24 Sep 2011

Human rights - balancing the books.

Human rights - balancing the books.
The article in the Daily Mail of 17th September - “Paedophile's park ban lifted because of his human rights" exposes the continued ignorance of what human rights really are, even within the judiciary itself.

The key to this flawed decision lies in understanding the difference between absolute and relative human rights. This governs the code of civil liberties that forms a large section of the legal framework under which we run our society. Absolute rights are the property of the individual, and may not be violated, by another individual or even by the State itself. Relative, or conditional, rights are those that are subject to the rights of others and of the society in which we live. They may be exercised by an individual only when an acceptable compromise is agreed with those who also enjoy the same or competing rights.

For example, the right to refuse medication is absolute. But if you have a highly contagious and dangerous disease, this could infect and kill another person, in violation of their absolute right to life. In such circumstances your right to liberty is a conditional right - you may be detained by the State in quarantine to prevent the disease spreading to others. But even then, your absolute right to refuse medication that could save your life remains in effect; you cannot be forcibly treated and cured against your will.

The ban on the paedophile was introduced to prevent him molesting children in the park. The right of children not to be subject to such molestation is an absolute right - a paedophile cannot claim to have the right to molest children, because that would overturn the right of the child not to be molested.

The judge is in error because he has failed to recognise that the ban on him using the park merely limits his conditional right to take exercise. It does not prevent him from doing so elsewhere, but his exercising is subject to rules under the civil liberties code of this society that recognise the equal right of children to use the park without interference.

Our over-friendly neighbourhood paedophile might, of course, decide to take his exercise on the fast lane of the local motorway, even if at considerable personal risk. But he might then cause a pile-up and the death of innocent motorists, which would be a serious violation of their right not to be subject to activities by others that could result in their death. Reasonably enough, our rules on civil liberties dictate that such activity must be prohibited in law. Within our society as we mutually accept it, we permit people to take exercise, but not in a fashion that threatens other people's rights, especially if the rights that are threatened are absolute..

Earl Howe's outrageous statement in the house of Lords last week that "in our view, any infringement of human rights arising out of water fluoridation is justified by the benefits to oral health." illustrates just how far this ignorance - or perhaps arrogance - has infiltrated into our society. Fluoridation disfigures children, and on that account alone the forcible administration of fluoride in the public drinking water supplies is in gross violation of Article 3 of the Convention on Human Rights, which prohibits any treatment that is degrading.

Having to live with disfigured teeth is undoubtedly degrading - watch my video on 'Rachel's Story' (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=trQSZHF8eI4) to hear one young woman's experience of growing up in England with moderate dental fluorosis. So even if fluoridation worked - which it does not - it violates the absolute prohibition on degrading treatment imposed under Article 3 of the Convention.

Of course children with bad teeth have the right to treatment - but that right is itself a conditional right. Treatment cannot be given in a fashion that violates the absolute right of other children not to be subjected to degrading treatment. Equally, our paedophile member of society is free to exercise elsewhere, provided he does not threaten other children.

Earl Howe's arrogant statement exposes his failure to understand the principles that underlie the human rights legislation. His claim that 'any infringement' is acceptable 'if' it protects a few children from tooth decay does not identify which right he supports the government violating in its irrational and illegal policy, irrespective of whether fluoridation actually works.

Quite simply, Earl Howe has put on record the government's position that it is entitled to violate the absolute prohibition on degrading treatment of children, that disfigures thousands of English children each year. It appears to be his view that any such violation of a child's rights is acceptable if it results in a few children having slightly less dental decay. On that ground alone, the government's policy of water fluoridation should be referred to the Courts for resolution.

Parliament has given our Courts authority to restrict the activities of paedophile, so that their attempts to violate our children can be curbed. Yet it continues to condone the Department of Health's activity that violates the absolute right of our children not to be subjected to degrading treatment. Fluoridation condemns thousands of children to a lifetime of rejection, social and financial disadvantage. Yet our 'Parliament of Fools' doggedly clings to the myth that this enforced and prohibited form of public medication is of such national urgency that its retention justifies the abolition of the human rights of the public.

It is time for the Courts to decide whether this form of child abuse is indeed, like paedophilia, in gross violation of the Human Rights of our children, and that those who advocate it are, again, like paedophiles, unfit to be let loose in modern society.
Doug Cross
Director, UKCAF

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