Monday, 18 May 2020

Coronavirus legislation is unlawful

Last week the Supreme Court ruled that the detention of Gerry Adams in the 1970s had been unlawful. Mr Adams had been detained in Long Kesh on the basis that the authorities had suspected him of belonging to an unlawful organisation. The court found his detention had been unlawful on the ground that he had been detained on the basis of the authorities' suspicion. Whilst Mr Adams' case dates back to the 1970s, it is of much wider contemporary significance.

The coronavirus measures (The Health Protection (Coronavirus) Regulations 2020) introduced without parliamentary scrutiny or division provide the authorities with the power to detain people indefinitely on the basis of mere suspicion. This power is clearly incompatible with the Human Rights Act 1998, and equally clearly violates the European Convention on Human Rights. Last week's ruling by the Supreme Court reinforces that judgement and provides an obvious precedent for action to be taken against the government.

The violation of human rights enshrined in this legislation was obvious. Yet parliament made no protest. And the corporate media are deafeningly silent on this abuse of state power; indeed, they support it. The usual army of human rights lawyers, who only months ago we busily warning of Boris Johnson's totalitarianism, are only noticeable by their silent acquiescence.

It seems fear of the coronavirus, which has been whipped up by an hysterical corporate media campaign, has driven many to the point where they are prepared to sacrifice any right or liberty in the hope that it will provide security from the virus. There do not appear to be any limits to this willingness to trade rights for a specious sense of security. The coronavirus measures violate right after right. In the name of combatting a virus, elections have been cancelled, juries have been suspended, the right to assembly has been violated, the right to protest has been removed, the right to a family life has been limited, the right to an education has been suspended, the right to practise one's religion has been limited, the right to earn a livelihood has been removed, the right to freedom of movement in the country has been violated, the rule of law has been undermined, a police state has been instituted, the right to receive or refuse medical attention has been abandoned, and parliament has been turned into a digital pretence. Public policy is being made by a select group of ministers in conjunction with hand picked experts. Taken as a whole, these measures constitute fascism. And yet this was achieved without any organised opposition. The only dissent has come from unorganised, isolated voices, who have been easy to ignore or suppress, as the corporations have enthusiastically colluded with the censorship of dissident voices.

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