Tag Archives: #Human Rights

Where are the French Human Rights Lawyers?

Brother Ivo was listening to a Conservative MP speaking on the radio who discharged her responsibility towards holding Government to account by challenging the policy not to accept unaccompanied children from the Calais migrant camp known as ” The Jungle”.

Readers may may know that Brother Ivo has advised that such acceptances must not be based upon an arbitrary number but calibrated to the recruitment of suitable foster carers who are properly supported and resourced.

The State is notoriously a bad parent, and the ranks of the homeless, the depressed, the imprisoned, the suicidal and the parents of children taken into care, are disproportionately represented by those who were once children in the care of institutional parents.

Children from war zones who are let down by poorly managed processes will be especially vulnerable to future radicalisation. By all means be generous, but let us recognise that compassion on the cheap will not end well. If it is going to be done. let it be done with competence as well as compassion.

The lady MP  pressing her Government was very persuasive however, especially as she spoke of children being abused daily in the camps and needing to be ” sewn up ” after abuse. That was a “game changing image”.

Who could not be moved to act as the nature of the problem was thus described? Two small words, but  a horrific and unforgettable image imparted.

The Government has shifted under such advocacy: one only hopes that they will heed a Brother Ivo’s warning and do what is necessary to make the policy a long term success and not just a short term sop to the public conscience.

Yet, the description of the lady MP – whose name Brother Ivo regrettably did not catch – raises two important collateral matters.

First, it does impact on the view which ordinary people may have of the adult inhabitants of the Jungle: if this is happening on a nightly basis, why is not the adult population of that camp not taking some responsibility for the war zone young?

We are told that they are talented people who, given the chance, will be net improvers of British society.  Doubtless there will be those who are acting to protect the young, but evidently there are many whose resonse to vulnerability is to exploit it.

“Open borders” is not a policy assisted by such stories.

There is a second implication.

If this is what is so widely and blatantly occurring to the very young, what are the French authorities doing about it? If the French State is protectively absent where is the French outcry?

More specifically, where is the French Human Right lobby and it’s associated lawyers?

French jurisprudence has traditionally been very strong on ” The Rights of Man”. They may have been inspired in this by the English Thomas Paine, but we’ll let that pass.

When Paris terrorist Salah Abdeslam was arrested in Belgium, he was immediately assisted by a lawyer there,  and when he was transferred to France, a French lawyer was promptly engaged. This tradition of leaping to the defence of the unpopular is deeply engaged in the legal/political class of France

The late french Left wing Lawyer Jacques Verges was legendary for his defence of human rights violators from terrorist “Carlos the Jackel” through ” the butcher of Lyons ” Klause Barbie, to the head of the Khmyr Rouge Khieu Samphan. Maitre Verges volunteered to represent each of them. He inspired generations of politically motivated lawyers.

Human Rights lawyers are very good at defending monsters creatively against  perceived threats to their human rights violations, real or imagined .

So where are they, in calling to account the French Government for its failure to protect these unaccompanied children? In England, Social Services would not be allowed to stand idly by such “no go zones” whilst small children are nightly abused; they consider removing children from foster carers who smoke or flirt with voting UKIP.

So what is the story in France?

Advocates of the UK remaining in the EU are currently suggesting that were we to leave, UK Human Rights jurisprudence would grind to a halt. So here is the question-

if European Human Right Jurisprudence is so superior, so activist in defence of Human Rights, so confronting of State injustice – why is it not being deployed to protect the children of “The Jungle”?


A Freudian parable

The people cam forward to ask, “How shall we treat our brothers and sisters who, by reason of mental impairment are disproportionately numbered amongst the unemployed?”

After a moments pause, this parable was told.

“There were once two sisters Mary and Martha.

Mary owned a small “Vintage Cafe ” which did not make her much profit but was a great boon to her village. People visited it after Church services, she catered for small parties, for those who could not afford lavish family occasions, and the local book club would sit and discuss matters all afternoon over two pots of tea. She welcomed them.

One day her only assistant decided to leave. She could get three times the money and a pension, working for the BBC in their canteen. Mary was distraught, as it had been hard enough to find and afford help originally and she could not afford to pay much.

Martha had two sons Luke and John.

Martha had not been able to work for years because Luke suffered Down’s syndrome and John suffered from Torrettes syndrome and was prone to rather unsocial language which many who did not know him found alarming. She would have liked to get away from her caring responsibilities from time to time and thought she could manage a bit of flexible working as a cleaner. Her problem was looking after her sons.

One day Mary came up with a solution.

The boys could come and help her in the cafe whilst Martha started her cleaning business. Luke was an amiable fellow who would enjoy waiting and clearing the tables and John could help in the kitchen where his more extravagant language was something his aunt could tolerate.

The only problem was that Mary could not employ both boys, even at the national minimum wage. The cafe was simply not viable with three wages. Martha and her boys were all happy for Luke and John to work for half the previous worker’s wage, it was an affordable form of supervised care and the boys would enjoy the chance to show a little independence.

When Mary and Martha’s jealous brother Owen heard of this he was angry. He had never offered any employment for his sister or his nephews but denounced the proposal calling it ‘ exploitative, nasty, and vile’. His friends agreed and loved to cast the first stone.

Which of the family members fulfilled the law of promoting life in all its fullness?”

The people looked at each other amazed that the question was even put.

“Why, the sister who enriched her nephews lives, gave them purpose, independence, and stimulation” , they relied, “Not to mention the preservation of a community resource, and rendering modestly to Caesar” they replied.

“Go and and do thou likewise” came the reply. “But be prepared for abuse and rejection from those who rejected me before they built their  own morality”.

The Oklahoma Execution





The overnight news from Oklahoma about a prolonged execution is both disturbing and distressing, whatever one’s views upon another country’s policy on the death penalty.

Even its most ardent advocates will be generally unhappy to hear how long it took to execute Clayton Lockett by lethal injection, and there has been a necessary delay in the next scheduled execution whilst an inquiry into the efficacy of the concoction of the drugs is undertaken. It will be making headline news across Europe.

Mercifully, it appears that Mr Lockett had lost consciousness after ten minutes, having been initially sedated, nevertheless the subsequent events are distressing even if one is not unduly squeamish. The process took over 40 minutes, the man spoke three times, albeit incoherently, and at the end a curtain was drawn to exclude the witnesses from viewing his end.

Brother Ivo notes that his end was a better one than his victim: he had shot 19-year-old Stephanie Neiman and watched two accomplices bury her alive in 1999. The Oklahoma Governor Mary Falling said “Our goal is to make sure justice is served. The courts have ruled, and there is no doubt as to the guilt of the perpetrators of the crimes.”

The death penalty is a controversial subject and it is hard to imagine it being re-introduced in most countries where it has been abandoned. It is worth recalling, in passing,  that for all the modern disapproval, its abolition was effected against the wishes of the majority in this country.

Our media reports the events with ill disguised disapproval of the policy, and yet we simultaneously end the lives of our pets by lethal injection, and many are pressing for the right to elect to end their days by a similar  “merciful”  means. We sell military equipment to all kinds of regimes, many of which kill non combatants in horrible ways, and if the EU attempted to withhold the sale abortifacients to other countries, all hell would break out.

As we read the story we should remind ourselves that peaceful just ends came to many convicted murderers in the USA before the European Parliament prevented the sale of the execution drugs to the USA. By that decision a less than satisfactory outcome has resulted.

If we are tempted to move to judgement, ought to be ready to accept our role in this. Whether one approves of the death penalty or not, things have become worse as a result of our representatives decision.

As we contemplate its consequences, we ought to be asking whose interests are being served by this policy. Compassion comes in many forms as our progressive friends regularly tell us in support of a number of non-Christian ethical positions.

Brother Ivo is of similar mind to William Shakespeare’s Othello.

“If ‘t were to be done, tis better to be done quickly”.


What next after the Grammy Wedding?


The writer and playwright Alan Bennett has written simply and touchingly of the marriage of his parents Walter and Lilain in the early hours of the morning in a Leeds church with only the vicar and witnesses present.

Walter was a butcher at the local Co-op, and when he requested time off so that he could be married, it was refused; the only way forward was for him to secure a 15 minute leave of absence so that the principle part of the service could be undertaken early and the pronouncement of the marriage lawfully declared immediately at 8 o’clock, giving Walter just enough time to kiss hiss bride, and jump on his bicycle to arrive in the shop just before his leave of absence expired.

Notwithstanding the time constraints, Walter and Lillian would have heard the full majesty of the opening lines of the Marriage Ceremony, lines which their famous son came to love, as he later became a significant member of the Prayer Book Society

DEARLY beloved, we are gathered together here in the sight of God, and in the face of this Congregation, to join together this man and this woman in holy Matrimony; which is an honourable estate, instituted of God in the time of man’s innocency, signifying unto us the mystical union that is betwixt Christ and his Church; which holy estate Christ adorned and beautified with his presence, and first miracle that he wrought, in Cana of Galilee; and is commended of Saint Paul to be honourable among all men: and therefore is not by any to be enterprised, nor taken in hand, unadvisedly, lightly, or wantonly, to satisfy men’s carnal lusts and appetites, like brute beasts that have no understanding; but reverently, discreetly, advisedly, soberly, and in the fear of God; duly considering the causes for which Matrimony was ordained.
First, It was ordained for the procreation of children, to be brought up in the fear and nurture of the Lord, and to the praise of his holy Name.
Secondly, It was ordained for a remedy against sin, and to avoid fornication; that such persons as have not the gift of continency might marry, and keep themselves undefiled members of Christ’s body.
Thirdly, It was ordained for the mutual society, help, and comfort, that the one ought to have of the other, both in prosperity and adversity. Into which holy estate these two persons present come now to be joined. Therefore if any man can shew any just cause, why they may not lawfully be joined together, let him now speak, or else hereafter for ever hold his peace.

Walter and Lillian’s marriage lasted a lifetime.

Brother Ivo could not help but bring the simple integrity of this story to mind as he awoke to learn of the “ mass wedding” which occurred live on television during last nights Grammy Awards, when 34 couples, some gay, some straight, were brought into marital union by a rap singer, Queen Latifah, who had been temporarily appointed as a Marriage Commissioner for the occasion.

The couples had been recruited by a casting agency and sworn to secrecy so that their families and friends knew nothing about it until they were shuffled into the television schedule, so that a bunch of self regarding celebrities might preen and offer themselves congratulations at their liberal outlook and ground breaking innovation.

The President of the Recording Academy said “I think it was as elegant and meaningful and powerful as we wanted it to be”.

Well, in the country of the Elvis impersonator Wedding Chapel, one supposes that this passes for “elegant and meaningful”, although in future one wonders whether those who were brought in as extras for this purpose will still look back on it in that way.

Brother Ivo wondered what might have happened had someone smuggled a canine pair into the proceedings and whether anyone might have raised an objection that this was a step too far in demeaning the solemnity of the occasion or would that, too have been welcomed in as evidence of progressive thinking.

Brother Ivo specifically makes clear that whilst he did not and does not support the redefinition of marriage, his criticism of this event stands independent of that debate which has been resolved and is settled law. He should also clarify that he is one of a minority of participants in the debate who does respect gay Civil Partnerships and has actually cast a vote in favour of such unions being blessed within an appropriately structured Anglican Service.

His problem with last night event centres upon seriousness, an aspect that eluded the imagineers of last night’s events, who evidently think that nothing says “reverently, discreetly, advisedly, soberly,”  like a wedding, shoehorned into an awards ceremony, in the absence of all who love and care for you, conducted by a here today gone tomorrow “Minister’ who gave you no preparation and would pass you in the street tomorrow without a flicker of recognition – except they are all to grand to walk the streets that you frequent ( they have people who do that sort of thing for them).

So what next year?

What could possibly top this year’s extravagant celebration of all the great things Liberalism stands for?

Brother Ivo has an even more  ground breaking suggestion.

Why not have an even more “edgy” celebration of a Constitutional Right which these Hollywood/Music Industry folk have fought to establish and extend for years.

It is a Constitutional Right, the reality of which has never been shown on television before. It will change hearts and minds in ways that this one could only dream about.

It is a right which their liberal President has repeatedly supported and one which they will doubtless be very proud to have “ out there”, “in your face” and “loud”. If you don’t like it “Deal with it!”>

Next year, lets show and celebrate live on screen for all to see , the world’s first celebrity partial birth abortion.

Thomas Becket and Human Rights


On this day in 1170 Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury, was murdered in Canterbury Cathedral by four knights who clearly understood that they were following the wishes of the King.

It is unlikely that if/when Henry II uttered the sentiments, if not the words ” Will no one rid me of this turbulent priest”, he was knowingly following the modern spin doctor’s strategy of building into his words “plausible deniability”.

Nevertheless, thanks to the ambiguity of his expression of displeasure, after the killing he was able to proceed to the next step in modern day “reputation management”.

He undertook penance in a public form after Thomas had been canonised, which was the rather more arduous medieval equivalent of spending an hour on the sofa with Oprah, having accepted the advice of highly paid professionals that he had acted through medical “anger issues” for which he bore no personal responsibility. The medievals plainly  understood repentance better than we do.

Henry thus survived the Europe wide opprobrium for killing a churchman, especially one who had by then become a saint. Within a relatively short period, King and Church were reconciled.

Henry left us  an important legacy in the legal and administrative systems which he had necessarily reformed as he constructed an Angevin Empire which stretched from the Pyranees to the Scottish border. Faced with a wide variety of local customs, authorities and jurisdictions he needed to draw them together to facilitate his exercise of royal power, and his model of Administration and Court structures lasted well into the 20th century.

Thomas for his part, also had a long and continuing legacy.

He had not been especially loved in life, partly because he had been the King’s Chancellor and ally in exacting taxes to support the conquests and reforms which Henry planned. Yet he was canonised within three years of his death and his tomb soon became the premier pilgrimage site in England, drawing pilgrims from across the kingdom and beyond. As such, it became a major economic asset to the city of Canterbury and the stop over towns on the way.

So much for the history. The aspect that intrigues Brother Ivo however, is the modern resonances of the dispute itself.

Although he became The Lord Chancellor, Thomas had not had the opportunity to study to become  a lawyer from the start of his career. It was not until he entered the household of the then Archbishop of Canterbury Theobald of Bec, that he was sent to study law at the University of Bologna which may have unwittingly been responsible for setting him on his collision course with the King.

In Bologna, the not infrequent tensions between town and gown, which characterised many other later university cities, had resulted in an accommodation between the Church and the civil authorities, with the latter agreeing to hand over the disciplining of the student clerics to the ecclesiastical authorities.

It is hard not to see the study of law under such a regime of clerical immunity as significant.

Equally, an aggressively ambitious king building an empire, and necessarily integrating disparate legal jurisdictions under his unifying power, was always likely to resist any continental inspired claims for such an exception to his integrating plans.

Of course, Brother Ivo is fully aware that Henry was himself “continental” yet it is not overly fanciful to see in this tragic conflict between old friends, something of the current antipathy between UKIP and the Europhiles. This King, pre-dating a subsequent namesake, was asserting his secular independence against a transnational ecclesiastical power which saw itself as the senior partner in a partnership of authority under God.

The essence underlying that dispute was that of sovereignty and we are again passing through a time of contention over the same issues.

The former Lord Chief Justice, Sir Igor Judge, has recently spoken out on the modern incarnation of the same old problem.

In restrained respectful but unequivocal terms reported in the Daily Telegraph, he identified that once again there is a conflict of sovereignty. Yet if anything, the modern dispute is even sharper. At least in the case of Archbishop and King, each saw himself as accountable to God, to whom, ultimately  account must be given for the exercise of his talents.

In the modern secular incarnation of this rivalry, Sir Igor sees that “the European Court of Human Rights in its present form is not answerable to anyone” and raised concern that any judges however distinguished – “should have that sort of power.”

He explored this theme in the context of the controversy of prisoner voting rights, and yet anyone who has studied either the English or the American Civil Wars will know that there is a distinction between the occasion for a war, the ostensible casus belli, and the underlying issues which always lie deeper and in the realm of underlying principle. 

The problem which confronts our modern politicians is no different to that faced by Henry II or indeed St Thomas himself. Each knew, as Jesus taught beforehand, that no one cannot serve two masters ( Matthew Chapter 6 verse 24). They may finesse, compromise or prevaricate but at some point, not necessarily of their choosing, the tension will be broken and the battle for supremacy will be resolved, even if it should be followed by much subsequent regret and unexpected, unwanted, consequences. 

Yet the irony behind this constitutional crisis in waiting is identified by Sir Igor himself. The whole edifice of the European Court of Human Rights was “was largely written by British lawyers for a war-torn, concentration camp filled continent.” 

It may have been part of “victor’s justice” but it was the justice of the morally superior. It may offend many today to speak in such terms, yet it is the truth. 

It makes it all the more galling to have the judgements of a mature judicial system subjected to what one Court insider described to the Telegraph: ” Some European judges are little more than “activists” and are unqualified for the task ….. We know that around half the Strasbourg judges had no judicial experience before going to the court, which means it’s no surprise they go off on judicial frolics of their own.”

Beyond that irony lies another. The present understanding of Human Rights was never conceived within the earlier Christian philosophy of Natural Law, but rather with reference to the abstract reasoning of the “Enlightenment”. Like Henry II reforming his legal system anew, the old forms which had evolved organically were swept aside, and this time the values were conceived “rationally” with no intention to honour or acknowledge the authority of God. 

Yet why was this necessary? 

When Brother Ivo described the World War II victors as ” morally superior” he specifically had in mind that the beaten philosophy of Fascism, like the leter beaten philosophy of Marxism, was founded upon the Enlightenment ideal of remaking humanity in the absence of God. 

One does not have to be terribly religious to have observed that when Man attempts to remake himself in an image of his own devising, he does not make a very good job of it. He is no more successful when, through excessive regard for his own design capabilities, he attempts to remake laws.

The attempt to codify a man made collection of overarching principles of Justice in a pompously self-regarding ” Universal Declaration”, arose within a Europe which lay in ruins thanks to the ambitions of ” rationalists”. Europe had been rescued largely through the moral values of the God- fearing heirs of both Thomas and Henry. They never really forgave us for holding to those truths.

As a new Europe was constructed out of the ruins, its Legal system was built under the authority of a Universal Declaration of Human Rights and a European Convention with which to give them expression. They could exclude considerations of faith from the edifice, but not the foundations. 

The reason we need such overarching principles is often overlooked, but Henry and Thomas knew and understood it perfectly. Thomas paid for it with his life and Henry through his public penance, for what is the reason that we need such a “Universal Declaration of Human Rights”?

Isn’t that reason nothing other than a simple recognition of original sin? 

The Declaration and Convention represent nothing if not a rejection of the Enlightenment notion of the perfectability of Man, without the need for redemption. 

In the United Kingdom, we built our Constitution by embodying Church and State in the person of Her Majesty the Queen, who remains in no doubt that she holds both responsibility under the authority of the Almighty.

We should be slow to give up the best of both worlds.