of our countries, is the Westminster government's plan, promise, pledge, to scrap the Human Rights Act and replace it with a so called British bill of rights and responsibilites," she said.

"Human rights are for human beings, they're not citizen's priviliges, not Scottish rights, or English rights, or French rights or American rights - we know where that kind of thinking leads: it is the road to Guantanamo Bay, where it is permissible to treat some people in an inhumane way because they are not your own nationals and possibly because it is offshore."

Chakrabarti said she was in Scotland to seek the solidarity and continued commitment of civil society to protect the act and the values within it.

The Human Rights Act does not solve everything she admitted but said it provided an important framework for services.

In a passionate address  she discussed her overview on human rights in the UK and praised First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who spoke at The Gathering earlier in the morning, describing her as a great defender of the Human Rights Act.

She added: "With the example that the first minister has sent to politicians elsewhere in the kingdom with relation to human rights comes some responsibility. 

"The fact that we are now, all over the kingdom and no doubt elsewhere in the world, now looking to Scotland to see what a human rights based society, what greater social justice could look like does mean that you are being watched."

TFN live video streamed and live blogged the whole event. Watch the video above.