Group says human rights education barred by corruption of subject
MANCHESTER—Volunteers from international human rights education organisation Youth for Human Rights International claim that talking to people about human rights is becoming more difficult as people associate the subject with media reports surrounding controversial application of the Human Rights Act to apparently protect criminals.
Members of the group in Manchester have said they are disappointed in the response from a significant minority of the public they are contacting, who seem to perceive human rights as the subject of 'protecting criminals'. The group's education programme aims to teach young people what the most fundamental rights and freedoms are, as guaranteed in UN member nations by the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
"A few people seem to just switch off when they hear 'human rights'," said Ian, one of the local volunteers, "because they think about victims of crime being prosecuted for violating the human rights of the criminal when they defended themselves."
One local woman claimed that "Christians have no rights," as she spoke to one of the volunteers during a petition drive in Manchester city centre this weekend to mark International Youth Day and the start of the United Nations' International Year of Youth. The woman went on to discuss her feeling that human rights are not treated as universal in Britain, with some people treated with 'extra care' because of their religious or racial background.
The Youth for Human Rights volunteers hope to change that by calling on the government to make the universal nature of human rights understood through mandatory human rights education in schools, and that by learning human rights, young people will be more responsible for upholding the rights of others, and therefore less likely to commit crime.
The local group, which is supported by the Church of Scientology but maintains a secular stance, ventured into Manchester's busiest shopping street this weekend to raise awareness of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and to gain support for their petition, which can also be signed online at www.yhri.org.uk.