Friday, December 17, 2010
Inhuman rights in Britain
David Cameron was accused last night of breaking a personal pledge to scrap the Human Rights Act after a failed asylum seeker who killed a 12-year-old girl used the discredited law to stay in Britain.
Aso Mohammed Ibrahim knocked down Amy Houston and left her to ‘die like a dog’ under the wheels of his car. He was driving while disqualified and after the little girl’s death he committed a string of further offences. Earlier this year Mr Cameron wrote to Amy’s father promising reforms that would ensure ‘that rights are better balanced against responsibilities’. He said the Human Rights Act would be replaced by a British Bill of Rights.
But yesterday Ibrahim, an Iraqi Kurd, won his lengthy fight to stay in Britain. Immigration judges ruled that sending him home would breach his right to a ‘private and family life’ as he has now fathered two children in the UK.
Last night Amy’s father Paul branded the Act an ‘abomination to civilised society’. He said: ‘This decision shows the Human Rights Act to be nothing more than a charter for thieves, killers, terrorists and illegal immigrants.’
The ruling heaped pressure on Mr Cameron to reinstate a Tory pre-election pledge to abolish the HRA and replace it with a British Bill of Rights. He stated that pledge unequivocally in a letter to Mr Houston, written in January when he was still Leader of the Opposition, and shortly after the death of his son Ivan. It began: ‘As someone who sadly has been recently bereaved, I do have a little idea of what you must have been through.’
Last night Mr Houston, a 41-year-old engineer, made a direct plea to Mr Cameron to think again. He said: ‘He needs to take a long, hard look at himself and make the right decision for this country because as it stands the Human Rights Act is on the side of criminals, terrorists and thieves against law-abiding citizens. ‘He wrote to me to say he would bring in the British Bill of Rights but that appears to have been put in the back burner because of the Coalition.
‘I don’t want to see this matter sidelined. I think it needs to be placed very firmly on the agenda again. If he has got the courage of his convictions that is what he will do. ‘The law does need to be changed so that it properly represents everyone – not just this awful minority who ruin people’s lives.’
Mr Houston, of Darwen, Lancashire, said he was ‘absolutely devastated’ by the decision to allow Ibrahim to stay in the country indefinitely. ‘How can he say he’s deprived of his right to a family life? The only person deprived of a family life is me. Amy was my family.’ Amy was Mr Houston’s only child and for medical reasons he is unable to have any more children.
The case fuelled deep concern on the Tory backbenches. One MP branded the Act the ‘Criminals’ Rights Act’ and repeated calls for it to be scrapped. No minister was prepared to comment directly about the case, but Downing Street issued a statement ‘sharing Mr Houston’s anger’. The UK Border Agency said it was ‘extremely disappointed’ with the decision.
Ibrahim, now 33, arrived in Britain hidden in the back of a lorry in January 2001. His application for asylum was refused and a subsequent appeal in November 2002 failed, but he was never sent home. In 2003, while serving a nine-month driving ban for not having insurance or a licence, he ploughed into Amy near her mother’s home in Blackburn. He ran away, leaving her conscious and trapped beneath the wheels of his black Rover. Six hours later her father had to take the heartbreaking decision to turn off her life-support system.
But despite leaving Amy to die, Ibrahim was jailed for just four months after admitting driving while disqualified and failing to stop after an accident.
Since his release from prison he has accrued a string of further convictions, including more driving offences, harassment and cautions for burglary and theft. He also met a British woman, Christina Richardson, and fathered two children with her, Harry, four, and Zara, three.
Border Agency officials finally began attempts to remove him from the country in October 2008. Ibrahim’s lawyers argued sending him back to Iraq would breach Article 8 of the Human Rights Act, which guarantees his right to a private and family life with his children.
When the case first came before an immigration judge in June last year, Home Office lawyers said Ibrahim should be removed because of his persistent criminality.
Ibrahim told the court he had became a father figure to Miss Richardson’s two children from a previous relationship and was even helping them with their homework. This account was dismissed as ‘clearly not credible’ after Ibrahim admitted he could barely speak English.
The judge accepted that Ibrahim’s behaviour was ‘abhorrent’ and branded his evidence ‘contradictory and unsatisfactory’. However he ruled that he had developed a ‘significant and substantial’ relationship with the children and was acting as their father.
The UK Border Agency launched an appeal against the decision. Lawyers for the agency argued that there was little evidence that he was living at the same address as his own children. But yesterday the Upper Immigration Tribunal threw out the appeal, saying the judge had considered the case in a ‘legally correct’ way.
In a letter to the tribunal, Mr Houston made an impassioned plea for Ibrahim to be sent back to Iraq, saying his right to a family life with Amy should outweigh the rights of Ibrahim. He wrote: ‘On the evening of November 23 2003, Mr Ibrahim struck Amy. He didn’t kill her outright, she was still conscious. ‘She was fully aware of what was happening around her even though she had the full weight of the engine block of the car on top of her, she was crying because she was frightened and in a lot of pain... he could have at least tried to help.
‘Amy suffered for six hours before the doctors advised me to switch off the life support machine . . . it was highly unlikely she would survive and if she was to live would be a “cabbage”. ‘The image of Amy taking her final breath, dying a foot away from me as I sat by her bedside holding her hand praying for a miracle, will stay with me till the day I die.’
Last night Mr Houston said: ‘No wonder asylum seekers are queuing up at the borders to get in when they see decisions like this. ‘They realise that whatever they do, be it burglar, rape or murder, they can use the laws to ensure they are able to stay in Britain. ‘The immigration judges have ruled he had a right to a family life. What about my right to a family life with my daughter? ‘That was taken away in the most horrendously cruel fashion by a serial criminal who has never contributed to our society.’
He pledged to continue his seven-year fight for justice and is seeking legal advice over the possibility of a judicial review. Ministers are considering whether to take the case to the Court of Appeal.
David Cameron wrote a letter to Mr Houston offering his condolences and telling him of his plans to change the law
Backbench Tory MPs said the case showed how the Human Rights Act was preventing ministers from controlling Britain’s borders. MP Douglas Carswell said: ‘If we take the tribunal’s findings to their logical conclusion we would leave an open door to the world.’
The Tories campaigned on a promise to bring in a British Bill of Rights to replace Labour’s Human Rights Act, but within weeks of the General Election result, the pledge was downgraded and replaced by a commitment to a review, effectively kicking the policy into the long grass.
Sex offenders including paedophiles should be allowed to adopt?
It is true that existing bans are too sweeping but this goes too far in the other direction -- JR
Rules which bar sex offenders from working with children are ‘unfair’ and even convicted paedophiles should have the right to adopt, a leading legal academic has said.
Helen Reece, a reader in law at the London School of Economics, called on Theresa May, the Home Secretary, to relax rules which automatically ban sex offenders from caring for children, saying that this could breach their human rights.
In an article in the respected Child and Family Law Quarterly, Miss Reece suggested that reoffending rates were not high among sex criminals, adding: “despite growing public concern over paedophilia, the numbers of child sex murders are very low.”
A review is currently ongoing into the Vetting and Barring Scheme, introduced following the 2002 Soham murders, amid concerns by ministers that it is too heavy handed.
As well as banning certain offenders, the law currently requires adults coming into regular contact with children other than their own to be screened.
Mrs May ordered the review amid concerns about the vetting of ordinary volunteers such as parents who drive children to football practice and church flower arrangers.
In her article, Miss Reece suggested that the review should also introduce an assumption that sex offenders including child abusers posed no threat once they had served their sentence. She said: "There is no reason why all sex offenders should not be considered as potentially suitable to adopt or foster children, or work with them.
“The Vetting and Barring Scheme and other legislative measures single out sex offenders for unfair special treatment and they destroy the principle that a prisoner pays his or her debt by serving their sentence before re-entering society on equal terms.”
Individuals are placed on the “Barred List” and banned from working with youngsters or vulnerable adults if they are convicted of a sexual or violent offence, or one involving the mistreatment of a child.
Miss Reece criticised the rules for leading all sex offenders to be “tarred with the same brush,” saying that while “careful screening” was “important,” the issuing of a “blanket ban” violated the rights of criminals who wanted to adopt or work with young people.
She highlighted the case of a grandfather with a conviction for having sex with a 15-year-old dating back to when he was 29, who was refused permission to adopt his own grandchildren.
The ban could contravene the principle of non-discrimination enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights, and may leave the Government open to legal challenge, Miss Reece warned.
Comparing sex offenders to cohabiting couples, she suggested that if blanket bans on the former were allowed, it would make sense to bar those who were not married from adopting because parents who were wed were less likely to separate with harmful consequences for the child.
She also highlighted the case of four nurses who recently won a High Court challenge after being barred for having convictions. One of the nurses was banned over a police caution for leaving her own children alone in their home. “Rather than presuming that everyone is a potential risk to children and must therefore be vetted, any vetting or barring should be based on very strong evidence that they are a risk,” the academic said. “This would represent a victory not only for human rights but for protecting the best interests of children.”
Miss Reece has been at the LSE since September 2009, having previously worked at the University of London, University College London and Birkbeck College. A trained barrister, she has an MSc in logic and scientific method, and was awarded the Socio-Legal Studies Association Book Prize in 2004 for a monograph called “Divorcing Responsibly. She has also argued that rape victims should no longer be granted anonymity.
A Home Office spokesman said: “It is safe to say that the vetting review will not be considering allowing paedophiles to adopt. It wouldn’t exactly go down well with the public.
“The review is very much focused on seeing whether the rules have gone too far in stopping normal volunteering with children, while continuing to carry out criminal records checks on people in sensitive posts, such as in the NHS.”
Unveiled: A Case for France's Burqa Ban
Unlike the 2004 French law against “religious symbols” in public places (and obviously aimed at the Islamic headscarf), the law banning the burqa this past July has not given rise, at least for the moment, to any important debate in France or the rest of Europe. (The burqa is also forbidden in Belgium.) This lack of reaction—the dog that didn’t bark—has surprised many Americans. It shouldn’t. The ban does not take aim at any specific Koranic obligation, which makes it more difficult to stigmatize it as “Islamophobic.” Moreover, barely two thousand Muslim women in France wear this head-to-toe concealment, which means that there is not much of a constituency for outrage. And finally, many of the French, in most cases sympathetic with downtrodden minorities, are shocked, even disgusted, by the sight of women wearing this get-up in public.
At the beginning of the twenty-first century, the French Republic was the first Western European country to debate whether or not it was necessary to publicly display religious symbols in schools and other civic places traditionally ruled by sectarian neutrality. An emphatically secular country marked by many centuries of strife with an intolerant, reactionary Catholic church hostile to progress and to the emancipation of women, France today is de-Christianized and characterized by a strong suspicion of any kind of religion. Paradoxically, we are also the European nation that comprises the strongest community of Jews (five hundred thousand) and Muslims (five million, the majority coming from North Africa), who live their faith in a public way, defining themselves explicitly in opposition to the French ideal of laïcité.
To understand the French reaction that has so startled our American friends, it is necessary to return to the Republican Contract (and the Declaration of the Rights of Man that founded it), which in fact acknowledges equal rights to all individuals regardless of their possessions, their gender, their beliefs, their skin color. Under this vision of secularism and human rights, a person is no longer reduced to his faith, to his ethnic origins.
The error committed by so many Anglo-Americans, starting with President Obama, consists of accusing French republicanism of being hostile to religion and of behaving in an authoritarian manner. In fact, the republic accords its citizens the full and complete right to belong to all cultural, religious, folk, and linguistic associations that they want to, provided that these associations are not seen as superior to the common law and do not become the pretext for one group or another to call for separate rights in the name of their convictions. An individual’s most fundamental right is to free himself or herself from his or her origins: Muslims should be able to leave Islam, become atheist, not observe Ramadan, or convert to Buddhism or to Christianity in the same way that Christians can fall away from their faith and shop for other forms of belief. (In fact, the French press have noted many cases of Muslim aggression against other Muslims who chose not to have children; and as for apostates, they routinely face death threats.) The burqa (or the North African niqab or the Middle Eastern hijab) is a direct challenge to the ideal of laicization since it dramatically violates the principle of equality between men and women.
These issues all came up in a television debate I had not long ago with Tariq Ramadan, generally regarded as the most influential contemporary Muslim intellectual in Europe, whose theories build a “bridge” between Islam and modernity. Ramadan asserted that in calling for a ban on the burqa, I failed to take into account what he called “innate feminine modesty.” On the contrary, I answered, I worry so much about modesty that I would like to extend the Islamic veil to all living creatures, first men, but also cows, pigs, horses, cats, and dogs. And I suggested to the stylish Ramadan (who, despite his reputation as a liberal, is also a friend of Hamas and of the Muslim Brotherhood), that he wear a veil fashioned by Dior or Prada. Why is it good to see a man’s face when it is not to see a woman’s, unless (as is the case in Islam) the woman’s face is regarded as something more than flesh covering bone and musculature—a provocative sexual offering encouraging men to sin. Ramadan’s “modesty” functioned as code for the medieval notion that woman is nature and depravity while man is knowledge and reason.
The 2004 law banning the Islamic headscarf from being worn in the classroom was finally passed without a hitch, although it caused some inconsequential disputes that were settled by the courts. Muslim girls did not leave the schools of the republic en masse, as predicted; indeed, sixty-eight percent of all French Muslim women, in a poll conducted after the smoke had cleared in 2006, overwhelmingly supported this ban and strongly insisted that France would have been dishonored if it had chosen to emulate the vast majority of Muslim countries where women dare not walk down the street with bare heads. They were saying, in effect, that the veil conceals less than it reveals; that it is not a mark of “modesty” but a proselytizing instrument that offers to subjugate and even endanger young girls and women who don’t wear it.
But the recent burqa ban, launched on the initiative of André Gerin, a Communist Party deputy from Vénissieux, poses a different set of problems. Many citizens groused that the ideal of laïcité does not stretch to the state telling them how to dress or regulating the length of skirts, the color of jackets, the wearing of a cross, a Star of David, or a Hand of Fatima (Hamsa). These arguments were repeated by “feminist Muslim” groups that have cropped up over the past ten years and which now declared loudly and strongly in the media that they wear the niqab voluntarily to protect their dignity and that no husband, brother, or parent forces them to do so. And yet these “feminists” also defend—in the name of the Koran—almost all the other controls that encumber Muslim women in the West, with the possible exceptions of stoning and genital mutilation, which they criticize but do not vehemently condemn. Nonetheless, the state still risks overstepping its role by intervening in the realm of private life and personal choice.
There remains another, more pragmatic argument against the burqa advanced by some jurists: the social invisibility it imposes on those who wear it. Like masked protestors who would attack riot police and then disappear back into the crowd, women swallowed up by this covering can fabricate a false identity, or even be men in disguise, able to cross borders or go through identity checkpoints without revealing themselves. Can society accept the idea of a masked mother picking her child up from school or a eye-slitted driver speeding down the highway at a hundred miles an hour? How do you deal with a veiled woman refusing to identify herself in order to get married, as has been the case in a number of town halls in France? Such critics point out that Egypt strictly regulates the wearing of the niqab in public establishments; that in Turkey, women must take university exams bare-headed. And Belgium has far outpaced the French when it comes to the burqa: a number of municipalities have issued executive orders banning both it and the niqab except during carnival, thereby redefining this garb as a quaint item of nostalgia appropriate only in festive moments.
The problem for society is that a person who goes into the streets hidden in this way becomes invisible and erased, denied individual singularity. The Carmelite nun, cloistered in her convent, must present her face uncovered when she appears in civil society. But not the Muslim woman who covers herself. She is nothing, merely a shadow that does not have the right to a minimal social existence, and while walking in the free air remains imprisoned behind her great wall of clothing. This is an invitation for a population of ghosts to wander French streets; no-legged zombies, like so many extras in horror films; a collection of clones denied the most fundamental right of existence—the right of recognition. These ghosts in black silently campaign for the concealment of all women—and characterize as indecent those who do not do it. But this is exactly what the Wahhabist and Salafist sects who encourage this type of practice count on: using covered women as emissaries of a pure and harsh Islam that seeks to reinvigorate European Muslim communities tainted by contact with the decadent, wicked, corrupt West.
The burqa law was affirmed on July 13, 2010, despite massive abstention from the Left, which, with few exceptions, accused the majority of trying to distract from “the real problems of the country.” The law must still be submitted for approval to the Constitutional Council, where it will face a formidable question: Is requiring citizens to be recognizable in their public life a condition for living together, or an attack on individual liberties? France is not alone; other European countries have similar legislative projects under consideration.
The burqa, like the hijab, polygamy, female circumcision, and arranged marriages, poses a fundamental problem to democratic societies: it is not just terrorism that we need to fight, or the work of soldiers, police, and secret services; it is also fundamentalism, equally threatening, even if launched by sermons rather than bombs. It is the religious obscurantism of the fundamentalists that aims to impose on open and liberal societies archaic rules, incompatible with fundamental human rights. In this case, France, generally hostile to social groups who imprison individuals in iron collars of tradition or belief, seems to me more advanced than other European nations, more willing to be a frontline state in this struggle. It sees the stakes: either European Islam turns its back on modernity and locks itself in a symbolic fortress, or, like Christianity and Judaism, it becomes an enlightened, pluralistic religion whose example will shine out from Europe over the ulema, that whole worldwide community of believers who often exist in the dark.
Coral Ridge Ministries Responds to Anti-‘Hate’ Group
“Telling uncomfortable truths about homosexual behavior is not an act of hate”
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) opposition to homosexual activism equals hate. It’s right down there with racism. That’s the formula that the SPLC has used to smear several of the nation’s leading conservative Christian groups as “hate groups.” But it says more about the SPLC’s agenda than anything else.
The far-left, Alabama-based SPLC, famous for monitoring the Ku Klux Klan, Aryan Nation, racist skinheads and black separatists, now has, among others, the Family Research Council, American Family Association and Traditional Values Coalition on its “hate group” list.
Coral Ridge Ministries (CRM) didn’t make the “hate” list but is designated as an “anti-gay group.” For the SPLC, being “anti-gay” means harboring unfounded animus, which in our case is an unwarranted assumption. CRM opposes the homosexual activist agenda because we believe homosexual behavior is wrong, unhealthy and reversible, and that the homosexual agenda poses an acute threat to the freedoms of religion, speech and association.
The SPLC said in its pre-Thanksgiving announcement that “viewing homosexuality as unbiblical does not qualify organizations for listing as hate groups.” To achieve that status, they say, takes citing or publishing research that has “been thoroughly discredited by scientific authorities — and repeated, groundless name-calling.”
We agree that no one should cite faulty research, such as the now-discredited statistic that homosexuals make up 10 percent of the U.S. population. That false number, based on the fraudulent Alfred C. Kinsey studies, has been long used by homosexual activists to further their cause.
Nor should anyone engage in name-calling. It’s as wrong for the Rev. Fred Phelps and his tiny Topeka, Kansas, congregation to refer to homosexuals as “f__s,” as it was some years ago for homosexuals marching outside Dr. D. James Kennedy’s Fort Lauderdale church to brandish signs blaring messages like “Kennedy = Hate Crimes” and “Temple of Doom.”
Everyone needs to stick to the facts. But what are they? The SPLC released a report that misrepresents Christian groups’ positions, ignores inconvenient science and repeats claims based on junk science and adopted by professional guilds that long ago, bullied by homosexual activists, abandoned any pretense of objectivity.
The American Psychiatric Association (APA) removed homosexuality in 1973 from its list of disordered conditions in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the bible of the profession. The change came about not because of new research or because scientists had made groundbreaking discoveries; it was solely a political coup engineered by homosexual activists. At a crucial APA task force meeting on homosexuality, opponents were given only 15 minutes “to present a rebuttal that summarized seventy years of psychiatric and psychoanalytic opinion.” The process was documented by pro-homosexual writer Ronald Bayer, who wrote: “The result was not a conclusion based on an approximation of the scientific truth as dictated by reason, but was instead an action demanded by the ideological temper of the times.”
Dr. Charles Socarides, a practicing psychiatrist who witnessed events at APA conventions, including threats of violence by homosexual activists, said, “The APA could only take the action it did by disregarding and dismissing hundreds of psychiatric and psychoanalytic research papers and reports that had been done on homosexuality over the previous two decades.” In 1975, the American Psychological Association followed suit under similar conditions.
For a precise account of how homosexual activists commandeered the guilds, see The Trojan Couch: How the Mental Health Associations Misrepresent Science, by Dr. Jeffrey Satinover, M.D., Ph.D.
It’s also a fact that no evidence exists for a so-called “gay gene.” Dean Hamer’s 1993 research made the cover of Newsweek with the headline, “Gay Gene?” but Hamer, a homosexual, answered “Absolutely not,” when asked if he had found it. Likewise, Simon LeVay, who did a widely reported brain study in 1991, said:
“It’s important to stress what I didn’t find. I did not prove that homosexuality is genetic, or find a genetic cause for being gay. I didn’t show that gay men are born that way, the most common mistake people make in interpreting my work. Nor did I locate a gay center in the brain.”
What the Bible Says
Coral Ridge Ministries Senior Writer Robert Knight points out in his new book, The Truth About Marriage, that it’s beyond dispute that the Bible regards homosexual conduct as sin. God judged the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah for their wickedness, which prominently included homosexuality. The New Testament in Jude 7 refers to the people of Sodom and Gomorrah as “having given themselves over to sexual immorality and gone after strange flesh.” And the Apostle Paul in his letter to the Roman church refers in unmistakable terms (“vile passions”) to homosexuality as sin (Romans 1:26, 27).
It’s also a fact, however, that some people who indulge in homosexual conduct later renounce it and go on to lead lives of abstinence or faithfulness in marriage. This is hugely controversial for homosexual advocates but beyond dispute. Thousands of men and women have abandoned the homosexual lifestyle and its defining behavior, as the group Exodus International can attest. And this has been taking place for centuries. It’s no different from people discovering that other sinful behaviors are worth resisting.
In his first century letter to Christians at Corinth, a hotbed of sexual immorality, Paul provides a long list of those who will not enter God’s kingdom, including fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, homosexuals, thieves, covetous, drunkards, revilers, and extortionists. And then he adds: “And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God” (I Corinthians 6:11 nkjv).
Telling uncomfortable truths about homosexual behavior is not an act of hate. Conversely, it is not loving to withhold information and to enable people engaged in destructive behavior. It is especially immoral to encourage youngsters to experiment with homosexuality or transgenderism.
The SPLC slander of Christian organizations is a troubling shift; instead of being focused on actions, we now are told that certain facts are disallowed in public discourse because they bear negatively on the political agenda and sensitivities of a group of people.
This takes us well toward what Robert Knight has warned will happen if homosexual activists achieve their public policy and cultural goals: the criminalization of Christianity.
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.