Sunday, February 28, 2010
Friday, February 19, 2010
Thursday, February 18, 2010
|Pandemonium at seminar on HR in Bangladesh|
A seminar on Democracy and Human Rights in Bangladesh was abruptly ended when the supporters of Awami League and BNP started shouting at the British House of Lords in London on Monday, according to ANA.
Sunday, February 14, 2010
Thank you for writing to me about the home education proposals in the Children, Schools and Families Bill. We believe these are ill-thought out and heavy handed, as our LibDem spokesperson Joan Walmsley has said in the Lords. Not only have ministers not yet properly thought out what should be expected of home educators, but they are now in danger of enforcing a “one size fits all” education through a system of registration which could well become a licensing system. LibDem MPs therefore voted against the existing Government proposals.
The LibDems support those who want to home educate, and understand that it is usually a positive choice for the children and parents involved. However, we always have in mind the right of the child to an education. We regret that the Badman Report has given the impression that home education is more likely to be related to child protection issues than school education, and we understand why this has caused concern. It is important that the policing of child protection issues is separated from the issue of whether a suitable education is being delivered.
Local authorities can’t do their present job if they don’t know which children are being home educated, so parents should tell them. A voluntary system wouldn’t address the minority of cases where home education could be of poor quality or non existent. But notification is very different from licensing or registration. Our intention is that notification would lead to more support for home educators, such as help with exam costs and access to resources. It is also reasonable to ask all home educating parents to provide information on their home education strategy annually in writing or at a meeting so that the local authority can help and support them where required.
Further detailed consultation is needed on what is reasonably required of home educators before giving local authorities or the Government the power to approve only home education that complies with defined rules. As long as the child’s rights are being fulfilled there should be scope for a great variety of approaches. However, if it is any consolation to you, it is unlikely that these provisions will survive in the Bill because when the General Election is called they will not have been properly debated in the House of Lords, and we will not support the measures as they stand.
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
Lord Avebury: The Minister may have seen the claim made yesterday by a Sri Lankan Minister that all the IDPs have been resettled except 70,000. Whatever the actual number, does the Minister agree that there is no coherent programme for making the former inhabited areas that were subject to conflict safe for habitation by removing the mines and by rebuilding the damaged or destroyed houses? Also, what progress has been made in dealing with the 11,000 alleged former LTTE fighters who are in indefinite detention? Will they be brought to trial?
Lord Brett: The noble Lord makes two important points. I will have to write to him with up-to-date information on the point about the detainees, but he is absolutely right about the requirement for demining and for reconstruction. DfID is providing some £12.5 million of humanitarian funding aimed at supporting two British NGOs, the HALO Trust and the Mines Advisory Group, to undertake demining activities. We are also supporting the UN operations team to provide transitional shelter for 2,000 returning IDP families to the Vanni area.
On Monday the Church of England’s General Synod effectively rejected an appeal for tolerance on issues of sexual orientation by the Archbishop of Canterbury, when the Archbishop of Uganda, the Very Rev Henry Orombi, made a ‘pugnacious speech’ according to The Guardian, placing his church firmly behind the homophobic legislation now going through the Ugandan Parliament.
As it happens, the House of Lords was debating legislation to add two countries to the ‘white list’ of states which are supposedly safe for asylum-seekers to return to. I started my speech with a reference to the treatment of gays in certain countries, and
The last time we had a designated states order was July 2007, when I asked, for the second time, whether the Government had considered the use of the power to designate states in respect of straight people only, given that so many countries tolerate hate speech and violence against homosexuals or even pass explicitly anti-gay legislation, such as the Bill in Uganda, which President Obama has described as "odious". I had no answer on either occasion, so I try for the third time to persuade the Minister to agree that subsection (5C)(h) would allow the Secretary of State to designate a state for persons of a given sexual orientation if he considers that appropriate and, further, that the persecution of gays in some states would fully justify this use of the power.
Monday, February 08, 2010
Welcome to Mr Mirza Fakrul Islam, senior secretary general of Bangladesh Nationalist Party and an ex Minister, and we’re also honoured by the presence of H E Professor Dr Syedur Rahaman Khan, the High Commissioner.
We are pleased to learn that the BNP is rejoining the parliament tomorrow after a long absence, and we look forward to hearing about the policies they will be advocating on democracy, human rights and the rule of law, and I certainly hope they won’t be deterred by the Prime Minister’s gratuitous statement in Parliament about the grave of the late president Ziaur Rahman. The people of
In the first year of the present government, some progress has been made, but there are grounds for serious concern in certain areas. The trials of the BDR mutineers are moving slowly and the proceedings are not transparent. With the killers of Bangabandhu, on the other hand, the legislation was passed hastily, the trial rushed through, and the five have already been executed.
On the war criminals of the 1971 liberation war, in which three million people are estimated to have been killed, there is concern about the conformity of the 1973 Act with international standards, and the European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs has said in reference to Bangladesh that respect for due process in high-profile trials is particularly significant for a country's international reputation.
Second, there seems to be a deterioration in the law and order situation. In spite of the strong commitment to human rights by the
One immediate problem is the violence and intimidation being used by the student League BCL, affiliated to the
On corruption, the government has asked for the withdrawal of charges initiated under the interim government against
The Human Rights Commission, reinstated last July under a former Chief Justice with extra powers to investigate violations by the country's armed forces and police - another high profile undertaking in the
In the CHT – where I have to declare an interest as co-chair of the CHT Commission, in which capacity I have visited Bangladesh three times - the withdrawal of some military forces last year was a welcome development. But other crucial recommendations we have made are not yet implemented. In particular we said there should be a time-bound action plan for implementation of all the provisions of the 1997 Peace Accord, and that the Land Commission should give priority to settling the vexatious disputes between indigenous people and settlers on title, which cause a great deal of friction.
Perhaps our distinguished guest will explore some of these issues in his remarks, but we very much look forward to this opportunity of hearing the insights of such a key figure in the politics of
Thursday, February 04, 2010
11.45 February 4, 2010 Meeting
Caste and the EQUALITY BILL
Committee Room 4a, HOUSE OF LORDS
Chair Baroness Thornton
Introduction Lord Avebury
Speakers (maximum 3 minutes except for
ACDA (Anti Caste Discrimination
DSN UK (Dalit Solidarity Network UK) Mrs Meena Varma
SGRS-UK (Shri Guru Ravidass Sabha
CARJ/CACD Mr Haynes Baptiste
(Catholic Association for Racial Justice)/(Coalition Against Caste Discrimination)
British Asian Christian Council D Mr William Sidhu
Asian Christian Association Mr Ramesh Alexander
ACC (Association for Community Cohesion) Mr Savio Mahimaidass
VODI (Voice of Dalit International) Mr Eugene Culas
Central Valmik Sabha International(
Central Valmik Sabha (Southall) Mr Gurpal Gill
Shri Guru Ravidass Temple (Foleshill, Coventry) Mr Pashori Lal
Federation of Ambedkerite and Buddhist Organisations Mr Gautum Chakravarty
International Humanist and Ethical
Response by Baroness Thornton
The Rt Rev the Lord Harries of Pentregarth
The press release issued by the Anti-Caste Discrimination Alliance:
VICTORY FOR ANTI CASTE DISCRIMINATION CAMPAIGNERS
An unprecedented meeting on 4 February 2010 between 17 organisations representing over One Million people in the
Campaigners have been lobbying Government in recent years to introduce legislation to protect victims or potential victims of caste discrimination here in the
in the House of Lords and aims to strengthen protection against discrimination, advance equality and simplify the law.
At present, if someone is discriminated against or harassed because of their Caste in places of employment, or if they are in receipt of public services like health and social care or education for example, there is no legislation in place in the
Campaigners have been lobbying for caste to be legally recognised as a form of discrimination here in the
The Anti Caste Discrimination recently linked up with four academic centres and produced a report and presented it to the Government. The report, Hidden Apartheid, Voice of the Community, Caste and Caste Discrimination in the
At the meeting on 4 February 2010,, the Government acknowledged that caste discrimination does exist in the
Lord Lester of Herne Hill QC, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson on Discrimination Law Reform, said :
“Let us hope the Government will add a power in the Bill to enable them to make caste discrimination unlawful by Ministerial order so as to prevent this ancient source of injustice and oppression from taking root here. Mahatma Gandhi's struggle against the evils of caste-ism should inspire Government and Parliament.”
Lord Avebury, who moved the amendment on caste discrimination at Committee Stage, said:
“If the momentum of the campaign is kept up, we should get there”.
ACDA’s Chairman said:
“The Government have finally conceded that caste discrimination is an issue here in the UK, and has taken on aboard some of the recommendations ACDA made to Government in our report `Hidden Apartheid – Voice of the Community – Caste and Caste Discrimination in the
“We know providing legal protection in cases of known discrimination (alongside other non legislative actions) helps brings about a societal change for the better. When the first Race Relations Act was introduced in the ‘60s, it brought about a real change in behaviour. Legislating on Caste will have the same affect and bring about a much fairer and a more cohesive society to which we are all committed”
The meeting on 4 February 2010 was requested by Government and organised by the Anti Caste Discrimination Alliance, and was in response to the amendment clauses that had been tabled to the Government’s Equality Bill which cover Caste. The consortium of community, voluntary and charity organisations also endorsed a Joint Statement which was previously presented to Harriet Harman’s office calling on Government to treat all its citizens fairly and treat Caste discrimination like it does other forms of unacceptable discrimination and to include this in the Equality Bill.
Note to Editors
What is Caste?
Caste is a combined social system of occupation, endogamy, culture, social class, and political power. Caste is not the same as class, in that members of a Caste are deemed to be alike in function or culture. Castes are often assumed to fit into the four varnas, jati, which means ‘birth, is a system of social divisions organized according to relative purity, with Brahmins at one extreme and low caste and ‘untouchable’ people (who are considered impure and polluting to ‘higher’ castes) at the other. What is a Dalit? Dalit is a self-designation for a group of people traditionally regarded as low caste or untouchables (outcastes).
Anti Caste Discrimination
ACDA is an independent, non-profit making voluntary organisation and is an alliance of like-minded organisations sharing a common goal and similar values ACDA was formed in 2008. More information is available on http://www.acdauk.org.uk/?page_id=24
Wednesday, February 03, 2010
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they will take to assist the World Health Organisation's campaign to shut down the lead-contaminated camps at Osterode and Cesmin Lug in Kosovo, and to resettle the Roma inhabitants on uncontaminated land. [HL1645]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead): The Government are fully supportive of, and committed to, the international effort towards the closure of the lead contaminated camps at Cesmin Lug/Cesmin Llug and Osterode, and the successful resettlement of the Roma inhabitants to uncontaminated land. The Government are co-funding soil testing in Roma Mahalla to ensure the planned site for rebuilding homes is uncontaminated.