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How ‘Human Rights’ Became a Dirty Word

The topic of ‘human rights’ at one point garnered sympathy among the British public. The term would call to mind images of the courageous struggle of Burmese dissidents, apartheid in South Africa and an idealised battle for self-determination and justice. Nowadays, the concept of human rights has become a profanity in the public discourse: something dirty, cynical and exploited against national interests.

The Rubicon was crossed when David Cameron gave in to pressure and sacked Attorney General Dominic Grieve as part of his July reshuffle. What had Grieve done wrong? He had the audacity to propose, rather insistently, that the UK remain incorporated in the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).

With tenacity and very little consideration, Britain’s tabloid media has successfully waged a war against human rights by linking them to two deeply unpopular themes: terrorism and European integration.

It’s a sad fact, but the British public is being gradually conditioned into believing that human rights represent a shameful refuge for criminals. In covering the terrible Omagh bombing, the Daily Mail has repeatedly circulated lurid headlines such as ‘Human rights law helps murderers not victims, say Omagh families’, while the Sun has been made to correct a revolting story which argued that the European Court made it easier for paedophiles to prey upon children.

Read the rest of Robert Amsterdam’s column in Spears.