Cameron’s Rights’ HOCUS-POCUS

Dr Kamal Wickremasinghe ( Courtesy: Daily News)

As a politician, the British Prime Minister David Cameron has earned many colourful descriptions of his character and personality – the veteran Scottish MP Sir Thomas (Tam) Dalyell described Cameron as “an actor who has never had a proper job”; Charlie Brooker, satirist and columnist for the Guardian newspaper, quipped – “There is nothing to him. He is like a hollow Easter egg with no bag of sweets inside.”

It must be said in Cameron’s defence that he has consciously earned such reputations. Since coming to power in 2011, with the help of his Foreign Secretary William Hague, he has managed to construct the elaborate hoax of a foreign policy the two have repeatedly claimed “has human rights at its heart”; They have urged ministers and diplomats to press human rights concerns “whenever and wherever they arise”.

Looking remarkably like the 70s TV character Kojak, Hague, with a conviction of electoral malpractice of “blatant ballot box stuffing” as President of the Oxford University Conservative Association (OUCA), has been the perfect ‘partner in crime’ for Cameron. Hague’s character can also be gauged by a 2001 poll in the Daily Telegraph in which 70 per cent of voters believed he would “say almost anything to win votes”, and 66 per cent considered him to be “a bit of a wally”.

Hague’s announcement this week that the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) inquiry on Sri Lanka will soon begin “the process” of establishing an investigation to assess “a broad range of information and evidence” needs to be taken against the background of this Cameron-Hague conspiracy of a bogus human rights protection mission.

China calls Cameron’s bluff

Despite their continuing efforts however, it seems now, as suggested by China’s cancellation this week of the “bilateral human rights dialogue with Britain”, that the major countries of the world are beginning to see through Cameron’s bogus human rights ‘campaigner’ façade and the world is losing patience with his hypocrisy.

The cancellation of the “human rights dialogue” with China is a big blow to Cameron who highlighted it as an important achievement of his trip to Beijing last November. Less than a year later, China is now accusing the UK of “using human rights issues to interfere in its internal affairs” through plots such as the goading of NGOs at the UNHRC to demand that a minute’s silence be observed in memory of a dead Chinese “activist”.

It was only a matter of time before the world called Cameron’s bluff on his egregiously sanctimonious “human rights” façade. He has been raising “concerns” about trumped-up issues such as human rights in Sri Lanka and the right of self-determination in the Falklands. But in glaring recent examples of duplicity, Cameron has had the temerity to berate the Russian President Vladimir Putin over Ukraine, after orchestrating the terrorist movement that violently overthrew the elected government of that country; In a speech to the Israeli Knesset, in mid-March, he refrained from using the words “occupation” to refer to the 47 year occupation of the West Bank and Syria’s Golan Heights in defiance of numerous UN Security Council resolutions.

The lack of credibility of Cameron’s interest in the alleged war crimes in Sri Lanka are also founded on his obvious motive to hide his own human rights abuses, and in his desperate attempt to maintain “colonial” influence in Sri Lanka’s domestic affairs.

Cameron now threatens to pull out of the EU Human Rights Court

Cameron’s hypocrisy on human rights on the domestic front has been equally spectacular. In a recent article for The Telegraph, launching Tory campaign for the European Parliament elections in May, he made “reforming” Britain’s relations with the European Court of Human Rights top priority, as the price for remaining in the EU and to stop Britain being “sucked into a United States of Europe”

The centrepiece of Cameron’s package of measures is the legislative changes designed to scale back the power of human rights judges of the European Court of Human Rights in imposing human rights in Britain. Cameron aims to achieve this by repealing a Section in the British Human Rights Act that requires the government to “have regard” to the European Court of Human Rights. A new Act of Parliament will also be enacted with the objective of preventing the Strasbourg court creating human rights precedents by making British courts the final arbiter of the law.

The EU changes demanded by Cameron arise primarily from his clash with the European Court over the order banning the deportation of Islamic cleric Abu Qatada to his native Jordan, due to violation of his human right to a family life in the UK, and fears of his not receiving a fair trial in Jordan.

In a glaring display of inconsistency that exposes Cameron’s bogus commitment to “human rights everywhere”, he now threatens to withdraw the UK from the European Convention on Human Rights and the European Court if he is unable to get his way.

Double-standard on human rights

The Cameron-Hague style of repulsive double-standard on human rights seems to be founded on the arrogant premise that the powerful states are free to violate human rights of their own citizens as well as those marginalised by them internationally, like the Chagossians – the citizens of the island of Diego Garcia forcibly evicted by the British between 1965 and 1973. Cameron’s version of human rights protection seems to be founded on the premise that, he attempts to lecture the world on human rights, and starting “revolutions” in other countries on the basis of human rights, while taking no heed of any critique of his own human rights record.

UN Committee Against Torture (CAT) picks holes in Cameron’s human rights facade

During the recently concluded 25th sessions of the UNHRC held in Geneva, while Cameron was busily campaigning to garner support for his anti-Sri Lankan resolution, the UN Committee Against Torture (CAT) accused the UK delegation of being evasive on questions about Britain’s own human rights record.

The CAT pointed to a litany of human rights abuses by the British government during the so-called war on terror, including the mistreatment of prisoners in British custody in Iraq. The committee was “deeply concerned at the growing number of serious allegations of torture and ill-treatment, as a result of Britain’s military interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq.” It also flagged up some 40 separate incidents on which the UK government must act.

The CAT urged the British government to quickly establish an inquiry into whether detainees held overseas were ill-treated or tortured by British officials, warning that urgent action is needed for Britain to meet international standards. All this, while Cameron was working on “applying pressure” on Sri Lanka to initiate an inquiry to look into matters that are alleged to have happened nearly a decade later!

In a reminder of his own responsibilities, the CAT requested the Cameron government that historical investigations into past misconduct of military officials must not be delayed or suspended.

The panel also expressed disappointment that Britain has failed, to date, to prosecute anyone for the torture of Iraqi prisoners and to convict anyone for the murder of the Iraqi prisoner Baha Mousa who died in British custody in 2003 in Basra, with just one soldier given a one-year sentence for admitting inhumane treatment.

The UN team also slammed a number of legal loopholes in the relevant British legislation including “an escape clause” in the Criminal Justice Act (1988), which allows officials accused of torture to escape prosecution if they can demonstrate “lawful authority, justification or excuse” for committing the act. Also, the CAT found the provision in the Intelligence Services Act (1994), which effectively ensures that intelligence officers cannot be prosecuted within the UK upon the grant of “lawful authority” by a government minister inconsistent with international standards.

Deportation of asylum seekers

There was also concern expressed regarding the British government’s plan to introduce Closed Material Procedures that will allow the admittance of hearsay as evidence and evidence obtained through torture. The CAT also criticised the failure of the Cameron government to secure the release of Shaker Aamer, the UK resident in Guantanamo, despite the purported “best endeavours”.

In a glaring pointer to Cameron’s duplicity, the CAT questioned the UK government’s deportation of failed asylum seekers to Sri Lanka, a country he himself is (falsely of course) accusing of committing human rights abuses.

While Cameron and Hague are hyper-ventilating about the need for Sri Lanka to cooperate with the OHCHR inquiry, the CAT gave the British government a year to explain how it could improve its human rights record in the areas of overseas torture, getting Shaker Aamer out of Guantanamo and setting up inquiries into past military abuses in Northern Ireland.

Human rights is the cover of neo-colonialism

There is clearly a pattern common to the foreign policy of the US, and its “special relation” the UK that centres around a bogus commitment to human rights protection, globally.

The Russian and Chinese governments are becoming increasingly wary of the new push based on frequent criticisms of their record on human rights by the US and UK.

Russia recently accused Britain of failing to practice what it preaches on human rights after the British government forced the Guardian newspaper to destroy the computer hard drives containing the information given to it by US whistle-blower Edward Snowden. “The measures taken by the British authorities towards the Guardian newspaper are out of tune with British statements on commitments to universal standards of human rights”, a Russian statement said.

The Chinese foreign ministry asked the US on Monday to stop “gesticulating” regarding China’s treatment of dissidents, after Washington expressed “deep disappointment” at a Beijing court’s decision to uphold a four-year jail sentence granted to a prominent “activist”.

Foreign policy

China pointed out that the prisoner was a Chinese citizen who broke the law, being punished and asked that the US stop using so-called human rights as an excuse to interfere in China’s internal affairs.

The role of human rights as a tool of foreign policy has been sharpened by Western governments since the end of the Cold War, through the conspiracies relating to the Balkan, Iraqi and Libyan Wars. Britain is currently fully synchronising its foreign policy, in a bipartisan way, to align with this lie.

In a recent speech, the shadow international development secretary Jim Murphy signified this trend by pledging that human rights would be at the heart of Labour’s aid agenda, with tough new conditions put on UK development assistance through a “human rights unit” set up at the Department for International Development.

Survival in today’s world is dependent on being awake to such conspiracies and Sri Lanka is one of the countries with the intellectual heritage to resist such evil designs – rejecting the OHCHR resolution is justifiable on this grounds alone.


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