Charter debate: what rights?

Colin Harvey with the third of his pieces, asks the question what rights might a future charter contain. We’ve already had the suggestion from reader Alan that those of children and the disabled might be useful additions. Donaloc has anticipated the issue by pasting Sinn Fein’s extensive list of rights suggested in its discussion document.

  • Davros

    The SF document is an interesting read and raises all sorts of issues and plenty of questions.

    eg- votes for 16 year olds ? IMO that’s crazy.

    eg- 4. The child’s best interest will be the paramount consideration in every matter concerning the child.
    Need clarification here. Who has the say

  • Davros

    The SF document is an interesting read and raises all sorts of issues and plenty of questions.

    eg- votes for 16 year olds ? IMO that’s crazy.

    eg- 4. The child’s best interest will be the paramount consideration in every matter concerning the child.
    Need clarification here. Who has the say

  • Mick Fealty

    “The document is a mess- full of avoided issues and questions.”

    It might be interesting to have a few examples.

  • willowfield

    I’m still unconvinced of (a) the need for any rights additional to the European Charter and (b) the need for any additional rights to be on an all-Ireland basis.

    What is the rationale for either of these?

  • Mick Fealty

    Good question Willow. Any takers?

  • Davros

    Apart from the One already given ? 🙂

    Well, There are quite a few , especially as it appears as if SF are suggesting that They Favour Ireland having abortion on demand….

    OK, let’s start-

    Quote: We also have a responsibility to build an inclusive society which addresses the political allegiances of unionists and guarantees their rights and entitlements so that they have a sense of security and a stake in the new Ireland.

    Problem- Sounds good but first need to convince unionists that they want to be part of the

  • willowfield

    And further to 16, what does “representative of the community” mean, and what happens if it’s not?

  • Mick Fealty

    There are plenty of questions asked there of the Sinn Fein discussion paper. It would be good to have something of a defense, not necessarily of the whole document (it is after all a discussion paper, and most definately not policy).

    It might good too to have some reference to the DUP’s paper on the Bill of Rights, which stresses the place of democratic choice in defending Rights?

  • Davros

    Mick, don’t get me wrong, there is a lot of potential in the SF document. But they should seperate out the party political aspects.

    The Birth control and abortion issue must be a nightmare for them.

    Now I’m going to read the 70’s

  • Davros

    Whoops… accidentally posted SF’s 1979 proposals on the other thread.

  • peteb

    Enough with the documents, Davros!!

    How about you give us your thoughts?

  • peteb

    Mick

    We’re straying well into territory that I described previously as the domain of the political manifesto – in fact we’re now seeing political manifestos being posted!

    Personally, as you might have gathered from my previous posts, I agree with Steven King’s take on this. The Charter is about Fundamental Human Rights… not Politics and to attempt to combine the two is both beyond the remit of the Charter and a recipe for an document that is at best ignored, and at worse a focus for party-political argument.

    The mistake that is being repeated at the beginning of this thread is the attempt ‘build on the existing language of the Agreemnent’ and to interpret ‘everyone’ to create the supposed need to specify particular groups – If the Charter is about fundamental human rights then that encompasses everyone – I would hope – an infringement of any of the fundamental human rights, for any reason, is still an infringement of those rights.

  • Davros

    Pete …surely my thoughts are made rather obvious by my questions ?

    I think individual women should have a right to reproductive control but am not convinced that this should include the “right to Choose” in respect of abortion.

  • Davros

    14

  • Alan

    Peteb,

    The point is that some groups require specific protections beyond the general protections afforded by the Charter. For instance, giving someone a right to vote is fine for most of us, but if you have problems reading because of a disability that right is practically impossible to exercise. Similarly, in the case of children, there is a real need to include additional protections in, for instance, the way that they are treated by the criminal justice system due to what may be their limited ability to stand up for themselves.

    There is a fine distinction between Rights and Politics as you suggest, which is wby Bryce’s article is so valuable. I don’t agree that HR organisations should step between the legislator and the legislation as NIHRC seemed to suggest at one time, but it is important to make rights accessible through the courts.

    As for the SF document, the key criticism I have heard about it is that it has been drafted with little consideration of the huge efforts going on to build the HR Bill here. There is a mass of comment and discussion around rights already available and they have invented another wheel.

  • peteb

    I realise that, Davros, I was just pre-empting another lengthy party document appearing ;o)

    But the right to avail of the procedure for a termination of pregnancy (either specifically or as a woman’s right to control her reproduction – not the ill-defined ‘decisions over’) should, IMO, be included. The conditions under which it would be legal to proceed with a termination would be a matter for legislation – legislation, or the prospect of it, can be referenced in the wording of the Charter – that way political representatives still have their job to do and can be held to account if they fail to do it.

  • peteb

    Alan

    I don’t think it’s beyond the wit of those involved to word the Charter in such a way that the infringement of those rights in the circumstances you describe would still be clearly seen as an infringement. The procedures that organisations, such as the justice system, should follow to comply with those rights are a matter for legislation.

    Bryce(?) Dickson’s document goes further.

    What I’m detecting is an attempt to solve this society’s ills through the out-working of the Charter. That’s not what the Charter is for and it’s not what the Joint Committee is for.

    As I suggested on an earlier thread, set out the rights and work on the endorsement by the relevant legislatures and the subsequent enforcement of those rights.. In my opinion, that’s the basis from which we can combat the abuse of those rights within society.

  • Davros

    Is there a DUP document I can read ?

  • peteb

    I hope not, davros ;o)

  • John S

    The document seems to say nothing that hasn’t already been said and very little that I wouldnt consider to be my ‘right’ anyway. As for 16 year olds standing for office, humm…

  • Davros

    Think William Hague 😉

  • willowfield

    Further to my earlier question:

    What is the rationale for (a) the need for any rights additional to the European Charter and (b) the need for any additional rights to be on an all-Ireland basis.

    Only Alan has attempted to answer, and only in respect of (a).

    Alan

    The point is that some groups require specific protections beyond the general protections afforded by the Charter. For instance, giving someone a right to vote is fine for most of us, but if you have problems reading because of a disability that right is practically impossible to exercise.

    Don’t see how that requires anything additional. If someone cannot practically vote because of a disability, then he or she has been denied the right to vote. Hence protecting the right to vote is sufficient.

  • Davros

    WF, I think The DUP document covers the points you raise. But it’s monstrously difficult to read in PDF so I’m ordering a “real” copy… IF they deliver it in plain brown wrapper! The Graphics are quite the most ghastly thing I’ve seen – worse even than AF’s artwork at the last election!

  • Davros

    AF? SF, sorry 🙂

  • Alan

    *Don’t see how that requires anything additional. If someone cannot practically vote because of a disability, then he or she has been denied the right to vote. Hence protecting the right to vote is sufficient.*

    Except that it isn’t sufficient – we’ve had the right for decades and the problem still exists. Protections can be so generalised that, instead of seeking out all discriminations and dealing with them, we get equality by rounding down. It will take forever to achieve people’s rights. Why should people with a disability be expected to wait until the politicians get around to them?

    Let’s engage with the issue, rather than intellectualising the problem away, provide for key rights for people who require specific protections. What price a few lines of print?

  • Davros

    It’s worth looking at Canada in this debate.
    It has moved from what in effect was essentially a society with one dominant culture via a bicultural society to a multicultural one. The debate really got going in the ‘Quiet Revolution’ of the 60’s as the centenary approached and it was decided that there should be a shift away from the overwhelmingly British imagery of the State – (Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism report 1963) and in 1982 the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which is well worth a look.