Human Rights and Civil Liberties - Simon Hughes

Human Rights and Civil Liberties

2015 was the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta - when the barons first effectively challenged the King.  The history of the advance of civil liberty and human rights around the world has normally been led by the challenges of the people against the authority of the state.  Over the years, we have clearly made some great progress in this country: the Declaration of Rights, the Great Reform Act, and in the last century universal suffrage and the reduction of the voting age.  In this century, we have set up a fully independent United Kingdom Supreme Court.  But it is not just in other countries that the battles for civil liberty and human rights need to be fought.  The Conservative government elected in May 2015 includes many who want to end the right as individual citizens to take their cases to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, or to invoke the rights set out in the European Convention on Human Rights in their day to day dealing with public bodies or our courts.  Many Conservatives, and too many others, believe that being part of the most advanced international system for protecting human rights which the world has set up ought to be something the UK now should opt out of.  For the sake of children whose rights often need protecting in their vulnerable years, or older people who have too often been neglected or abused by authority, and many others, the battle to protect for all in the UK every single right enshrined in the European Convention is a battle we must win.  In government, Liberal Democrats guaranteed completely our human rights protection;  I was privileged to play a part in this.  I'm determined to win all the new battles for human rights in the years ahead.