UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein took note of a petition submitted to the President of the UN Human Rights Council by Retired Rear Admiral Sarath Weerasekara based on a statement made by Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May.
In a speech delivered at the Law Society in London Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said that international human rights law is now an easy target.
“Earlier this month, Britain’s Prime Minister called for human rights laws to be overturned if they were to “get in the way” in the fight against terrorism. Specifically, Theresa May said there was a need “to restrict the freedom and movement of terrorist suspects when we have enough evidence to know they are a threat, but not evidence to prosecute them in full in court.” For an increasingly anxious public, shaken by the recent and dreadful terrorist attacks, her remarks no doubt reflected real anger and frustration, but they also seemed intended to strike a chord with a certain sector of the electorate, and it is this expectation that truly worries me,” he said.
He noted that a few days ago, citing Prime Minister May, a former Sri Lankan rear admiral (Sarath Weerasekara) delivered a petition to the President of the Human Rights Council.
“He demanded action be taken against my Office for “forcing” Sri Lanka to undertake constitutional reforms, and for exerting pressure on them to create a hybrid court to try perpetrators of war crimes and crimes against humanity – when in reality, he claimed, all they had engaged in was fighting terrorism. My first question: Why is international human rights law such an easy target? Why is it so misunderstood, so reviled by some, feared by others, spurned, attacked? My second: If the Prime Minister meant what she said, which universal rights would the UK be willing to give away in order to punish people against whom there is insufficient evidence to justify prosecution? What, exactly, are the rights she considers frivolous or obstructive? The right to privacy? The right to liberty and security of person? Freedom of expression? Freedom of religion and belief? The principle of non-refoulement? The prohibition of torture? Due process?” Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein asked.
He says to overcome terrorism, Governments must be precise in the pursuit of the terrorists. Pretending to seal off borders — with or without walls decorated with solar panels — is an illusion, and a nasty one.
Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein added that only by accepting human rights as the cornerstone could the rest of the edifice – success in economic development, durable peace – become possible. (Colombo Gazette)