Campaigners pledge to stand up for human rights in Northern Ireland and across the UK

Human rights campaigners are gathering in Belfast this weekend to pledge their opposition to further attacks on civil liberties and to press for human rights to be put at the heart of decision-making in Northern Ireland.

Amnesty International and Queen’s University School of Law are hosting the Convention on Modern Liberty, which will join, by live video link, with meetings of activists across the UK to plan the defence of human rights protections. Some 2,000 people are expected at the events to be held in eights cities across the UK.

The events will be addressed by such diverse figures as Helena Kennedy QC, Nick Clegg MP, David Davis MP, Shami Chakrabarti, Dominic Grieve MP QC, Chris Huhne MP, writer Philip Pullman and musician Brian Eno.

Brian Eno said:
“When the government passed its ‘anti-terror’ laws, it reassured those who campaigned against them that they would only ever be used in the most extreme circumstances. Within a couple of years they had been used to eject an 80-year-old heckler from a Labour Party Conference, to arrest a woman for reading out the names of British soldiers killed in Iraq, and to freeze the assets of Icelandic banks in England. This is the problem with vague legislation of this type: it invariably gets called into use whenever anybody does anything that the government finds embarrassing or the police find inconvenient.”

In Belfast, the event will also focus on issues such as the devolution of policing and justice, the campaign for a Bill of Rights and how to ensure the rights of paraders and protestors. Speakers will include representatives from all the main political parties and a broad range of campaign groups.

Patrick Corrigan, programme director of Amnesty International in Northern Ireland said:
“The Convention is a call to bring people together to establish common ground in defence of fundamental rights and freedoms. But we also be taking forward positive campaigns for better rights protections in Northern Ireland, which can help resolve contentious issues such as parading and protests which have plagued this society in the past.”

Professor Colin Harvey, Head of the Law School at Queen's noted:
"We are delighted to co-host this significant event. At a time when the Bill of Rights process in Northern Ireland has reached a crucial stage, we are pleased to see the national focus on stemming the erosion of civil liberties, as well as the active promotion of additional legal protections, in the form of a new Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland."

Find out more about Amnesty's work in Northern Ireland

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