Thursday, 25 May 2017

Human Rights and Terrorists

The country is hurting right now, we are angry. I get that and it’s right that we feel that way. Once again lives have been lost due to the actions of one or more terrorists. It is devastating that people have died and I live in fear of losing someone I love, but what I find equally scary is the reactions from many ordinary people. 

A petition screenshot saying: Imprison or deport the 3000 on the terrorist watchlist

MI5 have shared that at any one time they have a huge number of open investigations and as many as 3000 people they are monitoring for suspected terrorist related activity. On Facebook I have seen several petitions shared asking for these 3000 people to be deported or to have their Human Rights removed. The first petition has over 100,000 signatures in 24 hours and seems naive as I suspect many of the people being monitored were born in the UK so I’m not sure where we would deport them to. The call to remove Human Rights of those on the watch list has me very very worried.

The idea that a convicted criminal should have their human rights removed makes me uneasy. There is always a risk that they were wrongly convicted and it is unlikely to help them become a law abiding citizen in future, but the conversations aren’t even about these people. People are asking for the rights to be removed from those who haven’t committed a crime yet. If we start heading down this path where do we draw the line?

I’m angry about the policies Teresa May and Donald Trump want to implement. I’ll admit I’ve thought in passing it wouldn’t be a great loss if Trump was assassinated, but I then thought how incredibly evil that thought was and how I wouldn’t wish death on anyone. But I had the thought, does that make me a criminal? Does that make me a supporter of criminals? Should I be punished for having the thought? Should I lose my job, my freedom because I am so angry that someone is implementing policies I consider harmful that I’ve wished they were no longer in power?

My eldest daughter and I both have tempers. If she shouts at me, I may well shout back. Inevitably she will respond with louder shouting or by lashing out or throwing something. If her younger sister shouted at me, but I still shouted at M the anger M would exhibit would be even greater. How dare I punish her for the behaviour of those associated with her? She’s not responsible for the behaviour of her sister so why should she be shouted at?

If we are going to punish people, let us at focus on those who have done something wrong. Let us not radicalise people by punishing them because we think they might do something bad in the future. We need to show compassion, we need to understand why people are so angry they are prepared to sacrifice their lives for what they believe in, killing others in the process. I fear the rhetoric I’m hearing from so many will cause more people to be marginalised and that this will ultimately increase terrorist incidents in the future. I am not asking for us to forgive terrorists, but I do believe if we continue to behave as we do as a country our behaviour will create more extremists and we will see terrorist incidents more often. We need to break the cycle and seek to understand, not to persecute.
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